The dining room is too often an ignored room in the home, one that gets less of your design and decorating attention if you’re more apt to use its casual cousin, the eat-in nook, for most of your meals. However, with a little creativity, this space can transform from sparse to stunning and become a room you’re eager to use more often. Here are a few tips on how to create a beautiful dining room that is hosting-ready for laidback and formal dinners alike.

Choose an eye-catching light fixture. The star of the dining room is the light fixture you choose, so make it count! Whether your style is a bold drum shade light, a modern glass fixture with lots of lights, or an elegant chandelier, think of the light as a statement piece that adds ambiance and brightens the room, literally and figuratively. Generally, it’s a good idea to choose the size of your light based on the size of your dining table. A light that is about half to three-fourths the width or diameter of your tabletop is a good rule of thumb. So, for a 60” round table, look for lights between 30” and 45” in diameter.

Select a table that suits both your style and your space. Even if you don’t expect to use your dining room more than a few holidays or special occasions a year, it must feel like you. In other words, don’t “go fancy” simply because you think you should. Create a dining room that matches the design throughout other spaces in your home—whether that’s traditional, contemporary, country, or something else. Also choose a table that is large enough to meet your needs but not so big that people cannot easily scoot their chairs back or walk around the table to take their seats. Allow at least three feet on the sides of the table where you expect people to pass through the room and at least two feet between chairs and the wall.

Add a rug with some pop. The right rug can tie your whole dining room together. Never buy a rug without measuring the room and the table and chairs area. The rug should be large enough to fit the table and chairs, and ideally, to still be underfoot when the chairs are pulled all the way out. As for the color, if you have neutrals on the walls, why not go a little bold with a bright solid, floral, or designed rug? In the dining room, practicality is the name of the game. Choose a color that ties in artwork and other accents from around the room, but remember that this is a room where people eat! When in doubt, choose darker colors and material that is easy to clean.

Add a buffet. A sideboard or buffet is a great place for storing table linens and extra glasses and dishes, but it’s also a functional piece that gives you more space for setting the salad bowl and any side dishes. Aside from acting as a practical serving place, a buffet offers more tabletop space for décor like framed photos and interesting art objects. Add a runner that coordinates with your rug to draw the room’s elements together.

Group a collection. A dining room wall is a perfect space to have a little fun with your décor. Hang your collection of dishes, clocks, or mirrors, or create an art gallery wall with different sizes of artwork, with frames of different colors and orientations. Mix and match. Or, hang a few staggered floating shelves that can hold framed pieces or photos, smaller vases, candles, or other similar items.

When you’re decorating your dining room, keep in mind that this is a place where you’ll gather with family and friends to create new memories and celebrate good times. Make it inviting and comfortable, and most importantly, make it your own!