Thinking about decor topics for the blog recently made me realize that there was one glaring area I had yet to cover....the dining room! It's funny because I have posted endless tablescapes and party ideas, but never took the time to talk about the basics for designing this space. Surprisingly there are quite a few aspects to consider when designing a dining room. Below I have compiled a list of what I would consider to be the most important aspects for creating both a functional and comfortable dining space.
- Measurements- A dining room light should be no more than 12 inches less than the width of your table. In addition, it should sit approximately 30 inches above your table for a standard 8 ft ceiling. If your ceiling is higher, the rule is generally to raise the lighting fixture 1 inch for every additional 3 feet of ceiling height. If you haven't bought furniture for your dining room yet, the easiest way to figure out the appropriate chandelier size according to Ballard Designs, is to add the dimensions of the room together (e.g. a 10'x14' room = 24" chandelier diameter). For those of you who are curious, here is a link to the lighting fixture I chose for my dining room.
- Dimmer- dining is all about ambiance and a big part/the most important (in my opinion) is lighting! I highly recommend putting your dining room lighting on a dimmer switch, so that you have the ability to create a softly lit setting instead of being forced to choose between the intense on and off lighting. Dimmers are relatively inexpensive and easy to install (*According to Home Depot, you can install a dimmer switch in 45 minutes).
- Shape & Size- When buying a dining room table it is important to consider the table size your room can accommodate. According to the Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook, you should allow for approximately 36 inches of space between a chair and a sideboard, and 42 inches of space behind a chair that is in a high traffic path. Keeping these measurements in mind and the number of potential guests you would like to be able to seat at your table, should give you a very good idea of the table size you can accommodate in your space. (**Full disclosure- I bought our table with our future house and not our current condo in mind, so I am currently not abiding by Martha's Rule.)
- Table Orientation- Since I am in charge of hosting parties in our house, it is important to have our table positioned so that my assigned seat is closest to the kitchen. Right now we have a round table, so the seating orientation isn't important since every seat is the same, and I just take the chair with the closest kitchen proximity. However, when we move into our forever home, our current table will be moved into our kitchen and we will have a rectangular table in the dining room, so the end seat will have to be positioned in a manner that makes getting up and down from the table fairly easy.
- A few additional considerations:
- Pedestal vs. Legs- I am a fan of a pedestal table, because it provides guests with additional leg room and allows for greater flexibility with when it comes to creating additional seating.
- Purchasing a Table with a Leaf- Our current table is a fixed size, because as I mentioned it will eventually be our kitchen table. Purchasing a dining table with a leaf is a great idea when possible because it allows for you to create an intimate setting regardless of the number of guests. Hosting 4 people at a table meant for 12 can make dialogue a little strenuous. Having the ability to collapse your table down to a comfortable square or small rectangular shape will keep the table comfortable and intimate.
- Chair Size- One thing you will notice when purchasing a dining table is that the maximum number of seats a table accommodates varies depending on the size of your chairs. Chairs with arms take up more space and the same goes for chairs with upholstered seats. Because I opted for more plush dining chairs, my table is maxed out at 6 seats. Had I opted for more minimalistic wooden chairs, I could have probably accommodated 8 seats.
- Glass Top- This is something that I totally would have never considered had it not been for my sister. Back when we were shopping for our dining table, I had FaceTimed my sister to see what table she had selected. While showing me her table she pointed out her glass top and said that it was an absolute must have. Not only does the glass top dress up the table, but most importantly it protects it! Ring marks, spills, candle wax, you name it- not a problem thanks to my glass top! I ordered my glass table top from a local glass and mirror company and it has been one of the best investments I have made to date and something I highly recommend for any dining table.
- Flooring- I have an open loft floor plan, so I opted not to have a dining room rug because I felt that a rug would break up the space, making my dining area appear smaller. However, if your dining room space is in need of a rug, I recommend referencing this Ballard Designs Rug Buying Guide. You want to make sure that you buy a rug thats big enough to accommodate your guests pushing their chairs back and not feeling like they are going to fall off the rug ledge. This guide is a great reference for determining the appropriate rug size for your space.
- Additional Furniture- There are two pieces of furniture beyond the table and chairs that I would consider to be dining room worthy, the side board/china cabinet and the bar cart.
- Side Board/China Cabinet- having a piece of furniture in your dining room that you can use to hold glassware, dinnerware, flatware and linens is extremely practical and very convenient. In addition to the storage, a sideboard can be great for setting up a buffet in the dining room. In our apartment, we have placed our Torrens Bar Cabinet under the staircase for easy access to our stemware (this piece has some seriously impressive storage capacity) and it also makes for a fabulous buffet table.
- Bar Cart- this is a piece that I have on my wish list at the moment because I think it is so practical (and chic) to have in a dining room. Whether you are serving dessert, coffee, after dinner drinks or even for water and wine during the meal, a bar cart is an extremely helpful piece of furniture to have for both service and storage. Stay tuned for a future post on bar cart styling!
- Keep it Minimal- Personally I believe that less is more in a dining room when it comes to decor. Reason being, this is a room where food is served. Food in itself is a very busy and distracting thing, so why create additional stimuli overload by adding all sorts of crazy wall decor and tchotchke displays?? Similar to the concept of "food looks best when served on a white plate," I also believe it is enjoyed best in a room served with minimal decor. A plate is meant for eating just like a sideboard top and bar cart are meant for serving. Refrain from cluttering those spaces with unnecessary knick knacks.
Today's post definitely dug into the nitty gritty of dining room design, and it wasn't until we moved into this house (and actually had a dining space) that I realized how important all of these details are for creating a functional and comfortable space. This post is a collection of the best tips I have picked up throughout my dining room design journey. I love the way our dining space is coming together and am looking forward to putting the last few finishing touches on this room (like our future bar cart!). More to come, so stay tuned!