the renaissance of the dining room is at hand. If you have this special room use it and create a room you will want to spend time in

Did you know the formal dining room is coming back? You are either jumping up and down for joy or letting out a collective groan! But before we throw in the formal dining room towel and give way to no dining room at all, STOP! Let’s make our dining rooms a vital, useful part of our homes. Today is an important day for home decor enthusiasts who have dining rooms!


Today I’m sharing my dining room and the few changes I’ve made lately.

Do this one thing and you can recapture this little used room…


Why have a beautiful room and only use it a few times a year? Many of our formal dining room just need life breathed back into them! So what if it has an expensive oriental rug or an inlaid table top. If you are not eating there on a regular basis you are missing out!

So what if it’s just you and your spouse or for that matter you alone. Don’t you deserve to treat yourself and eat in the lap of luxury? 

Have people over more often. It does not have to be fancy! Even take-out pizza can be an event in your dining room!

Just use it! Simple as that!


When I was a young bride a matched dining room set was a must. That’s just the way it was. And I thought I would have my beautiful 18th Century Cherry and Mahogany set forever. Oh, how naive I was! Maybe if I lived 150 years ago that would be the case. But we don’t live that way anymore!

So I started to change things slowly. First I purchased a new chandelier. And that one change got the wheels spinning! Then I got a little braver and in came two new neutral head chairs. After that came a parade of painted buffets. Then I replaced my oriental rug with a very very pretty and practical indoor/outdoor rug in a very updated geometric design!

Then I got even braver and painted my 18th Century Mahogany chairs! Yes, I did and what a difference! I loved them! Painting those chairs gave me the confidence to put an updated concrete top table in the dining room and boot the gorgeous inlaid dining room table out. Not that I didn’t love my original table but it was no longer me. 

You may be asking, REALLY? Yes, I had this matched set for almost 30 years and it was time! 

Many more changes came along over six years and I’m sure there will be more to come. But now it’s so much brighter and more relaxed and not staid and so stiff and formal. I think it’s still quite elegant in a welcoming way and I want to spend time in the dining room!

Somewhere along the road of life we were told that our dining rooms should stay the way we initially styled them. But why? If you are not using your dining room because the furniture you have is too precious and expensive or it is way too outdated and you no longer like being in this room or for any other reason you can think of I’m gently nudging you to wake up! Make some changes so you can’t wait to use that gorgeous room!

Take the plunge and start making little changes that will draw you in your dining room.


If your dining room is big enough put a chair you can sit down and relax in it, do it! Many people are now using their dining rooms for double duty and filling its walls with bookshelves and books.

Or create a game night and make the destination your dining room. The dining table is the perfect size!


Don’t just walk through your dining room to get to another room. Use it as a study. You certainly have enough space and it’s a great place to work when the table is not in use for eating! Just make sure to tidy it up when you leave!

Long live the open floor plan but let’s save the dining room! It used to be the hub of family gatherings and still should be!



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the renaissance of the dining room is at hand. If you have this special room use it and create a room you will want to spend time in


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  1. I love this! And, I love your dining room!:) When we lived in a house that had a big ol’ dining room, it double dutied as my office. The dining room table was my desk, and it worked like a charm…It’s so much fun when you think outside the box.

  2. Source for your dining room rug? I love it

  3. Taste of France says:

    You are spot on: The best thing is to use it.
    I don’t quite understand having things and then not using them except for special occasions (not just dining rooms but dishes and all the rest). If it’s good enough for company, it’s good enough for us. It helps that the Limoges is plain white and can go in the dishwasher–no gold trim that requires handwashing. Every day is an occasion!

  4. Hurray for dining rooms! My husband and I eat in the dining room every night. We use the big oak table for wrapping gifts, craft projects, and board meetings as well as feeding and entertaining family and friends. I always keep it pretty with flowers, plants and candles as soon as we’re done with a project.

  5. I am planning on updating my dining room soon & this post was very helpful. Thanks!

  6. I love my dining room, it makes my house feel complete. I always have the table set for the season, fall being my favorite with a stuffed pheasant as the centerpiece. I have an antique dining set that my parents gave us for our first newly built house, that was many years and many houses ago. I have recovered the seats and also added two neutral chairs. It really updates the table. I glad to hear that dining rooms are making a come back. Our newly built home that we have been in two years have both a living and dining room right off the foyer, much smaller than our last house but I still love having this space.

  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! We have two dining rooms. The one we use the most is smaller and cozy. We have a round glass topped table and wicker chairs. I can’t remember who gave me the advice but we use linen napkins and china every night I am home. Sometimes candles and flowers. One of my greatest joys is serving the hearts around the table. What is more luxurious than creating a delicious meal and taking the time to enjoy it with others?

