Whilst there is no doubt that an open plan dining/kitchen space is conducive to bringing family and friends together in an informal setting, the argument could be had that separating the ‘dining space’ from the rest of the house can be just as convivial and infinitely more relaxing. All too often in this day and age, we are rushing through life, trying to complete all of our tasks so that we have time to relax, which often spills over into meal times and inevitably, there is usually a distracting television on somewhere. Imagine having dinner in a beautifully curated room that is away from the kitchen and the TV, where you can enjoy your meal, so lovingly prepared, in a calm and tranquil atmosphere? Hard to imagine, but wasn’t this the case when we were young? A chance for the family to sit together at least once in a day and discuss the day’s events.
Planning the perfect dining room, ‘where only good taste is served’ takes some consideration and this is where an interior designer would be worth their fees. With years of planning under their belt they would ask the following questions: How many people do you expect to seat every day and should the table extend for high days and holidays? What is the perfect dining table proportion? Seats, with or without arms? What is the best fabric to use on a dining chair? Is serving and storage space required?
Top London Interior Designer René Dekker has some experience in these matters and has the following tips. Tables need to be wide enough so that two people can sit opposite each other and still have some space between them for the serving dishes; 110cm is a good rule of thumb. Ideally (from a comfort perspective) the table should be able to accommodate a dining chair that is at least 50cm wide (from side to side) and allow at least 20-25cm between chairs, this will ensure your guests aren’t elbowing each other when they are eating. When seated, the chair should be able to tuck in at least 15cm under the table and when not in use at least 25-30cm. The end of the table requires this space plus at least another 20cm so that no one is playing footsie under the table! Arms are great for comfort, but make sure the arm height fits under the table. A good solution is to have just 2 ‘carvers’ (as these dining chairs with arms are better known), one at each end of the table. So where are the table legs, because they can get in the way if you’re not careful? Ideally they won’t obstruct if they are placed right at the corners, but an alternative would be a central support. A trick if your room isn’t long enough to have an extension table is to order a wider table which will accommodate two chairs at each end. The best shape for the table is a rectangle where the middle points of the long edges bulge out slightly and corners are softened.
But what about the room itself, what finishes should be used and what is the perfect colour scheme? At the end of the day it will boil down to personal taste, location of the room in the house, whether it has a view, is it in the UK or on an exotic coastline but here are some things to remember. Scientifically and perhaps historically in the UK, red is the best colour for dining room décor. Studies have now shown that red excites and stimulates the appetite and encourages people to eat more, whilst green imparts a feeling of cheerfulness and relaxation, associated with nature and which inspires diners to eat a more healthy and balance meal. Bright colours like orange and yellow stimulate a person to eat quickly which is why so many fast food restaurants use this hue…so perhaps not a good idea to use at home. Regarding finishes, it seems wise to have a hard floor surface (timber, stone or ceramic tiles) as opposed to carpets as this is easier to clean if there is spillage. Unless you have excellent ventilation, avoid the excessive use of fabrics as food odours cling to these. Leather or vinyl on chairs is great from an aesthetic and service point of view but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Finally there is the matter of good lighting. It is important that you can see your food but it shouldn’t be so bright that there is no ambient mood. A centrally located pendant or chandelier is a great way of lighting the table and make sure the LED bulbs are warm white as this creates a cosy atmosphere. Mirrors are great too as they give the diners who have their back to the view, a chance to enjoy this as well.