The Toronto-based designer Melanie Hay knows a thing or two about mixing high and low and, most recently, her clients have been keen on revamping their formal dining rooms to achieve a more functional and usable environment at home. Since dining rooms don’t typically get used as often as other areas in the home, Melanie suggests making a splash in this space and not hesitating on adding a little drama. Here are her top tips. —Vita Daily
When designing a dining room, MAKE IT SPECIAL. Dining rooms don’t usually get used every day, and are generally a space reserved for special gatherings and celebrations. Why not make this space just a little bit special and dramatic?
For core everyday spaces that you spend A LOT of time in, like the kitchen, family room, living room etc, I generally suggest being more conservative in selections to make sure that you don’t tire of it over time. However, I think there’s a bit more room for whimsy and drama in a dining room space. I always think about how I want a space to make me feel, and the dining room is a place for conversation, good times, celebration, and coming together over good food and wine with family and friends, so I think this room can handle more dynamic visual elements.
I recommend adding in a statement piece such as a gorgeous chandelier. Its large scale can create both drama and just a touch of glam without going overboard. I’m not usually a fan of really shiny, glitzy items but a dining room statement fixture like this can ride the line between glam and elegance perfectly.
Wall sconces are another great touch for a dining room upgrade — they can be gorgeous and sculptural. They also add a really cozy wash of light to the walls in the evening, further playing into the sense of drama and ambiance that you want while entertaining.
Roman blinds are a great choice for a dining space! Adding playful patterns here is a good idea! Repeating shapes and visual elements reinforces the visual theme and keeps things cohesive.
Furniture selections are key in a dining room space and they always need to be highly functional and durable in addition to visually pleasing. For example, choosing fully upholstered high back chairs that ensure comfort for long nights around the table is a great idea – there’s nothing worse than an uncomfortable chair (even though they are often beautiful!). You also needed to consider durability. Think of upholstering the seat and inside backs of each chair in a vinyl, which is wipeable and less susceptible to spills and stains.
Don’t go overboard with your tabletop accessories! Fresh florals, a lovely vase and some tableware or candles will do the trick. These can easily be swapped out for every season or hidden away when the formal dining room is not in use.