Since our culture prefers comfort over formality in our fast paced world, we have begun to eat in our kitchens and couches in front of the TV. Reclaiming the dining room, eating at least one meal a day in a beautiful place where we can be together as a family, connecting through food and stories is something that we can do for our well being.
Dining can be more than just eating, it can become an experience, it is about the ambiance, the centerpiece, the fine china that has been gathering dust for years, it’s about slowing down and decompressing after a hectic day.
What normally happens with our dining rooms is that all horizontal surfaces attract clutter, and it quickly becomes the place where our kids do homework, where we sit down and pay our bills, where we begin the craft project and then leave it undone, etc… tidying it up in order to transform it into an inviting place that we can enjoy is what we’re going to do right now.
How to Start
- We begin by removing everything from the dining room table that doesn’t belong there.
- We clean it thoroughly and put back only the items that we need such as salt, pepper and napkins. Keeping the placemats all the time is a great tip to have the table full so that we don’t use it for other purposes.
- You then tackle the buffet table or hutch.
- Organize your items by categories and keep only those that you enjoy the most.
- The more frequently you use something, the easier it should be to access it.
- If you still have available space, you can then store your Christmas tableware and serving plates that you use when you have guests over. If you don’t, you can store those in the kitchen or in the pantry.
- Then, see if the light fixtures are working for you or if you’d rather change the chandelier or add a dimmer to your existing lights.
- Finally, it’s time to accessorize and enjoy your space.
Things to Declutter in Your Dining Room
- Dining table: remove everything that doesn’t belong there and return it to where it belongs: you should only keep tableware, dinnerware, placemats, salt and pepper.
- Buffet table: if it’s just a regular table, then clear out the top, wipe it with a damp cloth and put an accessory or two. The idea of a buffet table is to have a place where we can put our serving trays so that they don’t fill up our table. Using it for the intended purpose is very practical. On the other hand, if your buffet table has some doors or it’s a hutch, then remove everything from the inside, clean your furniture and start putting back only the items that you use and those that you like.
- Tableware: get rid of the plates that are chipped. Streamline those that you own so that you don’t have different plates from different sets.
- Serving ware: be mindful of those that you regularly use, or at least once a year. We tend to use the same always, so if you have an excess of serving trays, you can give them to someone who will appreciate them.
- Mugs and glasses: get rid of all the promotional mugs and mismatched glasses. Have beautiful and inspiring mugs where you can drink your coffee, and matching glasses for when you’re having dinner.
- Single use items: stop buying them because they are terrible for the environment.
- Linens: go through your table linens and keep only the placemats, runners and cloth napkins that you like and that are in great condition. Get rid of the tablecloths that you don’t use because they’re the wrong size, have stains, wax drippings, or you don’t like them anymore.
- Electronic devices: this space should not be the charging hub of the house, it’s a place to savor your food and have conversations, so move them elsewhere.
- Candles: get rid of all the candles that are used up and replace them with new ones.
- Seasonal decor: store elsewhere your seasonal decor and have only in display the one arrangement that is fit for the season.
- Wall art: what is your art saying about you? Is it positive and uplifting? Do you like the colors? Having artwork that pictures food is great for your dining room’s energy, as well as a mirror because it doubles what it reflects, in this case food and good times.
- Accessories: take a good look at your accessories and store or donate those pieces that are expensive but that you don’t use and that are taking up valuable space such as antique teapots. Variety is good, changing the accessories every once in a while creates a more dynamic room.
How to Design and Organize Your Dining Room
Measure the space very well so that you choose items that are in scale. If you have a rectangular room, choose a rectangular table. If you have a square room, choose a square or round table.
Measure to see if you can fit additional furniture such as a buffet table or a hutch.
Make sure that the chairs are comfortable and size appropriate for the table that you chose.
- Lighting: using a dimmer creates mood lighting and makes meals more enjoyable.Have a statement chandelier. Every dining room needs a chandelier, whether it is contemporary or classic because it makes the room look more elegant. Besides the chandelier, you could have wall sconces or table lamps on top of the buffet table.
- Rug: a rug will make your room feel more comfortable and inviting. Make sure that the rug is big enough so that the legs of the chairs sit on the rug when pushed in.
- Create a focal point: a big mirror works great because it doubles what it reflects: the lights, the food and the good times. An artwork that pictures food is very appropriate for the dining room, but you can also have a favorite scenery or an abstract painting in colors matching your decor.
- Add storage: having a place to keep your tableware, flatware and linens is very important to have a functional dining room area. There are several options: you can have a buffet table that has drawers or cabinets below, you can have a hutch where you display your fine china on the top and organize the rest in the lower part, or you could have some open shelves. In this case I suggest using baskets to make the space look tidy and organized. If the dining room is doubling as your office or playroom, you may consider adding a small bookcase that will double as storage for the dining items as well as for work and games. Having a combination of open and closed shelves works great to keep the space from looking cluttered.
- Accessories: functional pieces such as salt and pepper shakers, napkins, trivets and glassware can be used as vignettes on your dining table or your side table. You can also add a sculpture, clock, wreath, some decorative candles or a vase.
- Fine china: life is a celebration. Use your good china everyday and enjoy it.
- Plants: the dining room is a great place to have plants because they are energy. If you can’t have real plants, then you can have some silk ones. Avoid the plastic ones because they look very cheap. You can also make a flower arrangement and place it as a centerpiece.
- After every meal, clean up the table, wash the dishes and store the flatware and dinnerware where it belongs. Keeping your table set with everything that you need to eat will discourage you from placing other things that don’t belong there.
- If you need it to double as a home office or the place to do homework, then having a bookshelf in the room would be great, otherwise, get a rolling cart and store things away when you’re eating.
- Declutter on a consistent basis, if you see a plate that is chipped or some placemats that you don’t want to use any more, take them out.
- Touch up the paint in your room and in your baseboards to create a beautiful and inspiring space. Clean the floor and vacuum the rug on a regular basis.