7 Tips for Grandmillennial Style in the Dining Room

Achieve grandmillennial style in your dining room with these 7 decorating tips for a traditional space that feels bright and up-to-date.

Side view of grandmillennial style dining room with aqua walls, wainscoting, crystal chandelier, plate wall, and antique furniture

Just a few weeks ago I shared my dining room reveal with you lovelies peonies. It is a formal space with oodles of traditional elements, but it’s not stuffy, and it’s not boring!

That’s because it is totally grandmillennial, which is a design aesthetic all about adapting traditional style with fresh modern twists.

Grandmillennial style should be classic not trend-based and incorporate bright colors, whimsical patterns, fresh florals, and antique pieces. It is more of a maximalist look but tastefully edited.

Elegant crystal chandelier

We, admirers of this style, look to the designs of Sibyl Colefax, Albert Hadley, and Sister Parish yet also opt for practicality and a more relaxed, lived-in approach versus uptight formality. More Billy Baldwin less Colefax & Fowler if you will.

Want to create a grandmillennial look in your dining room? Follow these 7 decorating strategies to achieve the look!

aqua dining room wall with mirror, bronze sconces, wainscoting and crown molding

7 Tips to Add Grandmillennial Style

in the Dining Room

No. 1. Embrace the Traditional with Prominent Formal Elements

Creating a formal dining room with grandmillennial style means adopting some of the classic elements of room decor like wainscoting, crown molding, dressy drapery, symmetry, and elegant lighting. I’ve utilized all of these elements in my dining room decor.

Wainscoting and crown molding lend an architectural formality to a space making the walls more visually interesting. Installing these moldings was the first step my husband and I took to transform the room. You can read our DIY tutorials for wainscoting here and for crown molding here.

For lighting I was lucky enough to be able to re-use the crystal chandelier. To complement it, I added a pair of brass candle sconces on either side of the mirror — more elegant lighting and symmetry.

Adding wainscoting to a dining room adds to formal feeling of space for a grandmillennial style space

silk taffeta aqua plaid curtains with chinoiserie still life print

No. 2. Opt for a Bold, Playful Color or Wallpaper on the Walls

To balance out the formality of the wainscoting, crown molding, and elegant lighting, I chose an unexpected color for the top part of our dining room walls – a soft aqua called interesting aqua from Sherwin Williams.

The color is bright and playful without being overwhelming or gaudy. In other words it makes a statement and feels grand but not stuffy.

Wallpaper is another chic option to decorate the walls for a grandmillennial look. I would opt for a chinoiserie flowering branches pattern or a geometric trellis pattern.

No. 3. Design for Entertaining Grandmillennial Style

A formal dining room is meant for family meals and entertaining guests at dinner parties, celebrations, and holidays. So think about how guests will move, interact, and be served in your dining room. Practically, you want comfortable chairs and a table that is expandable with enough room on each side for everyone to move around and sit easily.

Other important furnishings that make entertaining a breeze are a chic bar cart and serviceable but stylish sideboard. Bar carts are one of my favorite additions to a dining room because they allow guests to serve themselves at parties, which takes some of the stress out of hosting. I painted this rattan cart myself — read the tutorial here.

navy rattan bar cart with plate wall above in this traditional aqua dining room

Sitting nook in traditional dining room with aqua walls, plaid curtains, and grandmillennial style

No. 4. Play with Patterns

Pattern play is nothing new to the traditional interior, but grandmillennials are rather reinvigorating this decorating strategy, rejecting the all white neutral space of minimalism. The degree of pattern play can be bold and maximalist or more subtle like in my dining room.

The main pattern in the space is the blue and cream plaid of the drapes. It is a soft pattern that echos the wall colors. Other patterns are introduced in small pops with the plate wall, pillow, and table linens. Choose patterns for more permanent costly elements like drapes that are understated and complementary then let accessories go bold. This way you can mix up your decor more easily and with less cost.

