Dining room design takes a special touch as the space is usually a feature spot in a home, yet it needs to be quite functional. At Hoskins Interior Design, we approach these design projects first by examining how the space will be used. How often do you entertain? Are you the central point for most family gatherings? How many people do you typically seat? Will you be using your dining room for other things besides eating and entertaining? Creating a design around the functionality you need will give you a space that is not only beautiful, but can also serve you well.
Dining Room Design Tips of the Trade
Designing for space is central to the functionality of a dining room. You need to make sure to create flow and comfort for you and your guests.
Dining Table Length: The size of your room along with your entertaining needs will help determine the best table length. To seat your guests comfortably, you will need 24” of table length per chair. So, if you would like to seat 10 people, you will need at least an 8-foot table. However, if your table has legs on all four sides, you will need a longer table as that design tends to push chairs closer together and you do not want to make your guests uncomfortable.
Dining Table Width: We suggest a maximum width of 48” to 52”, otherwise the table is too wide for guests to reach across it. A wide table also puts people so far apart that it makes interaction difficult.
Dining Room Seating: Dining chairs should encourage guests to linger at the table long after the meal is complete. Therefore, comfort is an important part of your seating choice. While expansive chairs may seem like a natural option, less generous dining chairs are easier to fit around a table, providing more room for each guest. We also recommend providing your guests with upholstered rather than hard seating. Your design philosophy will determine your upholstery fabric choice. Elements like lighting, food, table centerpiece, and music can set the magic of the dining space, or you can use the 8-10 chairs covered with a wow fabric to create the tone. At Hoskins Interior Design, we prefer subtly in the dining chairs unless our clients plan to change the fabric often. Something to consider is that while light-colored fabric offers a lovely look, it tends to become unsightly once mustard, gravy or béarnaise sauce has been spilled on it. If you are set on a pale color, we recommend using leather, applying a stain-resistant fabric treatment, or having slip covers made.
Lighting A Dining Room: It makes sense that the bigger the table, the bigger the light fixture you can choose. Two chandeliers can nicely complement tables that exceed 76-78” in length, as long as your ceilings are at least 9 feet tall. Chandeliers should be hung with the bottom-most ornament at a minimum of 60” off the floor. American tables are typically 30” from the floor, leaving 30” between the table and the bottom of the chandelier. If the fixture is placed much higher than that, it will not relate well to the table unless the chandelier is particularly large. Dining room lighting is more about ambiance than task, though canned lights are a nice addition for set up and cleaning. Make sure all of the lights are on dimmers!
Color in Dining Rooms: Some interior designers and chefs believe that the colors of a dining space should support the food. At Hoskins Interior Design, we are of a different mindset, feeling that your home is first and foremost a reflection of your personality. Separate dining rooms offer an opportunity to bring out your fun side, as the limited amount of time you spend in the space will keep you from getting tired of it. Consider bringing in more saturated colors, or hanging some texture on the wall through a large tapestry. Paneled wall coverings or wall papers with distinct patterns can add some pizazz as well.
Dining Room Floor Coverings: If you are choosing a rug to compliment hardwood or tile floors in your dining space, make sure it is large enough for the host and hostess chairs to be able to slide back and still be on the floor covering when the table leaves are in. For example, an 8-foot long table requires at least a 12-foot long rug.
Dining as Part of a Great Room: Many of today’s homes combine the family and dining room into one great room, which works wonderfully for entertaining. The flexibility of the space allows you to instantly change it to suit your current needs. Planning for the many ways you will want to use the space will drive the overall design, particularly the size and placement of furniture. There is no need to hang a chandelier in relation to the dining table in this type of space. Creating an overall lighting plan for the many functions of the room will allow you to move the table, or to expand it into the shared space. It is important to provide enough indirect dimmed light to provide pretty ambient lighting while ensuring your guests can see well enough to avoid eating their napkin.
The goal of designing a dining room is to create a space that encourages guests to enjoy the food and the company. While the room needs to be smashingly beautiful and welcoming, it also needs to function well for how you plan to use it. No one wants to have to sit at the children’s table unless they are really children! Planning for your lifestyle will make entertaining in your home more enjoyable for you and your guests. Looking for more tips on designing a dining room? Send us an email or give us a call at (317) 253-8986.