28 dining room storage ideas for a well-designed and functional dining space

Smart dining room storage ideas are crucial to keeping a busy space tidy and clutter-free

Dining room with dresser
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Not everyone has a stand-alone dining room, the dining area may be part of an open-plan space, part of the kitchen, or it may have to double up as a home office. Practical dining room storage ideas are essential if you want to entertain or to make room to enjoy a special family meal. 

Sideboards have been around for years, and with good reason, they provide plenty of storage space with a useful surface for display and decoration, but shelving, dressers and cabinets also come into their own in dining room ideas.

The object of the exercise is to create a tidy space with good storage, so even if it is used as a home office it can be transformed into a dining room with minimal effort. Built-in storage is a great idea as it is designed to fit the space, but there are plenty of multi-functional pieces that work well in a dining room and will give you the ideal dining room you have been looking for.

Dining room storage ideas

Effective storage will make your dining room a place of tranquillity and calm if organised correctly. So think about the space you have available and the best way to use it. 

Is there a fireplace with alcoves on either side? Is there space around the dining table for shelving or a dresser? Also bear in mind how much space there is when the dining chairs are pulled out, you don’t want to bang into a piece of furniture each time you sit down.

1. Embrace the benefits of a built-in

Table with chairs in dining room

(Image credit: Sharps)

Custom-built furniture will always be the most favourable, as it has been designed specifically for you to fit the space available. Using the alcoves either side of a chimney breast is a classic solution for a dining room storage idea. 

Dresser-style units are tall or sometimes full-height to offer maximum storage. Generally, they are designed with cupboards below to hide all the mundane stuff such as china, napkins or placemats with glazed cabinets above for displaying glassware or favourite pieces, leaving the rest of the room free for the table and chairs. 

2. Think about a dresser

Dining room with dresser

(Image credit: Future PLC)

You may be lucky enough to inherit a dresser, or you may have to buy one, but they are the ideal dining room storage solution. Historically, you would always find a dresser in a farmhouse kitchen as they can store lots of tableware and cookware and look pretty too. They can be painted to suit your colour scheme and re-painted many times, you can also customise the inside with a different colour, wallpaper or shelf edging for a country look.

‘Pantries and dressers are a big trend, not just for the kitchen but the dining room too.’ Says Melissa Klink, Creative Director of Harvey Jones. ‘Storage that is tucked away around the corner is becoming increasingly popular. Plus, that wow moment when you open what looks like a cupboard door to expose a whole secret room behind just never gets old.  A crowd pleaser for sure!

3. Make the most of a classic sideboard

Wooden sideboard with gallery wall

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Sideboards are synonymous with dining rooms and have been used for centuries in one form or another in dining rooms. They come in lots of different sizes and styles and can hold lots of china, glassware and cutlery to general family ephemera. They tend to be quite low so the top can be dressed with lamps, picture frames, vases and accessories to make them part of the overall decorating scheme.

‘I love the idea of a sideboard,’ says Sam Baldry, Head of Design at Swoon. ‘By utilising its upper surface to display a chic arrangement of candlesticks, nostalgic family photos, and fresh flora and fauna; and the interior to store your dining utensils, napkins, and table accessories, you can create a truly versatile, space-efficient piece of furniture. 

'Plus, with many charming designs available, including ones with bottle racks to store your dinner party tipples, you’re sure to discover an aesthetic that mirrors your current interior.’

4. Shelving solutions and consoles you can move around

Blue dining room with clock wall decor

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Another dining room storage idea for either side of a fireplace or central wall, is shelving. Shelving can be purpose-built to fit the space or freestanding, which is an ideal solution if you are renting, as it can be moved around or taken with you. 

A narrow shelving unit like this one is good for a small space and is also perfect for displaying favourite accessories. You can also invest in a console table, which is a versatile piece of furniture, and can be used in a dining room, living room, bedroom or hallway. 

5. Repurpose a vintage find for a unique look

Wooden sideboard in dining room

(Image credit: King Living)

Vintage office or school cabinets are a lovely dining room storage option, and sustainable too. Buying second-hand furniture is a good way to reuse something that may have gone into a landfill and adds personality to a room. 

This set of drawers with its distinctive handles and card holders is a case in point. The wood can be sanded down and varnished or painted to give it a new lease of life and set the tone for an industrial theme to your dining room. Then to build on the look, team it with a metal frame table and bench and leather dining chairs. Add lanterns on the tabletop to continue the theme.

