Reconnect with Your Dining Room

Silver and cream create a dining room that moves seamlessly from season to season. Dining set by Hooker Furniture and silver metallic faux finish by Jennifer Serrano.

Chances are you’ll be spending more time in your dining room during the next 90 days than all the rest of the year combined. The holidays are the perfect time to bring out the good china and gather together in that rarely used room to celebrate family and friends.

But before you start planning your holiday menu check out your dining room. Does it look dated and a little neglected? When I first moved to the South and started looking for a home I was shocked at how many homes featured red dining rooms and dark Queen Anne or Chippendale style dining sets with matching china cabinets and this was 20 years ago.

If I have to tell you how out of date this look has become then please read this article very carefully. Today’s dining rooms are no longer treated like hallowed ground only used on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Keeping them off limits creates expensive wasted space the other 10 months of the year.

Reducing their formality makes them more inviting. Color plays a big part. Consider selecting a color that blends with the main color theme of the entire house. If your hallways and living room are painted in shades of gray or cream select a color that is a shade darker or lighter but in the same tone as the rest of your house and freshen up the walls.

Lighten your window treatments. Most dining rooms don’t require privacy so consider replacing heavy custom draperies and/or cornice boards with sheers. If you have plantation shutters, open them completely up and let the light flow in making the room more welcoming. Take time to clean you windows inside and out. Nothing says fresh like clean, sparkling windows.

Most dining rooms have hardwood floors topped with a rug. Take a good look at your rug. Does it match the style of your house is it worn and stained? You might consider replacing a dark heavy Oriental rug with a sisal or other natural material rug.

Dining room furniture is expensive and it may not be in your budget to replace but there are things you can do to update what you have. Easiest redo is to recover the upholstered seats. Select a fabric that you love and grab your staple gun and have at it. If you’ve never done this simple task check out the web for videos and complete DIY instructions.

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The Monaco media server provides plenty of storage space and can be used as a buffet/sideboard, media cabinet or office credenza. The Divine dining chair is a classic Biedermeier dining chair offering the comfort of a relaxed back with sloping arms, both by Alden Parkes.

When I decided to update my Chippendale dining set I grabbed a paintbrush and some caulk paint. I didn’t hesitate to layer on a coat of turquoise paint topped with Paris gray. Did a little distressing and topped it all with two coats of wax. I will admit that it took more time than I expected but I love the way it turned out. The great thing about Caulk paint is you don’t have to sand or prime before you paint!

China cabinets really date a dining room. I recommend that you replace it with a breakfront or at least update the cabinet’s style. You don’t have to paint the entire piece. You can paint just the back of the cabinet. Select a color to contrast with the walls. If possible remove the doors to create a more open shelving look.

Take the time to really study the display that you have going on inside that cabinet. You don’t need to show off every nice piece that you own. Consider only displaying one color of dishes and serving pieces for greater impact. Mix the look with books, sculptures and framed artwork. Make it interesting.

If you’re like most of us you still have the original chandelier that either came with the house or that you installed a decade ago. A wonderful chandelier can do more to update a dining room than almost any other single gesture. Today’s trends include wonderful varieties of metal finishes, crystals, beads, minerals, shades and shapes.

Consider these guidelines when selecting your chandelier. For an 8-foot ceiling, install the chandelier 30 inches above the table and about 34 inches for taller ceilings. The height of a chandelier should be about 3 inches per foot of the room’s height.

The chandelier diameter should be one-half the width of a round dinning table.
For a banquet-style table in an elongated or oversized dining room, consider dual chandeliers or pendants. Select chandeliers that are one-third the width of the table and hang them centered on each end of the table.

If budget and time allow, consider tackling all these updates or just a couple. Then sit back and enjoy all the wonderful compliments about your chef and decorator skills. You’ll be thankful that you did. And who knows you may love this new space so much that you actually use your dining room throughout the entire year.