The Only Dining Room Decorating Rule & Measurement Guide You’ll Ever Need

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The Only Dining Room Decorating Rule & Measurement Guide You’ll Ever Need

Today we are talking about decorating rules! Last week in my post on setting a Dining Room Design Budget, I promised you a set of baseline rules when it comes to decorating your dining room. I’ve come up with a list of 7 must know decorating rules to help you choose the right pieces, sizes, and placement in your Dining Room design.

Part of the One Room Challenge

If you’ve come over from the One Room Challenge, we are on Week 3. I will update you on my progress near the end of my post. And include cute pictures of the baby helping because I know that’s why you’re really here. But first, my goal for this ORC is to give you the tools to make sound design decisions for your next project.

When you spend a large chunk of money on a decor project in your home, you want all of the elements to work. Proper size and correct placement is imperative. It is so disappointing to buy a piece you love only to get it home and it doesn’t work in the room- maybe the furniture size is too big or the rug is too small or the art is dinky. Let’s arm you with sound decorating rules to help avoid the disappointment. As a bonus,  the rules will help you pull the room together flawlessly, without wasting your hard earned money.

I’m a rule follower. Most of the time. But never say never, because some rules are just made to be broken.

Getting started (Non Rule Rules)

Before I get down to the actual measurements and guidelines, I want to prepare you to follow those rules. You will need some basic measurements first as well as a Budget and a Plan.

1. Measure the room

Before you start buying furniture measure the room(s) you are decorating. Measure each wall. Twice! Also measure openings and their position, the windows and the distance to each wall and between each one, the distances between trim (above and below moulding and chair rail), and the ceiling height. Make sure to take measurements for any architectural details in the room such as built ins, fireplaces and existing furniture and jot those down as well.

You can use this FREE Printable cheat sheet to take down the room measurements and any notations. {DOWNLOAD DINING ROOM MEASUREMENT SHEET}.  Below is a preview (< you must click the link to download.)

Dimension Cheat Sheet for Dining Room interior design project from StampinFool.com | Williamsburg, VA
Preview of the downloadable measurement cheat sheet.
The must know Dining Room decorating rules and measurements for your next interior design project from StampinFool.com | Williamsburg, VA
Preview of the free downloadable dimension plan to keep track of your room measurements.

2. Use a Room Sketcher

Putting the measurements that you collected into a layout planner is a great way to notate the dimensions, see the layout from above, and set up mock piece of furniture in the space. You can use a list of general furniture dimensions to help visualize how large or small it looks in the room and measure the space around each object to make sure the flow of the room works with furniture in the selected size. Here are three of my favorite free, online room planners:   RoomSketcher, Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn

You’re room may look something like this. You should add the dimensions of each object in the room also so that when you are shopping you will know the appropriate size pieces to purchase.

The must know Dining Room decorating rules and measurements for your next interior design project from StampinFool.com | Williamsburg, VA

3. Set a Budget

In last week’s post Budgeting for a Design Project, I discussed in detail how important it is to have a budget (i.e. dollar amount) established before starting a design project or refresh. Expenses can add up quickly even if you are tracking them. Imagine not tracking, not setting a maximum spending amount, and then half way through you realize you spent $15,000 on credit and the room isn’t complete. This is why it is super important to pick a realistic amount you CAN and are willing to spend before committing to a project.

Head over to the Budgeting for a Design Project post to see how much a dining room design costs, a dollar breakdown for each major items, and your own budget planning tool. Included is a FREE spreadsheet for you to download to create your own budget as well as track your actual costs, order dates and delivery dates. Head over to the post and download the spreadsheet to get your budget set before starting the project.

FREE Budget Spreadsheet for your next interior design project from StampinFool.com | Williamsburg, VA

4. Have a written plan

Having a written plan goes hand in hand with that budget you’ve just worked on. While each of your plans and rooms will look slightly different, they should include a list of which furniture items you will purchase, what you will reuse, how much you will spend in each category, and what order the work will be done in (i.e.1- electrical, 2- painting, 3- trim work, 4- furniture purchases, 5- put it all together). You should also set a timeline or goal completion date. The date can be six weeks from now or five years. The timing is up to you, but it will keep you moving forward.

After you complete your plan of timeline, budget, and list of needs you can move on to the list.

