Is it me or are people’s dining rooms generally dull? Big table, matching chairs, some sort of (usually undersized) pendant in the middle and that’s pretty much it!

Years ago I went to a friend’s house who had exactly that set-up (except swap out the pendant for a whole load of fully garish recessed down lights) and supper was served. I got through the appetiser and then I had to say something, which I realise was extremely bad behaviour on my part but I just couldn’t take it. Either I had to make up some sudden excuse to leave or I had to speak up! I dimmed the lights, found some candles, smattered them around the place and then we continued eating. At least I did, everyone else was just sitting there a little aghast! Hey, what can I say. Moral of the story is don’t ask me around to supper. I’m not going to nitpick about the furnishings look but lighting really bugs me. A cool atmosphere is super easy to create, dim the lights, whack on some music light some candles – make a little effort, no?I’ve learnt from the experience. If someone asks me round to supper, I’ll recce pictures of the space first please. Kidding (ish)!

One way of creating conversation worthy dining rooms is with your chairs. I am a fan of mixing up several styles. Firstly it funks the space up and secondly it allows me to create a more casual ambiance than if everything is matched. Dining rooms are hard rooms to nail I’ve touched on them before, because the table is the main focal point the trick is to take the attention away from it no matter how cool the table! It takes a little bit of skill, this mixing thing as the trick is to avoid the space feeling either too disjointed (and therefore making no sense) or too staged. Some guidelines to help:

Keep the scale the same. As much as I’m the hugest fan for playing around with scale dining chairs are not the place to do it. You don’t want your dinner guests all at different heights! Dainty spindly chairs next to big heavy numbers will look wrong here, so go with a similar scale and height.

Find a common link. Maybe that’s the age, the material and patina, the shape or the colour – it will help unify the scheme.

For a subtler approach rather than having every chair a different hue, reign in the palette by keeping the colours similar and mix up the textures. So a wicker chair next to a metal chair, an upholstered number next to a wooden chair that kind of thing.

I mismatch in pairs it gives me that eclectic vibe and yet it feels more glamorous somehow.

To give the dining room extra kudos repeat the colours in your chairs elsewhere in the room. I’ve got a couple of 50’s upholstered blue dining chairs in my open plan dining space and then in the TV nook two loungy 70’s armchairs in vibrant blue. They echo each other beautifully. You could echo the colours with rugs, artwork, vases its pretty easy to do and it will make the scheme so much more cohesive.

Add a centrepiece which for me is always and for ever flowers. There is something about an empty dining table I just don’t like, but pop a bunch of blooms however small or tall in the centre and suddenly you’ve taken the room to new heights.

The dining room above was designed by Ilse Crawford. Same style chairs, all a different hue. Genius! The rooms feels eclectic and yet harmonious. Playing with scale has happened elsewhere in the room – the juxtaposition of that mirror which is too big over a mantle that is too small. Focus is immediately off the dining table. NAILED!

mypad 17This image is my pad – mismatched chairs in pairs and then a ton of other stuff going on to again take the focus off the table. For the photo the other blue chair got taken out, so it’s normally 2 blue, 2 white and then the odd assortment of Eames for additional guests.