Comfort in dining rooms

For generations, families ate in their kitchens and only ventured into their din­ing rooms on special occa­sions. The dining room was a place for guests, where stiff-backed chairs and frag­ile china kept everyone on their best behaviour.

But as our lives have changed, so have our dining rooms.

Today’s dining rooms are used in more ways than ever before,they merge comfort and beauty to create a space where people want to linger.

Many home-owners now see the dining room as a flexible space where meals are not the only priority. In many homes, the dining room table is the go-to location for working on art projects, wrapping gifts and doing homework, so people are seeking durable tables that can withstand plen­ty of attention, rather than carefully polished ones that are easily scratched.

Dining room storage has also changed: The dining room may double as a home office, with a laptop and paperwork stashed in the sideboard during meals.

Many people have moved their formal dishes to kitchen cabinets, where expanded stor­age space allows the good china to be stored alongside the ev­eryday dishes and displayed in glass-front kitchen cabinets.

Dining room storage may now be filled with anything from office supplies to chil­dren’s toys. The days of the perfectly matched suite of furniture — the “dining room set” — are over. In designer-decorated homes, you’re more likely to see deliberately mismatched chairs and a table that con­trasts starkly with the room’s other furniture.

For generations, families ate in their kitchens and only ventured into their din­ing rooms on special occa­sions. The dining room was a place for guests, where stiff-backed chairs and frag­ile china kept everyone on their best behaviour.

But as our lives have changed, so have our dining rooms.

Today’s dining rooms are used in more ways than ever before they merge comfort and beauty to create a space where people want to linger.

Many home-owners now see the dining room as a flexible space where meals are not the only priority. In many homes, the dining room table is the go-to location for working on art projects, wrapping gifts and doing homework so people are seeking durable tables that can withstand plen­ty of attention, rather than carefully polished ones that are easily scratched.

Dining room storage has also changed: The dining room may double as a home office, with a laptop and paperwork stashed in the sideboard during meals.

Many people have moved their formal dishes to kitchen cabinets, where expanded stor­age space allows the good china to be stored alongside the ev­eryday dishes and displayed in glass-front kitchen cabinets.

Dining room storage may now be filled with anything from office supplies to chil­dren’s toys.

Mixing instead of matching

The days of the perfectly matched suite of furniture — the “dining room set” — are over. In designer-decorated homes, you’re more likely to see deliberately mismatched chairs and a table that con­trasts starkly with the room’s other furniture.

People are also mixing mater­ials and textures with the dining table being some type of stone and the chairs some type of wood and the sideboard may be made with mirror or metal or clad with a decorative finish. Everything has its own evolved, separate look.

Using mismatched china is also big, including “mixing a few pieces of Grand­ma’s china” with sleek modern dishware.

Table linens can be a broad mix of casual cottons and for­mal linens layered together.

The dining room can be a per­fect place to let your creativity run wild, if you don’t spend extended hours there during a given week, then bolder colours and patterns work well.

Dining without fear

We’ve moved away from the severity of antiques we’re af­raid to touch and moved toward “the rustic ele­gance” of the big farmhouse ta­bles you might find in Provence or Italy.

In the past cooking wasn’t something to be looked at when guests came over but now it’s become a per­formance so people are knocking down walls to give the dining table a better view of the kitchen.

The kitchen is now the stage, where everything hap­pens, where everyone wants to be and the popularity of open-plan houses has meant that sepa­rate, formal dining rooms are less common.

Over the decades, one detail hasn’t changed: Warm, soft lighting in a dining room re­mains important. In addition to an overhead fixture, including a lamp or two to bring a gentle, flattering glow.

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