Why you’re go­ing to love the new look din­ing spa­ces

Our re­la­tion­ship with the tra­di­tional din­ing room is a mov­able feast, writes Chelsea Clark

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - Home - - FRONT PAGE - More Globe West, globe­west.com.au Hay­ward & Co, hay­war­dandco.com.au Vault In­te­ri­ors, vault­in­te­ri­ors.com.au

There was a time when, come Christ­mas, the fam­ily would gather in the for­mal din­ing room with the ‘good’ china and sil­ver­ware for a sit-down feast.

But of­ten that room was rarely used for the rest of year, save for a few spe­cial oc­ca­sions.

“The na­ture of din­ing, en­ter­tain­ing and fam­ily meals has cer­tainly shifted in re­cent decades,” says in­te­rior de­signer Jus­tine Wil­son from Vault In­te­ri­ors.

“Mod­ern liv­ing is all about on-the-go con­ve­nience so trends have changed with re­gards to how we dine within our homes.”

As open plan liv­ing has be­come more preva­lent in Aus­tralian homes, so too has a more ca­sual liv­ing style.

The for­mal lounge room is no longer a sta­ple in mod­ern homes and it seems the din­ing room has gone the same way.

Swap­ping seats

While the for­mal din­ing room might be on the way out, the din­ing ta­ble re­mains. But its role has cer­tainly changed over the years — it’s now just as likely to be used for home­work or craft projects.

“The din­ing ta­ble has be­come a mul­ti­pur­pose space but even if it is cleared away just two nights a week and a meal is shared, then it is still a win,” says in­te­rior de­signer Liz Hay­ward from Hay­ward & Co.

“The din­ing ta­ble is, and al­ways will be, the hub of the home and I love that fam­i­lies come to­gether and can share a meal.”

Ja­son Hess, NSW man­ager of fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­turer and re­tailer Globe West, says us­ing the din­ing ta­ble for ev­ery­thing but eat­ing isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem.

“I don’t know that you can avoid it and maybe that’s not such a bad thing,” he says. “When you have an open plan house you are ac­cept­ing that your home life is a mix­ture of so­cial ac­tiv­ity, noise, light and so on.

“A lot of our cus­tomers are now in­cor­po­rat­ing study spa­ces off their kitchens so they can feel like they are still sur­rounded by fam­ily. When friends come over, you can close off the study to hide the clut­ter that home­work and craft projects in­volve.”

Pull up a chair

Ex­perts say, over­whelm­ingly, Aussie fam­i­lies want a ca­sual and re­laxed din­ing space and the an­swer for many is eat-in kitchens ei­ther us­ing an is­land bench or a built-in seat­ing that al­lows ca­sual meals to be eaten with­out fuss.

“Open plan kitchens have given rise to the kitchen is­land,” says Jus­tine.

“The ben­e­fit of the is­land is that peo­ple can gather in a ca­sual way and chat to peo­ple pre­par­ing the meal. It’s also a space saver when space is at a pre­mium.”

But Ja­son says this area is gen­er­ally used in ad­di­tion to a larger din­ing ta­ble that comes into play for din­ner or en­ter­tain­ing.

“It is still im­por­tant to have a din­ing ta­ble within the same space so you can en­joy those more in­ti­mate ex­pe­ri­ences with­out ev­ery­day dis­trac­tions get­ting in the way.”

If you have room, Jus­tine sug­gests cre­at­ing in­ti­mate seat­ing within a larger space.

“A ban­quette is a great choice and the seats can be used as ad­di­tional stor­age,” she says.

“The trick is to keep fin­ishes con­sis­tent and then use a con­stant ac­cent colour.”

Out­side chance

Aussies have a love af­fair with al­fresco din­ing which is only get­ting stronger as our homes be­come in­creas­ingly con­nected with the out­doors via stacker doors, servery win­dows and out­door kitchens. As the warmer weather kicks in, mov­ing din­ing out­doors makes sense, as long as your out­door set­ting is in good con­di­tion. If you’re con­sid­er­ing an out­door kitchen this sum­mer, en­sure your space is con­ducive to ev­ery­thing you want to achieve and stick with the same de­sign prin­ci­ples you would ap­ply in­doors. Your out­door ta­ble should be big enough to ac­com­mo­date your fam­ily com­fort­ably as well as any ex­tra guests. Comfy chairs are a must and it al­ways pays to in­vest in qual­ity as your fur­ni­ture will be con­stantly ex­posed the el­e­ments and less ex­pen­sive pieces may age faster than ex­pected.

Even a small din­ing set­ting, like this one with chairs and con­sole from Adairs, can be enough to cre­ate an in­ti­mate space in a larger open plan area.

Don’t be afraid to ex­per­i­ment with shape and colour. These vi­brant chairs are from Cult.

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