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Holiday Dining Room Tips

By: Casey Gerber

December 22, 2014

Featured Designer: Payal Patel 

Hosting a holiday dinner party can be overwhelming considering the many projects we tend to take on during this time of the year. Luckily, I have put together a quick set of tips to help you get your dining room all set and ready for your guests…

1. Select a Theme – Like all design projects, the first step is to select a theme that will tie the whole room together and help your statement make an impact. Personally, I like to draw inspiration from books I have read, a movie I have seen, places I have traveled to, or simply just images I have seen on Pinterest. Your theme can literally be anything your imagination can think of. Here are a few of my personal favorites that I like to use: Scandinavian Winter Wonderland, Vintage Modern, Christmas glam, and Classic Chic.

5dc27d10f1b19529c60e38e7c15b74802. Pick a Color Scheme – The second step is to find the right color scheme that will help your design concept come to life. Here are some examples: If you are going for a Scandinavian winter wonderland look, then opt for table linens, utensils, placemats, and any decorative accessories you’ll be using to be in shades of white. Let white be the dominant color in your dining room and on your table and you’ll be all set. Black, red or green can also be used as accent colors in this scheme, but in limited amounts. Like this example, you can make your design concept come together through the color scheme as well. Be sure to do a little research on your concept before you begin planning and see what colors and tones should be used together and also what the ratio of those colors should be. This is key in executing your design and will really help your vision materialize!


3. Place the Big Pieces – Now that you have your color scheme in place, it’s time for the fun part – selecting furniture, accessories, tablescapes, and decorative items that will bring your look together. I like to look through catalogs I receive in the mail, and in stores such as West Elm, Fab.com, Crate and Barrel and on various design blogs to gather different points of inspiration before selecting individual pieces.

The first item to choose is your table and chairs. If you have an existing dining table then make sure your table is large enough to seat the amount of people you’ll be having over. Long rectangular tables work best for larger parties, but if you don’t have one you can always use multiple smaller tables and place them near one another. The mis-match of tables might even add to your concept if you’re going for a bohemian or rustic vibe. One the other hand, If you are purchasing a new table, be sure to look at the finish, material, and size carefully to make sure it goes with the concept you are going for. For the seating, you can either use individual dining chairs or a long bench. If you are running short on space, you might be able to squeeze in an extra place setting if you use a bench versus a dining chair.


4. Anchor Your Table – Next, choose a fabric or material surface that will run along the middle portion of your table and serve as the visual anchor point for your centerpiece. This can be anything from a solid fabric to a graphically patterned paper to a wood plank or a stone slab. Again, make sure the choice makes sense with your overall design concept.


5.Create Your Centerpiece – After your furniture and table runner have been selected, the next step is to start layering items for the centerpiece. Each concept will require different items so be sure you’ve researched your concept to get some ideas. If you’re going for a more rustic garden look, use white and green blossoms, succulents, and fresh flowers from your garden and don’t be afraid to use them together to create a long lush focal point for your table. Feel free to add in a good mix of brown bottles, burlap placemats, and mason jars to complete the look. If you’re leaning towards a more modern rustic look, be sure to keep your table surface exposed, include jewel tones – emerald green, purple, and gold, and add some winter produce – winter squash and tangerines. For a minimal and contemporary look, simply line the center if your table with a table runner and white candles. In addition, don’t forget that you can also add hanging elements to add another layer of depth and dimension to your centerpieces. Some ideas include: glass ornaments, paper stars in varying sizes, and a tree branch.


6. Tableware – Now that your furniture and centerpiece are all set, it’s time to decide what place settings and dinnerware you’ll be using. Since most dinner parties involve multiple courses, it’s nice to layer multiple sized plates on top of one another. I typically recommend having 2 plates minimum to add some depth to your design. The plates can either be from the same collection for a more modern and minimalistic look or mis-matched for a rustic vibe. Also, instead of traditional placemats, you can use a wood slice, a slab of slate, or even sheet music of your favorite holiday songs. Be sure to finish off your place settings with a personalized name tag for each one of your guests.


Happy Designing!


Laurel & Wolf

Payal Patel is an Architectural and Interior Designer who has a true passion for Residential Design. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and received her Master of Interior Architecture degree from UCLA Extension. She constantly strives to contribute design solutions that are creative, functionally appropriate, contextually derived, culturally significant and environmentally responsible.

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