Wednesday’s are Reader’s Day – the day we publish reader’s successes, questions, ideas, projects and suggestions. Today a reader asks for help with her dining room.
Dining Room Update?
Mary sent photos to Your Decorating Hotline and wrote:
“My husband LOVES this dining room but I want to update it. I’d like to lighten the walls and I would love a round table that seats at least 8 but I don’t know if the room can hold it. The room measures 11′ x 12′. I’m taking the picture from the foyer and the doorway showing the brown wall is the kitchen.”
“Feel free to change as little or as much as you want to update the look. I’m excited to see what you will do!”
Dining Table: A round table that is 60″ in diameter comfortably allows 6 people to sit around it and, when needed, you can squeeze in 1 or two more people. A 72″ round table comfortably seats 8 people. As a rule of thumb, you also need 32″ of space from the table to the walls on all sides so diners may push their chair away from the table and easily sit down or get up from the table. Let’s do the math: 60″ round table plus 64″ for chair room on each side near the wall = 124″ or 10 feet 4 inches. The measurements of the room are 11′ X 12′ which means there’s only 8″ extra on the 11′ direction AND there is a large hutch in the room. So as you can see in the floor plan below, a 60″ round table would make the room feel jammed. Your better choice is to stay with the table size you have now and add leaves to increase the seating at those times you need to seat moreLighten the Color: To lighten the feel of the room, carry the color of the foyer walls into the dining room. Not only is that golden color lighter, it will help the eye flow easily into the dining area from the entry so that the space feels bigger, it will look good with your dining furniture and it also coordinates with the brown showing on the kitchen wall. Leave the trim as is.
Lighten the Window Coverings: Your layered valances are heavy and dated. Lighten the fabric weight around the window and the entire dining room will feel lighter and the window will let in more sunlight too. For simplicity and lightness in this small dining room I suggest that you remove the print fabric valance totally and use either the white or the gold fabric for the windows. After painting the entire dining room, drape the gold fabric on one window and the white fabric on the other window and stand back to decide which you like best. The white will help extend the windows since the fabric is the same color as the trim and they will seem light and airy. The gold will blend with the wall and will feel lighter and without as much contrast on the wall as the white. Either will work – it’s a matter of personal preference as to which is best for you. After you decide which you like the best cut each fabric scarf to create two hanging side panels – no valance – on each window – or purchase new ones if you prefer.
Lighten the Furniture Load: Right now the room is lopsided – all of the furniture is on one side of the room. The hutch is big and heavy, there are two mirrors reflecting a lot of stuff (backs of chairs, trim, ceiling, draperies, etc), and two chairs are all lined up on a single wall. There is just too much visually on that single wall and it is “tipping” the room. Remove the mirrors and you’ll immediately have more breathing room without the reflection of all the extraneous things.
Lighten the Clutter: Remove the floral garland, the candle holders and the glass dome from the top of the hutch. Remove the runner and topiaries on the dining table and replace them with a single large center display or a pair of candles. Reduce the number of items behind the glass doors of the hutch – think of it as a display space instead of a storage space and carefully pick items to showcase for visual impact.
Darken the Chandelier: The shape of the lighting fixture is good but it would look more up to date if it were bronze or black…metallic spray paint!
Reupholster the Chair Seats: Replace the white fabric on the seats with darker, more interesting fabric. Perhaps the print fabric from the window covering? I don’t know if that fabric is heavy enough or a suitable finish for the seats – but if it is you’ll save time and money by using them to reupholster the seats. Simply unscrew the seats from the chair, use heavy duty hardware staples to attach the fabric right over the current seats and then reattach the seats. The chairs will look much newer and more grounded with a darker, richer fabric than they do with the white seats.
Add Art: Add a large piece of art to the wall on the left of the entry into the kitchen. Pick up some of the colors of the chair upholstery. Art on this wall will be seen from the foyer and it will give the person sitting near the window something attractive to look at instead of just staring through the entry to the kitchen.
For A Big Change: If you want to totally change the look of the room without buying new furniture, remove the top part of your hutch. Replace it with a very large mirror or a piece of art (neither of which should be wider than the hutch base). This change will lighten the feel of the room and add color and interest to the room’s focal wall. The downside, of course, is losing storage space. If you have room to store things elsewhere, however, removing the top of the hutch will make the dining room feel bigger and lighter.
So – what do you think? Agree with me? Disagree with me? Have other ideas to share? Remember, we’re hoping to create a discussion forum on Wednesdays so chime in! Share your thoughts with Mary - what would you do if this was your dining room?