No. 5. Put Heirlooms in the Spotlight

Grandmillennials like generations before us, ahem Victorians, love collections, particularly of vintage and antique tableware, chinoiserie decor, and art. The dining room is an ideal space to showcase these collections or heirlooms.

For one, there are the tabletop surfaces: the dining table just begs for a lovely display of vases, candlesticks, and centerpieces down the middle, while the sideboards is a showcase for larger or ornate tureens, knife boxes, cachepots, and chargers, etc. Unlike the Victorians, grandmillennials should edit collections and pair them in unexpected ways, juxtaposing formal with casual, unexpected colors, and/or jarring styles.

Set table with heirlooms and antiques for a grandmillennial style dining room

Tape paper layout template to wall

No. 6. Create a Gallery Plate Wall

This is one of those nods to traditional interiors that grandmillennials are quite taken with, and why shouldn’t we be? Antique and vintage plates are often works of art in their own right with beautifully hand painted florals and geometric patterns. When grouped on a wall they add visual interest and a lovely pop of color.

I created a plate wall above my bar cart, mixing antique famille rose with Spode and Rococo florals with Majolica. I also hung a similar grouping of plates above my mirror to carry the theme across.

Large or heavy plates are easily hung on walls with wire hangers, while disc hangers work great on smaller plates. When creating groupings use a paper template method to hang the plates right. Learn how here.

No. 7. Choose Furnishings with an Antique Feel

To add the right grandmillennial style to your dining room, the table and/or chairs need to have an antique feel. There are so many past styles to choose from it may be difficult to narrow it down. Start with your inspirational spaces and see if there is a particular style furniture you are drawn to.

I love the clean lines and motifs of neoclassical furniture mixed with more curving lines from empire or rococo. Put a modern twist on your dining room furnishings by not matching your dining chairs and table. Here I paired a mahogany federal style table with painted rococo revival chairs with cabriole legs and cartouche cane backs.

Use antique or antique style furniture in your dining room to create that grandmillennial style

Grandmillennial Style Dining Room Picks:

The table runner with flamingos is from La Cigale. You can purchase it here.

Whether you are totally re-doing your dining room or just looking to add a bit of traditional flair to this space, I hope my 7 tips for grandmillennial style in the dining room helps you achieve the look you want. To see my full dining room reveal click here.


  1. Monika on March 19, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    Really love the grand decor here! Your curtains are fabulous!

    • Katherine on March 21, 2020 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks so much Monika!

  2. lbalcerek on February 6, 2021 at 8:30 am

    Gorgeous! I loved reviewing all this, helped cheer me up!

    • Katherine on February 6, 2021 at 11:40 am

      I’m so glad! Thank you for stopping in!

  3. Purlin AI on March 6, 2021 at 1:24 am

    Wonderful ideas.. Amazing concept and decor tips. This is truly a great read for me!! Once again, thanks for the quality articles you post on your blog!! That is very interesting & awesome post. I am always searching for informative stuff like this! I will check here often for more cool stuff

    • Katherine on March 10, 2021 at 7:00 am

      Thank you so much!

  4. Sharon Murphy on April 13, 2021 at 9:46 am

    Where can I get these plaid drapes?

    • Katherine on April 13, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      I’m afraid I don’t have a source for you. I picked them up at a thrift store, but they were custom made.

  5. Michelle on July 12, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    Stumbled upon your page and I’m going in a similar direction with our formal dining room. We have a pastel green walls and already have an antique mahogany table and ornate picture in that room.

    My question is, how did you paint those chairs? We have matching mahogany chairs that just make the room too dark and I’d like to paint them white as well. Rather keep them than buy six new ones. Any tips or advice? Thank you!!

    • Katherine on July 13, 2022 at 8:43 am

      Hi Michelle! Thanks for stopping in! I am not a good furniture painter and did not do these. I was fortunate to find this set already painted white. This looks like a good tutorial: https://jennakateathome.com/how-to-paint-furniture/ Good luck with your decorating project!

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