When designing and decorating a home, one question that often comes up is whether the dining room should be painted a different color than the rest of the house. There are good arguments on both sides of this debate. Here is an in-depth look at the pros and cons of having a dining room in a different color.
Pros of a different colored dining room
There are several potential benefits to using a different color in the dining room:
- Creates a focal point – Having a dining room in a bolder, darker color than the surrounding rooms makes it a natural focal point. This can help make the dining area feel like the centerpiece of the home’s design.
- Makes the space feel larger – Darker colors tend to make spaces feel larger and more expansive. Painting the dining room walls in a deep hue can make a small dining area feel more grand and cavernous.
- Adds visual interest – Differentiating the dining space from the living room or kitchen automatically adds more visual interest and dimension to the home’s color scheme.
- Complements dining furniture – Wood dining tables and chairs often look best against a colorful backdrop. A deep dining room color enhances and complements most dining furniture.
- Establishes separate mood and purpose – Using a different dining room color establishes this space as serving a separate purpose – elegant dining – compared to surrounding casual living areas.
There are also some more practical benefits to a distinctly colored dining room:
- Hides wear and tear – Darker dining room colors help conceal scuffs and marks that inevitably come from day-to-day use of the high-traffic space.
- Minimizes visibility of food stains – Deep hues like burgundy, forest green and navy blue help disguise food stains and spills that can happen frequently on dining surfaces.
Cons of a different colored dining room
However, there are also some drawbacks to consider when deciding whether to differentiate the dining room color:
- Can make space feel disconnected – Having one room in a dramatically different color than adjacent rooms runs the risk of making the dining area seem disconnected or arbitrarily set apart.
- Dark colors absorb light – Deep, saturated dining room colors tend to absorb natural light rather than reflect it. This can make the dining space feel dark and cave-like, requiring more artificial lighting.
- Makes small rooms feel smaller – While dark colors can make large rooms feel more grand, the opposite effect occurs in smaller dining spaces where dark colors tend to make the room feel cramped and claustrophobic.
- Limits color scheme flexibility – Choosing a vivid dining room wall color limits your ability to switch up paint colors, furnishings and decor down the road. The dining room will require complementing colors and styles.
- Limits future design choices – A dining room in a very bold color limits the future design and decorating options for that space. New homeowners may not appreciate being stuck with a dramatically colored dining room.
There are also some practical downsides to a colored dining area:
- Can show imperfections – Minor wall imperfections and uneven paint jobs tend to show up more noticeably against darker colored walls.
- Dark walls show dust – Deep or vivid dining room colors tend to show dust, dirt and grime much more than light walls.
- Limits lighting flexibility – To avoid a cave-like feeling, a dark dining room requires sufficient natural and artificial lighting sources, limiting lighting flexibility.
Factors to consider
When deciding whether to paint the dining room a separate color, here are some factors to take into account:
- Room size – Smaller dining rooms are best served by lighter colors to keep the space feeling open. Large dining spaces can handle deeper, dramatic colors.
- Natural lighting – Dining rooms with ample windows and light exposure can get away with bolder colors. Poorly lit dining rooms should stick to lighter hues.
- Furniture style – The existing dining set should complement the wall color. Wood tables suit darker colors well. More delicate furniture pairs better with light walls.
- Open versus closed floor plan – An open dining area flows better with a continuous wall color. A separate, closed off dining room is the ideal candidate for a splashy color.
- House style – Contemporary homes lean toward bold dining colors. Traditional homes are generally better served with an integrated, uniform wall color.
Here is a table summarizing the factors that point toward or away from a different dining room color:
|Favors different dining color
|Favors uniform house color
Best dining room colors
If choosing to paint the dining room in a separate, bold color, these hues work especially well:
- Deep reds – From burgundy to oxblood to wine red, dark reds instantly create an elegant, upscale dining room.
- Rich blues – Navy, cobalt and inky blues give the space a soothing yet dramatic flair. These colors stimulate appetite.
- Forest and sage greens – Deep green dining rooms feel earthy yet sophisticated. The color is flattering alongside wood furniture.
- Chocolate browns – From milk chocolate to deep coffee colors, brown dining rooms have a grounded, welcoming vibe perfect for family meals.
- Regal purples – Eggplant, plum and wine-colored purples create a royal backdrop for elegant dinner parties.
For a bright, cheerful dining space, sunny yellows and light turquoise blues are lively options. Use accompanying accent colors to keep the room from feeling overwhelming.
Determining if the dining room should be a different color ultimately comes down to personal preference and priorities. Those favoring a seamlessly integrated home favor sticking to one uniform wall color. For those wanting the dining experience to feel separate and special, a splashy colored dining room is the way to go.
To avoid the dining space feeling disjointed, use color-connecting techniques like painting the ceiling the same color as adjoining rooms. Include similar color accents in both the dining area and living areas. Use artwork and other decor to visually link the spaces. With thoughtful color strategies and furniture positioning, a vivid dining room color can feel cohesive while still providing a stylish focal point.
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to get creative with dining room colors. Just be sure to account for the room’s size, layout and style in making the color selection. Test samples on the wall before fully committing. And if the color doesn’t have the desired effect, a new coat of neutral paint can always override a bright dining room makeover. With strategic approaches, a dramatically colored dining space can be a gorgeous and lively accent to any home’s design and decor.