What did the Greeks and Romans do lying down, dogs do standing up and the rest of us seated? Eating – and we’re increasingly doing it in the dining room. After years of being subsumed into vast, laboratory-style kitchens or Austin Powers–style open-plan living rooms, the intimacy of a dedicated room for dining is back in vogue, helped along by a return to entertaining at home instigated by the pandemic and a work-from-home culture that favours the ability to hive off into separate rooms.
In Europe, dining rooms began to emerge in the late middle ages as medieval-style eating in a communal great hall started to fade. And for the western middle classes, this lasted right through until the 1950s and 60s, when the great merging of dining areas with kitchens and living rooms took place as domestic staff disappeared and lifestyles became more practical and casual.
READ: 20 incredible living rooms by top interior designers
To celebrate the return of the dining room, here are 10 of the very best examples by some of the world’s most influential interior designers:
Sandra Weingort : Di Lido Drive
Miami and New York-based Columbian Sandra Weingort has carved out a rarefied space in her mid-century, Japanese and Californian-tropical-inspired interiors. This exceptional dining room in her Di Lido Drive project on Miami’s Venetian Islands is a great example of her blending of vintage pieces with custom-made wood and extensive use of natural materials – as in the stone-panelled wall. Weingort tells us: “I strongly believe human beings find comfort in nature, and bringing nature into the interiors is where that familiarity and relatability comes from.” It’s also a good example of the modern use of a dining space, having both the stature to create an elevated sense of occasion while being sufficiently relaxed for casual eating or working from home.
See more of Sandra Weingort’s work
Alidad : Queen Anne London House
Alidad is a master of creating dining rooms with a sense of fantasy and boudoir-like intimacy that can transform a simple meal into an evening of legend. His trademark rich, enveloping colours and textures are a natural fit with both his grander dining rooms (article head) and smaller city dining rooms, with depth and layering that offers tantalising glimpses of spaces beyond.
The London-based interior designer tells Effect: ““A timeless room will never need to be built around. Everything will have been thought through. I drive myself crazy thinking about how it functions, how it operates with the room next door, or as part of the whole house.” Note the extraordinary attention to detail, including the celestial charts on the ceiling.
Explore Alidad’s interior design work here
Gideon Mendelson : West Village Dining Room
Brooklyn-based interior designer Gideon Mendelson has a modernist signature blended with an entirely contemporary sensibility, as with this dining room in a private West Village residence. The gold ceiling, dark panelled walls and dramatic emerald artwork are bold choices that are highly effective. Mendelson tells us: “It’s exciting, yet calm. Youthful, yet sophisticated. It’s where modern glam meets family function, proving that high-end design can also mean low-maintenance living.”
Learn more about the interior design of Gideon Mendelson
Maddux Creative : Notting Hill Dining Room
The brief for this west London house was to create the unexpected: an interior with elements that the owners had never seen before, and also a frivolous use of colour; and this dining room warrants inclusion for the geometric ceiling fresco and modernist sculptural lighting alone. But what works so well with this room is how those features are given space to breath by the neutral walls and floors, allowing the marble table to take centre-stage beneath.
See more of Maddux Creative’s interiors here
Kelly Wearstler : Malibu Beach Shack Dining Room
Dining room, Malibu beach-shack style. With the Pacific just feet away and the scent of saltwater in the air, Kelly Wearstler created the perfect dining space in this tropicalia-infused modernist treasure-chest of a property on Broad Beach. Wearstler tells Effect: “I want to tell evocative stories, adventurous and full of soul, incorporating a mixology of materials and influences.”
READ: Kelly Wearstler’s most important interior design lesson
Simone Haag : Melbourne Dining Room
This modernist gem was created by Simone Haag, one of Australia’s top interior designers in her Huntingtower project in Melbourne. And while Haag is known for her exceptional use of textures and fabrics, here she has gone all-out on the brutalist functionality of concrete ceiling and cement walls, which conspires with the marble and wood detailing to create a dining space of complete conviviality. Of her curation process, Haag tells us: “I constantly have pieces and objects in my head, and when I see a space, I often know instinctively which pieces would work there.”
See more of Simone Haag’s interior design
Reymond Langton Design : Artefact Superyacht Dining Room
As a palate cleanser, here’s a dining room on a superyacht – the Artefact, darling of Monaco Yacht Show and winner of Super Yacht of the Year 2021, with interior design by Reymond Langton. And while the real hero here might be the dazzling views of the sea, what marks Artefact out as distinctive is its signature use of natural materials with soft bronze and dark walnut accents. “Soft, subtly faceted architectural structures break up the design – both visually and sonically, and are blended with softer, curved elements found in the ceilings and furniture which are all developed to absorb noise and reduce echoes in the larger spaces of saloons and guest areas, while also interacting with both natural and carefully integrated indirect lighting to create bright, welcoming spaces,” says Langton.
See more incredible superyacht interiors
Kathryn Ireland : Palos Verdes, California
There’s a reason Kathryn Ireland is one of the world’s most influential interior designers: the way she creates such effortless laid-back elegance, as with this dining room in Palos Verdes, California. “I do houses that are to be lived in,” Ireland tells Effect. “I understand living with dogs, having children, people, parties. Above all, I like to create that absolute sense of comfort and well-being.” This is a room that is timeless, understated, and with just enough hints of old-California to keep it rooted in a sense of place.
Discover Kathryn Ireland’s rules for laid back interior design
Alidad : London Breakfast Room
In contrast to Alidad’s signature deep burgundies is this London breakfast room – a room that might modestly be named after the first meal of the day, yet evokes the spirit of long, languorous lunch parties filled with good champagne and effervescent conversation.
But seeing as Alidad’s more sumptuous, enveloping dining rooms are so good, here’s another one of those as a bonus:
Vanessa Alexander : Californian Dining Room
Interior Designer Vanessa Alexander’s work is the epitome of California cool, with its signature warmth and coastal vibe. “I was born and raised in California and even though I have travelled extensively and have lived abroad there is definitely an element of California in my work,” Vanessa tells us – and this dining room, with its evocative Old-California vibe, coastal mid-century chairs and contemporary art is no exception.
Jane Churchill : Cliveden Dining Room
The numerically minded among you (or anyone who can count) will note that this is the 11th entry – but we couldn’t resist including this homage to the Astors and Lancaster’s golden age of hospitality thanks to interior designer Jane Churchill, whose book Entertaining Lives (Clearview Books) this is from. This dining room is in Cliveden, the former home of the Astor family, with tablescaping by Jane Churchill.