Less than $500: How to update your dining room with affordably cool pieces

Spring is here, which means it’s time to refresh your living space. Maybe you’ve been wanting to ditch that Laminex-topped table you’ve been lugging from sharehouse to sharehouse, and replace those rickety chairs Mum gave you when she upgraded the cookery nook in 2009. Here are some options for making your dining room look cosy and comfy when there’s $500 or so burning a hole in your pocket. Bon appetit!

A place for the plates

Obviously the table is the central focus of any dining room – it’s the reason you’re in that space in the first place! The Angelholm Dining Table has a clean and simple look, with a eucalyptus top and a beechwood frame. It’s a great way to lighten up the room, especially if you’re replacing a darker wooden table. The size is ideal for modern living spaces, too.

Take a seat (or six)

When you’re gathered around the table to enjoy a meal or thrash your family at Monopoly, you don’t want to be distracted by uncomfortable chairs. Fortunately there are plenty of sit-upon options that look great and reward plenty of sitting. The Positano Chair offers modern style at a very affordable price, teaming two colours in premium polypropylene for comfort and design. If that’s too out there for your look, try the Aarhus Chair, which matches the Angelholm table beautifully with beechwood legs.


Look into lighting

Sometimes all you need to rejuvenate a space is to shed a little light on the subject. Dining room lighting should be warm and inviting, with enough brightness to let you see what you’re eating without turning dinnertime into an interrogation.  Zest Lighting have a great range of monochromatic pendant lights to choose from – or you can opt for one of their more designy geometric options.

A rug for eating above

It’s not the first thing you imagine in a dining room, but a rug that’s not too fluffy – and not so small that you’re tripping over it when manoeuvring chairs – can really add texture to the space. Best of all, you don’t want to spend a fortune on a rug that’s in prime position for spilled food, so this a great place to go budget. It’s also an opportunity to add some flair in the form of a pattern that’ll hide wine stains. Society6 have plenty of cool abstract offerings, including one that'll take a glass of malbec.

Art that aids digestion

If your heart’s set on having photos of friends and family up in the dining room, nobody’s going to fault you. Pick up some light-coloured or white frames that match your decor to make those pictures shine. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something to keep guests intrigued while you chew the fat (figuratively and literally), consider picking up an original piece from a gallery like Sydney’s First Draft or Chalk Horse, Melbourne’s Rose Street Market or your local Sunday market.