For many of us, growing up meant family dinners in the dining room where everyone shared his or her day with one another.
My how times have changed. Today, busy families find little time to gather at the dinner table. And the formal dining room in many homes is relegated to special occasions and holidays.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little thought and some creativity, you can convert this little used space into a place where the family spends a lot of their time, doing homework, working on school projects and just hanging out talking.
Before you start your dining room project, you want to take an inventory of your existing furnishings, accents, accessories and decor. Often, it’s easy to simply swap around some things in your home to create an entirely new living space.
Of course, the dining room table is the focal point of the room and it obviously guides most of your decisions. Like other rooms, decorating usually starts with the focal point of the room and everything flows from the dominant piece. In this case, it’s the dining room table and chairs.
Flexibility is key in selecting the right table and chairs. Unless you plan to use this space just once a year, you want to choose a table that suits your personal tastes and which has the ideal seating arrangement. For instance, if you have a family of four and don’t entertain often, you can opt for a smaller table and add other furnishings to the room, such as a buffet or china cabinet to use for storing games and craft items.
If you entertain occasionally or often, you may want to get a table with leaves. That way, you can expand the table easily to handle larger dinner parties, and then shrink the table back to its more intimate size for daily use.
Taller dining room tables are very popular these days. Not only do they make the room look less formal, but they’re the ideal place to play board games, work on school projects or enjoy an evening of poker with friends.
When it comes to selecting furnishings and decorating, professional designers agree on one thing. There are no rules these days. Rooms are empty spaces waiting to be filled with the inspiration, beauty, energy and personality you bring to them.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some basic guidelines you should follow. For example, your dining room should still look like it’s part of your home. It should have complementary color schemes, styles and woods. Contemporary fabrics can breathe new life into heirloom furnishings. And tired tables can be rejuvenated with a new layer of stain or varnish.
If you have the budget for new furnishings, you have endless options. Dark finishes tend to support a more formal dining look while oval and round tables finished in lighter stains are more informal. Be sure that the table has enough room for your guests to be comfortable so they’re not bumping elbows constantly. If you have small children, stain resistant seat fabrics will pay for themselves in a very short time.
Surprisingly, your chairs don’t even have to match one another these days. You can create an eclectic dining area by mixing and matching different designs of chairs or different colors. Be careful in doing this, since you don’t want your dining room to look like the circus is in town. Rely on your sense of taste and you should be O.K. When in doubt, ask your family or friends for their opinions before you plunk down a lot of dough on chairs that will just end up in a garage sale six months from now.
Once you have the dining room table and chairs it’s time to finish the rest of the room. Obviously, the walls deserve some attention before you add any other furniture to the space. Choose paint or wallpaper that sets the room off yet which complements the rest of the home. If you have dominant artwork in mind, you may want to choose colors that will work well with it. Before you paint, it’s a good time to add any new sconces or other wall lighting that will require some electrical work. No need messing up a great looking paint or papering job after the fact.
Now you’re ready to add the other elements to the room. Depending on the space available, this may include a china cabinet, hutch, sideboard or buffet. If you don’t have room around the table for all the chairs you have, you may want to factor that into your space planning. Chairs against the wall take up space and you don’t want the room to look crowded.
Finally, don’t forget the little things that make a dining room an inviting place to be. You want to add personal touches to the space. If you’re using a sideboard or buffet, consider adding candlesticks and some family photos. If you have a spectacular serving piece, consider using it as the focal point as well. When you’re not using it for entertaining, it can serve as a piece of art.
Like the rest of the spaces in your home, your dining room should reflect your personality and tastes. Make it an inviting place to eat, relax, entertain and work and you’ll find that this once empty space will soon be overflowing with good times with family and friends.
Copyright 2008 KMPfurniture.com
Rafael Montilla writes about architecture, modern furnishing, he is a SEO consultant for KMPfurniture.com