Do you have a thing, something that energizes you, serves as a reminder of what is really important in your stressed out life, the thing that keeps you in a good mood for a couple days? My thing is gathering friends around my table for a good meal and great laughs. When I get stressed, which is hardly ever (read: every day), having our favorite people over to share life reminds me that I have people in my corner who are cheering me on and also that I have the pleasure of encouraging them, too. The day's dilemmas fade into the background and I'm reminded that community is a beautiful gift from our Creator, one that is meant to be opened again and again.
Both my husband and I feel this way - if we don't have people over very often, we get cranky. Our priorities get a little out of whack, so when we bought our home, we planned out the dining area almost immediately. Here we are two years later, and while our room is ever evolving and sometimes looks like a yard sale, I wanted to share a few tips on creating a beautiful, comfortable, affordable, and welcoming dining space with real life in mind.
Collect pieces you love over time. A mismatch group of chairs encircle this antique farm table, and old portraits are casually leaning against the wall. (Not so sure about the guy in his skivvies holding the apple, though. Early Fruit of the Loom ad, maybe?) This room's items have been collected over time, therefore making it easier on the budget. One thing at a time!
A dining area need not be a dining room. In most homes, rooms must do double-duty. The kitchen is also the homework and bill paying area. The play room is also a guest room. In this house, the dining table was smartly tucked next to a wall of books. Now you have not only a wonderful back drop for meals, but you have created a wonderful little office of sorts with a big table to spread out on. I personally think that bookcases in every room would make the world a better place. Feel free to quote me. We can change the world together.
Small spaces can hold a crowd. This homeowner turned a tiny nook into a dining area using a built in banquette (loads of DIYs can be found online), a small table, and two wooden chairs. They mixed and matched patterns (check out that stenciled floor!) to create a very cozy little corner to share a meal or even a puzzle, if they wanna get crazy.
A can of paint goes a long way. This space is serene and uncluttered. With natural wood furniture and a lovely shade of blue on the walls, as well as the shelves, the family now enjoys a peaceful place to let your hair down and escape from the day's stress. A side note: I love the idea of providing an escape for your friends and whoever else meets around your table. In the Bible, when one offered hospitality, they were offering protection and a safe place to stay. If we offer others a safe place, one where they will feel no judgement, how much deeper our relationships will be! End soap box rant.
Vintage storage pieces can be show stoppers. I may or may not have been caught drooling over a midcentury sideboard or two. Or 12, whatever. I am a sucker for old, well-made, clean-lined cabinets that are gorgeous and functional. This family stores all of their drink ware in easy reach of their table, erasing the need to leave the room and halt conversation. We did a similar thing in our home, only slightly less glamorous: we store an entire set of silverware on our buffet because our children are Champion Fork Droppers. This has saved my tired, child-chasing feet numerous times.
Art doesn't have to be "art." A gorgeous map hangs in this dining room and is a beautiful conversation piece. The owners needed a large piece with enough visual weight to compete with the table. Had they bought a large framed piece, it would've cost any where from $300+. As we all know from our favorite shop's window displays, Anthropologie, ahem, anything can look amazing when hung creatively.
Less is more. This family, which happens to be the owner of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., has let the architecture of the house be the star. With a very curated eye, they selected a simple, but beautiful table and a group of chairs for the middle of the room, and called it quits. Now, the chandelier and the wood planks on the wall get to shine. With all of the space around the table, you could pull up chair after chair to make more room if extras show up. Maybe a guy with a banjo could play in the corner. What? Is it just me that wants Mumford & Sons to serenade me at dinner?
The people around the table is the only décor that matters. All you really need to share a meal is food and people. You don't need a perfect dining room or even a dining room at all. Your people, your tribe made up of friends and neighbors is what is worth investing in.
Now, what have you done around your table to create a welcoming and comfortable environment (because we really like to hear fun ideas)? Maybe cleared it out to create a less cluttered, more peaceful place? Maybe created a feature wall? We want to hear about it!