Have you ever noticed there’s always one room in the house that never gets used? Why is that? Typically it’s because of one of two reasons: either nobody knows exactly what to do with the space, or the area feels too stuffy and impersonal. These are usually the main problems with formal dining rooms. And while these rooms are typically reserved for fancy dinner parties or the occasional holiday meal, they usually contain the most expensive and elegant items in the house—so why not let these be showcased? Here are a few makeover tips that you can use to make this space feel more comfortable.
1. Give and Take
An easy way to quickly transform a formal dining room into something more casual is to add and subtract some accessories. Invest in mirrors to open up the space a little and add more reflective light. Or, install window treatments made from lighter, more colorful material for $250 to $390. Possibly remove a few overbearing objects from the room—e.g. a hutch, a bookcase, etc.—to make it feel less cluttered. You still want everything to feel glamorous, but by removing a couple of heavier accessories and adding a couple of lighter focal points, the room may feel more welcoming and less cramped.
2. Delights of the Round Table
A lot of formal dining room furniture is polished, oversized, and comes with long, sharp edges. Although this certainly makes everything sophisticated, it can also create a harsh and imposing tone to the room. When in the market for a new table, you may want to consider investing in a round tabletop. As opposed to a long rectangular table, a circular design allows everybody to look into each others’ eyes while they eat, making the environment more cozy and intimate. Also, by choosing a less polished wood you can make your furnishings feel less intimidating and more accessible to guests.
3. Sit Down and Relax
Formal dining room furniture tends to be dark and upholstered, which can make the area look gloomy and old-fashioned. Instead, why not choose a lighter shade of wood, thereby making the room more casual and relaxed? Also, instead of using the standard silk material for your chairs, upholster your furnishing in something less luxurious. Not only will this save you money, it will also let your guests feel less anxious to sit down at the table for fear of “messing up your nice things.”
4. Informal Fixtures
Many formal dining rooms come with fancy light fixtures, usually in the form of chandeliers. However, these light fixtures tend to be expensive and sometimes are unable to provide adequate lighting for the room. Therefore, skip the chandelier and instead add other light sources to the space. Add a lamp in the corner or install wall fixtures. Possibly use candlelight throughout the room for a more elegant look by installing candle wall sconces. In any case, you don’t have to have an elaborate light fixture to keep the room feeling warm and decorative.
5. Mix It Up
Most importantly, if you already have formal dining room furniture or possibly can’t afford to buy an entire new set, the best way to decorate the room is to mix and match. Use a traditional table with modern chairs. Use conventional dinnerware with funky place mats. There lots of creative solutions that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but will help a room feel more welcoming. For instance, why use a china hutch for china? You hardly ever use the fancy stuff anyway, so why not use the hutch for an impromptu bookcase or to store other knick-knacks. Personalizing a formal dining room is the most important step in making the space feel safe, inviting, and whole.