Great dining room decorating ideas whether traditional or contemporary in style, usually have the same qualities in common. An understanding of modern cooking and dining, the ability to provide a beautiful, elegant atmosphere for special events but also friendly enough for just a warm and inspiring start to a weekday breakfast. Follow our tips on blending the perfect decorating ingredients.
1. Day or Night – or Both?
When decorating a room that will be used frequently, function must come first. A room can be delightful to look at but if the layout doesn’t work it will become unloved and unused very quickly. Good dining room design has to put the practical concerns first; it needs a décor that encourages diners to linger, through a welcoming hue and comfortable furniture. The light needs to be fresh in the morning and yet feel intimate at night.
If you want the family to eat breakfast there in a morning rush, don’t choose furniture so expensive they live in fear of spilling their milk. But if it’s for special occasions only, adapt your budget and style to accommodate. In short; know how you will use it.
2. Choose Your Table
Most importantly dining room tables need to fit your dining room. This may seem obvious but many diners have squeezed around oversized family heirlooms that are impractical and make leaving the table at dinner parties an endurance test.
Flexibility here is key; if your everyday family is small, choose an extendable dining room table so you can increase your capacity only as you need. And don’t revert to the obvious shape or styles; for day use white or light oak can feel fresh and bounce light back into the room. And oval or rectangular tables are not the only option: square or round shapes can seat as many guests and feel convivial and intimate.
3. Draw the Eye to the Table
Dining room lighting is key to your dining success. Dinner party lighting should feel festive and flattering, and regardless of your decorating taste, a bit special. Modern or antique chandeliers or wall light fixtures can all be put on dimmers to create a soft glow and allow the candles or table lighting to be the main point of interest, closing down the height of the room and making the space seem warm.
Table centrepieces also make the table the focus and can be more varied than traditional flower displays; russet leaves and pumpkins can make a striking autumnal visual and in spring wild flowers in tiny jam jars can make a Sunday brunch feel fresh and hopeful.
4. Colours for Dining
When looking for paint ideas for dining room colours make sure you choose something that doesn’t draw too much away from the table. Rich reds and greens are traditional in British country houses but they also have large expanses of walls and high ceilings. That’s not to say they can’t work in a more modest house; just make sure you have wall lights or window treatments that can allow for natural daylight if you want to use it throughout the day.
A colour that can seem cosy at night can feel oppressive in daylight. A modern version of these schemes can be a very dark blue, and if you are looking for wall art for a dining room, you can break up the intensity by handing lots of framed images with light coloured mounts.
5. Make it About Food
It’s easy to forget the star of this show should be the food. If you are starting from scratch it’s a great opportunity to incorporate all the kit that will make serving guests a dream. A wine fridge or cocktail cabinet, a console table to place dishes; planning for dining experience will make your parties run like clockwork (rather than hard work).
6. Mismatched Works
Don’t feel you have to go all Regency and stiff with your dining room scheme. A great way to put a modern spin on the dining experience is to keep it fun and in formal. A mismatched table and chairs set such as an old rectory table with modernist seating can have a big style impact. Or individually mismatched dining chairs in one wood tone can have country kitchen chic. If it’s hard to match the wood hue, just choose them by interesting shape and paint the dining chairs all one colour – it’s a fun way to pick up bargains at car boot sales and still end up with a coherent, edgy look.
7. Banquette for a Banquet
If you are short on space, banquette seating or a bench seat with storage is a perfect way to make the most of your floor space. It also allows you some dining room storage for items you use less, such as candles or linen napkins. Built-in, seating, even on one side, means that you can be very flexible on the number of guests it can accommodate. And don’t forget features like bay windows as you can often place a window seat here for when you really do have a full house.
8. Soften Up
If you want your meals to be convivial and lengthy make sure your guests are sitting comfortably. Dining chair cushions can be a wise addition or if you’re looking for something new, why not take inspiration from high end restaurants and consider small armchair style seating? (Unless of course, you prefer an early night.)
9. All White Dining
Some looks never date and all white dining rooms can give you the range that makes breakfast informal and evenings dramatic. A very Scandinavian style, pairing a minimalist dining table with vintage dining chairs and table, mismatched antiques such as serving bowls or cutlery with contemporary plates always works. An obvious win for anyone wanting easy inspiration.
10. Get the Party Started
You can do more than light candles and keep the wine flowing to make your dining room a success. Inspiring menu design ideas can also set the mood; try writing your menus on the napkins or get the kids involved in drawing the guest’s portraits on place cards for some humour and creative, cool points. You can even add a conversation menu of topics to get guests really chatting, sparking some quirky philosophical ponderings. A laughing, comfortable, chatty table will make your home the hottest dining ticket in town.
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