Like most homes today, I've chosen not to have a formal dining room in my house, and instead, I use the space I've been given for other tasks. I don't believe a dining room should be overly formal, stuffy, or even in a "dining room" to be both functional and beautiful. Here are just a few of my favorite looks and some tips to turn just about any room in your home into a space to dine.
The modern mix above proves that a dining table and chairs need not match. If you've been reading the design tips on this blog, you know that I feel very strongly on that subject. Mix it up, bring your own personality into the room. Round tables are so much more friendly and are perfect for small spaces. Sideboards don't need to match either. The Indonesian-influenced piece above stores a lot of necessities and shows off accessories nicely.
With a nod to Albert Hadley, the look is old-world meets English hunting lodge and pulls together quite nicely. I'm especially fond of banquette seating. Don't be afraid to push the table toward the wall and adjust the light fixture to match. This is also a great way to squeeze in a dining area into odd-shaped rooms.
This matching table and bench from Pottery Barn would work well in either a country or contemporary setting. The texture of the chairs contrasts nicely with the wood and complements the shades of the pendants above. When in need of a large piece of art, chalkboards (or walls painted with chalkboard paint), although overdone at times, is a great choice for busy families or those who love to entertain. Just write out the night's menu, your child's homework schedule and ABC's, or an inspiring quote or two. It's art that changes whenever you need it to. (Have you been introduced to chalk ink pens? They're a great way to add a bit of color to basic black.)
Fabric, and texture in general, is a great way to update your room. From the sisal rug to the inexpensively-clothed table (a great way to hide an imperfections) and velvety French Regency-style chairs, you can't go wrong. Now splash some of that rich fabric color onto the walls and the room instantly comes together.
Seat cushions can be changed out in a snap. When black, white, and green are no longer in vogue, it's as easy as reupholstering a few cushions and you're off. Notice the dark wood table paired with the white chairs. The contrast continues the black and white theme. The bench, covered in a contrasting fabric, keeps things fun and opens up the room to the rest of the home. Pay close attention to details too. The barrel lampshades just melt into the wall color.
Sometimes more is more. If you do have a matching set, show it off by paying attention to the surroundings. Black walls laid out with gallery-style art, rich wood accents, and a beautiful rug give you permission to pile it on. Plaid throws are put into service as tablecloths and draped over chairs to bring some color and pattern up to eye level. It's Scottish Highlands meets Downton Abbey.
Images via housebeautiful.com and fabuloushomeblog.com