4 Reasons To Use Your Dining Room Again

By Paul Miller

Interior Designer, IDS Professional Member

Though they inspire romance, dining rooms get very little use. For some people, the dining room represents an old-fashioned ideal, harkening back to an era of fancy dinner parties where aspic jiggled on fine china and women wore pearls. Others think of it as the room for when everyone comes into town for Thanksgiving, too big a setting for a dinner party for four.

Here are some tactics I recommend to clients who have asked for advice on how to get more use out of dining rooms that don’t insist on daily use.

Small Party, Big Room

How to set a large table for four dinner party guests. Bunch your plants or use twigs and greenery at each end of a long table to fill up space and make friends feel cozy. This table scape shows you how to throw a dinner party for four people at a big American Made farm table.

More than one client has asked about how to use a large table when seating only four or six people. My favorite tactic is something I call The Secret Garden. Massing plants, flowers, and lanterns at the ends of the table fills the surface and creates a sense of romance and intimacy.

The plants can be borrowed from elsewhere in the house or, in their stead, tall clippings from shrubbery and trees can be placed in tall glass vessels for a similar effect. I love this approach because it uses a little bit of stagecraft to make the dinner feel all the more unique and cozy.

Mis-matched dish ware and dishes are charming in this autumn table scape. Use a scarf, Turkish towel, or cozy blanket to set the tone for an intimate party for four of your closest friends. How to use natural leaves and feathers in simple vases and containers for a secret garden table scape.
Light candles for immediately setting the scene for your dinner guests. Don’t be overwhelmed by hosting a fabulous dinner party. These tips and tricks will help you create the best place setting tablescape and dinner party for friends.

All Mixed Up

Designer how-to tips on how to set the table for a dinner or brunch party. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough matched dishes to go around. Mix and match the colors and patterns for a collage of dish ware. Throw a dinner party with regular casual plates and glasses. Dress up your table with a bright table cloth and add flowers for the occasion.

Many clients have elegant heirloom furnishings and think this boxes them in to styling the table formally. Embrace the carefree spirit of eclectic design by dressing the table in high contrast to the furnishings.

A great tactic for setting a Bohemian table is using joyful patterns in cloth and napkins, mixed sets of dishes and glasses, and a spray of small flower arrangements and candles in assorted holders. Less structure and more variety and color will take the chill off even the most refined dining room furnishings.

Bird plates and fancy china at the same table. Mix and match bohemian style makes a formal table or event more approachable and fun. When you let go of the rules, your guests will have a great time.
Designer tips on the perfect dinner party. Use fresh flowers to make your guests feel special. Mix and match your place settings to accommodate a large crowd. No matter what, have fun!

The Effortless Shindig

Tips for the no excuse dinner party: order take out! Set out all the fancy dishes and eat pizza or sushi on the fine china. You don’t have to know how to cook to have a dinner party. Designer tips for the perfect takeout dinner party.

Obviously, another option is to own the formal connotations and embrace the elegance. Throw a dinner party for a friend on one of their big birthdays. Too often what is missing from our grab-and-go, casual modern lives are reasons to dress up in style.

That doesn’t mean you have to have the kitchen skills of Ina Garten to create a memorably swanky affair. Ordering takeout from your favorite local kitchen is effortlessly elegant on your grandmother’s china and a champagne brut sparkles like sunshine in a crystal goblet. Add a card game with dessert to maximize the use of this special space.

How to roll a napkin for an easy dinner party. Order in for an easy no stress way to have people over for dinner to enjoy your fancy china.
Go all out in maximalist style. How to throw a no-stress dinner or lunch party for good friends. The best no cook dinner party on fancy special bone wedding china.

Lived In By Design

The best approach to make sure you will use the dining room is to design it with everyday use in mind.

Offset a formal dining set with a bright wall color or vibrant wall paper pattern. Use a contemporary light fixture for stylistic contrast. Choose fully upholstered chairs in a performance fabric like Revolution or Crypton to make it easy to gather for hours in comfort.

With the right relaxed design choices, the dining room can become a favorite everyday space on your home.

Want more useful tips? See our previous post in this series - 6 Ways To Steer Clear Of Trend Dead Ends.

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