  8. I don’t have a formal dining room in our retirement home in N.C. Have had them in former houses and in some cases used daily and in some used only for holidays or dinner parties.I like your idea of using the dining room for duel purpose such as a library ,game room or study.Always can be changed back to a dining room as needed.Or you can set your dining room table and use it to display your best chin a and silver. Always great spot for floral arrangements and seasonal decor.

  9. Yvonne,
    Having been on a few recent Parade of New Homes Tours in my area (Central VA) many builders go with the desirable open floor plan but still have a formal dining area which many people use as a office/media area when not in use.

  10. A very timely post. I am in the process of updating my dining room. Just got rid of the 30 year old table and chairs and replaced with updated furniture and light fixture that works with the new furniture. I will probably paint our hutch rather than replace it. Still need to paint and make curtains. I am already enjoying the change.

  11. Millie Hall says:

    Thank you once again for your advice. I am currently holding on before I can do any updates anywhere in my home. My daughter is moving out and her “stuff” is everywhere, but I surely look forward to being able to spruce things up in the dining room and invite friends and family to share. Godspeed!

  12. Love the rug, too. The link you provided is for a clock. Is the rug from Ballard Design also?

  13. Today dining rooms are used for things other than dining.We replaced our table, chairs,and very large painted hutch last year after moving to a slightly smaller home.The old “stuff” didn’t work with this open floor plan.We scaled the pieces down a bit for more room, works better.Love the different pieces you have in your room,so light and airy.

  14. Well Yvonne I did just as you said. Last summer I did a total remodel of my kitchen. A full tear out. I love it. It’s fresh and modern. But then the dining room looked dated.
    I tore out wallpaper (there has always had some sort of wallpaper in this room for the 32 years we’ve lived here), painted the walls a creamy white. Tore out carpeting and installed hardwood floor. BOught a fabulous rug and curtains. New buffet. New drum chandelier. Everything was bright and fresh, but I struggled with my dining set which I had and loved for so many years.

    But last week I found new upholstered chairs in a creamy linen fabric with brushed brass nailheads and replaced my oak chairs. I kept the table and now I LOVE the new look. Again it’s looks so bright and calming.

    Sometime change is hard when replacing furniture that is still of good quality that you have for so long, but in the end it’s the best thing. And the best part is a family member was blessed with the old chairs and made his room new again. A win for everyone

    1. Ann, thanks so much for sharing with us. Sometimes we need just a small change to get out of a “stuck rut”! And you just might be the inspiration for others to follow! I LOVE my StoneGable readers! Thanks so much for your story and wisdom!

  15. Hi Yvonne,
    I SO needed to hear this. I have wanted a dining room update for years. You have encouraged me. Out with the fancy and and in with a fun useable space. I can’t wait. Thanks!

  16. Charlotte Des Fleurs says:

    We had a “formal” dining room for 30 years. Typically, we used it 2 to 3 times per year. However, with all our children grown, married and with families of their own, the usage rate dropped to once or twice a year if that. Several years ago we converted it to a music room. Our family room with its welcoming fireplace has become our “keeping room” and medium-sized dining area. Our livingroom actually gets used more often now for entertaining so that is not merely a show place for our fanciest possessions. (On the other hand, one of my friends installed a beautiful 3-foot high, wrought iron fence around her exquisitely furnished livingroom to keep out her dogs and the grandchildren. No one else dares to go in there either!)

    Whatever you do, it’s so liberating to use rooms in a different way than what the builder put on paper!

  17. I have never seen a chandier with a drum lamp shade. Does it diffuse the light ? What is your reason for this using one? Thanks!

    1. Hi Cindy, great question! Yes, a drum shade does diffuse light and looks beautiful. No harsh ceiling light. And I love drum shades because the give a new look to the classic chandelier.

  18. la@leslieannetarabella.com says:

    I’ve written in my newspaper column about how much I love a formal dining room. It’s the heart of the family and needs to be used! Even if it’s just me and my husband some nights we’ll carry our plates in the dining room and sit there for a change. My problem now is a house with a dining room the size of a shoe box. When I tried to extend the table and fit my family in for Christmas, some were spilling out into the hallway! Your dining room is absolutely charming and could stimulate many warm meals of fun conversation and delicious food!

    1. This is such a common problem! You are not alone! My sister has a small dining room and found another table about the same size as the one she has in the dining room. The table goes out into the living room and looks gorgeous!

  19. Sandi from Wisconsin says:

    Yes, we have a dining room. Our house is more cottagey style, so there is a partial wall that separates the kitchen from the dining area, but there are also two walk-through openings on each side of that wall. So you can enter the kitchen from either side.

    Yes, we also have shelves that hold books. Our dining room is also used as a study in a way because many, many times we have our laptop on the dining room table. One thing we need to do, is just as you suggested, Yvonne, eat more often in the dining room!

    Love your blog, and love your dining room! Can’t wait for your book to come out! Any idea when you will have it ready. It will be a decorator’s joy!