5. Make a shopping list

The second most exciting part of a design project is making the shopping list! Now that you have a plan in place and know how much you will spend on each component, you can make a detailed list of each item you plan to purchase for the room (or own). Make sure you keep reading to the decorating rules and take note of the dimensions so that each piece is the correct size.

If you used the FREE budget spreadsheet included you will already have a master shopping list that you can print out and take with you to shop for each item.

6. Shop!

THE MOST WONDERFUL STEP OF THEM ALL. Well, for me that is. My guess is that if you’re here and reading this than you either 1) love shopping for home interiors as much as I do or 2) loathe it and are ready to give it up to the interior designer to handle the project for you. Both of which are great choices.

Now is a great time to start price charting. Find the style of pieces you like and compare prices among brands, jot them down and find the best value- not the cheapest, but the best reviews, well made and comparable price.

I have found that Pottery Barn, Anthro & Wayfair have great sales frequently, so watching their websites for a few weeks can really get you the piece you want at the price point you want for a normally expensive item.

Favorite Sources

Etsy, Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Wayfair, Anthropologie, EBAY, Charish, Target, IKEA, Ballard Designs, Article, Arhaus, Lulu & Georgia, Serena & Lily, Wisteria. Instagram for vintage insta sales as well as To the Trade vendors. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a great starting place.

Dining Room Design, Decorating Rules and Important Measurements

Alright, alright (in a Matthew McConaughey voice) now that we’ve discussed the non rule Rules, it’s time to move on the the dining room design measurements and decorating rules that you’ve been waiting for. While these rules are really great guidelines to follow, some rules are meant to be broken and sometimes you can squeak by breaking them slightly. Point being, if you love a piece and it’s an inch or two different from these measurements, you can likely pull it off!

A lot of these items have multiple dimensions and spacial requirements to consider, so pin this post for later reference!

1. Table Size

Dining Room decorating rule number one. We are starting with the table because it is probably the largest piece of furniture in the room and will be used the most.

  • A dining room table should have at least 36″ between the table and walls. This allows for a walkway, for the chairs to be pulled out comfortably and to have easy flow for guests walking behind the chairs to get to their seat.
  • There should be 48″ between the edge of the table and the buffet/sideboard for maximum comfort.
  • The standard rectangular table size is about 42″ wide. The following are measurements for how many guests can comfortably fit at any given table size.
  • Rectangular: 42″ x 72″ seats 6 guests, 42″ x 96″ seats 8 guests, 42″ x 108″ seats 10 guests.
  • Round: 46″ to 48″ seats 4 guests, 60″ seats 6- 8 guests comfortably.

2. Chair Size and Placement

When you are shopping for chairs, the chair to table measurement is 7″ vertical space between the arm and the apron of the table. It leaves room for your guests arms to rest on the chair without being smushed.

  • The chairs should be spaced no less than 6″ apart for comfort of the diners.
  • Occupied chair clearance should be 18″- 24″ from the back of the chair to the wall or sideboard.

Also, mixing chairs is 100% acceptable. In fact, adding complementary end chairs is a great way to kick up the room decor.

3. Rug Size

Let’s have a serious conversation about rugs. I am not saying this to make you feel bad, but the number one decor mistake I see is buying a rug that is too small for the area. Don’t beat yourself up, I’ve done it too. I’m telling you now to save you money and make your room look great. There is no worse feeling than making a large purchase and it doesn’t quite look right.

  • In most cases, your rug should be *at a minimum* an 8’x10′ or 9’x12′ rug for a dining or living room, and larger for larger rooms.

As a reminder, furniture should be anchored by the rug. In a dining room, all of the table legs and chair legs (when pulled out), should fit on the rug. In a living room, all furniture should fit on the rug.  Alternatively, the front legs of all furniture should be on the rug. This works well when you have a large scale room with a sectional or an arrangement with two sofas and two pairs of chairs.

  • Also, aim for a 12″- 18″ border of visible flooring on at least one side, ideally all sides of the rug; It isn’t wall to wall carpet.

In a dining room, a flat weave rug is the best choice because it is easy to clean. Flat weaves are low pile so food doesn’t get stuck in the fibers. An outdoor rug is an excellent choice for a dining room rug. Pottery Barn has some beautiful outdoor rugs so you don’t have to sacrifice look for functionality!

