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5 Ways to Create the Perfect Dining Room

By Tobi Fairley

It's almost time to start planning your holiday dinners to welcome family and friends to your home. I love the holidays because the formal dining room finally gets its due! It's a great place for delicious meals, good conversation, laughter, and making memories. 

So here are my 5 best tips for creating an inviting dining room for your holidays, and any other time you want to entertain:

1. Table it! 

Selecting the perfect table for your dining room is the biggest decision you can make. You want to offer as many seats as you can, while still leaving enough space for people to move around the room. A round table is great for conversations, and works well in a square dining room. Rectangular tables are fabulous for dinner parties because so many people can fit around them, and they're good for rooms that are rectangle too. For the best of both worlds, consider an oval table! Be sure to leave about 3 feet between the edge of the table and the wall or another piece of furniture like a china hutch or buffet so chairs can be pulled out easily.

2. Create conversation space.

Place the chairs far enough apart for elbow room, but close enough for conversation. You want guests to be able to have a great time with those around them without having to shout or to jostle for space. Plus they need planty of room for their plate, silverware, and glassware. Allow at least 2 feet of space per guest along the table for the perfect amount of room for function and comfort. This means a table that is 72” long will accommodate a party of eight—three on each side and one on each end. 

3. Make storage stylish.

No one can be comfortable in a cluttered space, so be sure your dining room is free of extra stuff. In this dining room, I tucked the buffet into a nook so it was out of the way but functional. Be sure to make your storage chic, and let it display your gorgeous china and silver, or even a personal collection like the vintage milk bottles you see above that were from my client’s family dairy farm. 

4. Light it up. 

Lighting can make or break the mood at a dinner party. Use a gorgeous and chic chandelier or pendant to softly light the dinner table, and maybe even some lamps on a nearby console for a brighter evening. If you decide to use recessed can lighting be sure they are on a dimmer switch so you can control the mood even more. 

5. Comfort is king. 

Having the most gorgeous dining room means nothing if your guests don't want to sit in the chairs you've provided. Make them comfortable with an upholstered seat and even more comfy with an upholstered back, and they'll linger longer at your dinner parties!