The dining room is the place where you can live in the present moment with the ones you wish to spend more time with. 

dining Art Board
The dining room is the place where you can live in the present moment with the ones you wish to spend more time with. 

Within every home, each room provides a unique experience for the people of the household, and the dining room is the place where there are usually no other technologies to distract you from activities that matter most: living in the present moment with the ones you wish to spend more time with. 

Penang-based independent designer Sean Heah, of Sean Heah Interiors, holds the dining room close to his heart. 
“The dining room is the place where family and friends enjoy meals over meaningful conversations,” Heah says. “Some therapists claim that families who eat together around a dining table are likely to be closer.”


A well-designed dining room has the power to affect our mood – to embolden, and to inspire us to become more animated, and to encourage lively conversations. But with so many design inspirations to choose from, where and how do we start?

Photography: Greg Cox/ Bureaux

May Lim, of interior design consultation firm Design iOi, points to inspiration from styles such as modern-luxe, Scandinavian, tropical and industrial as a few of the popular choices, but she stresses the importance of functionality.

“Frankly, any style can work in your favour and you should go with the one that best suits your needs and personality,” she says. “Good space planning and smart design are more crucial.”

For Heah, the style of the dining room should be a continuation of the living room, with each space spilling effortlessly to the next.

“While the simplicity of modern architecture denotes purity, it doesn’t seem to impose the same level of grandeur as traditional architecture,” he muses.

“I love adding old cultural pieces to a contemporary setting or adding modern pieces to a traditional setting to create a juxtaposition between the past and the present.”


While strong, darker colours are making a comeback, homeowners are still leaning towards neutral colours that last and keep the area bright, especially during the day. But to keep the colours from looking one-dimensional, Lim suggests highlighting with a feature wall.

Photography: Greg Cox/ Bureaux

“Having a feature wall incorporates textures such that it doesn’t look flat and is a great way to elevate the look and feel of your dining area, making it more exquisite and contemporary instantly,” she says.

Heah believes that using bold colours as the base of a dining room might be overwhelming and could be daunting after some time.

“It is a good tip to leave the dining room in a neutral colour palette and bring in a pop of colours from nature to set the mood depending on the occasion,” he recommends.

“On the other hand, using organic materials such as solid wood or stone will create a calming energy and a tactile experience that will further improve with age.”


The dining table is the heart of the home. In some homes, it is used solely for dining while in others, it is the multifunctional furniture of choice. You will find the dining table is not just used for dining, but also as an office, for storage and décor. For families with children, it is also a place for learning and education. Socially, it’s the “catch-up area” of choice for guests outside of dining times.

Photography: Greg Cox/ Bureau

“A reliable set of a dining table and chairs is very important as homeowners tend not to purchase new ones for a long time,” Lim says. “That said, mismatching your chair designs creates a more homely feeling and could add character to the space.”

You can dress the table with napkins, cutlery holders and a crockery set to impress, yet a dining table set isn’t the same without an added glow at its centre.

“Popular pendant light designs today include modern statement pieces like a stylish multi-light ring LED that plays with layers to create shapes and brightens the whole apartment effortlessly,” Lim adds. “Long Nordic-style pendant lights are also in trend for their minimalistic, yet modern look.”

This isn’t to say that bigger is definitely better. For some, a more intimate experience with family members may be what they are seeking.

“Investing in what kind of dining furniture would depend on the style of the dining room, but quality and durability are two factors that should not be neglected as function and beauty should go hand in hand,” Heah concludes.


Designed with flexibility in mind, the Neva table is available in six different types of wood (oak, European and American walnut, maple, elm, cherry) with various natural finishes (oils and soap) that blend seamlessly into any interior style.


Live Pure’s Castle 209mm wide plank series, made by semi-smoked oak, impresses with its striking surface: typical oak but just a touch darker than transparent oiled or lacquered planks. The series influences the colour concept of a room in a subtle and elegant manner, making the floor look very natural.


The CAMEO table by Calligaris achieves an artful blend of metal and ceramic. A central column made from coated metal supports the oval top available in a host of marbles. The absence of edges lends a touch of softness to a dining room.


The CARTESIO table doubles as a piece of art that can bring your dining room to life. A round ceramic top sits on a weight-bearing frame in coated metal composed of four rectangular structures in “V” shape. The round top is well-suited for gathering family and for a lovely meal.


With padded backrest and metal base, the OLEANDRO chair is made for sheer comfort. Pair it with any kind of dining tables and they would work just fine.

Expert Advice

• Decorating the dining room with fresh flowers, plants, bowls or statement art pieces that tell a story will set a more inviting mood.

• Our home is a reflection of who we are and what we aspire to be. Designing our home requires a deep understanding of ourselves and our values in life. There are many interior design trends, and it might be confusing. While options out there may not be good or bad, we can take inspiration from trends that align with our personality and needs, but that should not form the basis of the interior design.


• Your dining table is the superstar of the room, so choose this piece with care. Think about what it will look like “dressed” and “undressed”, that is, with a tablecloth, plates, centrepiece, cutlery, etc, versus the table standing alone in between meals. Ideally, you want it to be just as beautiful with and without anything on it.

• If you have a preponderance of metals, glass and stone in the dining room, try to incorporate natural materials such as wood, leather and fabrics in the design to make the space feel less cold and more inviting.

• Don’t forget to look up and down! Choosing the right light fixture (and ceiling finish) above the dining table is key to pulling the design together. For the floor, think about placing a statement rug underneath the table to add texture and dimension, as well as feeling great underfoot.


• If you tend to spend a lot of time at your dining table working or reading, choose to place it near the window where daylight spills in naturally. Place a midsized houseplant, or two, to enhance the space and lift your mood.

Room By Room Guide Filled With Expert Advice