6. Consider a sliding-door cabinet in a narrow space

A dining room with a grey sliding door display cabinet, wooden flooring and a pendant light

(Image credit: Cuckooland)

Just as pocket doors are the ideal solution in a small space, sliding doors on furniture work in the same way –the doors don’t open outwards to bash into furniture or people so they are ideal in a narrow room. They generally have shelving and drawers inside to store all the necessary tableware, with a sliding door that allows you to access either side, that doubles up as a display shelf too, as it has here.

7. Choose bench seats with storage beneath

banquette seating and wooden dining table with black dining chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your dining area is tucked into a small space, consider building bench seating with storage beneath. It could either be a set of cupboards opened from the front as it is here or accessed from the top by lifting up the seat. 

You can buy or make banquette seating yourself, or customise a bench with a cushion made from a length of foam covered in a favourite fabric. As well as being practical for storage benches are also winners for squeezing in extra table spaces without floating chairs.

 ‘For informal get-togethers and to fill remaining spaces within the kitchen and social zones, a dining table with benches allows for a more casual, jovial atmosphere and means one or two more can be squeezed in if need be!’ says Nick Atkin of Atkin and Thyme. ‘ If reconfiguring the room for a bigger party, benches are multi-use and can easily be placed around to offer laid-back seating for many.'

8. Use dead space to create custom-built storage

Table with yellow chair in dining room

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Make use of an old chimney breast and build-in shelving as a great dining room storage idea. An unused chimney breast can become useful storage by removing the fire and expanding the space internally, without affecting the structure. This one has been lined with wood on either side with wooden shelves spanning the aperture, which is then used to display favourite objects, glassware, books and plants to add an interesting feature to the room. 

9. Position a high level shelf for display

A dining room with a single wall shelf, a grey wall and a wooden table with black chairs

(Image credit: Habitat)

Floating shelving is great for displaying favourite objects and as it’s high on the wall, it’s tucked out of the way. There are no brackets so it has a contemporary look. 

It also means that you could add to it with others beneath it, or put a console table beneath. It is a smart way to add subtle colour to wall alcoves in a white dining room. Pictures and your best crockery look great on floating shelves and are easy to change up. 

10. Squeeze in a china cabinet

A dining room with cream storage, neutral and yellow walls and blue touches

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Make use of empty alcoves in a dining room by slotting in a slimline storage cabinet. Alcoves often vary in width, so it can be tricky finding furniture that’s an exact fit, but a single width cabinet should fit most alcoves, with a little breathing space on either side. This is also a great solution for a small dining room.

Choose a design with adjustable shelving inside so you can arrange the heights to suit what you’ll be storing, such as dinnerware and glasses or taller jugs and vases.

11. Build dining storage to fit your space

Dining room with white storage cabinets and yellow chair

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Create a tailor-made piece at an off-the-peg price using flatpack modular furniture. Buy simple wooden units and push them together in multiples to create one long bank of units to fit the available space.

Add worktops, paint door fronts, or customise with different legs and handles to create a bespoke look, as they have done in this grey dining room by adding a bright yellow chair.

12. Create a storage wall

Dining room storage with yellow walls and wooden shelving

(Image credit: Next)

Max out on dining room storage ideas by fixing up a whole wall of shelving. Build a simple wooden framework to cover one wall, adding horizontals and verticals to create different-sized boxes and cubbyholes.

Paint the background white or try a combination of colours in different sections for an imaginative dining room paint idea. Then put favourite tableware, beautiful dining room lighting ideas and decorative pieces on display.

13. Showcase everyday essentials

Dining room with family dog lying in front of a white glass display cabinet

(Image credit: The White Company)

While there’s a lot to be said for hiding clutter away behind closed doors, having favourite things on show in an open kitchen pantry idea gives heart to a home.

Tableware looks great displayed en masse – whether it’s simple all-white china, decorative glassware or earthenware serving dishes and platters – and a simple glass-fronted cabinet makes a great showcase. Glass doors will keep breakables safe and dust-free too.

14. Double-up on storage in a shared space

A dining room with teal walls and a wooden dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Working from home means that dining rooms often have to do double-duty as a small home office too. Cover all bases with neat alcove storage that can house office kit or dining room essentials. A slimline console table tucked against a wall will create landing space for a laptop. Just add a rack on the wall above for a spot to stash stationary.

