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dining table centrepiece ideas greenery in centre of table luxe table stying metricon

Dining Table Centrepiece Ideas for All Table Shapes

Getting dining table centrepiece ideas online is all good and well. Who doesn’t love falling into a Pinterest hole of divine style inspo? But the hard part is taking those ideas and applying them to your own dining table at home.

Today I want to go under the hood of the car to give you some real-deal dining table styling advice that’ll help you put your centrepiece ideas into practice. And yes, ‘going under the hood of the car’ is the only motoring reference you’ll ever hear me make on this blog! I’ve never been under the hood of a real car but it doesn’t sound half as fun as creating a dining table centrepiece.

Also, fair warning: I’m going to go into a bit of detail below for you, so prepare to go in-depth. I’ll touch on tips for the three main dining table shapes as well (round, square and rectangle). Because there are so many ways you can get it horribly wrong. So let’s turn that around and get you feeling confident to tackle this (fun) job.

Dining Table Centrepiece Ideas for Round Tables

globewest round glass top dining table with grey chairs in small dining room

Showcasing Just One Moment

When considering dining table centrepiece ideas for a round table, less is going to be more. I don’t mean less drama, I just mean less things on top.

A round dining table needs just one ‘moment’ in the middle of it, otherwise the entire scene is going to look too busy.

Now, when I say one ‘moment’ I don’t necessarily mean one object. You can, of course, have one large vase with a stunning bouquet of flowers or leaves in the centre of the table to keep it simple (like in the image above from Globewest). But one moment could also be a collection of things, sitting together in the middle of your circular table top.

The collection does need to feel curated and cohesive though, so let me expand on that below.

round marble dining table with grey blue upholstered chairs

Displaying Multiple Items in the Middle

Here’s the thing: if you are grouping a number of objects in the middle of your table, they need to make sense together and they need to be contained. What I mean when I say contained is that they shouldn’t be just randomly spread all over the table.

If you just pop random objects on your table (especially all at a similar height) it reads as unresolved, or not properly styled.

The image above (via prizehometickets) is a great example of unresolved table styling. Three items of almost the same height are just sitting in the centre of the table. It doesn’t read as a design moment. I’d take two of the objects away and bring in two taller objects to complete the look. Three items housed together always look best in situations like this.

bohemian dining room white marble table round black mirror australian natives on tray

Housing your Items on a Tray

A great way to contain items on a round dining table is to use a tray, and a round try is going to work best as it mirrors the shape of the table. The corners of a square tray will look too sharp. But you could have a tray with a fluid random shape to it (like rustic timber) if you like that vibe.

It would also be wise to ensure the material of the tray is different to the material of your round dining table top. So, for example, avoid a round marble tray on a round tulip dining table. It won’t read as contrasting enough and your table centrepiece will be all the less impressive for it.

The image above via the amazing Jessi Eve showcases this principal perfectly.

Need to find the perfect tray for your table? Here’s 20 of our faves.

house rules 2019 lisa and andy nordic dining room with round concrete dining table

Beware Cluttering Small Tables

If you have a rather small dining table of around 90-120cm in width (here’s a list of our fave small tables if you’re hunting for one), it’s super important you don’t clutter it.

Scale is everything here. Less is definitely more from a visual perspective. You don’t want an enormous floral arrangement that feels taller and wider than your table to overwhelm it.

On the flipside, you also need to ensure you don’t have something tiny on top, otherwise the space feels unfinished.

As a rule, opt for a vignette that’s half the height of your table in size. So if your table is 74cm high (this is a standard size) a dining table centrepiece that’s around 37cm in height is going to look best. You can break this rule at times and opt for a larger floral moment (more on this idea further down), but this is something you have to approach with caution.

Do bear in mind though that a centrepiece on a small dining table of around 100cm is probably going to need to be moved when you eat, so ensure it’s a lightweight arrangement that doesn’t cause you to break sweat every day.

Got a small dining room on your hands? Come see our style hacks for small dining spaces.

large black round pendant light over small round timber dining table

Prefer a Minimal Dining Table Centrepiece?

If you’re approach to decorating your tabletop is more minimal, a round dining table is the shape that’ll work best. The image above via decordots is a great example of a small round dining table where the tabletop itself is really pared back.

