A new report on the future of interior design predicts that dining rooms are headed for the same fate as shag carpets. Under-used and collecting dust, dining rooms are slated to transition into the new space for expanding home offices and household entertainment centers. Actually, dining rooms have been downsizing since the Middle Ages where they started off as the giant dining halls of castle owners to more intimate rooms known as parlors to the eventual dining rooms we’re familiar with today.
I’m a huge fan of dining rooms so I’m pulling for a renaissance. They are not only one of my favorite rooms to design but my favorite space to gather with friends and share a meal with family. One of the reasons I’m so drawn to dining rooms is that they have a clear purpose. Rooms with a distinct purpose tend to have a sharper design and the general tone of a dining room is usually one of glamor and elegance.
I have one steadfast rule for designing all dining rooms, I veto matchy-matchy dining room sets. These out-of-the-box sets are often too uniform and rigid for a room built for meaningful celebrations and fun shindigs. I love to mix and match when it comes to dining rooms. I believe in an elegant yet individual approach in everything from colors and patterns to textures and size.
My own Potrero Hill dining room includes vintage regency style Baker dining table and while the matching Swedish chairs add a sense of cohesion it doesn’t dominate the entire design. The backdrop for the room is a custom-made large mirror and the focal point is an over-scaled Italian horse chandelier.
Dining rooms are one of the best spaces to showcase custom designed pieces. In our Palo Alto dining room, we built custom corner cabinets and a custom designed rug. We painted the ceiling bronze and brought all the colors together with shimmery silk plaid drapes.
Generally when I design rooms, I begin by selecting fabric first and dining rooms are no exception. I tend to add a lot of fabric in these rooms because it adds texture and warmth. In the dining room chairs above, I used leather on the front of these chairs and silk on the back.
In our Hillsborough dining room project, I selected linen drapes with greek key tape trim at the edges. The antiques lend a classic feel to the room while the murano glass chandelier balances it with a dose of modernity. Have I mentioned my unrivaled love of chandeliers? A chandelier’s true home is in the dining room. It creates a sense of grace and beauty that sets the tone for all the other elements, right down to the flatware.
One way to return to the glory days of dining rooms may be to make these rooms more accessible. Don’t worry about busting out the fine china and cloth napkins every time instead create a room that feels comfortable and inviting. Lighter colors, personal design pieces, and an uncluttered, dedicated space (no overdue library books or cell phone chargers taking up real estate on the dining room table) can create a more welcoming, nightly gathering place. Here are a few dining rooms I would love to pull up a chair and do some bread breaking.