A Rug No-No

Often times, I see a 5’x7′ rug floating in the middle of a room. It is one of those things that I wish manufacturers would a) not sell or b) put a warning label on it to avoid buying it and then not having it fit well in the space. (Side note- the other thing is 84″ curtains, haha).

So, when you see a 5’x7′ rug on sale, skip it. I can’t think of a place that it would fill the space well and elevate the decor. Likely, it will make the room look disproportionate, and I want your space to look beautiful and for your money to be well spent.

To recap, go for a rug that is 8’x10′ or larger, that all furniture legs fit on- for a dining room there should be 36″ from the table to the edge of the rug on all sides.

4. Console Size

The console table, sideboard, credenza (you know, the piece of furniture with many names) should be at least the same height as the dining table or taller. When it is styled and higher than the table, the room is visually balanced.

Styling Tip: Style the sideboard with a pair of lamps on each end, a few blue and white vases or drinks tray, a large mirror hung 4-6″ above and fresh cut flowers – keeping symmetry in mind.

5. Artwork Size

  • Artwork should be around 2/3 the length of the table, and never longer than the table. This can be a mirror over the credenza, a focal piece hung at eye level.
  • Hang the art so that the center is around 60″ from the floor.
  • A good size to start with is 24″x36″. If you choose a smaller piece, you should plan on a grouping of 2-4 piece of the same size to appropriately fill the space.
  • When grouping artwork, leave 2″ in between frames.

Here are a few examples of art placement that meet the decorating rules and proper sizing which you can apply to your dining room decor.

The must know Dining Room decorating rules and measurements for your next interior design project from StampinFool.com | Williamsburg, VA
photo credit: Ballard Blog

6. Lighting

Plan on a minimum of two sources of lighting in the room for both ambiance and looks.

  • Task lighting: Chandelier and recessed lighting so that you can see the what you are eating.
  • Secondary lighting: Sconces and lamps are softer light forms to add warmth and decor to the room. Their primary purpose is not to help you see what’s for dinner.

Chandelier Size & Placement

A great way to add interest to a dining room and draw up the eye is to hang a fabulous chandelier. Color, texture or materials- beaded, iron, crystal, can add interest to the room and set the mood.

  • The proper decorating rule on chandelier diameter is to choose a chandelier one half (1/2) the width of the table. 22″-24″ light for a 42″ wide table, width not length.
  • Hang the chandelier so that the bottom of the light is 66″ from the floor. Likewise, 30-36″ above the table top is appropriate to not obstruct the view of guests across from you.
  • Center the light over the middle of the table. If the junction box is not directly above the center, swag the chandelier to the proper placement.
  • Related Post: Read this detailed post on How to Measure for the Perfect Light Fixture size for any room

Sconces

While we are talking about lighting, sconces add ambiance and decor to the walls adjacent to the dining table.

  • The proper height for sconce placement is 5′ to 6′ from the floor and 48″ apart of each other horizontally.

7. Centerpieces

Finishing off the table with a centerpiece is a great way to round out your dining room decor. Keep centerpieces/arrangements under 15″ so that you don’t obstruct the view. You want to enjoy conversation with your guests, not start at wedding size table decorations.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces to mix and match that go along perfectly with the dining room decorating rules.

1.    2. 3.

 

4.   5.   6.

 

7.  8.    9.

10.  11.  
12.

That’s a Wrap

Whew! Are you still with me? I know this was a long list of decorating rules and measurements, but I hope it is helpful. Come back for reference anytime you need a cheat sheet on measurements or proper placement.

These guidelines are a great starting point for your own home decor adventure. If you can’t seem to get it right, shoot me an email and I will try and help you figure it out. In the meantime, happy decorating!

DINING ROOM PROGRESS

This week was slow on progress for the One Room Challenge. I spent the time mainly painting a second coat, ordering wallpaper, and curating the last few decorative objects. This weekend is trim time. And next week should be wallpaper week, although I have concerns that it won’t be in on time. Stay tuned.

  • install chair rail and other trim work around the room.
  • order and wallpaper the top half of the walls with a fun green pattern.
  • paint the lower half of the walls blue.
  • upholster the end chairs.
  • purchase & hang curtains for added color and a finished look.
  • find a rug, lamps, vases, trays & accessories to tie the room together.

  

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