15. Add slimline shelving for a dining room display

A neutral dining room with wall storage and a plate rack

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Try a no-fuss way to put collections on display by adding a couple of narrow picture ledges on one wall. Position one above the other for a structured, formal look or arrange at staggered heights for a more relaxed dining room wall decor idea.

Perfect for showcasing decorative plates or favourite artwork, ledges offer a less-permanent option than hanging pieces individually on a wall with items easy to arrange (and rearrange) if you fancy a change later on.

16. Create a serving nook in a kitchen-diner

A blue, white and yellow dining area with a table and wooden chairs and wall clock

(Image credit: Furniture and Choice)

Find an alternative use for an alcove by setting up a mini serving nook. Add a row or two of shelving and stock with tableware, serving dishes, tea and coffee making kit and condiments, so that all your essentials are to hand. If there’s space underneath, you could slot in a kitchen trolley or bar cart too.

17. Create an artful dining room display

A dining room with cube modular wall storage

(Image credit: Ikea)

Turn storage into a display opportunity with a bespoke arrangement of wall-mounted cubes. Vary shapes, sizes and colours to create an eye-catching composition, leaving some sections open and adding doors and drawers to others.

Style up with decorative tableware and serving pieces on display, with less-decorative items like linens and cutlery hidden away inside.

18. Include a multi-tasking bench


(Image credit: Future PLC/Max Attenborough)

Whilst built-in furniture can often be a brilliant way to maximise your storage potential, there are plenty of other options that don’t involve the builders or massive budgets.

Instead, before making any new furniture purchases, keep in mind how hard that piece should have to work to be worthy of a place in your home.

Mixing a bench with chairs at the dining table creates a relaxed ambiance, not to mention allowing for squeezing on an extra guest at dinner when the need arises.

19. Create an unpretentious space for everyday life

Dining room with pastel blue walls, wooden table and chairs and white hanging pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

If you're looking for shabby chic dining room ideas, replace a formal display cabinet with a vintage-style cupboard with chicken-wire panels instead of glass doors. It's an easy budget dining room idea that won't break the bank. Store pretty tableware and linen in the cupboard so it doubles up as a decorative feature.

Use rustic materials such as natural flooring, chunky wood and battered leather to provide plenty of interesting textures that will create a laid-back, lived-in feel.

20. Think beyond the dining room

A white modern dining room with woven pendant over dining table and serving trolley

(Image credit: Future PLC/Damian Russell/Homes & Gardens)

If you have the space, consider incorporating a larder-style cupboard into your dining room scheme. This neutral scheme is broken up by flashes of dark, bold colours in linear markings, whether on the rug, the alternative dining room curtain idea or the large, black storage unit.

Storage on this mighty scale means there shouldn't be anything left cluttering up your dining room.

Use a tonal dining room colour scheme that is in keeping with the rest of the room to provide balance. Alternatively, opt for a glass-fronted display unit. Use the visible shelves for decorative accessories and conceal practical pieces in the drawers below or elsewhere.

21. Make it multi-functional

A mid century dining space with bench seating, patterned wallpaper and cushions

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain)

Get super-organised with a fitted bench that doubles as a storage unit. Built-in bench seating like this corner design is an incredibly efficient use of space, especially for small kitchen ideas.

Wood is not just practical, it adds texture and warmth to a scheme, too. Include conventional drawers and pull-out baskets under the seat for versatile additional storage that is easy to access and smart and streamlined when not in use.

22. Personalise every inch

Black painted dining room with tropical theme and houseplants

(Image credit: Future PLC/Simon Whitmore)

Dining room storage ideas don't always have to be fancy. Why not factor in a simple, standalone sideboard? Freestanding furniture can provide a more individual solution than costly bespoke built-in storage systems.

A sideboard is a great place to store plates, cutlery and glasses out of sight, especially when it is as stylish as this one. If you're on a tight budget, look out for a second-hand one you can paint for an affordable upcycled furniture idea.

23. Dress up your dining room storage

A dining room with coastal wallpaper and white wooden dresser storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dominic Blackmore)

Jazz up a corner of your dining room with a painted dresser – this design has lots of display space for your treasured crockery. Alternatively, make the most of ceiling height by fitting extra-tall cupboards, storing those rarely needed items in the harder-to-reach zones.

