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What to ask when you are designing a dining space

Image of the dining space of @around.robyn

What to ask when you are designing a dining space

Whether you love to host formal dinner parties for friends or prefer relaxed family meals, it’s important to create a dining space that’s comfortable, practical and filled with the things you love.

1. How do I dine?

A dining space should be a reflection of your personal tastes, so treat the design process as an opportunity to express your own sense of style. It’s essential to keep in mind who’ll use it and how. For example, if you’re one half of a couple who like to host dinner parties, you probably won’t need a big dining area on a daily basis but you might find an extendable table handy when accommodating guests. Or, if you have children who need a table for homework, crafts or games, then a large wooden refectory table is a good option.

2. How big is my space?

Start by assessing the size of your dining space. This’ll help you work out what furniture to put where. Design note: you’ll want to create a space where people can circulate freely, so make sure you aren’t squashing too many pieces together. Take the guesswork out of designing your dining room by downloading a home design app. You can use it to create floor plans and to see how pieces will look in your space.

3. What shape should the table be?

The shape of your table can have a huge impact on your dining experience. Circular or oval tables often feel more convivial as diners have a more open field of view, whereas rectangular tables lend themselves to bench seating, which is ideal if you need flexibility. (For more on this, check out our how to buy the right dining table blog.)

4. Do I need storage?

Good storage is vital to a modern dining room. It can help to make your space feel relaxed and, if carefully chosen, keeps essentials such as drinks, cutlery and crockery within easy reach yet out of sight.

If space allows, add a sideboard for an extra place to keep large serving dishes, table linens and glasses. If your dining room is too compact to accommodate extra pieces of furniture, you can use the walls instead. Floating shelving will keep floor space free while providing a home for tableware and decorative accessories.

A serving trolley or bar cart makes entertaining much more stylish and will reduce the number of trips to the kitchen. Alternatively, an elegant drinks cabinet is a sophisticated statement piece for the most committed of hosts and hostesses. Comprising wine racks and glass displays, it exceeds the storage benefits of a drinks trolley. Plus, when you open the double doors, you’ll add an instant wow factor to the room.

5. How do I light my dining room?

Be sure to layer the lighting in your dining room using multiple light sources (it’s difficult to create a mood with just one). Start by creating drama by focusing light onto the centre of the dining table. Use either a single fixture or a trio of them spaced evenly above the table. Bring warmth with wall lights and show off pieces of art by illuminating them with downlights. For a final flourish, add a few candles. 

It’s a good idea to install your dining room lighting with a dimmer function. This gives you the flexibility to change the mood or ambience to suit the situation. For example, you can lower the lights for an intimate dinner for two or go for the full glow if your kids are using the table to do their homework.

Design note: when lighting your dining table, ideally you want a pendant positioned 60–70cm above the table. The distance is important because when you’re sitting down you don’t want to be annoyed by the glare of the bulb.

Featured image: This round table makes a beautiful addition to the dining space belonging to Robyn Donaldson (@around.robyn).

Want more? Make sure you don’t miss our guide to buying the right dining furniture.