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
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.
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.”
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.