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Why The Dining Room Is Making A Comeback

By Rachel Wallace
The dining room – a relic of yesteryear in many homes – is making a comeback in the post-COVID era.

Gone is the fusty formality of dining rooms made popular during the 1950s. Today’s dining room is a more light-filled, contemporary space that flows into an open-plan setting.

Its return is a response to the seclusion of lockdown-life that saw families and friends separated for months on end. In many homes, the dining room morphed into home learning HQ on weekdays and board game central on weekends.

But now summer’s arrival and the approach of Christmas have called for a purpose-built space for people to enjoy the simple pleasures of eating, drinking and talking together.

Designing spaces that accommodate large dining tables has been common, interior designer Sarah Nolen says. Porter Davis Savoy home. Photo: Mick Brandon

“Family time has finally come back and people are wanting to spend time together and eat around the table,” interior designer Sarah Nolen says.

“Designing spaces that incorporate larger dining tables has been really common. We’re not designing anything under an eight-seater, even if it’s a family of three.

“So, people are planning ahead and now that restrictions have lifted, they are forward-thinking about people coming for Christmas.”

The dining room’s revival heralds a renewed focus on family dining, which many time-poor families ditched in favour of TV dinners.

COVID restrictions prompted a slowdown and a rethink of household spaces, says Kelly Donougher, interior designer at 13 Interiors.

Unlike the closed-off, windowless dining rooms of old, modern dining rooms are being integrated into airy, open spaces. Interiors by Birdblack Design. Photo: The Palm Co.

“Dining rooms were obviously very in, but from the perspective of a busy lifestyle, people didn’t really sit down and have that dedicated eating zone,” she said.

“Now, sort of post-COVID, people are being more conscious of their homes and having dedicated spaces in their homes.”

Unlike the closed-off, windowless dining rooms of old, modern dining rooms are being integrated into airy, open spaces. The trick is to strike the right balance of connection to other rooms while styling with just the right amount of formality, says Keith Fuller, senior designer at Porter Davis.

“The dining room became something of a museum in the old days, which is why we convinced everyone that formal dinings were dead 10, 20 years ago,” he said.

“But if it’s designed in the middle-rear part of the house, it’s still somewhat more connected to the informal living and allows it to have a more formal feel. Not everyday kind of use, but certainly more elaborate than a meals space.”

Tips on styling a modern dining room

Statement pieces
Consider an artwork or statement pendants to add wow factor. Photo: Supplied

High-end dining settings are reinventing the look and feel of a dining room. Furniture designers are producing innovative tables and chairs that can really add a creative aesthetic.

If a new dining table is out of your price range, consider an artwork to grace your walls for wow factor.

Pendant lighting
Before selecting your lighting, be sure to get an idea of the room’s scale. Interior by Birdblack Design. Photo: The Palm Co.

Well-placed pendant lighting can be the hero of your dining room. It need not be too dramatic; something simple can be equally as effective. Before selecting your lighting, be sure to get an idea of the room’s scale by taking the dining table’s width and length into account.

Indoor plants
Create a fresh look by adding indoor plants. Interior by by Kelly Donougher of 13 Interiors. Photo: Supplied

The indoor plant trend is far from over. Adding a tabletop plant or larger stand-alone potted plant is a cheap and easy way to create a fresh look and feel. Plants also supply that much-needed pop of bold colour.


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