Today’s dining rooms blend eclectic style with a casual air
October 23, 2017
No longer are dining rooms synonymous with fussy, formal dinners brimming with great-grandma's china. Instead, today's dining rooms focus on bringing people together as often as possible, whether for a huge family Thanksgiving dinner, a festive holiday party or a cozy late summer celebration with friends and neighbors.
For the most part, formal dining rooms, closed off from the rest of the house, remain a thing of the past. For well over a decade, the dining area has been part of a home's great room — an open area that encourages easy flow and conversation between the living room seating area, the dining table and, often, the kitchen.
"Dining spaces have thrown away the walls that used to segregate them from the rest of the home and become open plan areas for a more relaxed, casual feel," says Felicity Gardner, interior designer and owner of Gardner Group Luxury Home Designs.
When it comes to dining décor, mid-century modern — a sleek mix of Bauhaus and Scandinavian design and 1950's retro — is emerging. In Park City, where the modern aesthetic meets mountain casual, that trend morphs into a modern rustic look: a mixture of contemporary lines and rustic elements such as distressed, recycled barn wood or raw walnut, for example.
"The trend is to show off the natural texture and beauty of wood, which is often teamed with another organic element, such as a metal base, which results in a pleasing mix of textures," Gardner says.
"It's very eclectic," says Kelly Wallman, owner of San Francisco Design in Park City, adding that the mixture of elements extends beyond the room's materials to the furniture pieces themselves. "We have people buying new tables and using them with antique chairs. Or they might have two captain chairs that are different from the side chairs, to make it more their own space. People are taking a lot of pride in putting things together themselves."
"Blending furniture gives the dining area a relaxed, lived-in look, which suits our informal Park City lifestyle," Gardner adds.
The contrasting styles come together easily in a palette of neutral colors — with tones of gray reigning. Different sized chairs, various coverings and textures, and rugs with simple patterns add visual interest. Grandma's china hutch has been replaced with a modern, freestanding buffet. Thoughtfully placed pieces like the buffet and a bar area help usher guests out of the kitchen and encourage them to mingle between rooms.
While it is the entire ensemble — from the walls and the art to the furnishings and dinnerware — that creates a dining area's ambiance, Wallman believes tables and chandeliers provide the most power to set the mood. Among her favorites are scratch- and heat-resistant ceramic tables. Imported from Italy, these functional, yet stunning, tables pair delightfully with a variety of ornate chandeliers, from playful and colorful art glass to unique combinations of steel and crystal.
"It's very good-looking," says Wallman. "Very cool."
Today's dining areas are beautiful and striking while still feeling inviting and relaxing, resulting in an area where both host and guest feel equally at ease. Creating this artful comfort is the secret to dining rooms that truly feel like they are an extension of welcome within your home, where instead of gathering dust, you'll gather plenty of satisfying moments.