One of the most important rooms in your home, perhaps only second to the family room, is the dining room. It’s where friends, family and special guests gather to enjoy each others company and dine on a fine meal. Although good food tends to be the focal point of the gathering, the dining room itself is essential to enhancing the total dining experience. Here are the basics I go by when tasked with designing ‘the perfect dining room’.
This may sound simple, but its usually where people go wrong from the start. Its like the old saying of ‘putting the cart before the horse’. You find a piece that you really like and then squeeze into a space hoping the room will enlarge around it. It rarely happens! For extra-small or corner spaces where you don’t do a lot of entertaining, consider a round table which is easier to navigate around and takes up less space than one with corners. For larger spaces, long rectangular tables are ideal. Many of our tables here at Mercato Interiors have adjustable extensions, some of which are powered and will tuck away under the table with a touch of button.
Most table heights are about 28-30″, so you’ll want your chairs to be at least a few inches taller, with seat heights at about 18″. If you choose chairs that have shorter backrests they will end up looking tiny. Chairs with long angular backrests are my favorite in larger spaces with high ceilings or open floor plans. Keep in mind that tall-backed chairs are great way of separating the dining area, but can otherwise cramp a smaller room.
Your lighting should likewise be sized to the room, but more importantly to the table. In general, the bottom of your light fixture should be more or less about 30″ from the table surface, although this number can go up with higher ceilings, I personally like to keep fixtures lower. When the table is long, one that seats 8 or more guests, I often select a light fixture that is long and wide, or a series of pendants in the same shape.
The main rule is to ensure you have enough bulbs in your pendant or chandelier to adequately light the room in the evening, and compensate if needed by adding a lamp or two on a sideboard. Lighting operates on the same principle as scaling your furniture, the larger the room, the more light you’ll need.
Many of the contemporary homes I design for have beautiful wood, tile or stone floors that enhance both the light and space of the room. To add a little warmth to the room I sometimes suggest an area rug under the dining set. In this case I usually recommend choosing either the largest rug for the table, one that goes beyond the legs of the table so the chairs still sit on the rug when pushed back. This looks nice plus it helps protect your floors from scuffs!
Visual contrast and textures is what brings a room alive, and creates points of interests. I like to create a contrast between tables and chairs, either of material, style, or both. A beautiful console or sideboard is an excellent space to add contrast or texture and makes a great home for a sculpture, center piece or floral arrangement. Speaking of floral arrangements, if space permits, consider a large potted tree or greenery which instantly adds life to a room. At Mercato Interiors these are custom made for each room, although we do keep a large assortment in stock. Wall ornaments, mirrors and artwork is also a great way of adding texture or contrast to a room.
The most important consideration when designing your dining room is how exactly you’ll be using it. Will it be the place for every day meals, or will it be for holidays, special guests or occasions? Deciding its primary use is paramount when it comes to choosing materials and even which pieces of furniture are necessary for your space. If its going to be used as the later, than it will allow for more freedom when it comes to the design.
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to designing spaces, and if follow the basics as described above you’ll be able to create a dining space that will excite and delight. As always our designers are here to assist you and answer any questions you may have.
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