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How to create a warm and welcoming dining room

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Buying a home with a dining area was really important to me when we purchased our first home as a family. 

When I was younger we never had a dining table that me, my mum and sister could all sit together at.  My mum was a young single mum and we lived in a small flat with a dinky kitchen. 

She managed to squeeze a small blue square table in front of the kitchen cupboard so me and my sister could eat properly at a table.  My mum either stood at the kitchen side or ate in the living room. 

At Christmas the table would be pulled out and we’d all somehow manage to squeeze around it for Christmas lunch without being able to move anywhere else in the kitchen at all! 

Of course this situation was very different to mine now as we had no money back then and had to make do living in a small space, but it did make buying a home with enough space for eating together more important to me when I had my own family.

Having a cosy, warm and welcoming dining room was on our list of priorities when we were house shopping.

In this blog post I will share how to create a warm and welcoming dining area sharing what we’ve done and things I’d like to do.

Living room dining room combos are instantly cosy

Ideally I would have chosen a house with a kitchen-diner, but we ended up with a living room-diner.  Our home also has a converted garage so that space is the perfect long length for a dining room, but does anyone actually have a separate dining room nowadays? 

Instead, we use the garage as my office and a kids playroom.  It could be used as a dining room though if a future buyer wanted a separate diner.  I did think about this when I titled this blog post and perhaps ‘dining area’ would be more appropriate with modern house layouts!

No-one seems to have a dediacted dining room nowadays.

Anyway, we ended up with a living room diner which definitely helps to create a warm and welcoming dining area as the living area itself is cosy.  We have a log burner, fabric sofas and a large cosy rug.  The walls are white which creates a light and airy space, but the floors, blinds and shelving are all oak so this brings in natural warmth and cosiness. 

Rustic dining furniture adds charm

The dining area itself is something we only started focussing on last year.  Originally we had a four seater table from our old smaller home, but we were struggling with space with four of us at the table and especially when we had guests. 

We bought a larger second hand upcycled farmhouse table from eBay, used our existing rustic look wooden chairs and bought a matching bench to go along one side. 

The natural wood stops our white room from being too stark, giving the room a more homely feel. 

The rustic table is also perfect for us as we don’t mind it becoming a little more damaged and worn as it just adds to its charm.

Add textiles to bring cosiness to a dining room

To add more texture and create an even more snug environment I’d suggest adding some textiles to the dining space.  A rug under the table and chairs upon a hard floor would look great. 

A table cloth, fabric place settings or a table runner. 

I really did want to add a rug to ours, but with two small children my husband rightly thought it would be a bad idea considering the amount of food and drink that is currently dropped on the floor! 

Perhaps when they are older. 

We did have chair cushions which is another great recommendation to make wooden seating more comfortable and less bare, but ours just got too ruined with messy children and messy food!

Use lighting to create ambience

Lighting is also important to create the right ambience.  We found some white rattan lampshades to keep with the white wall theme and Ben, my husband who is handy with DIY, hung these as two low level pendant lights above the table. 

The low lighting directly on the table helps to create a warm atmosphere. 

We also installed a dimmer switch so we can change the mood depending on the type of meal – bright with the kids, but romantic if it’s just the two of us. 

A tip is to not hang the lighting too low.  Ben and I are both quite tall and we kept hitting our head on the lights when standin!.  We’ve had to lift them up a couple of times and I think we’ve finally found the right height for us.  If we had a deeper table then we’d hang them much lower.

Whilst we opted for natural rattan effect lampshades in the end, we spent a long time debating over whether to choose copper or rose gold pendant lighting which will add reflective colour creating a warm ambiance.

Add plants and personal trinkets to make the dining area welcoming

Décor is of course a personal choice and I like to opt for a minimal style.  I had two large canvases printed with photos of the children taken by Jelly Baby Photography with brown and pink tones which not only add a family feel to the area, but some warmness too. 

I have a white star on the wall which reminds me of Christmas decorations, so again another fuzzy feeling inside and also a plant to bring nature into the room as well as purify the air.

In the day our dining area is filled with natural light from a south facing window so it’s spacious, light and airy, yet still welcoming.  In the evening or on a dark afternoon we turn the lights on and the feeling is totally different as the pendant lighting creates a glow over the table giving a cosier feel.