This space deserves to be clutter-free—and these things absolutely aren’t necessary.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated December 06, 2018

The dining room may not be the most-used room in the home, but it could be one of the most high-profile. This is the space where friends gather for dinner; this is where dinner guests might sit, or where the extended family toasts the host. In relatively informal homes or those with open floorplans, the dining room may be where the family gathers for dinner every night, or where kids do their homework. It’s a place to gather—and it’s certainly not a place for clutter.

With how little some dining rooms (especially formal ones) get used, it’s easy to let items pile up there, especially those that ostensibly belong in the room. Clearing these items out—rather than allowing them to pile up, taking up precious storage space that could be used for a whole assortment of other possessions—can both make the dining room feel more welcoming and decrease clutter issues in other parts of the home.

Head to the closet, sideboard, etagere, cupboard, or wherever else dining room accoutrements may live and get to work; a decluttered dining room is just minutes away.

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They may be stained; they may be the wrong size for the table, or covered in wax drippings. They might even be the wrong shape. Regardless of what’s wrong with that stack of never-used tablecloths, they need to go (or at least be repaired or cleaned). Heirloom items can be preserved somewhere else.

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Tarnished flatware can be polished, but if the tines of a fork are so bent out of shape that it’s embarrassing to put it on the table, the utensil should go. If it’s not usable, it doesn’t need to be taking up valuable space. (Especially if the utensil drawer is overflowing.)


Heirloom china is beautiful and full of personal meaning, but if it doesn’t get used often (more than once or twice a year), it’s taking up more than its fair share of space. Keep one piece to display, per this expert’s decluttering trick, and give the rest to a family member who might make better use of it, or make a commitment to use it more often.


Those martini glasses look sophisticated, sure, but if they’re never used, they’re not sharing much of that sophistication. Plus, glassware can take up a lot of space. Pick one or two sets of glassware that will get used often and stick to them—the rest can go, and enjoying a craft cocktail at the bar will feel that much more special. (Home bartenders should, of course, maintain often-used collections.)

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Most meals are best enjoyed with a little mood lighting. No crazy colors are necessary, but a slightly dimmed light can help a meal feel a little less cafeteria-like and a little more intimate and cozy. Ditch bright, glaring lights, or replace the bulbs with something dimmable. Any extra floor or surface space can be left open for a minimalist look or filled with decorative pieces.


Fondly recalling successful dinner parties or holiday gatherings is one thing, but holding on to tangible mementos of them—like personalized place cards or party favors—isn’t great for clutter levels. Keep one of a set if necessary, then get rid of the rest, and plan to send them home with guests next time.


Setting up a glorious centerpiece is its own small joy, but hoarding all the necessary pieces—cheeseboards, serving bowls, candlestick holders, baskets, etc.—can take a major toll on space availability. Pare the collection down to the essentials, and pass any duplicates on to others.


Disposable servingware, dishes, or utensils sound convenient, but really they are just a drain on the environment and hosting budgets. Invest in affordable but quality replacements—think a carafe, salad tongs, and a casserole dish—instead.


Indoor plants that aren’t quite thriving probably shouldn’t be on display where people are trying to eat. Keeping them in the dining room might be convenient, but they’d likely be better off in a room with better light.