Dining Rooms for Every Occasion
"Mismatched chairs and materials exude a more informal charm."
Our resident interior design expert Amanda Hanley has put together some helpful tips and inspiring pictures to help you make the best of the space you have.
This month we will take a look at selecting the right furniture for your dining room - one of the most important factors when developing its look and feel. It needs to be carefully considered and your preferences for entertaining should determine the arrangement you choose for this room.
When it comes to tables, wood is the traditional choice. Hardwoods, such as walnut and mahogany, are expensive but when finished with a traditional French Polish, provide a wonderful classic gleam. Hard-wearing oak is less expensive and a practical choice, finished with wax and oil. A combination of solid wood and veneer provides a quality finish at a more affordable price.
For the real ‘wow’ factor, look out for unique high-quality pieces, such as this beautiful wood table with hand-painted legs by Vincent Sheppard. Another option is space-enhancing glass – glass tops are surprisingly durable and can really open up a small dining room.
Choosing the right shape
Rectangular tables are the most popular, but should be at least 90cm wide or you will struggle for space. Circular tables encourage conversation, but are not suitable for more than 6-8 diners. Similarly, square tables really only work for 4 people unless they are very big.
Extendable tables are a flexible option; drop-leaf or gate leg designs work well in small spaces, but to significantly increase capacity opt for additional leaves.
Buying a new set of dining chairs is an investment and has a huge impact on the style and comfort of the space. Whilst a matching table and chairs can create a formal air, mismatched chairs and materials exude a more informal charm.
A chair needs to be comfortable and give good back support, ideally with a slightly curved shape. Chairs with arms are comfortable, but take up more room, and make sure the arms fit neatly under the table otherwise the back support can be lost.
Your chairs should not be too heavy or awkward to move, especially when if under an extendable table. These are likely to be used elsewhere too, so perhaps think about other versatile options, such as cubes.
If you have an open-plan kitchen-dining room, a dining table that coordinates with your kitchen cabinets will work well, perhaps in a different hand-painted colour. If your dining table is used daily, consider a hard-wearing material that will endure the usage and if you are buying chairs separately, be aware that table heights can vary so take careful measurements.
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