Notice though, that although the dining table centrepiece is minimal, the room still feels wonderfully resolved thanks to the pendant light sitting above the tabletop. This is a great thing to keep in mind not only in terms of how to resolve a room, but in ensuring that your tabletop centrepiece doesn’t interfere with (or hit) the pendant light above.

If you have any additional questions about dining table centrepiece ideas for round tables, drop me a comment at the end of the post.

Dining Table Centrepiece Ideas for Square Tables

square timber dining table with round glass vases and twigs

One Moment is Never Enough

Dining table centrepiece ideas for square tables are probably the ones people find the trickiest to get right. With round dining tables, they’re so small you don’t need much to get the look right. And with rectangle tables, you can lay a table runner down the centre to decorate along. But what about square tables? How do you make them shine?

The biggest tip I can give you here is that one moment on your tabletop is not going to be enough. As I said above with round dining tables, one ‘moment’ doesn’t mean one object (like a vase or flowers). One moment could be one vignette (a collection of smaller objects to make up a larger scene).

When decorating the top of a square dining table, I would advise you to have three moments on top of the table in a triangular configuration (if you were looking at the table from a birds-eye view).

In the above image via Harvey Norman, I’d take the black bottle and glass away and bring in a third item to complete the scene. A large bowl with an interesting shape would work well.

square black dining table styled metricon display home globewest velvet blue chairs

Using a Triangle Configuration on a Square Table

Often people will do one grand moment in the centre of a square dining table. And look, that’s not a terrible approach. It certainly is the easiest way to make the scene feel somewhat resolved. But there are ways to make it better.

The other rookie error people make is popping something large in the middle of the table and then putting four smaller items around it in a square formation to mirror the corners of the table. This approach is a little dated and overly structured, so I would advise you avoid it.

Instead, have three large moments in a random triangle configuration. You certainly have the space on the square tabletop to fill it up a fair bit, so do have a play with some tall and wide decor.

The image above, which I took in a Metricon display home, is next to perfect. Remove that bowl of succulents in the centre of the table and you have the triangle configuration done!

kyal and kara beach house dining room square dining table with pendant

A More Minimal Centrepiece Approach

If you don’t like the idea of having to move things around on the table when you eat, or you find yourself drawn to a minimal aesthetic at home, keep it simple. One small moment in the centre of your table is enough, I would just advise you to install a pendant above your dining table to give the area some interest.

In doing this, the pendant actually becomes the centrepiece even though it’s not on the tabletop. I love the example above via Kyal and Kara.

If you have just one moment on your square dining table and no pendant, it can often leave this pocket of your home feeling a little bare. Every room needs a focal point, so just make sure you give your dining room one.

Dining Table Centrepiece Ideas for Rectangle Tables

freedom atelier dining table black and white dining room with white marble kitchen

Go with the Flow

Let’s talk dining table centrepiece ideas for rectangular tables. Because truth be told, it’s probably the shape the majority of you have at home. And it’s so often the table shape I see not realising its full potential.

The first rule when it comes to styling rectangle dining tables is to go with the shape of the table. What I mean is, you should have pieces running down the length of the table, not across the width.

If you take your styling too wide on the table, you infringe on the individual place settings when people sit down at the table. And nobody wants foliage falling into their food! Ensure you follow the flow of the table and you can’t go wrong.

The image above via Freedom shows a large round tray on the table. I wouldn’t go any wider than that with your decor.

coastal dining table with black leather armchairs by window with view of the sea

To Table Runner or Not to Table Runner

When creating a dining table centrepiece on a rectangle table, the question of whether to use a table runner always comes up. And here’s the thing: whether you use one or not comes down to the vibe of your home, as opposed to there being a hard and fast rule about it.

Table runners bring softness to a table, for sure, but they often feel more at home in styles like French Provincial, country, Hamptons and sometimes even coastal spaces. They can often date a contemporary home, or one that feels luxe or industrial. So have a good think about your design style and then table run accordingly.

The image above via Freedom is an example of a rustic table that bodes really well for a table runner.

coco republic glass rectangle dining table with glass vase and leaves

The Biggest Blunder: Small Trinkets

Let’s discuss what people get wrong all too often so you can see what to do right. And when it comes to the biggest blunder around centrepiece ideas for rectangle tables, it’s definitely small trinkets.

All too often the common approach is to have one big moment (like flowers) in the centre of the table and to then scatter little decor pieces either side, all the way along the length or the table (or table runner).

