The dining room, fairly recently one of the least used rooms in a home, and for some relegated to wasted-space status, is being reevaluated. During the changes in lifestyle brought on by work, school, and dine from home directives, many of us are finding them to be an unexpected help. Their big tables a perfect surface for homework and laptops, their dedicated functions undistracting, their china cabinets a good-enough organizer of supplies. A room where the purpose was solely for sitting, nourishing, and spending time with loved ones now supports us in another way.
Here, a look at dining inspiration for when we entertain again and the way we’re living now (with a ‘desk lunch’ that’s most likely a whole lot better than it used to be). Some of these rooms are a little unusual and have intimacy and character because of it. It’s about making the best of what’s there to create an appealing result- much like making a meal. Once the work day is over, you’ll want a beautiful and relaxing place to eat, and to display those cooking skills you’ve probably been brushing up on.
Framed art creates visual interest without competing against patterns in china or linens. Image, left, via thedistinctivecottage.com. Mirrors are wonderful in dining rooms- they reflect light in spaces darkened by a lot of wood furniture, and multiply the warmth and ambience of candlelight and dimmed chandeliers. Image, right, via houzz.com.
Dining rooms have been pretty formulaic until not so long ago: traditional dark woods, turned and tapered legs, gleaming silver, delicate china. All in all, stately pieces with an historic attachment in a sober atmosphere. And though you’ll still see plenty of these characters, they are being presented lately in a lighter way, mixed with chunkier or plainer things, or thrown together with items from other parts of the world. Eclectic decorating has topped formal and ushered in an intoxicating mood.
Creamy chairs, graphic artwork, and a chandelier simplified to nothing but form counter the traditional elements in this room via realsimple.com.
In the image below (via nathanturner.com ) not one wood tone matches another and several time periods are represented. A Chinese chest, a Philippine capiz shell light fixture, and Moroccan tea glasses all contribute to a rich and layered feeling.
Dining rooms can be carved from other spaces if need be; a guest bedroom or office converted temporarily if in proximity to the kitchen. And a wide hallway or end of a living room can function quite well as dining space. Furniture size and placement are key, while carpets and chandeliers can help define the identity of different areas. And I have seen many eat in kitchens recently where the eating zone is treated more like a dining room in its own right and less an extension of the workhorse kitchen, a server and interesting lighting fixture, a grander table, helping to cement the feeling of importance.
A great room is portioned into dining and living spaces with the help of a successful floor plan and strategically placed accessories. Upholstered chairs further the compatibility. Image via houzz.com.
It’s actually quite exciting to blend rooms together, however with less emphasis on multi-tasking and more on multi-function. Think of activities that promote sociability, entertaining, relaxation, and regeneration. The types of rooms that encourage these will often exist harmoniously. A dining room and sitting area work perfectly together- a lounge where guests can be comfortable with cocktails before moving to the main meal, or during after dinner conversation. A library and dining room are a natural combination- a quiet place where you can consume a long lunch and a good book. At night, a low-lit library is incredibly atmospheric and immersive for dining, like a well written story.
Is it a library or a dining room??? Spare Danish modern chairs and an opulent crystal chandelier provide intriguing contrast, left. This ikat settee would be a perfect banquette. Or a preferred spot to unwind and catch up while waiting for dinner, right. Images via centsationalgirl.com (l), and nathanturner.com (r).
You may still not see a formal dining room as a benefit, and if that’s the case, a coffee table works for dining too, and so does a blanket on the floor (just ask any kid!). Until it gets too cool, the great outdoors is an amazing dining spot- guaranteed to create koselig or hygge (the Scandinavian and Danish terms for experiencing coziness)- and one that just so happens to align with recommendations for safer socializing. Without the physical place, it’s still possible and necessary to treat yourself and your family to the structure and rituals that happen there.
The most gorgeous dining room, via designsponge.com
Thanks for reading! We hope you’ll find renewed love for your dining space this fall and winter season! Shop dining room furniture, or come into either of any of our 7 locations!
(In the featured image, tucked away near a paneled stair wall, the casual dining room on the left is a blank canvas, quickly transformed with a cloth and some candles. A cozy nook, opposing chair, and the smallest of tables create an inviting and intimate spot for a meal on the right. Via countryliving.com and nathanturner.com.)