Chapter 3 – Dining
The dining room can sometimes get a little bit forgotten with everyone often arriving home at different times and eating separately. But hopefully if you update the room, you’ll feel more inspired to make an effort when it comes to dining. A vintage chic look is perfect in a dining room as the days of fine dining began long ago and they knew what they were doing.
3.1 – Dining table
In your dining room, the key piece is the table, as it can be the hub of activity when entertaining guests, or the place where your kids (or you) do their homework. Whatever this table gets used for, make sure it’s a worthy centrepiece to the room.
Styles and Shapes
The styles/shapes of tables which work well in a vintage inspired room can be anything from a slightly ‘battered’ rectangular table to an elaborately shaped table with highly decorative carved, bow-legs and feet. It all depends on whether you’re going all out vintage or adding a bit of shabby to your chic and how your table will most likely be used.
Ways to make it yours
Something we love is marble and yes we mentioned it before as a possibility for your coffee table and now we are mentioning it again. Marble is so beautiful and sleek and makes any table base look gorgeous. This table is a little more on the vibrant side, however look at the juxtaposition of shapes with the carved wooden table and slick, oval, marble top. Our favourite is Carrera marble which is mostly white with fabulous veins of light and dark grey. Keep marble looking amazing by regularly applying sealant and if you do happen to spill that coffee or red wine, mop it up immediately!
This table in the hotel has been painted all one colour which creates a feature piece for the room, without it being too intrusive and due to the light colour choice, it doesn’t make the space feel smaller. Remember, darker pieces of furniture can really impact the feel of a space and make rooms seem smaller. Also, a painted table which is properly sealed/coated should be fine for any marks and spillages to be wiped off.
Dressing the table
Of course, marble isn’t for everyone and sometimes a new table isn’t necessary. There are loads of other ways to add a vintage chic twist to your existing table. A table cloth doesn’t have to look like it came straight from your gran’s house (however lace edged cloths on round tables can look really cute), they can be used in really stylish ways to give your table a new look. Table runners can add that little bit of chic and make your room look ready to dine in.
Create a centrepiece for your centrepiece!
This can really help to tie up your room’s theme or colour scheme. Using a fabulous framed mirror as a tray acts as a really great base for your chosen centrepiece, whether this be sparkling cut crystal decanters or fancy candelabras. If your table isn’t all that big, then a simple vase of flowers looks just as beautiful, maybe even using an old milk jug as a vase.
As with the door wreaths, you can change your table’s decoration to suit the season and breath some new life into your home every three months! Have fun with this, especially if you have guests regularly for food. Give them a surprise by making the table look absolutely beautiful, it will be a talking point and also add to your vintage chic points.
3.2 – Dining chairs
If you have a large enough table, then a row of 2 or 3 theatre chairs can be a great form of seating. Not only are they quirky, but there is so much scope for customisation! Each seat can have a different fabric or you could create the ‘ombre’ look by having each seat in a different shade of a colour. You can go as wild as you fancy with this and it makes a great project for a free weekend.
Cinema chairs can be sourced at vintage shops, fairs, car boot sales, markets and even directly from a theatre. We were lucky enough to get our hands on some chairs from the Theatre Royal when they underwent a massive refurb.
If your table is too high for cinema chairs, then they can make a great form of extra seating in your living room or (if you’re lucky enough to have a big one) your hallway.
Vintage outdoor chairs
Now when we say garden chairs, we don’t mean those white plastic ‘beauties’ most of us own, we are referring to vintage garden furniture. Usually made from metal, they can be a little on the heavy side (some are lighter, dependent on which kind of metal), but they look so good in a dining room.
A lot of the time, they are covered in outdoor goodies such as cobwebs, moss and sometimes a bit of rust, but DO NOT let this put you off. Rust can be sanded away, or you can actually use white vinegar!
Use your chairs to add a pop of colour to your dining room. Vintage chic doesn’t have to be muted colours! If your wallpaper choice features one or two bolder colours, then don’t be afraid to pick them out for accessories and furniture.
French style padded chairs
When it comes to chic, the French have been way ahead for years! Inject some Versailles into your dining room with cushioned, decorative seating. Think carved legs and curved, cushioned backs and the beauty of these chairs is that they don’t have to match; just upholster them in matching fabric if you want them to look more uniform.
