Detail Series

How to Design a Sophisticated Casual Dining Room

Contemporary casual dining room design by Hare + Klein

The dining room in our homes is a convivial space to share meals with family and friends, it’s where some of the deep and meaningful conversations take place and where we interact on a daily basis, do homework or use as a home study.  Energy is created around the dining table.

In this post we will focus on the casual dining rooms which are often located within a larger open plan area, nestled between busy kitchen and living areas.  The challenge in this scenario is to create a sense of intimacy, an invisible perimeter that defines and separates the area.  To inject a sense of calm, to create a place to pause.

The range of styles represented in this cross section of Hare + Klein informal dining rooms reflects the diversity of our Clients, their individual briefs and the bespoke design language that emerges for each project. 

The common links in each of these projects are elements that we employ to define the space, such as the use of low pendant lighting.  Clients are often surprised at the proposed height of the pendants slung low to create a canopy over the table.  Once seated though it all makes sense!  Textural or woven pendants give an added layer of warmth, visual interest and a casual aesthetic. 

Timber is a natural choice for dining table tops as it is a warm, textured and practical surface.  When coupled with a kitchen, the timber table adds warmth and doesn’t compete with the cooler finishes often employed.

Long after the meal has been enjoyed, we tend to sit around for a long evening of good conversation, so it must be a comfortable space.  Comfort is a very personal decision and the seating options chosen are often the result of many sit tests with the whole family.  Timber chairs have a relaxed feel and can be partly upholstered for additional comfort. Pick a chair with sexy legs and a sculptural back that looks good from any angle! Chairs don’t need to match, in fact contrast can be another layering element. If there are too many chairs, mix it up with a communal bench or eclectic mix of chairs and stools. 

Contemporary casual dining room design by Hare + Klein
Northern Tablelands - Contemporary casual dining room design by Hare + Klein
Contemporary casual kitchen design by Hare + Klein
Contemporary casual dining room design by Hare + Klein
Contemporary casual dining room design by Hare + Klein


South Coogee – photo by Barnaby Wilshier

Eco Lodge – photo by Nicholas Watt

Northern Tablelands – Photo by Jenni Hare

The Bower – Photo by Luc Remond

Coastal Retreat – Photo by Simon Kenny

Early Federation Home – Photo by Jenni Hare