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5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Dining Room Design

By Amitha Verma

Yup, I’m that neighbor. All of my holiday decor is out, trees, lights, the whole shebang!

I had to prepare early for an event I’m hosting. Now that’s project is on one burner so to speak, I’m coming back to the star of the show for Thanksgiving - the dining room!

Over the many years I have been designing, I have seen some terrible mistakes.

Let’s start with the basics.

Mistake #1

An oversized table in an undersized room.

The best things come in small packages. I’m 5’-2", so I’m a big believer in that mantra!

Clients always tell me they are frustrated with their small rooms.

My response, it’s not the room - it’s what you are putting in the room.

On the top of my list of biggest mistakes, is a table that is too big for the room.

It makes the room feel cramped, guests cannot get around the chairs, and is visually displeasing.

I remember one year working with the Garza family facing this exact dilemma. Their eating area, often the heart of the home, was not functional.

Once seated no one could move around behind the chairs.

Even worse, if someone opened the back door, it would hit the guest closest to the door! They’d shout out to warn their guest, “Watch out!”

With a big family, often gathering around meal time, they called and asked us what to do. It seemed hopeless, the room was too small.

First thing we did - get rid of that big table.

How do you know if your table is too big?

You must have at least 3’ from behind your chairs to your wall and that is the bare minimum.

I go for 4’ or more if I can.

In my own home, I was working with a very narrow space. To get that walking space around my table, I opted for an antique dining table which tends to be thinner, usually around 30” wide.

If you aren’t sure, get the tape measure out and go check.

Here’s the before and after of Julie’s home.

Mistake #2

A table that doesn’t match your family’s personality.

Huh? You’re probably thinking what? Family’s personality? This is a real mistake I often see.

Some families are steeped in tradition and more formal. The dining room is about high style and elegance and more formal gatherings.

Available at Village Antiques

In contrast, with some of the families that I meet, the dining table is command central. Homework, crafts, planning sessions, dinner, you name it, it’s happening on and around the dining room.

How do you figure out whom are you?

Here’s my test:

Does your family use the table for most of your projects, and gatherings? If so, a perfectly pristine top may not be for you.

How would you react if your family naturally “distressed” your table? If you’re worried about the dings and marks then I’d recommend you go a bit rustic.

You might equate rustic with too primitive but that is not the case.

One of our Amitha Verma design hallmarks is how we blend glam with the old rustic style.

What does that look like? Like you took a classic Parisian apartment and transplanted into an old country farmhouse - and blended it all together.  

Such as with these classic French dining cushioned chairs and this very old style top table.

You can beat, ding, mark, scratch, and dent this table, and it will look even better.

Whomever you are in your design style, be authentically you. I’ve worked with both styles, and the best outcome is when you get real about what you love and how you live.

Mistake #3

Seating that hurts. 

Come on y’all you know what I’m talking about.

We’ve all been to someone’s house whose dining room chairs are so uncomfortable!

If you want family and friends to talk for hours, they need to be comfortable for hours.

My tip, go for upholstered backs and fully upholstered seats.

I know little hands might stain them, but you can get your chairs stain treated or even better cover them in outdoor fabric to avoid this.

Here are some options that will please everyone.

Available at Village Antiques

Available at Village Antiques

While you’re thinking of the design, the style, the color, the finish, think of how to add a bit of coziness to your seating.

You could even add in a bench to add more coziness and togetherness.

Mistake 4

An overbright room. 

Ambiance is everything.

I tell my hubby this all the time, Bobby puts on every single light in our home, and at full brightness.

You do not need that at all!

In fact, when it comes to ambiance less is more.

Tip, if you’re remodeling, or fixing up after Harvey add dimmers to your light switches, especially in your dining room - it’s a game changer. This is a quick and easy update, less than a weekend project, maybe an hour and it’s worth it.

What next? Turn the lights down!

Turn them down at least 25%

Add in your chandelier lighting at reduced brightness and add in candle light.

What’s on my list of dining room lighting?

  • Overhead lighting on a dimmer
  • A chandelier
  • 2-3 levels of natural or LED candle lighting with high pillars, low pillars
  • Last but not to be forgotten, votives all over my table.

Available at Village Antiques

Votives are a great conversation starter! 

And if you have the space, classic antique sconces are a perfect addition to any dining room. 

Mistake 5

Last but not least, do not forget the finishing touches.

A dressed table goes a long way.

It creates a magical, welcoming feeling where family and friends feel at home.

I believe design is a love language.

It’s how you express yourself, your gifts, your family, your beliefs, and your love.

Guests love relishing in your passions, learning more about you and what inspires you.

This includes the most simple table all the way to the most extravagant table - whatever inspires you, I promise it will inspire your guests.

I will confess, I’m an over the top gal, I love glam, jewel tones, velvet, crystal and more.

This past weekend I was at a friend’s home, and on her dining table she had 6 small mini-pumpkins and fall vegetables lined up in a row on her dining table to create a centerpiece.

I loved their fall table.

It said everything about their design style, their philosophy on life, and made me feel excited to see their expression and fall touches.

I asked her if I could share the picture with you, and then she told me her and her 7 year old daughter had created the table design. That’s what it’s all about.

There are no rules, what’s proper or dressy, or more or enough. Just go for it, and embrace what you love, simple, extravagant, over the top - anything goes.

What are your thoughts?

Which tip is going to help you make a huge change this season? Leave a comment and let me know!

Especially if you have a great tip that can help us glam up our dining rooms!

Many of the pieces you see in today’s blog can be found at Village Antiques, the place I go to find the furniture to be a part of our family’s life journey. Stop by anytime Monday - Saturday from 10:00-5:00.

Till the next time we meet, keep making your house a home with your design gifts, they’re in there!

With love,

Amitha

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