Blog by Beebe Cline

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Design Your Ideal Dining Room

Living rooms get a lot of attention, but a dining room that suits your style and fits your needs can make each day a bit richer. So why not give yours a little extra love? If you haven't been using your dining room, it could be that setting it up properly will inspire you to dine there more often. And if sit-down dinners don't match up with your lifestyle, there are plenty of ways to design your room around another passion so that it will see daily use.

Answering the five questions below should help spark ideas for your ultimate dining room design. Let's get started.
1. How much flexibility do you need? Consider how many people you need to seat for dinner every day and how many would you like to be able to squeeze in occasionally. If you need to adjust to different-size crowds frequently, it's important to look for furniture that can stand up to the task. Think of dining tables with extension leaves, and benches that can tuck against the wall until needed.

If you serve a big crowd only once or twice a year, you might prefer to go with a smaller table for everyday use — just pull out a few folding card tables for holiday gatherings as needed.
Tip: Keep track of your ideas with an ideabook or a style file. Be specific about what you love about each photo, and pay special attention when the same feature comes up more than once. Keep a short list of these key pieces handy during this process. For instance: modern pedestal table, natural fiber rug, glossy black trim.

Browse thousands of dining room designs
2. How do you envision using your space? A formal dining room that gets little use could be reimagined to combine features of a spacious home office, library or craft center. On the other hand, maybe you want to entertain more — in that case, try adding a well-stocked bar cart or a buffet, adjustable lighting and comfy seats.

Let yourself daydream about how you would love to use your dining space, then write down five specific things you would need to make it a reality.
Tip: Work the walls. Put that wall space around your dining table to work! If you need extra seating, tuck a bench beneath a console. If craft space is what you desire, tuck a cabinet against the wall and fill it with pretty baskets of craft supplies. Or, if a library effect is what you are after, pile up books on the buffet or line one wall with bookcases.
3. What level of formality do you crave? This does not necessarily depend on how or how often you use the room — it's more about personal style. You can have a dining room used for special dinner parties that still manages to feel relaxed and casual ... or a fancy room the whole family uses constantly.

If you have your heart set on a formal dining room but don't want to constantly be worried about damage, don't despair. You can hang a fancy chandelier, put wallpaper above the chair rail and hang artwork, and none will be within reach of little ones or furry friends.

Find your dining table style
Steal this style: With symmetrically arranged lamps and chandeliers, a grid of artwork and a set of Chinese Chippendale chairs, this room is a wonderful example of how to work formal details into a livable space.

Make a few concessions to practicality with a table that won't show every scratch and fabrics that can stand up to a little abuse — washable natural fibers, stain-resistant fabrics and outdoor fabrics would all hold up exceptionally well.

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