Dining rooms are stellar rooms for drama. Just think of the exquisite scenes set in "Downton Abbey's" dining rooms.
For foodies and aficionados of interior design, dining rooms are often the most important room of the house. Whether you love intimate dinners or enjoy large dinner parties, there are certain considerations. Do you entertain often, or do you have a hectic schedule and mostly serve pre-prepared foods? Whatever your scenario, the decor of your dining room is as important as the food that is served there.
Many older formal homes have separate dining rooms, whereas others are part of a great room or just a dining area. Whatever your home layout or decorating style, you have choices.
The shape and size of the dining table says a lot about the homeowners' lifestyle and entertaining preferences. Choosing wisely will enhance the diners' experience. Generally, rectangular tables are better for a large number of people. Oval or oblong tables are ideal for medium-sized groups of five or six. Square or round tables work best for those who prefer intimate dining. Most everyone loves a round table. However, remember that when a round table increases in size, it gets wider, thus making it difficult for guests to talk to and hear one another across the table. A round table also needs to be larger than a rectangular table to seat the same number of people.
A general rule in choosing the shape and size of the table is to follow the architecture of the room. For example, have your table be similar to the shape and proportion of the room -- a square or circular table for a square room, a rectangular table for a rectangular room, etc.
For those who entertain often, the trend today is to use two smaller round or rectangular tables instead of one large table. This way, while entertaining, the hostess can sit at one and the host at the other. It also adds an intimacy that is lost at one large table.
A more casual and current approach to dining is a higher table (with higher chairs). Inspired by bar seating, this is popular among young families and singles who don't want a formal dining look. Countertops are also used for dining in order to make the best use of small spaces.
The most important factor when choosing a dining table is the size of the room. A table that is too large will make it difficult for guests to get in and out of the dining area. There should be sufficient room to pull out chairs (at least 36 inches) and move around. Conversely, if the table is too small, the room will look out of proportion.
Materials used for the dining table are often dictated by the style of decor. For example, more traditional styles rely on traditional woods, whereas contemporary styling might suggest a metal or glass table. The style of your dining room should reflect the look of the rest of the home and, above all else, your lifestyle.
Joseph Pubillones' weekly column, "The Art of Design," can be found at creators.com.