How to Decorate a Dining Table [When It’s Not in Use]

Your dining table is a place for friends and family. You always take great pride in preparing festive meals that bring everyone together. Yet when your dining table isn’t in use, you’re just not sure what to do with it. It’s such a major focal point that you’d hate to ignore, but how should you decorate the table when it's not in use?

When not using your dining room table, you have all sorts of decorating options, such as:

  • Laying out a fine tablecloth
  • Covering the surface with candles, pillars, or vases
  • Adding seasonal displays
  • Showing off houseplants or flowers

As you can see, the freedom is yours to decorate your unused dining room table. Keep reading — in this article, we’ll show examples for each of the above decor options. We’ll also discuss what to do when decorating a much smaller dining table.

Hardwood table with rustic chairs

Four Ways to Decorate A Dining Table You’re Not Using (With Examples)

Until the next big holiday or family get-together, you’re satisfied with serving all your meals in the kitchen going forward. Every time you prep for dinner though, you look at your empty, bare dining room table and think you should finally do something with it.

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Hardwood table with rustic chairs

The following four ideas not only prevent the table from looking barren but they spruce up your home so it’s a happier place to be.

(Need more ideas for an appealing dining room? Check out our 21 Wall Decor Ideas For Your Dining Room.)

Use A Fine Tablecloth

If you’re a “less is more” type of person, then a tablecloth may be all you need to decorate your empty dining room table. Since this draping will captivate attention, you want to ensure you use fine materials.

Your fabric options include organza, silk, and even upscale cotton. Try to avoid vinyl covers, as they won’t create the type of look you’re going for.

Depending on your personal tastes, you may opt for a single-colored tablecloth or a multicolored one with patterns. This tablecloth on Instagram encompasses many patterns, and it adds a wild look to the dining room.

Simpler patterns with brighter colors are another way to make a statement in your dining room, like this example shows.

We may include affiliate links and curated AI content to highlight top design styles.

A long dining table with yellow cloth mantle, food and kitchen utensils on top, and a white wall dining table

Besides being beautiful, a tablecloth is functional, too. It prevents dust from settling on the bare surface of your dining room table so it looks cleaner longer.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

With Candles, Pillars, And/Or Vases

For some homeowners, a tablecloth is enough, while others might think their dining room table still needs more oomph. If so, then cover the surface with decorative items like candles, pillars, or vases. A combination of these items in varying sizes is a great decorating idea as well.

Vases and the like prevent your table from looking too naked while also letting your personal taste and eclecticism shine. If you can, use items you already have so you can save some money, but there’s also nothing wrong with a fun shopping trip to spruce up your dining table.

Here’s a great example courtesy of Instagram of what the finished product could look like. Everything about this dining room has great cohesion, from the exotic wall decorations to the hanging chandelier and the rustic dining table. The centerpiece–a plate with jars, containers, and a vase with wheat–fits right in.

A small round dining table with wine glasses, small pink flowers, and a picture frame hanged on the wall

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Here’s another dining room with a running theme: black and gold. A black wooden dining table is accented with gray plush seats with a gold metal frame. The tabletop is then decorated with several black bottles and jars in different sizes, all with gold caps.

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Create A Seasonal Display

You probably use your dining room table the most at Thanksgiving and Christmas, the latter of which is the biggest decorating season of the year. Even once Christmas comes and goes, you can still decorate your dining room table for other seasons and holidays. This is known as a seasonal display.

Here’s a classic and classy Christmas dining room display to get you started.

A dining table decorated for thanksgiving with dangling lamps for proper lighting

Click here to see more on Amazon.

This dining room is all dolled up for springtime with a checked miniature tablecloth, a box of faux colorful blooms, and pastel plates.

As autumn arrives, a display such as this one is quite impactful. It’s got overtones of Thanksgiving, but it’s also appropriate enough that you can set it up in September and leave it until you begin the Christmas decorating.

As A Place for Houseplants Or Flowers

If you have a green thumb, you can display your newest plant obsessions on your unused dining room table. The same goes for flowers, which can really take a springtime display over the top.

A large array of stunning flowers in a decorative vase don’t even require a tablecloth. They look perfect on a plain wooden table, as you can see above.

A wooden dining table with indoor plants placed on the top and other kitchen utensils

Even a plant in a small vase, like the philodendron seen in this image, is impactful. The bright greenery really stands out in this all-white dining room.

A small two seater dining table inside a minimalist themed dining area

You could also opt for a whole-table floral display, which ensures you need no other decorations on your dining room table.

A gorgeous modern farmhouse themed dining room with a wooden solid dining table and flowers on top

If you’re allergic to flowers/plants or you live with someone who is, going artificial is a great idea. You never have to worry about watering, and the plants will never die on you!

What Should You Put In The Center Of A Dining Room Table?

Any of the decor we talked about in the last section makes a great accent piece for the center of your unused dining room table. If you need a few more ideas, allow us to share some.

Pendant Lighting

Don’t overlook your dining room’s lighting situation. If you want to grab attention with your lighting choices, skip the chandelier and buy a pendant light instead. This hanging ceiling light with as many as 12 or more bulbs can be made with gold, brushed bronze, crystal, and an array of other materials.

Interior of a modern dining area with pendant lighting, white table, and wooden Rattan chairs

Here’s a dining table with pendant lighting to inspire you. These lights look great in the rest of the home as well!

Click here to see more on Amazon.

Bowl Of Fruit

A bowl of fruit, be it real or fake, is a timeless addition to any unused dining or kitchen table. See below for a stately example of how a filled bowl can augment a simple dining table setup.

A modern minimalist theme dining area with a solid square table and different designed dining chairs

How Do You Decorate A Small Dining Room Table?

You wish you had the table space you’ve seen in a lot of these images. Alas, your table is much smaller, which precludes you from these decor options, right? Not necessarily.

You can still use a tablecloth regardless of table size. As for the rest of these centerpieces, scale back or shrink your decor. For instance, to decorate this small, circular table, the homeowner added a single potted plant. Due to all the other pops of color throughout the room, the addition of the plant looks especially wonderful.

A minimalist inspired dining room with a white cloth mantle and flowers on glass vases

Speaking of round dining tables, here are some more decorating tips for these tables you’re sure to love.

In Closing

Is your dining table sitting bare and unused? That doesn’t mean you can’t jazz it up in the meantime. Take advantage of the lack of table settings and cover your whole table with a cloth, plants or flowers, or even vases and other little odds and ends.

There’s no wrong way to decorate your unused dining table, even if it is smaller. Have fun!

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