It is finally happening: homeowners are returning to tradition and opting for separate, formal dining rooms, according to an article published on the ELLE Decor website. While the desire to turn a dining room into an office, media room, or kids’ play area may still spark some people’s interest, industry observers have noticed an uptick in purchases of dining sets and other furniture that encourage sit-down family meals. To get on board with this trend, here are some ideas on how you can create your own formal dining space.
Include a china cabinet.
Formal dining rooms are a good place for displaying your prized collection of dishes and serving pieces. House these items in a china cabinet, which functions like a traditional cupboard, but with glass doors to showcase what you are storing. Depending on the cabinet, the price may be more than you prefer. If that’s the case, try mixing separate pieces to create one unit. Furniture showrooms and consignment stores often carry top and bottom pieces of cabinetry that you can purchase individually. Ideally, the woods should match, but it’s not strictly necessary as long as the two pieces look cohesive when paired together. For a more formal style, select a dark wood, like cherry or mahogany. If your style leans more toward country décor, pick a lighter wood or finish.
Speaking of china cabinetry, make sure your dishes match in color. A formal dining room requires a sense of harmony (if not perfect uniformity), and that applies to plates, bowls, and any other pieces that will be prominently displayed in the room. While the hues should match one another, the product shape and size does not matter. Add depth to your collection by purchasing varying pieces that can be layered. The eclectic look is often more interesting.
Find a quality chandelier.
Nothing says formal like a high-quality chandelier hanging above your prized dining table. Stick with a light fixture that is smaller than the width of your table by at least one foot. Once you determine the size needed, pick a style that best suits the space.
Chandeliers come in a variety of options, such as ones with shades, candelabras, crystals, and beads. There are also tiered chandeliers. Finishes to consider include antique or oiled-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel, among numerous others.
If the expense is an issue, don’t let that keep you from getting the perfect fixture for your room. A chandelier is still an option, even if you’re on a budget, if you seek out a non-functioning one. This tactic requires a bit more effort, because you’ll have to search flea markets, antique stores, and estate sales. After finding one and making the purchase, you’ll also need to buy a rewiring kit to make it work.
Combine light and dark elements.
Lighter-colored elements can make a room look sleek, while dark furnishings convey a more dignified, traditional look. Combined, they bring sophistication and grandeur to a formal dining room. To make such contrasting styles work together, find an accent that can tie it all together—such as a rug or wallpaper, for example. Whatever you choose, it should bridge the gap between light and dark.
Another good rule of thumb is to have your contrasting pieces match in some way. For instance, offset the brightness of a large metal-front cabinet with navy blue upholstered chairs. Match the chairs to the cabinet by finding ones containing silver details, like silver nail heads or rivets. Or consider a navy chair with silver patterns etched in the fabric.
Stick with linear.
Your home may have an open floorplan that combines the kitchen and dining space. Though you may think this lends a more casual look, you can still create a formal dining area with the right furniture and placement. First, make sure you have four to five feet between the kitchen island and the dining table, so people can easily move about. Position the table with the width facing the kitchen for a smooth, linear flow between the two spaces. You can also add a rug underneath the table to create a more defined space. As for the dining set, simple upholstered chairs and a long table work well. Antique-looking sets can also convey a more formal look. If you want an ornate feature, keep an eye out for tables and chairs with decorative, carved legs.
Reintroduce period detail.
Another good approach to creating a formal dining room is to consider how these rooms used to be styled. In the past, dining rooms often contained elaborate décor and special touches, from the seating to windows. Take note and incorporate this style in your formal dining room. For example, instead of chairs, seek out sofa-style benches with a unique print. Add luxury with damask wallpaper or a woven floral rug.