Divine dining room design!

When it comes to dining rooms, I think there are 2 types of homeowners: those that love having a formal dining room for hosting family gatherings and large parties, and those who will maybe use the dining room table once or twice a year and spend the remainder of the year wondering what to do with that space so that it gets used more often. No matter how you use your dining room, I can bet you that it's due for a design update!

Dining room by Mandeville Canyon Designs

Dining room by Mandeville Canyon Designs

For those of you wishing to keep your dining room a space to break bread with loved ones, but who are looking to give your space a bit of an update, you may be wondering where to begin. Because purchasing new dining room furniture is quite an investment (or because you may be hanging on to a family heirloom), I suggest you start with the lighting. Often times if find that dining rooms have old, outdated chandeliers that are often too small for the space. How do you know what size you should buy? Here are some handy tips I like to refer to:

If you are sizing your chandelier to your room, follow this simple formula: add the length + width of the dining room. Convert that number into inches and that will tell you the size chandelier you need.  For example, for a 10' x 12' room you add 10 + 12 = 22 feet. Simply change that number to inches and you will discover that a 22 inch chandelier will suit your room perfectly.

dining room

Photo credit: Harpers Bazaar

You can also size your chandelier to your dining table. The rule of thumb here is that your chandelier should be between 1/2 to 2/3 the length of the table and no greater than 12'" narrower than the width. Hang your lighting so that there is plenty of space to ensure that no one hits their head! A good rule to follow is for every foot of ceiling height, the chandelier should be 3” in height. Rooms with ceilings 9’ tall or more can handle larger chandeliers with two tiers to fill the space.

Photo via: Restoration Hardware

Photo via: Restoration Hardware

I often like to match the shape of the chandelier to the shape of the table. Hang a round drum shade above a round table or a long rectangular chandelier above a long, narrow dining table. And I absolutely love to hang two chandeliers above a nice big table. In the case of two chandeliers, choose a style that is 1/3 the width of the table and then hang them in the center of each half of the table.

When it comes to chandeliers, I think that it's better to be bigger. An oversized light fixture looks far better than one that is too small.

Image via Lamps Plus

Image via Lamps Plus

Photo credit: House of Turquoise

Photo credit: House of Turquoise

Via: Tidbits and Twine

Via: Tidbits and Twine

Now that you've got your lighting figured out, where's everyone going to sit? Ahhh, the seating! Do your best not to cram too much into this room, otherwise we're afraid it'll look like a furniture warehouse! If you can, allow for 24-28 inches of table length for each person (add a bit more for those sitting near the corner). So a 72 inch table should comfortably seat six people and a 96 inch table can accommodate 8. If you like the idea of a round table (great for conversation), a 54-60 inch table can seat 6 people and a 72 inch round table can seat 8. Be sure that there is 12 inches of space between the table and the seat cushion of the chair.

You should also plan for at least 32-36 inches of space between the back of your chair and the wall or furniture. If there's a traffic zone, plan for 42-48 inches (if it's at all possible!).

Via Apartment Therapy

Via Apartment Therapy

Rugs are a fun and inexpensive way to update your dining room. There are so many options available today, your choices are endless! There is everything from traditional oriental rugs to modern graphic patterns and everything in between!  All of them are suitable for a dining room update! Choose a rug fabric that is easy to clean and will resist (or at least hide) stains! I often recommend indoor/outdoor rugs for eating areas because they are so easy to care for! As for the size of your rug, we recommend that it's at least 24-30 inches wider than the table so that your guests can push their chairs away from the table and still be situated on the rug.

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

Add pops of color with slip covered seating. You can choose to do all of the chairs or just the 2 chairs at the head of the table. You can even pick a pair of comfy wingback chairs for those lucky guests who get to sit at the end of the table. Or, get creative and pair an upholstered bench with your dining set.

As seen on realsimple.com

As seen on realsimple.com

Via dearlillie.com

Via dearlillie.com

I love the idea of designing a dining room so that it's multifunctional and so that the space isn't collecting dust while waiting for guests to arrive! With so many of my clients working from home these days, I find that they are often looking for a nook in their home where they can set up a home office. Why not use the space you have in the dining room? Just be sure to have lots of pretty and functional storage  to contain the clutter!

Found on Real Simple

Found on Real Simple

As seen on Pinterest

As seen on Pinterest

Give your kids some extra space to be creative or do homework. Design your dining room to do double duty! Kid friendly by day, ready to dine by night!

Found on Pinterest via Happiness is Homemade

Found on Pinterest via Happiness is Homemade

I love books. Like, I mean I really love books. And I am still a bit, "old-school", as some may call it, because I haven't entirely converted to a digital reader. Mostly because I love the feel of the pages in my hand and the smell of an old book. The challenge is, where do I store all of these books? I like to keep them nearby for quick reference, which is why I love the idea of adding shelving to a dining room. Not only does it look great, but surely those books will prove to be a great conversation starter!

Photo credit: The inspired room

Photo credit: The Inspired Room

Found on Pinterest (via roomzaar.com)

Found on Pinterest (via roomzaar.com)

Don't let that precious square footage in your home go unused! Give your dining room the love and attention it deserves!