While the push for open concept living has dramatically changed the way we use our spaces, I firmly believe the dining room still has value. In fact, our busy lifestyles make it more relevant than ever. Modern families are desperately hungry for time to relax and connect with each other. Sitting down for a family dinner—without TV or distracting devices—offers the perfect opportunity to touch base and reminisce about the day.
Traditional dining rooms set the scene for those important family interactions.
When designing our dining room, my goal was to create an inviting, eye-catching space our family would actually use. Why spend time decorating a room that sits idle most of the year? We needed a bold, yet comfortable gathering space. It also had to mesh with the historic vibe of our 1912 home.
Here are 5 key pieces to freshen up a traditional space and a few helpful design tips…
These lovely chairs served as my inspiration point. Most of our home is neutral, so I was itching for something that would pack a visual punch. There is something so chic about colorful dining chairs in a soft gray or white room!
My teal shade is discontinued in World Market’s Lydia style, but the ink blue or denim would be an equally stunning way to inject color into a simple palette. These chairs look formal and mid-century Hollywood, but hold up really well. They are also super comfortable, enveloping your body in softness. I often move my laptop to the dining room to work because I enjoy sitting in them so much!
Bold dining chairs are a smart way to bring drama to your space because there are so many options available now. You can really express your personality and design sensibilities. Select one style you love or try pairing two complementary styles/patterns for a more eclectic look. The sky’s the limit!
The dining table was the most important design decision for the room and also the most challenging. I looked for a solid year before finding the right piece! Because our home is older, we needed a table that is smaller than most of the popular styles now. Anything larger than 66″ would overwhelm the room.
I was hunting for an architectural piece with interesting lines and fell in love with Pier 1’s Bradding collection, which comes in both 66″ and 84″ dimensions. You can also get an extension table that reaches 106″. The leg detailing is just gorgeous, offering both a rustic and traditional vibe. I ordered the espresso finish, but also love the shadow gray and natural stonewash. This was by far the best quality table I found at this price point.
A quick word of caution about Pier 1 furniture, you may see items on the store floor that are not immediately available in your location. I waited more than a month for my table. However, it was worth the wait! I just love it.
When you make a big statement with your dining chairs, you need something with subtle elegance underfoot. This ivory/gray rug played so well with the teal tones of my chairs. It is one of those rare pieces that will work with nearly all color schemes.
I was super nervous about ordering a rug online. (Who wants to drag an 8×10 to the post office to return it? Not me!) So I did my homework, spent hours reading reviews and browsed every website I could think of before selecting this piece. It looks just as beautiful as expensive alternatives I found at Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs. Best of all, it cleans up surprisingly well for a light colored rug. It has survived cat hairballs and dropped food. Hey, accidents happen.
Here are a few of the other affordable rugs that made my list of contenders.
In a formal dining room, curtains are like jewelry. They put the finishing touch on a room and tie everything together. I found these beauties from Amazon. The sheer gray damask provides interest, but in an unobtrusive way. They would look great in a living or bedroom too. I usually purchase my window treatments online because the windows in our old home need extra long panels (96″ or longer). If you have odd sized windows, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at your range of options using Amazon or Wayfair.
No room is complete without a few items of whimsy. I have a thing for horses and couldn’t resist this beautiful art piece, now on clearance. I smile every time I gaze at this sculpture on my sideboard. I also love these crackle wine glasses. They make me think of the ocean on a beautiful day and really helped complete the look of our built in cabinet.
Finally—and perhaps my favorite element in the room—we have my husband’s artwork. It’s one of the most thoughtful gifts he’s ever given me. He took our favorite photo as a couple and had it turned into a paint by number kit from Easy123Art. He intended for me to paint it, as I am the “artist” of the family. However, I was too busy with work at the time to tackle it. Thankfully, he stepped in and did a marvelous job. From a distance it looks just like the photo! He spent hours on it, even using a tooth pick to nail the detail work.
Whew… that was a long post! I’m curious, does your family have a traditional dining room? How did you style it? And as always, if you have any questions please comment below.