Line your display cabinets with a unique wallpaper idea for a bespoke touch.

24. Make it versatile

A coastal themed dining room with mismatched chairs and zinc topped dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

For a hardworking fix, consider freestanding furniture that can work in virtually any room. Standalone designs offer heaps of variety and choice when it comes to keeping an open-plan kitchen and living space flexible.

A wooden storage chest like the one shown here can be moved in, around and out when redecorating. Finish by styling the top with your favourite accessories, including vases and candle holders.

25. Utilise unloved space

A white rustic family dining area with a table and built in bookcase

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Design a dining scheme around your storage requirements. Take advantage of all the space available with floor-to-ceiling shelving. Fit shelves into unused alcoves and use for books and decorative pieces so you won't need to provide floor-standing shelves or cupboards.

Paint your shelves in a different colour to your walls to provide a neat contrast.

26. Look to your living room

A dining room with wallpapered wall side table storage idea

(Image credit: Future PLC/Catherine Gratewick)

Add a table. The ultimate fuss-free option, a simple round table is a sure winner with those who don’t like larger, fitted pieces of furniture. Storage isn't always about concealing belongings.

Position a table in an alcove rather than adding built-in cupboards or shelving and use the tabletop for practical as well as decorative objects – such as lighting, ornaments and photo frames. Add a captivating dining room wallpaper idea to add further wow factor.

27. Consider ornamental furniture

A neutral dining room with a chandelier and white ornate dresser

(Image credit: Future PLC/Polly Eltes)

Bring a touch of feminine softness to a neutral dining room with a decorative armoire. Opt for a glass-fronted display unit that will show off tableware and glassware rather than keeping it hidden from view.

The curvaceous lines and ornate features of this cabinet bring an on-trend, opulent feel to the dining room. After all, the devil is in the detail.

28. Line up a display shelf

A white dining space with two doors, a blue pendant light and a wooden table

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

If you have objects that are worthy of showing off then display them along an open shelf. Lay a carefully curated selection of ceramics and pretty trinkets along the top of a false wall, which acts as a shelf.

Alternatively, floating shelves keep a dining room neat and clutter-free and are a good way to make use of every inch, especially if you're short of floor space for freestanding units. They also add personality to a plain wall.

How do I add storage to my dining room?

Add storage to your dining room to cater for your needs, according to the space you have to utilise. If you have the space, a dresser or sideboard is invaluable to provide plentiful storage for all your dinnerware essentials. A dresser also provides an element of concealed storage, to help keep the room clutter-free and tidy.

‘When it comes to adding storage to the dining room, it’s important to consider the size you’re working with,' says Tom St Quintin, Furniture Buyer at Furniture Village. ‘Is the room cosy and compact or are you working with a larger, open-plan space?

'Ladder shelving units are perfect for spaces that lack room for a dedicated storage area. Tall and thin, ladder units are ideal for making the most out of limited space or for tucking into empty alcoves’.

Open-fronted dressers are a great way to display your best serving ware in a dining room. While the cupboards beneath provide further storage for items less attractive but just as necessary – extra stacks of linens and glassware etc.

Wooden dining table with blue art work

(Image credit: Future PLC)

 How do I make storage look good in a dining room? 

‘Depending on your personal preference, there’s a big trend for exposed shelving - particularly in the dining room.’ Says Victoria Darnell, Cabinetry Buyer at The Cotswold Co.  

‘Having your favourite things on show adds personality to a dining room. Tableware also looks great displayed altogether and in one place – whether it’s your very best china or an eclectic mix of decorative pieces you’ve sourced over the years, simple shelves or an open fronted cabinet is a great place to showcase it.’ 

What do you put in dining room drawers?

You can use the drawers of a dining sideboard or dresser as the perfect place to keep folded table linens, sets of cutlery, placemats, candle holders and table decorations for special occasions. Depending on the amount of space you have you can also use the dining room drawers to keep surplus kitchen accessories, stored out of sight but close to hand.

Lisa Fazzani
Deputy Editor

Lisa is Deputy Editor of Style at Home magazine and regularly contributes to sister title Ideal Home. She has written about interiors for more than 25 years and about pretty much every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, crafts and DIY to real home transformations and kitchen and bathroom makeovers. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person.