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  • Writer's pictureSusan Van Meter

How To Design Delicious Dining Rooms That Don't Cost The Earth!

Delicious Dining Rooms. Are they redundant now? Do we need a separate dining room anymore?

This is an age-old topic and one that won’t go away soon.

Modern life has changed and the way we interact with each other has too. Most homeowners prefer a large open plan kitchen incorporating a dining area and a space to relax. This layout is more social and interactive for the family, it lends itself to a more contemporary way of interior design and decorating. I believe many homeowners find it easier to pull together an interior design scheme in an open-plan space. Personally, I think it has challenges as one has to be careful it doesn’t look characterless and ultimately, sterile.

Modern kitchen, stylish, sustainable and elegant.
Contemporary kitchen with dining, mixing materials and accessories to create an elegant but stylish casual dining.

👉 If you inherited a separate dining room, do you use it as a dining room? I expect the answer is a firm NO!

So, a lot of us are left with a redundant room in our homes. Of course, they can be turned into a home office although I expect after we return to some sort of social normalcy the convenience of walking a few feet to our places of work might have worn off as we crave getting out and seeing humans again!

Perhaps the way we design and build our homes needs to change? Certainly, they need to be more sustainable and energy-saving, but, also the way we lay them out and live in them needs to be changed too? This is down to developers for new homes who largely seem to be out of touch with modern living and still throw in a separate dining room resulting in redundant space that probably won’t get used. Not exactly sustainable or energy saving.

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Many of us inherit older homes that are filled with character and purpose-built separate dining room, with a kitchen that’s too small, so we add onto the back of the home and include space to cook, eat and relax. In reality, we really don’t need to use the rest of our homes except to wash and sleep!

There are exceptions to this rule of course. You may need a separate dining room for business dinners and entertaining. Your personal preference may be to have a separate room to break bread or just because you prefer it. Not just for high days and holidays.

Modern dining room simple but elegant. Interior designed dining room.
Pared down elegant modern dining using natural materials.

I have a client at the moment, they have bought a new build 3 storey home in a Georgian style. It’s elegant with high ceilings. However, there are too many rooms that don't have any use. I am helping them find a purpose for these rooms and create continuity throughout the home with a cohesive interior design scheme. It’s interesting, as even with a large kitchen/dining area they are still adding a glass box to the back to increase the footprint even further, removing any reason to have a separate dining room or in fact separate lounge. The reality is, they will not use the other rooms. Which gets back to my point about developers being out of touch with how modern families use their homes.

Do our homes need to be as big? Think of your energy footprint and the impact this has on our environment.

At the end of the day, it's down to you the homeowner, how you want to use the space and most importantly how it makes you feel.

I truly believe our homes can have a dramatic effect on our moods on a daily basis. They can be our dose of medicine.

👉 When we walk through that door we want to smile, feel safe, relaxed and ultimately joy at being home. We can do this by really understanding what it is we identify with and love. Creating spatial balance, making sustainable choices for colour, texture and furniture all help to achieve that special feeling of harmony.

⭐️ The power our homes have on us is significant and we can make sure they are positive. ⭐️

The way to create a deliciously designed dining area full of character is with colour and texture AND Integrating all those elements that you like, love and are drawn to. I recommend starting to write them down.

Being an interior designer, my preference would be for a separate dining room as I can visualise so many wonderful ways to create a delightful and special room- of course!

This is my checklist for designing that delicious dining room. Mixing old with new creates character and interest. 👈

Sustainable dining room using natural materials, natural stone, mirror, plants, wood furniture, modern eating at home
Delicious dining mixing texture and style.

Best of British Design: Choose a product that has been manufactured locally and support UK businesses. Re-use pieces that mean something to you and that you love. Buy vintage if you can. Use paint that is is very low in VOC’s.

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Fire surrounds - can be existing or put one in - check out LASSCO they can be expensive but have a great range of beautiful original fire surrounds.

Flooring - reclaimed stone or wood flooring with character - check out Ribble Reclamation

Wallpaper - UK designers and manufacturers - William Morris, Cole & Son, Farrow & Ball, Timorous Beasties, Zoffany. and there are many many more most made in the UK using earth-friendly paints, inks and FSC papers.

Paint - Farrow & Ball is an all-around great company that has fully embraced sustainability fully, excellent colour pallet too.

Mirror - Rough Old Glass. Mirror has taken on a new lease of life and there are many creative ways to use it.

Tapestry - an interesting concept for walls. They add texture, warmth and interest.

Lighting - There are a gazillion options for lighting. Try and source UK manufacturers, this I difficult when it comes to functional spotlights, but, we Brits make wonderful decorative lighting. Check out - Bert Frank, Tigermoth, Original BTC, Porto Romana and try vintage too!

Smart Technology - invest in smart tech to save you money over the long term. Nest and Alexa are two, check out this article by Which gives you good information on the best.

Furniture - Keep your most-loved pieces, those that give you joy. There are some companies that are manufacturing to sustainable standards, check out Tom Raffield, Adventures in Furniture, Davidson, Benchmark, Tom Faulkner.

Vintage and Antique - check out, Vinterior, 1st Dibbs, Retrouvious, one of my favourites is Crystal Palace Antiques and The Old Cinema in Chiswick. There are many of these wonderful treasure troves to discover all over the UK, too many to mention but waiting for you to discover. They have become very much part of creating interior design schemes with character and interest.

⭐️If you'd like more tips and updates on healthy and earth-friendly interior design products and ideas, join my private Facebook group Green&Glam here.⭐️

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