The dining room in any home is a convivial space to share meals with family and friends, engage in deep and meaningful conversations and interact on a daily basis. Casual dining rooms are often located within a larger open-plan area, nestled between busy kitchens and living rooms. The challenge with open plan is to create a sense of intimacy, an invisible perimeter that defines and separates the area, giving a sense of calm and an inviting place to pause.
Successful dining areas create an island of furniture and furnishings within the larger space, layer upon layer, from the floor up.
Rugs visually define an area, and add a layer of textural interest. A rug should complement the surround finishes, and it needs to be large enough to allow chairs to be moved back from a table (when guests are taking or leaving their seats) and still remain within the rug’s perimeter. Care should be taken in selecting the composition of the rug’s weave, to survive wear from chair legs and allow for ease of cleaning.
These need to be comfortable, and neither too high nor too low in relation to the tabletop. It really is worth test-driving a selection of chairs to find the best fit. Then there is the design of the chair itself. Think about the look of its legs in relation to the table legs: do they complement each other successfully? Timber chairs have a relaxed feel and can be partially upholstered for a smidgen more comfort. Chairs around a table don’t always have to match: carver chairs at either end add a sense of drama, or you could mix it up with stools and benches.
This significant item of furniture commands a lot of attention, so thought needs to be given to the look and materials. Timber is a popular finish, with its warmth and texture and practical surface. There are laminates, scratch-resistant polymers, metal, and concrete options too. It’s important to think about this piece in relation to the other finishes in the kitchen and living areas if it’s in an open-plan area. The floor plan often determines size and shape, and extension tables can be useful for special occasions.
The crowning glory to the setting is an eye-catching pendant. Slinging a pendant low over a dining table creates a canopy, heightens the sense of intimacy once seated, and offers the opportunity for more flattering lighting to those sitting at the table. Texture, visual interest, aesthetics and light output all need to be taken into consideration when choosing such an important piece.
Carefully considering these elements and how they relate to each other will enable you to create a comfortable and elegant dining area for years to come.
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