The dining room is planned for the entertainment of small intimate parties and family meals. It should, then, be pleasing, yet rather stimulating in color scheme….The room must be equally pleasing under natural and artificial light…Elizabeth Burris-Meyer, Decorating Livable Homes, 1937
I heard a crazy rumor that there are actually people who use their dining room tables for, get this, dining! Personally, I don’t believe it. But, you never know what people will do in the privacy of their own homes…
There was a time when a good many homes had a separate dining room where the evening meal (and perhaps the noon meal, too) was usually served. The decor of the room was usually fairly simple although, as Mrs. Burris-Meyer reminds us, “many decorators consider[ed] the walls of the dining room an ideal place for mural paintings.” Unfortunately, the execution of the mural idea did not always lead to desired results. She points out that floating nudes or violent jungle scenes can be rather disconcerting after a while. Mrs. Burris-Meyer encourages us to examine magazine illustrations of dining rooms and department store displays to get ideas on how to furnish the dining room. However, I think she would be dismayed if she saw some of the the current advertising where
Sandra Lee monstrosities “tablescapes” reign since Mrs. Burris-Meyer encourages simplicity in the dining room.
But what about those of us who have a living room/dining area combination? Mrs. Burris-Meyer actually prefers this arrangement (and says it is ideal for entertaining). With the advent of the “open floor plan,” I would wager that this is the set-up a good many of us have nowadays. She warns us to:
- Avoid using breakfast nook furniture but to instead use scaled down formal dining room furniture
- Make sure the dining furniture and the living room furniture create a cohesive look (in other words, don’t use glass and chrome dining furniture with colonial reproduction living room furniture)
- Take up no more than 1/3 of the room with the dining area
- Use cupboards instead of sideboards for a clean look
Finally, Mrs. Burris-Meyer has a thing or two to say about breakfast nooks:
Often in an effort to make a breakfast nook appear cheerful and gay the decorators use colors which are much too intense to be pleasant in the early morning when an unobtrusive, pleasant meal is appreciated.
My guess is that Mrs. Burris-Meyer wasn’t much of a morning person…probably from all of the entertaining she does…just saying.
Personally, I think the ideal dining table for a combination dining/living room is one that pulls out from a cabinet and leaves are added to it. My mother’s can seat about eight to ten people when it is fully extended but only takes up about 4 x 3 feet of space when it is closed up. And it has storage space for linens and the china* in it, too!
What about you? Do you use your dining room table for eating or has it been repurposed for something else? Do you have a kitchen table or a breakfast nook? If so, how is it decorated?
To your fabulously decorated Technicolor home!
*We live in earthquake country. Anything valuable is kept in protective storage when not in use.
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