When was the last time you used your dining room? If it’s not getting a whole lot of use it may be because it’s lost some of its luster and beauty. I think many people furnish their dining room and never update them! Like me, many of us have bought dining room “suites” that cost us a ton and we think it would be almost heresy to change them up! And now they may be looking a little tired. You don’t have to live with a dining room that has seen better days! It’s not hard to find your new style in a dining room. It’s all about being creative and letting go and editing and being very careful about what we add. Today let’s talk about creating your perfect dining room.
A GREAT TABLE THAT FITS THE ROOM
Even more important than finding a style of table you love is finding a dining room table that fits your dining room. Your dining room, no matter the size, should have room for those eating in it to move around. The beauty of table these days is they come in so many sizes and shapes. Earlier this year I got a new dining room table made out of concrete. I took a gamble on it and just love it! It’s a little more narrow than my big mahogany table it replaced and it gives my guest some extra room!
If you are not in the market for a new table but don’t like your old one why not paint it? A new color can breathe fresh new like into a room!
Take a deep breath and just do it!
I know that comfortable chairs sound like a no-brainer. But it’s not always that easy to find the “just right” chair. Just ask Goldilocks! Of course, chairs must feel good to sit in but they need to be the right height for your table.
The average height of a dining room table is about 30 inches and a chair should be about 18 inches from floor to seat. This allows enough lap and leg room for most people.
I love the idea of mixing and matching chairs. Gone are the days when a dining room had to be matchy-matchy! An assortment of great chairs looks so chic and fun in a dining room. One of my very favorite designers, Amy Howard has 6 vintage chairs all different in style and condition around her dining room table. I just loved her willingness to elevate a vintage find! Because of those chairs, her dining room left such an impression on me! She did not paint them or touch them up and they look spectacular! Do you dare? Are you so wonderfully audacious?
I painted the 6 18th century mahogany chairs a couple years ago. And I’m so happy I did! They were in such good shape even though I had them for over 25 years… all they needed was a little updating. Paint and new fabric did the trick.
Don’t be afraid to upcycle what you have! My favorite things are those that I have given a second life to!
A word about benches. About a year ago I got a bench for one side of my dining room table. I thought it would look amazing!!!! I really like how it looks but my family says it is NOT comfortable for long dinners. The bench is perfect for kids, but not adults. So take that into consideration when thinking about a bench. Notice I have not gotten rid of it. YIKES!
A DURABLE RUG
A rug adds visual weight and frames the dining area. There are so many choices when it comes to a dining room rug. Just make sure it is large enough that when the chairs are pulled out and people are sitting around your table the legs of the chairs stay on the rug.
Another must for a dining room rug is that is it durable! Even though you may not use a formal dining room very often, when you do use it it will get wear and spills and feet shuffling over it.
A really great idea for a rug is to choose a high end indoor/outdoor rug for your dining room. I found this rug at Ballard Designs. I’ve had spaghetti and orange soda spilled on it and it wipes right up.
A rug is not necessary but it gives your room a finished, layered feel!
SOMETHING ON THE WALLS
Art, mirrors, open shelves or shutters are such subjective things! It’s all about personal taste! Don’t leave those walls bare! Even a beautifully arranged grouping of dishes can be a fabulous way to lift our eyes up off the table so they can travel around a room.
I love love love big mirrors in a dining room. Especially in the evening when they catch the light of a chandelier! I chose the best mirror at StoneGable to put in the dining room. It’s gilded and very formal. Standing alone it’s not the perfect fit for this room but I wanted to put it somewhere in the house. It’s uber formal and very traditional. To offset it I added a pair of chippy, grungy shutters to either side of it and a trio of chamber pot lids next to the shutters. The result was exactly what I was looking for… a rustic luxe mix.
What you put on your walls does not always have to be art. At StoneGable, it usually isn’t. I even have a pair of framed linen dishtowels hanging on one wall in my dining room!
I think my best advice is to go bigger rather than smaller when it comes to art and mirrors. Edit what you have and if it looks cluttered or busy or too small don’t do it!
Does your dining room have space to put a buffet, hutch, desk, sofa table, or some horizontal surface? I love the idea of how versatile an additional flat surface in a dining room is! I found my buffet in a vintage shop and painted it! It has storage and a great surface that holds a lamp and a few other decorations. But what I love most about having it in the dining room is it gives me an extra surface to serve from. I can put appetizers or drinks or extra serving dishes or desserts on the buffet. Easy and so accessible! It’s also nice to make this a self-serve area for family and guests.
If it’s a matter of having room to walk around your table or an extra surface… opt for the room to walk around!
Notice I did not say chandelier? You should have some sort of lighting above your table. Preferably a pendant or drop type of lighting. If you have 8 foot ceilings a light should hang 30-34 inches from the ceiling. Add 3 inches for every foot higher your ceilings are.
Family and guests need to see what they are eating and need to see each other.
I am not a fan of overhead lighting! No not one bit! It can be harsh and unbecoming. Just make sure you put any overhead lighting on a dimmer!
OTHER DECOR AND EMBELLISHMENTS
Here’s the part of decorating I love the best! And here is where your personal style can shine! Think about a centerpiece for your table. Candles, dishes, curtains, lamps, a bar cart, extra seating and all the little touches that make your dining room an expression of who you are!
Again, no crowding or too many little items. I think one of the biggest mistakes we make as home decorators is adding too much to a room!
Keep surfaces decorated but clean looking!
Always start with the basics… a great table, comfy chairs, a rug and overhead lighting. Then add what fits into your dining room.
You can have a perfect dining room that is just YOUR style! It just means tweaking and editing and painting and upcycling what you have!
Head into your dining room and give it a look with a very discerning eye! What simple changes can you make that will start the process of CREATING YOUR PERFECT DINING ROOM?
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