Many of today’s home owners neglect the dining room as being too formal for their lifestyle. They may be under-using a significant portion of their very valuable and accesible real estate. Interior design of the dining room can greatly enhance enjoyment as well as function. Some say there is a trend toward abandoning the idea of the dining room altogether. This is remarkable since when it is effectively and beautifully designed a dining room can be very enjoyable to use on a daily basis rather than simply walk past it, or use it as a clutter catcher. We are often surprised that clients have chosen to attempt to eat their meals in a too small kitchen, perching on often uncomfortable bar stools along a countertop, while also struggling to prepare those meals in the inadequate remaining kitchen space. Personally, we would far rather see a beautiful and fully equipped kitchen that is a pleasure to work and spend time in than having to store kitchen equipment and supplies in the basement due to lack of kitchen storage.

The dining room need not be relegated to formal functions alone. Rather, it can and should be used every day, just like the good dishes. Being adjacent to the kitchen, it only makes sense to use it as a dining space. Of course, fine furnishings must be protected when used daily but that is relatively easily done. Today’s varnishes are much different from the delicate finishes of the more formal old days. Surfaces of modern furniture can be gently wiped clean and placemats and table cloths are decorative and useful as well as ornamental. Fabrics for seating are much more hard wearing and cleanable. Choose what suits your casual lifestyle so you can stretch out a little in the full dining room. A traditional style table is not de rigueur, or even desired. When planning the room design we need to look to our lifestyles so that we can decide how to proceed.

The dining table takes pride of place in the room, and even when the room is not occupied, it remains a showplace that is visible from many places in the home. Today we have a huge range of very interesting decor styles. Often, it is placed centrally along a main floor passageway, and even if we rarely have large gatherings, it is a pleasant and important feature of our homes. The dining room furniture sets the tone for the room design, and dictates the mood that we create. The dining table is a very important purchase and you want to purchase well. A table made be constructed of wood, glass, marble, slate, or new age materials. Within the range of materials there are also different variations within each material. For instance, wood comes in a great many species, colours and finishes. Glass comes in a wide range of thicknesses, textures, and edge finishes.  Stone is a natural product so is unpredictable. That is a large part of the fun.

rose gold dining room

Stone surfaces add a touch of class and elegance to even a casual dining room. Stone is cut and polished in a variety of ways. You can actually have stone polished to a “leather” finish. Glass can be polished and clear or frosted, and the edge finish may be a variety of interesting and glamorous shapes. Even the thickness of the glass can add a great deal to the impact of the table. A “broken edge” finish on one inch thick glass would be dramatic and striking. The sharp edges are honed for safety and the living edge catches the light. Glass is a very practical surface for daily use, even with children, as it is easily cleaned. Wood topcoats are also now much more user friendly these days. Many beautiful wood tables can be wiped off after use so that the eat-in kitchen becomes a thing of the past. Why have a room in your home that is rarely used for fear of damaging the furnishings? Join the trend back to using the dining room, and use it every day. A classic French polished mahogany table may not be the best choice for a family with young children. That is simply not an easy care finish, beautiful though it may be. Take stock of your lifestyle and whether you really want it be formal enough for a French polished piece. Modern tables are most often finished with a wipeable varnish that can stand up to daily use, so there is no need to only use your formal looking dining room a few times per year. Instead choose something that won’t show watermarks such as a polished marble or glass. If you really want wood go for a more rustic piece that gets better with age as it develops a patina. When you desire more formal dining, it is relatively easy to swap out casual placemats for a more elegant table cloth. The diners at this more formal event are less likely to spill. Even if spills do occur, all is not lost. Tablecloths can be easily cleaned. 

funky colourful Boho style casual dining room with tropical wallpaper and turquoise chairs

The shape if the table is another thing to consider. Do you want to have large or small gatherings?  Round tables are conducive to conversation but you can’t fit as many people as you can at a rectangular table. Round tables usually have a diameter of 48″ to seat 4, 54″ to seat six and 60″ to seat eight. It requires more visual space to seat people at a round table rather than a rectangular one.  A 36” x 72” rectangular table seats 8 people comfortably. Round pedestal base tables are easy to sit at because there are no legs getting in the way – just a single pedestal in the middle. Traditional wood and marble versions date back hundreds of years but they’ve come a long way. There are now many modern (or mid-century) versions available on the market that have a more fluid look to them and suit more contemporary settings. Many wood tables have contemporary clean lines so suit modern room designs. An oval table is a beautiful thing, especially if they are constructed of cherry or walnut, and French polished, but similar rules apply as in round tables ( photos courtesy of Better Homes or Houzz). They often come with removable leaves making them practical as the size can change depending on the number of people you need to seat. Trestle tables are made of two or three trestles that make up the table base and support a long piece that makes up the table surface. This is a really old style of table and it look best in casual settings.  Farmhouse style dining room tables are relaxed and rustic and could often be found in farmhouse kitchens and dining rooms. They’re typically made of pine and have a casual, chunky look. Do not assume that your table is a standard height. The apron of the table can interfere with comfortable seating. Chairs are often of complex construction and once you have acquired the chairs needed to seat a large number of guests, you have a sizable investment. Naturally, chairs go hand in hand with the table they encircle. This will be dealt with in another article. The point is that chairs and tables are made to specifications of design and strength. Not all chairs go with all tables, from the point of view of comfort.elegant dining room with charcoal wall colour and cream button tufted chairsThe rustic modern style has become quite popular over recent years. This rectangular style is streamlined and modern but the material is rough-hewn. Worn woods are popular, as are rough natural materials such as slate. Another very popular look right now is the mix of wood and metal. This style can have a wide variety of colours, finishes and textures, and can be very dramatic and interesting from a design point of view.

Once your dining room table and chairs are beautiful as well as functional you are well on the way to enjoying convivial gatherings with friends and family. There is no point being a slave to furnishings that do not suit your lifestyle. There is also no need to huddle in an uncomfortable bar stool at a kitchen counter. Enjoy your home and your lifestyle. Call Mulberry Interiors now at (905) 849-6423 to book a consultation. We look forward to working with you to increase your enjoyment of your home.


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