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Hosting: Get Your Dining Room Ready for Fall

Updated: 2022-10-06

Dining table decorated for fall

Get Ready for Fall Dining & Hosting

‘Tis the Season

As Summer gives way to Fall, we naturally gravitate back to the rhythms of the school year, social gatherings, and annual family events.

It’s a time when connecting and celebrating at home often means meeting at the dinner table. Holiday dinners, football festivities, casual game nights with friends, or weeknight dinners where we share details of our daily lives at school and work.

Today’s dining spaces may also double as work-from-home offices or school-from-home classrooms. They are the MVP (most valuable place) for multi-tasking in the home.

Now’s the time to get ready for the busy months ahead.

So, how’s your dining space working for you?

  • Does it provide the comfort and function you need?
  • Can it flex to accommodate multiple purposes when needed?
  • Does it convey a sense of hospitality and welcome when you entertain?
  • Does the style make you smile and draw you in?
  • How’s the ambiance? Does the space feel inviting?

Here are some dining space “Do’s and Don’ts” to help you get ready for the fall hosting season and make the most of your dining furniture and space year-round.

Do: Choose the table size + shape wisely

Choosing the best table size and shape depends mostly on the dimensions of the dining space itself.

Whether it’s part of an open concept living area, a separate dining room, or a table in an eat-in kitchen, you’ll want to maximize the seating while making sure there’s enough room for scooting chairs in and out, and to pass by behind people who are seated at the table.

Start by measuring your space. To determine the maximum size of the table, subtract 36” from each wall or walkway. Ideally, you’d want to have 42”to 48” to accommodate easier movement, especially if the dining space is adjacent to a major walkway in the home.

If the dining space is more square than rectangular, go for a round or square table so the proportions feel right. Tables with rounded edges – circular and ovals -- tend to feel more casual and intimate compared to those with sharp corners. Rectangular tables tend to allow for greater seating capacity and are often the best choice for a rectangular space.

small circular dining table with mirror and shelves

Don’t: Overestimate the seating capacity

Next, consider how many people you’ll want to seat – on a daily/weekly basis and when entertaining family or guests. If your space allows for it, go for the largest size possible to ensure comfort.

One of the most common mistakes people make when figuring out what table size they need is to assume that the width of the chairs determines how many people can fit on each size. While chair size is a factor, it’s more important to consider how much space each person needs to dine comfortably.

The average dining side chair is 16” to 20” wide. However, each person ideally needs a 24” wide dining space to sit comfortably and allow for elbow room. So, take the table length and divide by 24 to see how many people can fit comfortably. Allow another 6” per person to make getting in and out of the chairs easier, without disturbing their neighbor.

Giving each person less than 24” may be ok for family members at the holidays who don’t mind being cozy yet opting for a comfy fit with more elbow room will go a long way in making guests feel relaxed.

Table base style matters too, as leg room is also a comfort factor. Pedestal and trestle bases tend to offer more leg room than tables with wide legs at the corners. They also make it easier to squeeze in extra guests at table corners if they don’t mind being cozy. For trestle styles, you’ll want to check out how the chairs align with the base, to see whether guests will need to adjust their leg positions to fit. If the table width is less than 40” wide, you’ll want to consider whether the people seated at the ends will be knocking knees with guests seated on the sides.

Extension tables with leaves to insert can be a great way to add seating or serving space only when needed. Keep in mind that if the leaf is less than 24” wide, it may not always add 2 more seats comfortably.

 

Do: Go for comfort AND style in your seating selections

Beyond serving the practical function of seating, the dining chairs also define the style of the space, set the mood and determine the comfort level. Do you prefer a more formal or more casual style?

Our BenchMade wood chairs come in a range of styles and finishes, and the comfort curve wood seats are ergonomically designed to cradle you in comfort not often found in wood seats. You’ll need to try it out to get the full effect.

Choose a style that complements the table style yet stands on its own – an intentional, curated choice that reflects your personal sense of style.

Consider a complementary or contrasting finish or material for an interesting textural mix.  If your dining space flows into the living space, you’ll want the styles and colors to blend seamlessly.

Consider using benches or banquettes to maximize seating and declutter the look.

With today’s performance fabrics that are easy to clean, and stand up to everyday use, upholstered seating becomes a more viable solution for dining spaces for all lifestyles. Often an ideal choice for adding color, pattern and texture, upholstered seating has clear benefits in the comfort category as well.

Choose an elegant velvet if your style leans more formal, crisp tightly woven linen-looks for a casual yet tailored elegance, or cozy nubby textures to relax the look.

wooden dining table set with candles and flowers

Don’t: Limit your choices to “matchy matchy”

The days of matching dining sets have faded – you are now free to create a more visually interesting space that also amps up the comfort. While there’s nothing wrong with choosing matching chairs, tables, and storage pieces, it’s often more appealing to thoughtfully mix finishes, fabrics, and texture to create a cohesive, designer look.

