With modern lives as hectic as they are, the dining room can often become an overlooked and under-used space.
For many of us - particularly given the extraordinary events of the past 18 months - formal dinner parties have morphed into more casual kitchen suppers with our nearest and dearest.
Alongside this, we’ve enjoyed a summer of entertaining outdoors under starry skies.
But now the nights are now drawing in and all thoughts are turning to our homes once again.
Gathering our favourites for great food, good wine and sparkling company is one of life’s great pleasures - and a dining room is the perfect place to indulge.
Here’s how to create a dining room that’s as practical for midweek meals with the family as it is inviting for weekend entertaining.
Create a multi-functional space
The scene of many an epic Christmas board game battle, coffee and catch-ups with friends, dinner parties that go on into the early hours and even a home office, the dining room has its work cut out as a multi functional space.
While dimmable lighting will help you move seamlessly from daytime to evening, plenty of clever storage is a must to keep clutter hidden and style to the fore.
If you’re using your dining room as a home working area, consider a smart desk to match your dining table - the Oxford collection of dining furniture and home office furniture is a great example - with built-in drawers and cabinets to hide important files and trailing cables. There's a tall shelving unit, too, with useful cupboards underneath.
Neptune’s Chichester deluxe workstation is a smart solution. With plenty of space for a desktop PC or laptop and all the paperwork you need, when the nine-to-five is done, the doors close to reveal an elegant piece of cabinetry in a choice of paint finishes to complement any scheme.
Gather your flock
While day-to-day use might see four to six gathered around your dining table, big family celebrations always call for extra space.
An extending dining table is a practical solution, and many of our dining collections offer this flexibility.
Foldable seating like the Wycombe foldable dining chair offer plenty of seating when the crowd descends, and can be stacked away when not in use to maximise floor space.
Neptune’s Arundel extending dining table segues seamlessly from a comfortable four-seater to a generous trestle for 10.
There’s a matching Arundel console table, too, for lamps, flowers, cherished family photos - and the vintage port, of course.
Shop extending dining tables here.
Putting on the glitz
When it comes to formal dinners, an opulent dining room sets the scene before the party even begins.
We love the extendable Nordic dining table, with its textured ceramic top made from Dekton - a virtually indestructible material crafted from the same minerals used to create glass and porcelain.
Strikingly modern Anna dining chairs in brushed velvet complete the look.
Add oversized mirrors and pillar candles of different heights, hammered ice buckets like this one from Culinary Concepts (available in-store) and sleek Manhattan chrome console table or Manhattan drinks trolley. Decorate walls with bold-patterned wallpaper or Neptune’s new-season Clove emulsion - a rich shade which hovers beautifully between deep plum and brown, available in-store.
Dress your table with sparkling crystal, elegant white china, crisp linen and polished silverware for a luxe feel.
Struggling for inspiration? Take advantage of our FREE interior design service. Our skilled designers will talk through your project with you - in person, or virtually on apps like FaceTime and Zoom - understanding your style and helping you create a practical, workable, beautiful space.
Call us on 01886 884665 to book your initial interior design appointment.
All things bright and beautiful
Playful pops of colour work brilliantly in open-plan, modern family dining areas.
Contemporary tables like the Thames extendable dining table are perfectly at home in large, light-filled spaces, and grow effortlessly with your guests.
Soften your tables's angles with upholstered Thames dining benches and Thames dining chairs covered in pure wool fabrics, in dazzling shades from fuchsia to pistachio and violet. Mix and match for a design-led look.
The Oxford extendable dining table and Gigi dining table, both super-practical in solid oak, come into their own with a handful of bright, modern Gigi dining chairs. We love them best in olive green, orange or petrel leathers, though tactile facet wool works beautifully too.
The Tresco oval and round dining tables, with their unmistakably European styling, are great for smaller spaces, their sociable curves pairing beautifully with chairs upholstered in coastal blues for year-round freshness.
Or try a Monnow oak dining table, pictured, to create a real talking point. These come in a range of sizes with eye-catching petrel blue or transparent epoxy ‘rivers’ flowing down the middle.
And while the distinctive solid oak table tops are beautifully profiled, it’s the cruciform legs available in oak or steel that are truly exciting.
If it’s a strong design statement you’re looking for, try the boat-shaped Larvik dining table with its sculptural pedestal legs, which offer plenty of knee-room.
Add Fjord dining armchairs in different shades of super-soft Rancho leather - try pairing the Clay with Brown and Stone for a super-smart look.
There’s a matching sideboard, too, to complete your scheme.
If the kitchen is the centre of the home, the dining area is surely its beating heart.
These spaces often call for more hardwearing and practical sets - think wooden tables with traditionally-styled chairs and benches.
Or try the solid oak Derwent dining collection, with tables available in eight different sizes to suit any space, adding a mix of dining benches for practical family seating. There are matching desks, if your dining room doubles-up as a home office, TV cabinets and sideboards, too.
Linen napkins and runners in natural shades paired with relaxed tableware and foliage from the garden complete the pared-down, relaxed look.