Gone, gone, gone are the days of the “matching suite of dining furniture”, uncomfortable dining chairs and isolated/stiff rooms that are needlessly pretentious and project no personality. A dining room is at its core about CELEBRATING our friends, families and loved ones with the glorious gift of great conversation, great food and our most precious gift of all… TIME. The Art of entertaining has become MUCH more informal and creative today, from the presentation of our food to the rooms themselves. Not only do we mix and match our china, but the actual pieces that make up our rooms. There are literally no limits on creating your dining space, whether you want to use a banquette with a table and chairs, or use all different chairs and a variety of tables… what IS expected is that your dining room should make a Design statement and express who you are and your personality.
Many of us have kitchen/dining rooms, sometimes because of spacial limitations, but more often because it is a personal design preference. This trend is a result of the preparation of the meal itself having become part of the experience… in effect the cooking of the meal has become “Theater”. Those of us lucky enough to have a separate dining room often use the space in a multi-functional manner… as a library/dining area, as an event/party space or as a gallery/dining room.
Selecting your dining table is one of the most difficult and fraught challenges when creating your space (for tips see HERE). Wooden tables are still the most readily available, however feel free to think “outside the box”… Do you want a single table or a grouping of tables? Do you want a pedestal table, gate-leg, trestle, cantilever or the 4 legged variety? (I ADORE the Saarinen Table and it works in every style design) What about creating your own table from created/found/sourced bases and using a large thick slab of marble or glass? Then of course comes the battle of WHAT CHAIR TO USE? The options are endless… material, construction, style. However, let yourself feel creative and open to expressing your most innovative and welcoming side. An inexpensive yet modern/classic option are the Designer essential Philippe Starck Ghost chairs. Of course, the room you use itself is open to creativity… what about using a screened-in porch or sun-room as your dining room? A friend of mine has a wonderfully oversized Entrance Hall that they use as a dining room… it gives the grand space purpose and allows them to really savour the beauty of the space while acting as a dramatic stage for their dinner parties. Remember that people LOOOOVVEE to linger at the dining table after a great meal to enjoy the conversation and experience, so always opt for the best seating you can source/afford/barter/create. Of course HOW you interpret the seating for your space depends on your Design and personality. Perhaps a banquette on one side with head chairs and a bench on the opposite side, OR what about massively oversized wing-back chairs for the ends and a variety of different chairs running down the sides but with matching leather or fabric. I love the ability to “change things up” in my dining room and the ability to edit the space according to the function I have planned. The following are a collection of dining spaces from around the World (many of them from the ESSENTIAL Elle Decor) to inspire your vision for you own home.
This traditional space by Miles Redd is modernized by painting the trim black and by using a simple, modern table and chairs, offset by the bold striped carpet. Dramatic… yet inviting and intimate, a wonderful balance.
Traditional with a contemporary undertone, this dining space feels inviting and focuses your attention on the people AROUND the table. The warm usage of the fabric walls and window treatments creates an intimate space that nestles those within it. The oversized, sculptural accessories give the space a more modern undertone.
Sexy, fresh, bold and modern, this dining room by Timothy Haynes and Kevin Roberts (who helped Cynthia Frank with her Southampton Home) is the perfect setting for passionate discourse, a great meal and a memorable evening.
Mix and match chairs around a salvage table give this “Hipster Chic” space both warmth and personality. The massive ceiling height is emphasized with the usage of the ladder and the Signage Art.
Airy, elegant and spare… this small dining area within a large living room has a wonderful sense of grace and balance. The light pedestal base and modern chairs almost have an anthropomorphic quality to them.
The table in this dining room is a work of Art that has a monolithic sensibility. The BRILLIANT usage of the Robert Longo Artwork gives the space a rich cerebral quality.
Another airy and spare dining room with a mixture of dining chairs around a salvage wood table. The white chairs are a modern version of a Biedermeier chair and have been offset by using simple rattan seating to give the space a more contemporary sensibility. The oversized chandelier gives the area drama and whimsy.
A restrained palette of blue, white and natural elements gives this space a quiet elegance. The usage of the dramatic light fixture shakes off any uptight energy and gives the area personality.
More salvage/up-cycle chic … this space is both retro and hipster yet totally welcoming and filled with personality.
A dining nook in an oversized kitchen is given power and focus with the usage of colour and whimsy. The bold yellow lacquer table acts as the focus while the sofa/banquette is united into the grouping with the palette of black, white and yellow. The white, woven metal stools give the space a fresh and fun energy that keeps the space light and approachable.
Dining room slash Library slash Study… LOVE the usage of the mirror ball fixture to give the space energy and focus. The mixture of chairs gives the table warmth and stops it from becoming to rigid.
VERY European in sensibility … this grand room is softened with the usage of modern elements.
Another dining room slash kitchen … YET the dining area is given its own emphasis and power by the usage of the brilliantly oversized woven twig fixtures. Spare, modern and totally tactile.
Quirky, cerebral and bold… the same chair (The Wishbone Chair) is used in a rainbow of colours to accentuate the sexy and modern line of the chair and to play up the visual drama of the wallpaper and tiled floor.
A historic architectural envelope is offset with the usage of modern furnishings and fixtures… I ADORE the usage of the massive gilt mirror that reflects the stunning modern light fixture and the rainbow of Eames dining chairs.
Spare, modern and minimal with a variety of visual textures.
The Saarinen table ALWAYS adds a sense of grace, warmth and modern elegance. I prefer to use it with a variety of vintage or antique chairs BUT it will work with literally any and every style chair.
Another library slash dining room that has a slight corporate spin to it… I love the wood disc fixture.
SOME DINING ROOM TIPS & HINTS
- Add visual interest, colour and pattern to your walls with a striped paint treatment. You can also achieve this look with the same colour but in gloss and matte versions of the paint.
- Give your traditional space a slight modernization with the usage of oversized industrial-style lighting.
- Don’t forget the fifth wall – the ceiling! Add architectural details, colour, leather, metal tones to your ceiling. If you have a neutral space, why not introduce a rich colour on your ceiling?
- ALWAYS make sure your dining room is uniquely you. What are you passionate about? The dining room is a space for conversation, so why not share things the things that interest you the most in this space.