They may not be the most frequently used room in the house, but when it comes to special occasions, dining rooms are often the most important. They are the places where we get together for family celebrations, where we host dinner parties for friends and business associates, and where many of us eat dinner together each evening with our loved ones. Getting just the look you want for your dining room can be a challenge, but these dream designs will help set you on the right track.
English dining rooms have rarely looked more splendid than in the Georgian era, and it’s easier than you might think to create this look today. Choose shades of pale green or gold for the walls of the room, with a paler, complementary shade on the ceiling, set off by a simple chandelier with shaded bulbs. A long, dark wooden table should be covered by a white tablecloth with delicately embroidered edges. Choose straight-backed chairs, and opt for landscape paintings or traditional hunting scenes rather than mirrors. This is a style perfect for formal occasions.
Classic country house
The country house look is warm and welcoming, so choose wooden furniture in oak or light mahogany tones, and complement it with wooden window shutters. White-painted walls can be given a warmer character at night with candlelight, and crowded with paintings on domestic themes; in a larger room, a grandfather clock adds to the atmosphere. A traditional four-drawer dresser is ideal for storing table linen and accessories, an open fireplace will make the room feel cosy even when nothing is burning, and a fruit bowl helps to make guests feel welcome. Any shape of table can look good in a room like this, so you can prioritise choosing one that is the ideal size for your family.
If you prefer the pared down look, creating a modernist dining room gives you lots of options. Smooth linoleum tiles make an attractive floor covering and have the advantage of being easy to clean. Try keeping most of your walls white but painting one in a bright colour such as orange or lime green. Any pictures should be big and bold, exhibited without frames. A glass-topped table with chrome legs makes the perfect centrepiece, and it is easy to find complementary seating in black or bright-coloured plastic. Use spotlights or tube lights for sharp illumination, and control the light from the windows with blinds.
The antique French dining room is the height of elegance, but it can be a challenge to get right. You’ll need a polished wooden floor and a long table with layered lace cloths. The walls should be painted pale pink, lilac, powder blue or grey, or covered with damask wallpaper in similar tones. Look for large mirrors with baroque frames in silver or gold, and a crystal chandelier to scatter the light. Velvet curtains can add a dramatic touch to the windows, glass-fronted cabinets are perfect for storing the silverware, and the table should have a candelabra as its centrepiece.
For a truly up-to-the-minute look, you can’t beat classic Scandinavian style. Windows should be naked to let in plenty of light, so consider using a reflective film if you want to preserve your privacy. A stripped-down pine floor can be complemented by a long, narrow pine or glass-topped table with stools or benches for seating. Walls in white, pale grey or blue with recessed lighting complete the effect. It is a fantastic way to combine a sleek, contemporary look with an approach that is really easy to look after.
Small is beautiful
If your dining room seems too small to encompass any of these styles, there are ways that you can adapt it. Folding tables give you room to use the space for other things when you are not doing anything special, but let you expand on occasions when you have extra mouths to feed. Folding or stackable chairs can also be a great help. Adjustable lighting lets you change the mood without any major decorating, and rugs can allow you to work similar magic with the floor. You can make any room look bigger with mirrors.
Even if you can’t create your dream dining room in the space you have, adopting elements of these styles can help you create an attractive look that is entirely your own. This will give you a room that you feel truly proud of and can enjoy showing off to your guests.