Before & After – Bold, Inviting Dining Room

Ah, the dining room – the room that many people have but never seem to use. Why do dining rooms always seem so formal, unused and unnecessary in many homes? Dining rooms often feel like the afterthought of a house, and many new homes don’t even have one.

As someone who entertains often – for baby showers, bridal showers, dinner parties, holiday celebrations – I don’t know what I would do without my dining room. I would probably push people outside and force them to sit on blankets and call it a garden party or picnic. The dining room is where thanks is given at Thanksgiving, toasts are made with good friends, food is passed and memories are made.

The dining room is one of my favorite rooms because it revolves around my favorites things – food, family and friends. Many wonderful memories have been made in my dining room, both growing up at my parents’ house and in my own home. It’s not so much about the menu or the place setting or the china used, it’s about the people and the ambiance and the art of just sitting together at a table, enjoying food, wine and conversation. It’s about coming together.

Because of that, it’s important for the dining room to feel warm, inviting, and welcoming, a place where people feel they can linger. Lighting is important in a dining room. Do you have overheard light on a dimmer to help cast a glow over the table? Dimmers are a must to help set the mood and create the right ambiance for a dinner party. Nobody wants to linger when a bright light is shining overhead. Light candles and cast a “glow” around the room, keeping it cozy and moody. People talk more, drink more, laugh more when they feel relaxed and enveloped in the setting. And every woman loves how she looks in the glow of candlelight.

Add art and accessories and mix and match your table settings if you don’t have enough of one type. I’m a big fan of the eclectic, bohemian mix of a variety of plates, glasses and napkins as long as they all complement each other. Not everything has to match or look perfect. And for heaven sakes, you don’t need to set your table or create a “display” when no one is sitting at it or coming over – just keep it simple with a centerpiece or runner when it’s not in use.

Recently, I was asked to help my friend Marie give her dining room a refresh. Her dining room is right inside her front door and she said every day she would come home and get angry when she looked at it. Not good! I knew we could make a few small changes for minimal cost to make it feel more cohesive and inviting.

Marie has great decorating style and taste and she’s drawn to a mix of modern colors with pops of bright. She loves the grays, yellows and blues and I wanted to embrace that, while still giving the room a timeless elegance.

Here is their dining room BEFORE:

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I added a table in front of the window for depth and interest, as well as to create a place for extra food or drinks when she is hosting. We found the lamp, which was her grandmother’s, in another room in the house and it ended up being perfect on the table. It added a little bit of tradition to her more modern style. I also added some natural elements to the table like a little greenhouse full of moss balls and candles. The stone garden ornament on top brings the outside in as well and helps balance some of the other modern elements.

The addition of a mirror to the wall opposite the window reflects light and creates the illusion of more space. It also gave the room a bit more drama and shine.

The artist of the bright, beautiful work on canvas is by Robert Langford and was a piece Marie had been eyeing for awhile. It was the perfect finishing touch to the yellow curtains and gray walls.

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