Put the TV dinner tray away and discover the joys of proper dining
PUBLISHED: 09:30 01 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:42 06 July 2020
Rediscover your dining room with key looks from Cornwall Life’s Carol Burns
There was a time when a dining room was encased in plastic only to be opened in an emergency social visit or at Christmas – but today the dining room is the hub of the home – whether combined with living space or sitting in the kitchen, it’s time to get round the table again.
When I think of dining rooms, I think of those incredible rooms you find in the country’s greatest houses. An ancient Chippendale set for 20 people with priceless crystal wear filled with a rare burgundy lit by the flickering of candles in elegant silver candlesticks, a crackling fire reflecting the oak panelling broken up by the occasional Romney.
Of course, just because I live in a slightly more modest house, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t aim high. And as with those – good dining room design begins with the table. Start with the numbers – how many people do you need or want to sit? Is it four or do you like to have people around for dinner and need 12? Now look at the space available. A dining room is essentially an empty room, and just because you have always used the second reception room for eating in, doesn’t mean you should always use it. If you have a great orangery next to your kitchen consider using it for dining. Personally I love a dining room with French windows – and a conservatory will offer a great view of your garden and allows your guests to wander on the terrace as you clear the plates.
So now you have the table – what else do you need? Side boards for all the are making a huge comeback as we realise how much we needed the storage for all the table linen, spare candles and flatware we use. Lighting is vital – a chandelier above the table is a lovely touch, but use low wattage lightbulbs or it will be in danger of reheating the food. Make use of the sideboard with a table lamp, add a low sofa against one wall if you expect your guests to linger, and a floor lamp.
Colour tends to be dramatic in the dining room – as if we only ever expect to use it in the dark when it will look at its best – deep reds, blues and greens in sumptuous wall coverings dominate here and even the most tentative of decorator will add a splash of metallics here if nowhere else.
If you go for something lighter, consider silky dove greys or rich but lighter reds and blues, you can highlight the drama with your table linen or use something more sedate for brunch.
Carol Burns is a designer and interiors writer. Find out more at carolburns.design.co.uk