With today’s hectic lifestyles, many of us struggle to spend quality time with our families, and sitting down for meals together can be the only time we are able to reconnect. Mealtimes offer a wonderful opportunity to relax with the family, recharge our batteries, discuss the events of the day and catch up on everyone’s news. With that in mind, we look at how you create a warm and welcoming dining area in your home that will help to bring your family closer together.
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Before you start designing your family dining area, make sure you have a clear understanding of your needs as this can help you achieve a better end result. How many people do you need to seat on a typical day, and will this ever increase - for example, if you invite guests over for dinner or your children bringing their friends home for tea? Do you need to store anything such as crockery, occasional items, table linen and other dining room essentials in the space? What sort of look would you like to achieve: clean and contemporary, bright and cheery, or perhaps traditional and elegant?
A great way to find ideas for your new dining area is to use sites such as Pinterest which is packed with fantastic images to inspire you. Create a Pinterest board and pin all your favourite images to it, including any items of furniture, wallpaper and wall art that you love the look of. Using a Pinterest board will help you plan the space, narrow down your ideas and visualise the end result.
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It goes without saying that the perfect table should have room for all of your family to sit comfortably, but sometimes, you’ll also to be able to accommodate guests. An extendable table is a great choice here, giving you extra space when you need it without taking up room when you don’t.
You also need to consider what material your table should be made from. If you have young children, white lacquer or high gloss finishes are a great choice as they can be easily cleaned and are forgiving of a few smudgy finger marks. Glass is also a good wipe-clean choice, although less so if your table is near a window as marks will be more visible. If you have young children and you like the look of glass, a circular glass table will be a better choice - little ones don’t always look where they are going, and sharp glass corners aren’t as easy to see as solid corners. If you’d rather have a rectangular table, a chunkier design in white gloss such as the extending Frances dining table will be more child friendly than a thin top, which children may run into.
If you have older children, you’ll have a wider range of options including gorgeous smoked glass, expensive looking marble or beautiful warm natural wood. Whichever you choose, it’s still a good idea to protect your table with an inexpensive cloth for day-to-day dining to ensure it stays looking beautiful for longer.
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In a family dining room, seating has to stand up to a lot of wear and tear, especially if you have younger children who are much better at climbing than sitting still. Plastic seating is, of course, a cheap, cheerful and durable choice that is easy to wipe clean and will last you a long time.
However, if you’d rather have something more comfortable and attractive, faux leather is an excellent choice. Like plastic, it’s wipe clean, but you’ll benefit from a comfy chair pad and seat back, and a much more stylish appearance. If you’re set on fabric chairs, consider buying a bench for one side of the table that your younger kids can sit on. Benches are not only a good, hard-wearing seat option for kids, but they can often be tucked right under one side of the table, freeing up space in your dining area when it’s not in use.
If you’re not convinced that faux leather or fabric chairs will stand up to your little ones’ antics, have a look at the huge range of polycarbonate chairs available. There are some gorgeous designs that prove plastic seating doesn’t have to look cheap: a favourite is this beautiful Crystal Clear chair with its gorgeous tree-like appearance, which can be conveniently stacked when not in use.
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Storage is essential in the family dining room so that everything you need is close at hand and your table is kept free from clutter. A storage unit will house everything your dining area needs, from occasional crockery and best glasses , through to place mats, drinks mats, spare candles, decorative accessories and even board games. In many dining areas, space is at a premium and a slim sideboard can be the perfect answer to your storage requirements. If you have young children, look for a sturdy piece that can’t be easily tipped – one that is close to the floor with small or low legs such as the Willow 3 door 3 drawer sideboard will be the best option.
As your sideboard doesn’t tend to get used for food or drinks, you have a wider range of choices when it comes to finishes. However, with young kids in the house, you’ll still need to keep an eye out for sharp corners, and a slightly taller chunkier unit is advisable if you have tiny tots who are still finding their feet.
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Once you’ve decided on your key furniture pieces, it’s time to get creative with your décor. Some great colour choices for the dining room include:
Orange – linked to stability, warmth and reassurance, and thought to aid digestion.
Yellow – associated with sunshine and energy, and thought to stimulate the intellect.
Red – correlates with energy, warmth, adventure and optimism, promotes sociable and lively feelings and is thought to stimulate the appetite.
These vibrant colours can look rather overbearing if used in blocks, so wallpaper can be a better choice – try Kelly Hoppen’s sumptuous red and black floral pattern or Barbara Hulanicki’s fabulous Ophelia florals for a stunning and sophisticated backdrop to your dining space. The finishing touch is beautiful wall art – pick something that all the family will love, such as this charming beach scene which will remind the kids of their favourite family holidays.
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