6 Trends in Modern and Contemporary Dining Rooms

Choose midcentury classics, Scandinavian modern pieces, handcrafted beauties and more to create a yummy dining space

Clean-lined and cold, stark white with perhaps a little Beetlejuice thrown in — this is what modern and contemporary dining rooms may conjure up in our brains. But modern design is about many things, from the playfulness of midcentury style to honoring the way George Nakashima treated a gorgeous slab of wood, from throwing in some Danish hygge to customizing pieces to fit a home. All sorts of ingredients can be combined to create an inviting modern or contemporary dining room.

Incorporated, original photo on Houzz

Midcentury Modern Mix

 Ingredients: Wood veneer, bentwood, colorful fiberglass, hairpin legs, white Saucer pendant

 Table and chair legs are the key ingredient in this midcentury modern mix. The table has classic hairpin legs while the metal legs of the stackable Eames chairs have an extra flourish on the sides. The bent wood on the end chairs plays off the veneer on the tabletop, allowing for a mix of fiberglass and chair upholstery to add primary colors. Overhead, a classic George Nelson pendant provides a sculptural shape and a glow.

KMH Interiors, original photo on Houzz

Going Curvy

Ingredients: White oval pedestal table, walnut chairs, chrome chandelier

In 1956, Eero Saarinen designed his pedestal tables and chairs to “clear up the slum of legs in the U.S. home.” His gracious table sits atop a pedestal base. But we’ll keep a few extra legs, thank you very much. Rich walnut veneer on a more recent design, Jesús Gasca’s Globus chairs, provides contrast, while the curved cutouts on their backs play off the table’s shape. Overhead, a chrome chandelier composed of cup shapes picks up on the chairs’ chrome bases and accents.

Search Dining Room Chairs by Style

Tori Golub Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Live-Edge Wood and Cones

Ingredients: Live-edge trestle table, conical upholstered chairs, streamlined banquette

The raw edge of this table brings in a woodsy natural element, paired with playful cone-shaped chairs from Verner Panton. Live-edge furniture was made popular by designer George Nakashima, who combined his woodworking skills with modern design. 

Homes By Architects Tour, original photo on Houzz

Classic Scandinavian Modern

Ingredients: Classic Wegner Wishbone chairs, rustic oak table, simple drum pendant light

White walls provide enough balance here for the addition of lots of wood — on the floor, on the beams, on the chairs, on the table. Hans Wegner’s classic Wishbone chairs are always the star, so the choice of a simple reclaimed-wood table makes for a harmonious pairing. The chairs are maple with paper-cord woven seats and the table is white oak. A simple drum pendant overhead adds just the right dose of a warmer white. 

Key Measurements to Plan the Perfect Dining Room

Rozalynn Woods Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Playful Classics

Ingredients: Noguchi Cyclone table, two-tone Saarinen Executive chairs, veneer light fixture 

A funkier version of Saarinen’s Executive chair adds a pop of personality to this dining area. The black plastic backs contrast with the light green upholstered seats. Their metal legs play off the whirling base of Isamu Noguchi’s classic Cyclone dining table. The wood veneer light fixture looks like something the cyclone swirled up and tossed into the air. 

Elevation Architects, original photo on Houzz

Rustic and Industrial

Recipe: Live-edge table and bench, hairpin legs, Eames chairs with metal Eiffel bases 

A live-edge bench that matches the table provides a clear view of the table’s beauty. On the other side, classic Eames shell chairs with Eiffel bases nod to California’s midcentury modern heyday. 

Dress Up the Dining Table With These Tablecloths and Runners

More architecture and design articles you might be interested in

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Two homeowners add comfort and sophistication to their splendid Portsmouth Victorian.

A Historic Holiday Show House

New England designers showcased their talents at The Fells Historic Estate & Gardens last holiday season and will do so again in November.

Kitchen and Bath Showcase

Five homeowners and their designers create rooms that are stylish, functional and fun.

Carving a New Niche

Accomplished furniture maker David Lamb was commissioned to make a frieze from local wood.

A Hilltop Dream House

Working with Jason Aselin, of JAD Design Group Inc. in Amherst, Dana and Tom Boucher designed a modified classic Cape perfect for its Bedford site.
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