Upholstered host chairs at the ends of a rectangular table can add color, pattern, and texture to the space, as well as take the comfort up a notch. And they can easily transition into the living space for extra seating when needed.

Benches can be an unexpected and stylish solution, adding lots of seating capacity without taking up too much space. Banquettes can elevate the style and offer a streamlined look.

Don’t limit yourself to coordinating the furniture with the existing wall color. Best to choose the rug, furniture, and fabrics you like, and then choose the wall color. With thousands of paint colors and wallpapers from which to choose, it’s much easier to change the wall color than limit your furniture selections.

wooden table with different style chairs

Do: Choose practical and stylish pieces for storing and serving.

In today’s lifestyles, versatile pieces like credenzas and sideboards can give you tons of functionality and convenience, while also adding an element of style.

Flex your creative muscles and find a unique piece with character and presence, in a complementary or contrasting finish to the table and chairs. It can be a statement piece or a more subtle addition in a supporting role.

light cabinet

Choose a height that allows for a convenient serving surface and can also hold a buffet lamp to add to the ambiance of the space.

Look for a piece that offers concealed storage for an uncluttered look. If you have a few cherished items you’d like to display or want to have the option to add audio/video components, opt for cabinets that combine open storage areas or glass doors with concealed storage. Some cabinets include electrical outlets and wire management openings to make it easier to achieve multiple purposes.

These multi-purpose pieces are not only great for the dining space, but they can also transition into living spaces or foyers if your needs change over the years.

Don’t: Crowd the space with little used pieces

Are you holding onto a bulky china cabinet, filled with china and serving pieces that get used no more than 3-4 times a year? Does it take up a lot of space?

It may be time to let it go. While it may have some sentimental value, having been in the family for years, if it’s no longer useful, give yourself permission to lift the burden of keeping it in the room.

Perhaps it can be repurposed as a bookcase and blanket holder in your guest room, especially if that room doubles as your home office. Convert it into an indoor greenhouse, with grow lights and mini fans. A plethora of creative ideas can be found on Pinterest and similar sites, making it easier to justify letting the china cabinet leave the dining space.

Removing the china cabinet not only lightens up the space, but it usually tones down the formality a bit as well. And you don’t have to keep everything shined up!

Do: Attend to the Ambience

dining table set with a meal

How you feel in the space will affect how often you use it. Do you want it to be reserved for special occasions only, or prefer to have it be a room that you’ll enjoy more often?

The rug forms the foundation of the space. It can establish the color palette and the mood. When designing, it often works best to start with the rug and then choose the fabrics, finishes and other colors to coordinate with the rug. Make sure the rug is large enough so that chairs stay on the rug when they’re pulled out for seating.

Layer the lighting with multiple points of light in the space. You’ll want to have ambient light (all over) and accent lighting to illuminate and highlight. Chandeliers on dimmers allow for adjusting the level to fit the mood.

The size of the chandelier should be relative to the size of the space and the size of the table. For exceptionally long tables, consider hanging two to even out the light. Hang chandeliers or pendants to no less than 36” above the tabletop.

When hosting, dress the table for a subtle seasonal touch and express the mood of the occasion – fun and festive, sophisticated, and serene, or casual and relaxed. Keep the centerpiece low so it’s not an obstruction to conversation. Add candles for an inviting look and gentle light source. Use flickering LED candles when small kids are around.

The durable finish on BenchMade dining tables allows you to forego the tablecloth and let the beauty of the wood shine through. Consider a decorative table runner and to soften the look and use placemats to protect from hot items coming in contact with the surface.

Don’t: Skip the Soft Stuff

Ever been in a dining room that feels echoey and hollow? Or a restaurant that’s loud and clamorous? That’s because dining areas have so many hard surfaces off which sound is reflected.

Rugs, upholstered seating, and draperies do more that add color and texture. They absorb sound and add warmth. Don’t let them be an afterthought. And while we’re at it – a little soft background music can relax the mood and ease social interaction.

bright dining area with large window, framed by blue curtains

Get a Head Start

The holidays will be here before we know it. Get a head start to make sure your space is ready to go and minimize the stress that comes with trying to pull everything together at the last minute. Explore our variety of dining furniture styles.

Not sure where to start? Partner with your Bassett Design Consultant who can guide you through the decisions, help you prioritize and elevate your dining space to its fullest potential. Or stop by your local Bassett Furniture store to discover our collections and collaborate in person.

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