We’ve all witnessed the forgotten dining room before: a place used so seldom there’s often a light coating of dust on the tables and chairs in it. Instead of being the hub of the house where family and friends enjoy eating, drinking, and friendly conversation, it sits abandoned, anxiously awaiting a “special event.”
Luckily, making this area warm and inviting is both easy and affordable. Just incorporate these easy changes into your space, and your dining room is sure to become the most comfortable and appealing part of your entire home.
Concentrate on Comfort
You can usually tell if a dining table and chairs are uncomfortable just by looking at them from the kitchen or living room. Stiff, high-backed chairs arranged like soldiers around a table with sharp edges might seem standard, but it’s also incredibly rigid-feeling. Replace those chairs with comfortable ones that people can easily relax in for hours, and find a soft, patterned tablecloth to cover up the stiff lines of the table and create an alluring ambiance. Add a throw pillow to each chair for guests who desire extra padding.
Loosen Up on the Lighting
Chandeliers are popular lighting fixtures for dining rooms. Unfortunately, most are hung so high and close to the ceiling that guests can’t even see who’s sitting across the table from them. Since no one will be walking under that chandelier any time soon, why not lower it to a level that properly illuminates the table? There are also many styles of pendulum lights that are more informal and provide good table lighting.
Whatever you end up going with, be sure to install a dimmer on the fixture’s wall switch so it can be adjusted from low, romantic levels to maximum brightness for game nights with friends. Guidelines for hanging lights over tables can be found all over the web.
Pause the Painting
The first thing many people want to do to spruce up their dining room is paint the walls. This is not recommended by interior design professionals. If you do paint, the color should bring out the colors of the chairs and complement the finish of the table, as well as match any wall hangings or rugs in the area. Of course, furniture upholstery and finishes look much different in your home than they do online or in showrooms. On top of that, the amount of natural light in your home is also bound the alter their colors. For these reasons alone, you’ll find that choosing a paint color after you receive your new furniture is always much easier than returning furniture if it ends up clashing with the paint you applied too early.
Find the Right Rug
Placing an area rug underneath the dining table and chairs is a common decor choice. It protects the floor underneath from spills and defines the space’s borders with a classic, subtle touch. The problem with many dining room area rugs is their size. That is, most rugs people choose for dining rooms are too small (usually to save money), which throws off the balance of the room and makes the entire place feel smaller. The rug doesn’t need to touch the surrounding walls, of course, but it should be large enough to cover the area underneath the table and all the chairs when people are seated.
Do Some Window Dressing
Curtains and drapes are often overlooked when redecorating a room, despite the fact that they have the potential to add as much to the overall impression as a picture frame does for a print or photograph. The rule of thumb is that all long curtains should touch the floor. If you’re going for a formal look, you might even want them to drape a little onto the floor. For a more casual appearance, they should barely be touching it. If your dining room has smaller windows with short curtains, try your best to make sure the bottoms at least graze the window sills.
Keep It Casual
Unless you live in a mansion or compound with special rooms made just for games and other social interactions, using the dining room for more than infrequent special occasions makes sense. If the place looks too formal, people will feel on edge while they’re in it, regardless of how plush and comfortable the chairs are. Strive to create a dining room atmosphere that’s welcoming, comfortable, and encourages casual conversation and eating everything — from pizza to upscale entrees. Keep centerpieces simple, or leave the table free of clutter altogether. Last but not least, pull out one of the chairs to indicate that the space is functional, and not just reserved for special events.
Mix It Up
Instead of four or six matching chairs, choose a variety of styles. One or two overstuffed armchairs, a modern ergonomically designed chair, or even an upholstered straight back chair with arms — just go to a chair store or website for inspiration. Above all else, you just need to make sure all the chairs in the collection have appropriate seat and arm heights that match the table’s to guarantee comfortable seating. If you decide to replace the table later on, consider options like distressed wood, enamel finishes, and synthetic materials for the new one. And don’t be afraid to check out tables that aren’t just boring old rectangles!