Minimalist Dining Spaces in Six Styles

By Jade Boren

Minimalism is not about bareness, it’s about purity. This is what makes minimalism the perfect style for a dining space—food is for enjoyment and fuel, and energy is a pure source.

To convert your dining room to a clean but inspiring aesthetic, embrace your genuine design taste. Whether that’s rustic, kitschy, or contemporary, pick your favorite look, then cut it down to five key features. Here’s how to work with those pieces to transform your dining area into a minimalist dining space.

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1. Table

The shape and material of your dining table will provide the gravity in a minimal space. A circular table will steer away from a traditional look and suggest an either contemporary or mid-century modern style. A wooden oblong table imparts a rustic or vintage tone. The table alone can go a long way to establish your aesthetic—no need for excessive embellishments.

2. Centerpiece

A minimalist room can easily appear lifeless when it focuses too much on being streamlined. A small potted plant, like a succulent or mini bonsai tree, reminds you that the dining room is a place to be enjoyed. The supple nature of these plants is perfect for a minimalist space.

3. Walls

Just because you’re aiming for purity doesn’t mean you have to be bland. Forget the stereotypical image of four white walls. Have fun with a pop of color that will reflect the mood you want to achieve.

A single wall painted in a pastel or richer, more saturated color or even covered in wallpaper breathes personality into the dining room without taking up a square inch of floor space. It’s best to set the table against this wildcard.

4. Artwork

If you’re not quite ready to bring out the paint buckets, artwork is a move more easily changed. Keep the room a solid white and hang a single piece of artwork that syncs with the design of the room. A photograph or even a print depicting a few shapes will do. Make sure the frame has clean lines and a white mat.

5. Lighting

No matter the design you choose, a bright room is essential for any minimalist space. A dimly lit atmosphere closes the room, creating the same effect of an overabundance of furnishings. If you’re unable to position your dining table near large windows, try a dangling ceiling light. Avoid floor lamps or arcing lights lamps that don’t spread light as well.

Types of minimalist dining spaces

1. Urban minimalism

This dining room is a great example of how light and muted colors are sufficient to produce an attractive minimalist dining space. Despite its futuristic name, an urban dining space trying to achieve a minimalist look should stray from exceptionally innovative pieces. Urban is a touch more natural than contemporary, so unconventional art canvases or strangely-shaped decorative pots can oversaturate the room. Experiment with whites, not extravagant furnishings.

The dining room pictured is not exceptionally progressive, but the matte white of the tables and chairs combined with the off-white cushioned sofa create an interesting dimension in the room. The pink spheres and plants in plain but contrasting-colored pots are enough to breathe imagination into the dining space. The large windows that allow a generous amount of light to spill into the room magnify the brightness of the whites.

2. Romantic minimalism

You may think that shabby has no place in a minimalist room, but don’t tuck away those floral patterns just yet. A minimalist room can still have a hint of romantic style—even Victorian—if you balance your pieces sensibly. Hybrid pieces and a sense of order (which are sometimes amiss in nostalgic homes) are the key to a romantic minimalist dining space.

Here, a streamlined rectangular table keeps feminine details like the rose-patterned wall and vintage candleholders in order. The wooden bench, a beloved piece among shabby chic design enthusiasts, features sleek lines to bridge modern minimalist and traditional styles. The dining table chairs behave similarly.

A more flowery home may opt for cream, but these chairs are a bright urban white. The cylindrical spindles embody the experimental nature of minimalism, but retain a soft quality when paired with a blonde finish.

3. Mid-century modern minimalism

Mid-century modern (MCM) design is one of the easiest styles to work with when creating a minimalist dining space. Lines are everything in midcentury modern design—think long, crisp, and clean-cut, which automatically tidies up a room.

Despite their symmetry, MCM furnishings are anything but unimaginative—many feature fun slopes, legs made of contrasting materials, and fun colors like the amber chest rails of the dining chairs. If you think contemporary design is a bit too avant-garde but still want a little more spunk than an urban style offers, a MCM dining space is the solution. This 1960s style is not so quirky that a potted fern or flower would look foreign in the room.

4. Industrial minimalism

Here, lighting and earthy accents like the faded brick wall and mustard seats turn this dining space from bare to minimalist. Too much grittiness and industrial materials like metal can make the room appear more like an unwelcoming bachelor’s pad than a dining space.

The glow of the room’s cozy colors is reminiscent of the atmosphere you’d find in an independent coffee shop in an arts district. To achieve this warm yet minimalist look, incorporate humble details into your dining space—the solo light bulbs, the lone piece of décor (the skis)—and skip the centerpiece.

Rely on the simple, warm, two-tone color palette to do the work of bringing out the personality of the space. Unlike the other dining rooms, this eating area doesn’t see bright light, so you’ll need to minimize décor to make it clear that this is a minimalist room.

5. Transitional minimalism

A transitional minimalist dining room is perfect for those who want to make the move to a more adventurous interior but aren’t ready to let go of their favorite traditional styles. The glass table and three-dimensional mirror updates the ornamental table stand and dresser.

The same contrast is seen in the centerpiece—timeless tulips are placed alongside champagne glasses. It’s a play between the most popular home materials from two different generations. The chairs deliver the final message that this is meant to be a transitional space. The Eames-inspired Eiffel legs and plastic egg-shaped seats were popular in the 1950s and 1960s, a period that saw the move from classic to urban.

6. Colorful Scandinavian minimalism

Form and minimalism are taken more seriously in the Scandinavian school of interiors. In the dining room pictured here, every furnishing is about precision. Even the rounded chairs follow a dress code with their smooth arches and deep cobalt shades. The sofa features a clean, classic, mid-century modern cut, yet its azure cushions complement the colorful dining chairs.

To achieve this look, furnish the room with two pieces featuring stronger lines, like the rectangle dining table and MCM sofa, then add spunk with one bold color and a few varied shapes, whether in the seats or in the artwork. Ask yourself if each shape and color stands alone. If it blends in with the rest of the room or clashes with another furnishing, cut back or choose again.

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