Updating Your Dining Area for Entertaining

A dining room is central to a home, yet it’s a space that often goes unused or unappreciated until the holidays hit. We tend to be rather informal these days. We eat at the kitchen table or breakfast nook, when we’re not sharing a meal in front of the television. The dining room has fallen out of favor as a place to eat, but it ends up being where we do homework or crafts, or pile up papers and the surplus of possessions we all seem to have. At Christmas and Hanukkah, we reinstate tradition, enjoying meals and prayers as we gather around the big table. Transforming the derelict room into a versatile, welcoming area with which to greet guests will encourage use and appreciation all year long. Here’s how it can be done, easily and affordably.

Update the Design

Are you still using the dining room table you inherited from your grandmother? It’s heavy, in a dark, wood, too big for your space, and bears the marks of generations of dinners. Perhaps it’s the moment to update the table to suit your contemporary taste. This is your time. And your dining room table should reflect who you are, and who your family is. Transform your dining area with a rustic farm table or a sleek midcentury modern design. You can give the room an eclectic, artistic feel by swapping out some of the chairs. A matching dining set may once have been the aesthetic standard, but these days a few funky pieces make a house look lived in.  If you are worried about respecting heirlooms and honoring the past, there are so many other wonderful ways to bring your ancestors to the table. If there is a set of silver or cut glass, now is the time to use it. Antiques in timeless materials never go out of style, and they look chic paired with everything from camp enamel to Anthropologie ceramic.


Does your dining room have a breakfront, sideboard, or china cabinet? Make sure the furniture in the room is functional and fits the space, then add shelves, sorting bins, baskets and sectioned boxes, so that you can safely store utensils, everyday flatware, formal silverware, and all the glassware you need to serve a meal from aperitifs to digestifs. Display your favorite pretty things, and put the rest away. Consider pieces with more than one use. A bench that opens is a smart spot to keep extra tablecloths, centerpieces linens, and napkin holders.

Light and Bright

Remove the old-fashioned, heavy draperies. Replace them with a light valance or sheer curtains. You can even let your windows remain bare, if you clean the glass, paint the frames, and decorate the sills. Let as much light in as possible, especially if the room is small. People want to see what they are eating, and be able to look at one another across the table. Paint the room, either in a gentle neutral or warm white. If you have moved into an older home, the dining room may be outfitted with a chair rail and wainscoting, ornamental sconces, built-in shelves, and loud floral wallpaper. Strip the room down to the bones, to give your guests room to breathe. Hang a mirror on the wall to reflect the light, and trick the eye into experiencing more space in a snug room.

Mitten’s Home Appliance has the furniture and housewares to reinvent your dining room for the holidays.

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