These days, the dining room is where all the best communal bonding happens. Whether it’s the whole family sharing time on school nights, or a group of friends gatherings for good food, wine and conversation, the dining room is a space to be nurtured and revelled in with design essentials and elements that foster conversation and inspire appetites. Historic moments happen in dining rooms, however familial or worldly those may be. And in this era of "food is everything", the dining room has become a most essential room in the house. Be imaginative and don’t be afraid to overthink how to create the best dining room space to host all the wonderful things that you — or somebody — is creating in your kitchen. The ultimate balance you’re going for: leave plenty of space for both the food and guests to breathe and spread, yet provide just enough style for imaginations to run and inhibitions to dissolve.
Go Grand for your Table
The family may be small or large and either way, a spacious dining table in the heart of the room sends a message to the universe: here is an everyday place for like-minded souls to come together. Space, and the sense of space is essential in a modern dining room and the table is the place to start. A pot luck dinner with offerings from 10 or 20 guests doesn’t need to be crowded and awkward. Nor does an intimate meeting for the main couple of the house where the unused portion of the table can house a single flower-filled vase and stand clean and clear as a gentle reminder of all the warm, shared times that have passed and are yet to come.
Round or Rectangular?
It’s all about the size… and shape of your room. Round is best in a square room or when the dining room connects with the kitchen and space might be an issue. The beauty of the circle table is its iconic family shape that will inspire informal dinner parties even on a Monday. Rectangular is the more versatile choice: a finely carved wooden beauty can lay raw for most nights of the week for a family that doesn’t need to eat together every night. Yet it is easily and always transformed into a setting for casual or grand affairs.
Get Luxurious with Dining Chairs
The living room no longer gets dibs on armchairs; there are designs galore of padded, armed chairs designed for cosy, supported stretches of sitting and heart bearing over platefuls of finger food. And while there’s nothing wrong with a table-and-chair set, many chairs are designed for aesthetics first, which look better than they feel. We say focus on stylish comfort for your chairs. Your guests may well be spending more time in them than on the lounge, as they savour all the family heirloom dishes or the haute experiments you are serving from the kitchen. Also, mix-matched chairs beautifully reflect all the innovation and invention being dished up on top of the table.
Lighting Will Make The Party
A chandelier — vintage or modern —hanging elegantly as a centrepiece
over a grand birthday spread is a classic look and there are lots of modern designs that look like artistic sculptures
and provide think piece for slow moments in conversation. However, there’s more to lighting the modern dining room: allow for variety so that lights can be adjusted for all moods and times of day. Spotlights overhead are great for highlighting food without making your guests blink in the glare. Standing lamps
in each corner allow for varying shades of bright — after dessert and just as the digestifs are being served, a single lamp in a corner can lend just the mood for the conversation to start getting real.
Mirrors and Windows
Natural light and a sense of space is best achieved with the light and sparkle from a row of windows that let the sun and the moon shine in as the days and season change. Don’t feel pressured to stay with a designated living room if there’s a lighter, brighter room in the house and it makes sense — or can be made sense of — in the grand plan of your inviting home. Otherwise, basic or funky wall mirrors will bring in more light, or be the light in a room central in the house.
White Offers a Bright, Clean Slate
All — or mostly — white dining room essentials offer a clean and crisp foundation for colourful elements and accessories, from a feature piece of abstract art that gets imaginations whirring to a series of bold, primary colour tablecloths — perhaps a colour for every occasion so you can have the same guests every month and it will feel fresh every time.
Or Smoky Darks Create Constant Intrigue
A dreamy dark blue rug under a silver or timber table might be all the colour that’s needed for a touch of atmosphere. Or paint a wall a sultry, dark green and spread touches of the same colour throughout the room, from vases to chairs — even just one or two — to hanging frames for photographs. This will create a soothing, solid space that can be brightened with bursts of flowers plus the energy and laughter of your guests.
Be Subtle Yet Provocative with Artwork
One bold painting or a cluster of small, framed pieces? Artwork can establish a narrative for your dining room and yet it doesn’t need to dominate — don’t want the guests to spend the time daydreaming! Choose art that can brighten and ground the room and offer a subtle reflection of times and places that inspire hospitality and feasting. Framed photographs of boutique cities lined up in a row are a classic choice, or hang one wall with colour and depth — perhaps a Jackson-Pollock-like scene that grounds the room and suggests endless possibilities.