Special Nonexistent Furniture

The 5 pieces you need for your dining room

Photography - Denise Braki. Styling - Sarah Cousens. Photography - Denise Braki. Styling - Sarah Cousens.



Karen McCartney takes a pared back approach to decorating your dining space, and identifies the 5 key pieces you need to make it work.

Just how many key pieces does it take to create a successful dining room setting that has the right balance of character and warmth with simplicity and elegance? This was the topic debated by the Temple & Webster styling and editorial teams – and we came up with the magic figure of 5.

To test this hypothesis I went onto that depository of all things visual – Pinterest – and typing in ’minimal dining’ I came across a host of dining settings which proved that it can not only be done, but also done beautifully. Some canny decorators, with the aid of a beguiling window-framed view, even whittled it down to three items. But we are sticking with five as not every room has that luxury.

Mike D's Brooklyn home. Image - Trevor Tondro for The New York Times. Mike D's Brooklyn home. Image - Trevor Tondro for The New York Times.



So, pens at the ready, this is what you need. A table of a certain size and shape that works within the room’s dimensions leaving generous space behind the back of the chairs to allow for ease of movement and the shifting in and out of chairs. Proportion is everything, so work back from the outer perimeter of the space.

Styled by for Susanna Vento for Kinnasand / Kvadrat textiles Styled by for Susanna Vento for Kinnasand / Kvadrat textiles



Next up are dining chairs. Some people (me) are happy with benches either side of the table to save on space and avoid a multitude of legs but for others it is just too inflexible. Chairs can certainly be a set of the same model or you can get playful by mixing them up. If you take this approach then stick to some commonalities – change shape but make sure they are all white, timber of a similar hue, or from the same era – the 1950s for example.

California home designed by Owens + Davis. California home designed by Owens + Davis.



An area rug defines the space and is an opportunity to introduce texture and colour, but make sure it is large enough to accommodate the chairs when they are pushed back from the table. There is nothing more irritating than a half on, half off situation.

Image by Andrea Chu. Milk Decoration. Image by Andrea Chu. Milk Decoration.



Number four is crucial to make a style statement and it is the hanging feature light or cluster of lights. There are so many strong sculptural lights on the market that deliver the perfect glow for dining rather than the overall lit effect of halogen lighting. Think of the ambiance of an upmarket restaurant rather than a fast food joint.

Finally a well-chosen artwork is another opportunity for expressiveness and completes the picture – literally.

 

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