How to add captivating colour to a dining room

Create the perfect ambience for meal times with the right colour scheme for you - and your guests

The dining room is often one of the less-used rooms in the house nowadays, so if you still have a formal dining room, it’s worth embracing that sense of occasion and being a little more extravagant and daring with its decoration.

Take time to consider the size of the room and also the amount of natural light it receives, as it may take on a more practical use in the daytime, for homework or housekeeping, for example. A room flooded with light can hold its own during the day when decorated with dark colours, which in turn will be the ideal back drop for an intimate setting in the evening. However, a naturally darker room may benefit from a lighter touch of pale shades throughout the day, which can be warmed up with subtle lighting at nightfall.

Strong use of colour is not for the faint hearted, but a great way to create a dramatic dining experience. Be daring with colour on both the walls and floors, or for a more subtle approach, try a bright rug under the table to help define the dining zone, or create focal points with graphic paintings and prints. For an atmospheric dining experience, a range of tones in the same colour will unite the entire space, while a dark painted ceiling will give the room a cosy feel. If you have a dado rail, consider wallpaper above it and a deep colour below for a cocooning effect.

Unify a multifunction room

Image credit: Alistair Nicholls

Co-ordinate a large open-plan room with a happy blend of colours. Start with a neutral backdrop throughout and add hits of colour across the scheme using soft furnishings. Keep the practical kitchen a defining monochrome and then merge into cool subtle grey and pastels for a seating zone (this one benefits from an abundance of natural light). Finally, bring a reclaimed dining set back to life with co-ordinating seat pads in vibrant jewel tones for an uplifting eclectic finish that works.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar wooden furniture, Oka

Set the mood with mauve

Image credit: Carolyn Barber

Pep up a breakfast table and bench with a laid-back palette of soft purples, pinks and greys. Warm up a neutral backdrop with a harmonious mix of stylish cushions of various textures in heather and ash tones to create a tranquil space. Pretty up the table with a delicate crochet table runner and a mix of tableware in pastel shades to continue the relaxed vibe. A large chalky, woven light shade hung off centre creates an almost moonlit setting.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar cushion, Regency pink velvet cushion, Habitat

Go for green

Image credit: Simon Brown

If your dining room overlooks the garden (or even if it doesn’t), consider a green decorating scheme to bring a little of the outdoors in. Choose an uplifting vibrant shade and team it with modern pattern for a stimulating scheme. Offset the bold with refreshing white and pretty leaf motif accessories. Use curtains to carry pattern – this loose chevron design in the same tone is an effective way of adding a refreshingly graphic edge while softening the bold colour choice.

Get the look
Buy now: Paint, Opulence Polo Green Matt Emulsion Paint, for 2.5l, Craig & Rose at B&Q

Adjust the contrast

Image credit: Dominic Blackmore

Get the best out of grey with monochrome additions. Take on the trend of the decade with a strong statement wall in slate grey. Break up the density with white storage to instantly freshen the mood. Create depth and interest with a triangular display of arty black and white framed prints. Bring in pale wood dining furniture with smart grey upholstery and an exciting accent colour – such as the zingy yellow of this stylish rug.

Get the look
Buy now: Rug, Stockholm rug, Ikea
Buy now: Similar paint, Pavilion Gray No.242 Matt Estate Emulsion, for 2.5l, Farrow & Ball at B&Q

Spin the colour wheel

Image credit: Jeremy Phillips

Choose complementary colours for a palette that’s pleasing to the eye. Vibrant orange will always pack a punch in a dining room, but introduce it through a circular motif wallpaper and the effect is all the more intense. Counterbalance with blue tableware and a single velvet statement chair in cobalt to stand out and harmonise. Enhance the relaxed retro vibe with on-trend mid-century style furniture.

Get the look
Buy now: Wallpaper, Three Circles, Scion at Wallpaper Direct
Buy now: Similar chair, Mauricette Peacock blue velvet vintage chair, Maison Du Monde

Use colour in isolation

Image credit: Colin Poole

Paint a single cabinet a strong shade to stand out and create a cool, stylish atmosphere. Let an impressive and sturdy dresser dominate the dining space in stormy grey. Choose rustic furniture in natural tones as a counterpoint to the intense paint colour. Hang a vintage chandelier for an air of luxury and keep the cabinet crockery pretty and co-ordinated with an all-white display.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar paint, Gustavian Colour 22, Grand Illusions

Head for red

Image credit: Simon Bevan

Nothing quite gets the attention like bright red – use it to accentuate an otherwise neutral dining space. Rather than drown a room with saturated colour, balance it throughout with an equal measure of white against a backdrop that’s also white. Start the style statement with an impressive low-slung light – this one conjures up a fiesta spirit with its pretty paper garlands. Echo the contemporary look with a mix of strong patterns on loose chair covers and a Nordic-style felt rug.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar modern furniture, Swoon Editions

Perk up with pattern

Image credit: Rachel Whiting

Warm up a rustic kitchen-diner with soft furnishings in a mix of disparate patterns and subtle autumnal colours to create a relaxed cottage feel. Mix warm tones that follows nature’s lead. Anchor the look with a signature tablecloth featuring a geometric pattern in burnt umber, then draw in the seating with a mix of cushions in earthy tones and different designs. Emphasise the lived-in and busy with plenty of glazed ceramics and kitchen accessories. Here, an ochre Roman blind adds a burst of warming yellow.

Get the look
Buy now: Fabric, Medina fabric, Rapture & Wright
Buy now: Table, Homer Flip Top table, Loaf

Think pink

Image credit: Jan Baldwin

As general rule, the stronger the pink the less of it you need, so try a shot of shocking cerise with black and white to create a sophisticated look that’s oozing with energy. Use white as the base as it sets off any pink to its best advantage. Introduce the explosion of colour with sumptuous velvet seating and vivid curtains. Team with black accents to take the look from girly to glam. An opulent orb pendant light will lean the look towards opulent 1950s  Hollywood.

Get the look
Buy now: Similar fabric, Varese – Fuchsia, Designers Guild at Jane Clayton

Will you be adding colour to your dining room? Be aware of the change of seasons -– intense wallpaper and fabric-covered chairs may be sumptuous and luxurious when it’s cold outside, but rather more intense in the summer heat. Remember colour doesn’t have to be permanent, so consider more temporary updates to your dining room – a striking runner, chinaware and vases of seasonal blooms will not only inject colour into a neutral scheme, but can be a temporary reflection of summer brights or winter hues.

Ideal Home loves...