Come dine with me

One interior design trend predicted for 2016 is the return of the formal dining room. Now I’m not sure if that means rebuilding the walls in your ‘so new the paint has only just dried’ open spaces, or if you’ll be adding extensions so that you can be greedy uber fashionable and have an additional formal dining room. Or maybe it just means that all of us with unfashionable walls between our rooms have a chance to become fashionable again.

Contemporary dining room in Paris by ALFA

Glass could be an option if you want to make the transition back from open to enclosed – contemporary dining room in Paris by ALFA, image via Houzz

I have a dining room but it’s far from formal. It’s not even room shaped as one wall is external and bends round the house making it sort of trapezium shaped. Technically it seats seven, which might seem an odd number but you’d be surprised how many parties of seven we have. This seating miracle is only achieved by having a church pew that I carried on my back across a French market on one side, and narrow church chairs on two sides. There isn’t a fourth side, there isn’t room and it really is trapezium shaped.

You wouldn’t want to eat dinner at my house at the moment though Unless of course you’re a huge fan of kale, as we’re on the Sirtfood diet. Now I’ve never been one for fad diets, I’m of the ‘eat less, exercise more’ school of thought. But this has been harder to practice of late and it guaranteed a loss of 7lb in the first seven days and positively encouraged red wine and chocolate so I thought what the hell I’m in. Five days and £200 later (cost of juicer and lots of ingredients I didn’t have) and I’m actually quite enjoying it. I’ve lost 6lbs, I’m not hungry or fantasising about food 24/7 and I’m feeling pretty good. This might stick.

Cosy dining room with vintage church furniture by Amelia Wilson Interiors

My trapezium shaped exceptionally bijou dining room

Anyway back to dining rooms…..I love a formal dining room, particularly one with bold colour. Dining rooms don’t need calming colour schemes, unless the only diners you’re entertaining are under 5’s. In which case something neutral, and wipeable, might be a good idea. But if you want lively dinner parties then go for something dramatic to get your dinner guests talking.

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem

Dramatic red dining room by Contemporary Gem, image via Houzz

OK, perhaps all that red is a bit much for the average household but hopefully you get my point.

If you’ve been lusting after all the lovely dark greys people are putting on their walls but haven’t been brave enough to take the plunge yourself why not try it in your dining room. You probably won’t be in there every day so you can gradually get used to it. And chances are you only use your dining room at night, and dark painted rooms look great in the evening with soft lighting. Perfect way to wean yourself in.

Dark grey dining room by Heather Garrett Design

Dining room by Heather Garrett Design, image via Houzz

I’ve been reading The Kinfolk Home recently (a fabulous gift from recent house guests). It’s all about slow living, which the author describes as ‘cultivating community, simplifying our lives and reclaiming time for what matters most’. It includes photographs from 35 homes which reflect this concept. Unsurprisingly many of them are Danish. Anyway, it included a phrase which I instantly    connected to and love, ‘longer tables for longer evenings’. Nothing keeps a party together like a long dining table which comfortably seats everyone. And I love it when people move around during the evening, and not just because the people to their left and right are boring. I know I know, not everybody has the space but wouldn’t it be nice if we did.

Contemporary dining room with 16 seater glass table

Contemporary dining room with table for 16 – lucky buggers

Which brings me neatly to a personal bug bear – comfy chairs. I’m a midget with a damaged coccyx (caused by an accident during my one and only attempt at windsurfing). So I’m like a pensioner with piles if you give me a hard chair to sit on. You gotta give me a little cushioning if you want me to stay seated. Again, I know fabric isn’t practical if you’ve got little’uns but seat pads and removable covers are always an option. I’d be putting armchairs at my dining table if I had room.

I love these blue velvet chairs . I’ve got a new customer who is lucky enough to have room for a breakfast table and chairs in her bedroom (I know – total luxury), and I’m thinking of suggesting navy blue velvet to bring some colour to her currently very neutral scheme.

Dark grey living room with navy blue velvet chairs

Blue velvet dining chairs in dining room by Atmosphere Interior Design Inc, image via Houzz

If you’re got room round your table give your guests somewhere to rest their arms. Armrests encourage people to sit back. Makes them better for your posture, and it easier for chatting with the hot guy two seats down if your neighbours are boring…..

Scandinavian style dining room

Moulded plastic carver chairs in Scandinavian style living/dining room, image via Houzz

One of the best things about a dining room is it doesn’t matter how low your ceiling is you can still have a pendant ceiling light, or even better pendant lights. The dining table will conveniently stop people from banging their head. Hurrah, potentially no need for recessed spotlights. But don’t forget the other lighting rules:

  1. Aim for three sources of light – in a dining room this is probably ceiling and wall lights, and a couple of lamps if you have room for a sideboard
  2. Always have your lights on separate switches
  3. Use dimmers

One of my customers has a Georgian farm house with a huge dining room like the one below. We’ve got lots of practical stuff to do first like fixing the roof, restoring the sash windows and re-plastering walls, but I’m itching to start the interior designs. I’m liking this olive green but I would throw in some deep red accents to warm it up a bit. She already has a huge table so the hunt is on for comfy chairs.

Traditional Georgian dining room with green walls, ceiling and wall lights

Traditional dining room by CRISP Architects, image via Houzz

So those green walls just reminded me I’m due another delicious and nutritious sirt juice so I’m off to pulp kale. But I’d love to see what you’ve done with your dining rooms, send me pics if you’ve got a minute.