Delightful dining to beat the winter chill
Taryn Lamberti considers how to create cozy winter dining
DURING May, it starts getting darker earlier and temperatures fall quickly after sunset. It’s a good time of the year to gather around a table, hopefully over a curry or casserole that someone had the foresight to conjure up.
Separate dining rooms are a thing of the past. Modern homes tend to have open-plan spaces. The dining area needs to be airy and comfortable with good lighting — ideally with good natural light by day.
If there are not enough windows to achieve this, consider using large mirrors to reflect light. At night, you want soft lighting as harsh lighting can kill a dinner party. Candles are great for creating ambience and are very flattering for your guests. Lamps in the corners are also a lovely way to light the space.
If you have an overhead light, a dimmer switch is essential. Lighting is two-thirds of the challenge.
If you have a nice table that you want to show off, use cloth place mats. Combine these with bright jars of short-stemmed flowers so that your guests can see over them. Use a mismatch of crockery and cutlery for an interesting look. You can collect pretty plates and utensils from flea markets and treasure troves for this purpose.
If you want something more formal, go for a long table cloth, it is always elegant and will give your dinner party an air of sophistication — think Downton Abbey. Cloth napkins are a wonderful invention. They should be generous in size — at least 40x40cm — and pure linen is best.
When it comes to chairs, comfort is crucial. The dining area needs to be welcoming and relaxing. On that note it is crucial that the area is warm in winter. You don’t want to be sitting around the table in your coats. A fireplace would be the ultimate, but if you don’t have one, then maybe consider an under-carpet heater to keep the conversation — and the blood — flowing.
Round tables are convivial, but they must suit the area. Unless the space is square, you will probably have to settle for a rectangular table. An ideal consideration is to purchase a table with leaves so that you can extend it when you have extra guests.