Let us start with comfort. It is important when we sit at a table that the table is not too high and the chairs not too low. The chairs should let occupants sit up comfortably when eating but also allow them to feel comfortable when they want to push their chair back and relax at the end of the meal. In Spain, we have a word – ‘sobre mesa’ – for when you stay at the table, sitting back, relaxing with a drink and talking for hours. Rather than going off to a smoking room or drawing room after the meal, everyone now stays together at the table.
When it comes to chairs you might also want to think about children – will they ruin the fabric by sneakily wiping their hands on them instead of finding their long-lost napkins? I have resolved these issues in my own home by choosing the Platner Dining Table with the Series 430 Green Velvet Chairs. If I had more space and fewer young children, I would have gone with the Magnus Long Dining Room chair – the armrests are especially comfortable at long meals. However, with my children, I decided I could deal with the velvet by raising my eyebrows slightly and giving them ‘The Look’, but giving them a place to rest their honey-covered fingers was too risky!
When it comes to lighting, as many of you know, I love a decorative piece! Behind this decorative beauty, however, I believe one should properly think through the fixture, the type of bulbs and the overall effect. To ensure I’m doing the right thing, I seek professional advice! The person and company I have come to trust most is Rebecca Weir from light.iQ. Rebecca has a team around her that seems more like a perfectly coordinated family where each member supports and trusts the other. Interior designers like myself depend on them to give advice or do the lighting plan from beginning to end. If you have a very bright dining room with lots of natural light coming in, for example, you might think you need less artificial light. Wrong. The more natural light, the more compensation you need with artificial light. For your dining room, lighting is an integral part of creating the right atmosphere. You might want to have the ability to change from romantic to dramatic scenes – you definitely will want your guests and family to appreciate the effort and work that have gone into your creation.
To end, I would like to mention decoration. We are human beings, open to suggestion, and the art and atmosphere you create with your decorative elements will bring out certain aspects or conversation in your guests. Think a hospital’s sterile white environment – it often makes you feel cold and lonely and focuses your mind on what happened to cause you to be there in the first place. The atmosphere you choose to create in your dining room can also have a profound effect on your visitors.
When I approach the dining room, I first think of how to make my family and guests comfortable, maybe even relax so they forget their inhibitions. Then I sprinkle a little bit of shock here and there. I want my crowd to be comfortable yet keep them awake. I like to create a warm and inviting dining room with certain aspects that shock or make you think. I typically relax with colour and fabric and astonish with painting or sculptures. In my latest project in Chelsea, for example, I used deep green for the walls, which I find particularly relaxing; the varese curtains are shocking in colour but relaxing with their deep velvety texture. The chandelier made out of bottles is always a good conversation starter. Wilson, Stephens and Jones is a fantastic place to find decorative items – recently I bought some fantastic yellow and green bowls there. Whatever you decide to go with, the right combination of decorations can help you achieve what you want in your perfectly imperfect dining room.