These items are usually candles or smaller decorative objects, and they never look right because of the difference in height between the flowers and other objects. It’s too big a jump spatially.

The better and far more successful approach is to have larger moments running down the centre of your table. Like in the image above via Coco Republic. It could use some larger decor on the left, truth be told, but it’s almost there.

dining table centrepiece ideas greenery in centre of table luxe table stying metricon

Foolproof Approach: Three Large Vignettes

The image above from Metricon illustrates this centrepiece approach wonderfully, and it’s a personal fave of mine. The theory here is to have three larger moments running down the length of the rectangle table. Not three individual objects, but three vignettes made up of a number of smaller items.

The middle object is best left as a large plant or floral centrepiece. Let this be the star of the show. Either side of the main moment, you want to display two vignettes made up of a few decorative objects.

One can be a smaller tray with salt and pepper grinders on it, paired with a salt bowl or serving-ware. On the other side, try another tray with candelabras on it and some other decorative moments.

Honestly, the look above is such a successful example of a dining table centrepiece idea. It is themed wonderfully, fills the tabletop, features a cohesive colour palette and doesn’t feel bitsy.

coco republic dining table with large round tray and flowers

Got a Smaller Rectangle Table?

If you’re working with a smaller rectangle dining table (like a small four or six-seater) it doesn’t make sense to have three large moments. The three-moment concept really shines best on an eight seater table or larger.

When putting together a centrepiece on a smaller rectangle table, a tray containing a number of items at different heights can work well. You just need to be really mindful of scale. Because a rather small tray with no lip on it isn’t going to fill the table adequately. Also ensure there’s a medley of textures at play on the tray.

The image above via Coco Republic is a good representation of a smaller rectangle dining table that shines with a large round tray on it. Notice how good the scale is here. The objects feel large enough to be impactful, but they’re not overbearing.

coco republic dining table with large florals in glass vase

Bonus Tip for All Table Shapes

If you have a flair for the dramatic at home and love to have a huge wow moment, then you can have a great whopping floral arrangement in the centre of your table, regardless of the table shape.

This only works in a large open space though. It’s all about ensuring the scale of the arrangement works in the room as a whole. Also understand that the huge arrangement will be your focal point, so keep other design elements in the room quieter.

The image above via Coco Republic showcases this idea. And it works beautifully because the other pockets of the room are so minimal. It’s all about the view.

And do bear in mind that it’s not very practical. But if you have a table you don’t sit at often (like a more formal dining room used only occasionally), then this approach could work.

moody abstract art in dining room with glass top dining table and grey chairs

Let’s Talk Your Dining Table Centrepiece Ideas

Hopefully this post has given you some awesome dining table centrepiece ideas for your home. I know it’s a lot to take in, but fingers crossed you’ve walked away with some practical tips you can now put into play on your own table.

Drop me a comment below if you have any questions about these dining table centrepiece ideas. I’d also love to know if you have some additional tips to share.


Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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8 Responses

  1. Great article, thanks. I have a buffet quite close to my dining table, (6 seater rectangle). The buffet looks great with decanters on a tray, lamp, flowers etc. my question is whether I should still do a centrepiece for the table? Worried if it will look too busy and compete with the buffet. The table is acacia wood. The buffet is a rustic blue.

    1. Hey Sharon, sounds like it might compete with the buffet. I’m sure you could find a way to style up the table nicely, but its hard to give styling advice without seeing it.

  2. Really benefitted from this post – have learned a lot, thank you. Request for help – could you please help me with sourcing the glass vase featured in Foolproof Approach : 3 Large Vignettes? Would appreciate your suggestion.

  3. Always so informative, really enjoy reading your articles. Now all l need is the knack of pulling it together, something l struggle with

  4. I love how detailed your descriptions are Chris. Makes me feel like even I have a chance of creating something great. I have just figured out what’s missing on my dining table. I have always had a long low dish with rocks & short candles. Off to look for something tall! I have an oval table and am guessing it would follow similar rules to the rectangle?

  5. Hi Chris, great timing on this article because I’ve just recently purchased a new dining table. What is your recommendation for a country/hamptons long rectangle oak table with parquet top and a beautiful original piece of artwork on the wall above it? I don’t want to detract from the artwork or detail of the table top, but at the same time I don’t want to leave it looking bare. I was thinking perhaps just one beautiful but simple floral arrangement placed in the centre.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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