Formal dining rooms often become dull and outdated quickly. As most families prefer to gather in the kitchen on weeknights, they frequently neglect the dining room.
Updating the dining room doesn’t have to mean pouring months of hard work into the space or dedicating a large budget to it.
Making a few key improvements to the space will refresh the entire room, bringing it into the current decade without breaking the bank.
Declutter the entire room
- 1 Declutter the entire room
- 2 Paint the walls and trim
- 3 Alternatively, add an accent wall
- 4 Install statement lighting
- 5 Add a mirror and some wall art
- 6 Put in window treatments
- 7 Makeover outdated furniture with paint or a new stain
- 8 Upgrade the dining room chairs instead of the entire dining room set
- 9 Scout estate sales for dining room furniture
- 10 Finish the room with a few accessories
- 11 Conclusion
Decluttering a room costs nothing and instantly makes it feel fresh and put together. When you don’t use a room very often, it’s easy for it to become a gathering space for miscellaneous papers and household junk.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get into a vicious cycle where you use the room even less often because it’s always messy. Go through every paper pile and put away any items that don’t belong in the dining room. With a clear table surface and neat shelves, you’ll be motivated to eat in the dining room again and make a few other improvements to the room.
Paint the walls and trim
Painting a room is one of the most inexpensive home updates that offers a big bang for your buck. For less than $100, you can transform the entire space dramatically in a single weekend.
Lighten up a dark, depressing room with a bright color, or add drama to a boring space with a rich, darker tone. Don’t forget to paint the trim as well. Dirty or banged up trim drags down the entire room.
Spring for an extra quart of white paint and finish the paint job by touching up the trim.
Alternatively, add an accent wall
When you don’t want to paint the whole dining room or are happy with the color but want to make a small change, think about adding an accent wall. Painting a single wall or installing wallpaper on just one wall creates definition and adds visual interest to the room for even less time and money than painting the entire space.
An accent wall also gives you the freedom to experiment with a bold color or pattern you might not choose for the entire room. Be strategic about which wall you designate as the accent wall, so it draws people into the dining room naturally or adds an element of surprise when they enter the room.
Install statement lighting
After painting a room, switching out an old light fixture is the single most effective way to update your dining room on a budget. For under $500, you’ll transform the most outdated element of the room, modernizing the space without even making any other updates.
Consider the style of your home and the look you want for your dining room, and then choose a light fixture accordingly. A classic chandelier is ideal for a home with older charm while single hanging bulbs will work better in a home with a chic, modern aesthetic. Make sure the light fixture fits the proportions of the room, covering a maximum of 2/3 of the dining room table.
Add a mirror and some wall art
A mirror brightens up a room and makes it appear larger, which is perfect for compact dining rooms. Whenever possible, position the mirror in such a way that it reflects natural light back into the room.
Once you’ve selected a mirror, choose a few wall art pieces to personalize the space. Consider a set of frames or canvases for one large open wall area or opt for multiple smaller pieces that work together but aren’t overly matching.
Put in window treatments
For a formal dining room, most likely curtains are your best option for window treatments, as blinds will feel too casual. When you have dining room windows with a standard size and shape, ready-made curtains are ideal.
You’ll add polish to the room quickly and easily. When your dining room windows aren’t a standard size or shape, you’ll have to explore made-to-measure curtains. Custom curtains will cost more but are still an inexpensive dining room upgrade and will be well worth it to get the aesthetic just right.
Makeover outdated furniture with paint or a new stain
When new furniture isn’t in the budget, painting or staining existing furniture will give the room a much-needed update. Treat the furniture as a blank slate that you can customize to fit the aesthetic of your dining room.
Before painting or staining solid wood furniture, sand down the existing paint or stain to give yourself a fresh surface. You’ll need to sand in between each coat as well.
Upgrade the dining room chairs instead of the entire dining room set
When you have limited funds for furniture, think about keeping the existing dining room table and replacing just the dining room chairs. The table is the most expensive piece in a dining set.
Leaving out this component will free up funds to do multiple other updates besides the furniture. Alternatively, if you’re happy with your current dining room table and chairs, think about adding a smaller dining room piece, such as a low buffet, that won’t break the bank.
Scout estate sales for dining room furniture
Estate sales are a great way to purchase high-quality furniture on a budget. In many instances, you’ll be able to purchase older pieces in styles or materials that aren’t available in stores today.
Keep an open mind when shopping estate sales, as you’ll often find great pieces that need a little bit of work.
Don’t get discouraged because a beautiful dining room table is a little rough around the edges or doesn’t quite match your dining room aesthetic. You can fix it up with a new stain or coat of paint.
Finish the room with a few accessories
A few carefully selected accessories or décor pieces are the ideal way to finish off any newly updated room, bringing the entire space together.
As you’re working a budget, don’t go overboard and blow your margins on the accessories. You also don’t want to clutter up the space, making it too busy.
A few decorative glass bottles for the top of the china hutch and a large vase to serve as a dining room table centerpiece will elevate the space for just a few more dollars.
When you’re updating any area of your home, be honest about your priorities. The dining room is no exception. If switching out the old light fixture and window treatments will make the biggest difference for you, start with these projects. Then return to other tasks down the road as time and budget allow.