Eating and drinking regularly happens at our kitchen counters and lounge room sofas, but there’s something about enjoying a meal in the dining room that we just can’t shake.
Once reserved for family meals and formal entertaining, these days a modern dining room can be used for casual weekday meals, weekend entertaining, as a quiet place for work or study, integrated into open plan living and kitchen areas, or separated into their own dedicated space.
Whatever floor plan you choose, there are four key elements to consider to nail your dining room design – lighting, table, chairs and decor (think art decorations and the like). We asked Pierre Pulizzi, interior stylist at Curious Grace, for expert advice to get the combination of these elements right and create the perfect dining room in your home.
Table selection is crucial to the overall dining room aesthetic. Not only does it anchor the room, but it’s the place we enjoy our meals and connect with family and friends. So how do you choose the right table for your dining room?
“Movement and the comfort of your guests is key, so be sure to allow 90cm between table edges and walls or other furniture,” says Pierre. “When considering a rug size under a dining table, allow 90cm larger around the table so chair legs can move freely.”
Dining table ideas: Measure the space and ensure you have enough room around the table for people to get easily in and out.
Do you want your modern dining room to be able to accommodate plenty of guests without sacrificing precious floor space? Pierre recommends an extension table. “It’s a clever idea to accommodate differing numbers of guests, without taking up too much space daily.”
Chairs go hand in hand with the dining table, so they must suit both the table and the space, as well as being comfortable and beautiful. Plus, quality dining chairs will last a long time so it’s important to choose well.
Pierre says: “The proportions and dimensions of each chair are important. Where possible borrow a chair and measure how many will fit beside one another with a comfortable gap between each and the legs of the table.”
Small dining room ideas: Choose an extendable table so you can add extra chairs and seat more guests, without sacrificing space the rest of the time.
“Add excitement to your dining space by mixing natural timber with stained timber; for example team black with natural oak. This pairing works beautifully in a modern dining room.”
“The right dining chairs should enhance your dining room table. Personally, I like using mismatched chairs as it immediately gives the space a relaxed, engaging feel.”
Lighting can transform a room, but it can be tricky to get it right, and no one would blame you if you don’t know where to start.
“Good lighting is critical to creating the right ambience of your dining experiences,” says Pierre. “It affects the mood of the diners and even the enjoyment of the food.”
Lighting for dining room suites: Dining room lighting shouldn’t just be limited to overhead lighting; try the addition of floor lamps, too. When paired with beautiful art decorations it helps set the vibe.
So, when it comes to dining room lighting, what should we avoid doing? Pierre recommends avoiding “poorly proportioned suspension light, an off-centre suspension light or having a single suspension for a large table”.
“It’s also best to have more than one light source for your dining table. Dome lights make great dining room lights as the large diameter hides the bulb in the structure. There is a substance to such a light that makes it timeless.”
We’ve saved the best bit ’til last. From the art decorations to what goes on the table, dining room decor might just be the best bit. The table is the focal point of the dining room, and should be both inviting and functional.
“Avoid putting too much on your table as clutter induces stress,” says Pierre. “Candles add a warmth which adds to your dining experience.”
Dining table decor ideas: Don’t put too much on the table; keep it simple and stylish with a cluster of beautiful decor.
Have a beautiful dining table that you don’t want to cover up or want to show off your dining room with wine bar? Pierre says: “A table runner doesn’t protect the table in the way a tablecloth does, but it will allow you to highlight the table. A beautiful table runner can dress a table simply and stylishly.”
As for dining, “When choosing dinner plates and glasses stick with two colour tones,” says Pierre. “White and off-white are timeless, but olive is making a comeback to the table.”
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Nothing breathes life into your home more than the pieces of furniture that bring loved ones together over a meal, so we've chased up the Curious Grace design experts and asked them their best advise on how to choose the perfect dining table and chairs for you.