Dress Up Your Dining Room

During the holidays, the dining room takes the spotlight. Could yours use an update?


Formal or informal, elegant or cottage cozy, dining rooms get dressed up for the holidays as family feasts take center stage. But here are some ideas that could make your dining room even more welcoming.

The Appetizer

At this time of year in New England, good lighting is vital. Ceiling lighting such as a chandelier puts the spotlight on your table, whether one spectacular brass or crystal chandelier, blown-glass pendants, or metal track lighting for that industrial vibe. Overhead lighting can really highlight the table, which is the focal point of the room.  A chandelier with arms is perfect for a garland or for hanging crystal glass ornaments for the holidays.

Be sure to include a rheostat switch to dining room lighting. Being able to raise or lower the lights adds an extra touch of ambience. A chandelier with candle-style bulbs that can be dimmed for evening meals won’t overwhelm table candles and lets them twinkle.

If your dining room has high, tray or cove ceilings, you have additional opportunities to light up the room and add atmosphere. Wall sconces add a formal, classic touch with candle bulbs. And crown moulding is literally the crowning touch for traditional rooms.

The Main Course

What’s your style of dining room table: classic cherry, walnut or oak, or contemporary/industrial acrylic, glass or metal? A beautiful table—preferably one that can glass-table-topbe extended with leaves for special occasions—is a blank canvas.

Contemporary or classic, rectangular or round, the table is the gathering place. If yours is looking the worse for wear or perhaps a “well-loved” family heirloom, you may want to refinish it. Luckily, a tablecloth—or a couple of them of different lengths draped over each other—is a quick fix.

Every great dining room deserves a firm foundation. Hardwood? Laminate? Carpeting? Chances are your dining room isn’t an island unto itself; other rooms flow in and out through doorways. So you probably have coordinating flooring. But you can differentiate your dining room and warm it up with a beautiful area rug beneath the table. Rugs or carpet also soften sound.

A Choice of Sides

Along the walls, chair rails complement crown moulding, or if your style of home décor warrants it, consider wainscoting.

Draperies are classic window treatments. Go big with long panels that “puddle” on the hardwood floor, and rods just below the ceiling to lengthen and expand the appearance of any size window.

If you have a view, of course you should showcase it. Just realize that for several months each year, if you dine after 5:00 p.m., it will be pitch black outside.

Or swap window dressings out according to the season: heavy, insulating drapes in the winter, and light billowy sheers in the summer. For a different but still stylish look, especially if the view isn’t great, consider shutters.

Furnishings that act as “sides” to the dining table can include a hutch or china cabinet, sideboard/buffet table, and/or an attractive wine rack or bar table combination.

Artwork on the walls shouldn’t be hung too high since you and your guests will most often view it while seated.

Pull Up a Chair

Comfortable seating and atmospheric lighting encourage guests to linger after dinner. When it comes to chairs, no matter what your style, they don’t all have to match. But they country-dining-roomshould be at the same seating height, so no one’s at chest level to the table.

If there’s room, upholstered chairs with arms at the head and foot of the table (master and mistress chairs) are a nice touch. A bench is great to pull up for kids or extra guests, but unless it has a back it’s not comfortable for everyday use.

For the holidays, elegant slipcovers dress up plain chairs, and you can toss them in the washer when wine or gravy gets spilled.

Room for Dessert

Music adds to every occasion, but if your sound system is in another room, pipe in the music with remote or wireless speakers. And, every celebration deserves a festive centerpiece. Natural materials suitable for the season are traditional but the Internet and decorating magazines have endless ideas.

If your dining room needs a makeover, talk to the space planning experts at 3W Design. Then get ready to entertain in style.

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