With our lifestyles becoming busier by the day, having to juggle family life with managing a home and work means meal times have become a pretty casual affair. The dining room is a place for families and friends to share everything, from a casual weeknight meal to a more formal celebration, so give it the status it deserves!
● If your dining space is a stand-alone room, you’ve got a head start. It’s often easier to create a standout room if it’s not part of an open-plan area, servicing more than one purpose. If it is part of an open-plan space, give it some separation so it doesn’t become part of the kitchen or living room by default. The placement of the table and chairs is critical. Give it some space, so it’s easy to get to the seating on both sides without being shunted up against a wall, a sofa or a kitchen bench. Use whatever you can to define the area even further – I have just wallpapered the nook in our dining room and it’s given it so much more presence than it had previously. You could do the same with a defining paint colour, collection of art, or even your window furnishings.
● Choose a great table and chairs, preferably not a matching set. Don’t be afraid to pair a well-worn vintage table with marks and scars that show its history, with some uber modern chairs. Or paint/reupholster your existing chairs, each in a different colour. Or go entirely crazy and collect a completely mismatched set.
● Warm up the area by adding some texture, pattern and colour with a rug. Think oversized, if possible, so your table and all the chairs sit on top of it. Otherwise, go for something more organic in shape, such as a cowhide that can lie any which way. There is nothing worse than sitting at the table and thinking about how cold the tiles or wooden floors are under your feet, and a rug will help significantly with defining the space.
● Create some ambience with at least one pendant light, depending on the length of your table, and preferably on a dimmer or fitted with a low- wattage bulb. An eclectic group of candle holders will always impress your guests, even if it’s a bunch of cheap-as-chips tea lights inside recycled jars. While I love a scented candle, they can interfere with food, so go for unscented and let your menu do the talking.
Watch LeeAnn on the judging panel of Mitre 10 Dream Home, TV2, Tuesdays, 7.30pm.
Photos: Larnie Nicolson