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Homes Extra: Dining Style

Sara Whatley is singing the praises of the dining table and looking at different styling options for it

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the dining table must be the central nervous system. Upon this surface all manner of family life is conducted: food consumed, memories made, arts and crafts produced, homework slogged over, a temporary office constructed, and holidays, wedding, births and deaths discussed. The dining table is a vital piece of furniture in a home, so where is yours?

Let’s sit at the table with a cuppa and take some time to look at the different spaces a dining table can inhabit, and imaginative ways in which to use those spaces.

Dining Rooms

Many modern homes have adopted the open plan style of living. Here, the kitchen merges into the dining area, which merges into a living space. We have made our homes work for us in an adaptable manner.

Alternatively there is the formal dining room. A room dedicated to the dining table and sumptuous feasting. This is a celebration room.

Of course our needs change over time with the ebb and flow of family life. A child friendly space might be on the agenda for you, complete with the toy kitchen, little easel and boxes of Lego. Perhaps you have teenagers roaming the house who need lots of space for homework then lots of lounging room for downtime. Or you might be at the stage of life where grown up children have flown the nest and you can turn your dining space into a more sophisticated area with no fear of crayons on the walls.

It’s good to keep the dining space fluid to serve your current needs.

Tables and Seating

Tables come in all shapes and sizes, from the round to the square, oblong to the oval. A pine country kitchen style might be just your thing, a modern glass topped table or perhaps an industrial style with steel legs and rustic boards. Choose the style of your table to suit your needs and the rest of your home decor.

And now to seating. Comfort is key to a dining chair – no one wants a numb bum half-way through their meal! Upholstered chairs are very popular at the moment, affording you the opportunity to express your taste through the fabric you choose. They are very cosy and warm too.

Bench seating is another solid option, or the combination of a bench one side of a table and single chairs around the rest. A bench is slightly more informal but can still be dressed how you choose; plain, cushions and blankets or upholstered with a bench cushion.

In a similar vein to the bench is banquette seating. This is a long bench seat with a back built into the wall or other structure. Think of a cosy booth in a restaurant and you’ve got the idea. This gives you ample opportunity to play with materials and soft furnishings to make the seating comfortable, stylish and linger worthy. Banquette seating is endlessly adaptable too; fit it into small or awkward spaces, have it straight along a wall or curved snugly into a round table. Storage options are also prevalent under the seats, with fitted draws or hinged seats that open up like a trunk.

Finishing Touches

What else to add to the dining space? A console table is very handy if you have the room. These tables offer extra serving space or display area and are handy for storage with cupboards underneath to hold plates, serving dishes, games or the printer! Top with favourite photographs, ornaments and lamps.

Lighting is vital for the dining space. Create cosy ambiance with the option of soft lighting and lamps. And statement lampshades and pendent lights make for eye catching design features.

Make use of a fireplace if you have one for the ultimate in cosy and atmospheric dining. And add plants, art and mirrors for layers of texture and interest in the space. Bon appetite!

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