You’ll find loads of chairs like these at vintage fairs and in antique shops, a lot of dealers will have full 4 or 6 dining sets too. Just make sure you have enough chairs for all of your friends and family who’ll be wanting to come over for dinner once they see how gorgeous your home is looking!
3.3 – Rugs/Carpet
Flooring in a dining room is really important, as it needs to be suited to the use of the room. If you are actually intending on dining in there, you will need flooring which can be swept,vacuumed or wiped clean easily. Also, in a lot of houses, the dining room is a walk through room to get into the kitchen, so the floor needs to be something quite durable and hard wearing. You don’t have to cut back on a stylish finish however, as there are some great solutions.
They may not be the kindest to bare feet, but having a sisal rug under your table is a great idea. They are so easily cleaned and very hard wearing so will last for years. Sisal rugs are best sourced new and can be found relatively cheaply in IKEA; who have a range of sizes and options of colours too.
If your dining room is large enough for a feature rug then definitely go for it. We don’t however, recommend using an expensive rug under the table as we all know how easy it is to drop food and spill drinks at a dinner table… especially if you have children!
Aubusson rugs are beautiful and look like they came straight from a room in a French palace, they come in various colour ways, prices and some are more intricate than others. It all depends on what you like! There are some superb modern options for rugs; featuring birds as well as plants and flowers, which can look so chic amongst vintage furniture.
You can often find large rugs at vintage fairs, markets and sometimes even in charity shops. Some may appear a little on the grubby side, but it is pretty easy to clean a rug if not a little time consuming. Of course, you can hire an expert to do this for you, but if that’s not an option, then you will need to get cleaning!
A wool rug will need to be treated slightly differently to a woven/mat style rug as hot water can have an adverse effect on wool but would be fine on a woven rug. But here are a few steps for cleaning a rug:
- Start by hoovering your rug, slowly work over the whole surface and even hoover the back, as extra dust will be hiding there.
- Just beat it! Yes that’s right, grab a carpet beater or wooden spoon and a dust mask and hang your carpet over a fence or washing line. Make sure you choose a day with good weather as you don’t want a rain shower halfway through ridding your rug of dust. If you’ve got some pent up aggression, then use it now to beat that dust out of the carpet.
- Wool carpets will need soaking with cool water (just use a hose).
- Get a bucket of cool water at the ready with a bit of gentle washing up liquid to add suds. Then the time consuming part begins. Use a soft sponge (not abrasive and don’t use a brush) to rub your rug until you feel happy that you have cleaned it to the best of your abilities.
- Hose it down to remove suds and leave it to dry out.
- Once it’s dry you could go over it again with the hoover if you want to make doubly sure the dust is gone.
Now you have a gorgeous rug that looks just as new!
3.4 – Cocktail trolley
A cocktail trolley can be a marvelous addition to the dining experience and is a great place to showcase your collection of spirits and a range of fantastic cut crystal glasses.
Brass with glass or marble
In the hotel we have a glamorous brass drinks trolley which we found on Gumtree and luckily it came intact with 2 glass shelves and just needed a quick clean. We’ve since worked on a project with a cocktail trolley where we replaced the glass with marble. Because of the size of marble you will need, you will probably be able to get a better deal using leftover offcuts of marble.
Although marble is a lot heavier than glass, so your trolley may not be as easily moved about, it makes a great feature piece for your dining room which can stay put for when you’re entertaining. As with the marble for table tops, make sure it is treated to avoid stains sinking deep into the marble.
Vintage cut crystal decanters
If you have the patience, pouring your spirits into cut crystal decanters looks great and really brings those decanters back to life; using them for their original purpose. Source decanters from your local antique shop or head to a vintage fair or market. If you find decanters without stoppers, there are sellers which have boxes and boxes full of them and if you’re buying them in the same day you can find the perfect size.
An effective way to clean crystal decanters is to pop a cup full of water, 2 squeezes of washing up liquid and half a cup full of rice into the decanter and lightly shake the mixture using circular motions. The rice will act as an abrasive to break down any dirt/stains!
You may have seen these in some bars; drink siphons are used to create fizz in your drinks with carbon dioxide. Mainly used for soda water, but you can create a whole range of drinks by just adding flavourings.
Anyway, you can find vintage drink siphons at markets and vintage fairs and most of the time they will still be in working order (as long as none of the parts are missing). We love the different coloured glass siphons which will be a small way of adding that pop of colour to your room.
So now you’re ready to have your grand dinner party! Get ready for all the compliments on your fabulous new dining room!