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The dining room of the home is many times the last-in-line to be decorated and styled. Many think as soon as you select a table and chairs the project is complete, but actually, that is not true. The dining room is the gathering place for family meals and memories and should not be an afterthought or the dumping ground for bills and paperwork. Some homes are designed with a more casual eat-in kitchen dining table and no dining room. For the purpose of this article, we are discussing homes that have a dedicated dining room although some of these rules can also apply to the eat-in kitchen.

Choosing a table and chairs: The first decision is the table and chairs. Selecting a style that flows with the rest of your home is as important as the dining room is usually open to the other public areas of the home. In deciding on the table and chairs, consideration should be given to the size of the room. Guests should be able to freely move around the table when other guests are seated especially when the table isn’t expanded. Many tables have leaves for added length and some are self-storing leaves. Most dining rooms cannot accommodate a fully expanded table for everyday use; plus, you may only expand your table two to three times each year, so most of the “rules” are for the everyday size of the dining table. Just keep in mind the furniture needs to be in proportion to the size of the room.

Storage needs: Next question is do you plan on having storage pieces like a sideboard, buffet or hutch? It is very nice to have storage for silverware, serving pieces, linens, china, etc. I have often seen homeowners struggle with the furniture placement of these types of pieces in the dining room especially if the chandelier was hung in the center of the room. That is because when a hutch or buffet is added, it can shift the center of the dining table to one side making the chandelier off center from the table.

Lighting: Speaking of lighting, most dining rooms will have a chandelier over the table or sometimes two. The lighting of a dining room should be dimmable so to keep ambiance as warm and inviting. The traditional height of a chandelier is 30 inches above the table for an 8-foot ceiling height to the bottom of the fixture, but as with all rules, exceptions can apply. Typically, you would add 3 inches for each additional foot of height. The size of a chandelier should be 12 inches less than the table width for a rule of thumb.

Area rugs: Your choice of an area rug also has an important role. Color, texture, and style will definitely influence the style and design of the room. If the rugs from the living room, entry, or other adjacent areas are visible, the rugs by no means need to match. They just need to coordinate and flow with each other. The dining room rug needs to be two feet wider than the table on each side, or in other words, four feet longer than the length and four feet wider than the width. This allows dining guests’ chairs to remain on the rug without the back legs falling off the edge of the rug.

Walls and windows: Wallpaper is reemerging as a strong accent and the dining room is the perfect room of your home to show off a wow factor. Paired with wainscoting, wallpaper can be the star even in a neutral color palette. Another wow factor to consider in the dining room is custom window treatments. The style of your home will dictate whether luxurious floor-length drapery or a simpler top treatment is in order, but the perfect finishing touch in the dining room is definitely a beautifully crafted window treatment.

So as we enter the holiday season, take a critical look at your dining room to see if it is living up to its potential. Enjoy entertaining by having your dining room attractive and well-designed.

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ANGELA ROWE, DDCD is Owner and Interior Designer of Decorating Den Interiors.

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