By Michelle Martin, Detroit Free Press June 2018
Photos by Interiors by Melanie
In some homes, dining rooms are reserved for formal gatherings and celebrations – a space where the best china is laid out among the finest linens and most elegant decor. But for many people, dining rooms have other purposes. Some are casual eating areas while others have transitioned into home offices, game rooms and play spaces.
“There are many ways that people are maximizing the space in their dining rooms, whether it’s for eating or using it for another purpose,” said Tom Lias of Gorman’s Home Furnishings & Interior Design, US “It’s about making the best use of the space for your needs.”
Looking for ways to maximize the space in your dining room? Here are six ideas to try.
Choose appropriate furniture sizes
When it comes to dining room furniture, size matters. Take the time to measure the room and the furniture so you don’t end up with pieces that are either too large or too small for the space. Rectangular-shaped tables are a favourite for dining rooms, but square or round tables can work well in some areas that are tight on space. And when it comes to storing and displaying dishes and linens, low-profile buffets have gained popularity over china cabinets.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to leave 32 inches between the dining room table and the next obstruction – whether that obstruction is a wall, a buffet or china cabinet. And if there’s a walkway behind the table, plan to leave 40 inches of space.
The most important focal point of any dining room is the chandelier. Whether the chandelier’s style is formal, casual or somewhere in between, this statement piece is worth spending a little extra money on. Some people continue to opt for formal chandeliers that incorporate tiers of crystals or candelabras, but there are casual styles that are made of iron or bronze that can give the dining room an industrial or antique farmhouse look.
Use complementary colour schemes
Some dining rooms open to a kitchen or great room, while others are closed off. Either way, it’s important to complement the colours that are used in the dining room and in the surrounding areas. That doesn’t mean painting everything the same colour – you just don’t want the dining space to be shockingly different from the adjoining rooms.
For instance, if you have a dining table with a dark-coloured wall behind it, pick up that colour with a few pillows in the living room. Or add some colour and texture to the dining room with upholstery that complements the adjoining rooms. And don’t be afraid to try lighter upholstery colours. Manufacturers such as Sunbrella or Crypton Fabrics supply upholstery fabrics that repel water and offer the ultimate cleaning capability – perfect for dining chairs that are prone to spills or stains.
Start from the ground up
When maximizing space in a dining room, you may want to include a rug. A rug is especially helpful in defining the dining area in an open-concept space. It also can instantly change the mood of a room. When selecting a rug, keep in mind that it should extend at least 24 inches beyond the sides of the table. Bold patterns can help to set off a simple table and chairs, while lighter coloured rugs can complement dark furniture.
Customize, customize, customize
When selecting dining room furniture, think about personal preference and how to best use the existing space. Benches are popular because they take up less room and often can accommodate additional people. They can be used on both sides of the table, or as a single bench with chairs on the other side.
Look beyond the dining room
Some people just don’t need or want a dining room. In those cases, consider turning the dining room into something else such as an office, library, den or game room. Tall shelving units work well in these spaces and are perfect for storing games, crafts and artwork. One idea is bringing in a small dining table with a few chairs – it’s the ideal way to maximize space since the room can be used during the day for office work and as a family game area in the evening.