  20. When I was growing up in the 50’s-60’s my dream was to have a traditional cherry or mahogany dining room set, including china hutch, a grandfather clock and other traditional furnishings. (My mother was contemporary and went for midcentury danish modern, which was very cold to me). After 50 years of collecting, upgrading, finally, at the age of 70 I have the home of my dreams. Some of my furniture and decor is 50 years old. I have changed things out over the years to keep it updated, but the basics have never changed. I look around my home today with a smile. I never followed trends, because I know, just like clothing, classics last are the same today as they were 50 years ago and will never go out of style.

  21. Julie Briones says:

    Well, I don’t have a dining room… but, I STILL read this! 😉 Loved reading the history of your dining room, Yvonne!

  22. Thank you for sharing your change of style over the years. We have been in our hose almost 20 yrs and I feel like it is stuck in a time warp. Friends say it is timeless but I call it outdated. I am going to sit in the dinning room for the next few days and develop a plan to update! Thank you for the inspiration.
    Janet in NC

  23. I have enjoyed watching your journey. Your dining room is so beautiful. I have taken your advice and bought an indoor/outdoor rug to replace my too small area rug and I love it. I do have a question. I am going to have my dining room hutch/buffet painted. It is stained now. What do you suggest to use for paint? I display white accent dishes in my hutch and I plan to paint it white with a possible different color for the inside to make the dishes pop. I do not know if chalk paint will be durable. Thanks Yvonne!

  24. Such a great post ! Yes…when first married it was the thing to have a “dining room set”! We were able to get a beautiful set about two years after we were married….late 1970’s. It was all the style then – clean lines, parson table legs, etc. I loved it – and we had the table, two leaves, 6 side chairs and 2 arm chairs ( tan seats, cane backs), an hutch ( or as I called it in my childhood “china closet”) and a server. After 15 years we moved into a new home and I SO wanted to get oak Queen Anne style dining furniture…but it was not in the budget – so….we mirrored the back of the cabinet, changed the seats to dark navy to match a new chair in the living room. Then about 11 years ago we moved again – and this time Queen Anne style was not as popular and our set was still good – so we changed all the hardware from polished brass to brushed chrome ( to match the new lighting ) and I still had more traditional china in the hutch. Now…retired, downsized, moved to a retirement community and a great apartment. Thinking of getting a new dining set and when shopping realized ours was SO old it is back in style again. Fits perfectly in our dining area. So…had the parquet table top refinished and styled the hutch in a contemporary manner….it looks GREAT. And yes….ever since we had this dining room we made a point of eating dinner there at least every Sunday. And whenever guests arrived – they would often say “oh, don’t fuss”….but fussing makes it fun for everyone. LOVE your dining room…enjoy many great times to come! http://www.ournewvista.com

  25. Great post! Happy the DR is coming back…I love having a separate DR. I still have my mother’s mahogany table and china cabinet and have no plans to change them out…i still want that look; but i am looking for ways to add some new pieces freshen up the room. We have started eating in our DR more often…in summer it’s much cooler than the eat in kitchen. Thanks for these ideas!

  26. Cecilia from Georgia says:

    After reading the comments about this post, I feel better about wanting to change my dining room furniture. I have wanted to lighten up my rooms and update the furniture so I’m taking it piece by piece. You once wrote a post about planning before starting a big change project and that was the best advice I had. Following my vision is keeping me focused on staying with light neutral fabrics and furniture. I’m glad to know there are others struggling with what to do with good but old furniture. It is truly a labor of love❣️

  27. Love the dining room makeover. Can you tell me where you purchased the buffet and what they call it? Thank you I enjoy your blog so much!

  28. Hi Yvonne, This has always been my favourite room in your home. Not only is it beautiful, but it is warm and inviting and I can just imagine your guests happy and content sitting at your table chatting on during and after their meals.

  29. I think it’s wonderful how your dining room has evolved and you aren’t afraid to get rid of such an amazing dining room table. Just didn’t sit you anymore! I love my dining room, and because it has a huge window that shows my front garden I love to go in there and work and crafts. It’s always such a calm space. My dining room table and chairs for free, they were not in the best of shape Pat nothing a little paint, fabric and wood filler wouldn’t cure!

    1. Dee, I LOVE your attitude! Looking out on your front garden sounds delightful!!! As far as the table, it was sad to see it go but it was not working for me anymore.

  30. Would you share the source for your amazing cross back chairs in the dining room? Love, love, love all the details

  31. Hi Yvonne

    I like this post a lot. I am a big fan of formal dining room maybe because growing up it was the heart of our family. I grew up in a big family and my grandmother, our matriarch was always entertaining. She was a Cordon Bleu and if you knew her you would have agreed. I always admired her welcoming and amiable ways. Our house used to be the place where everyone gathers. I missed that a lot. Thank you for this post. On an other note where can I find a buffet like the white one showcase in your post?

  32. I absolutely love your buffet table. Where did you get it?