By Amy McGeachy, DID

Home is where the heart is, and the party always happens in the kitchen… But what about the actual hub of your dinner party or nightly family dinners? The eating space in your home has to be flexible and function to accommodate both your family and friends. The way we operate in our space is ever changing, and people are using their formal dining rooms less frequently.


Family Seating: Build-in banquet is a great option. It is fun for the family, and provides a casual eating nook where you can cram as many as needed onto the bench seating. It also allows for a great storage opportunity. I often build lift up lids so that small appliances, seasonal décor and items that aren’t used every day can be stowed out of the way. By adding a colorful seat cushion, and various toss cushions, you can create a warm and inviting space, with removable covers that can easily be thrown in the washing machine for a quick clean up after a spill.

Outdoor: Use the landscape around you to decorate your table. Create a centre piece of fresh herbs, flowers cut from the garden, or river rocks from one of our many West coast beaches. A dish with sand in the bottom and candles to burn through the evening also look spectacular.

Island– With small spaces becoming a reality for so many, your kitchen island may also function as the only dining table in your space. When this is part of the design, there are some important considerations to factor into the planning stage… You will have to allow for a slightly larger over hang than normal, so that your stools don’t conflict with each other underneath. You want to allow your guests ample leg room, and be able to push the stools all the way under to get them out of your way when using the counter as a prep space. Make sure to spread out the seating on the island so that it allows for good conversation with your guests. You don’t want to line all of the seating up on the backside in a row, as it makes for awkward conversations where you have to turn your head to carry on a conversation. Comfortable stools resembling a dining chair are a must. You will be spending a significant amount of time sitting during a long meal.

Formal Dining Room: The light fixture above your dining room table is the focal point of a well-designed space. It can add sparkle, or drama, while adding just the right amount of ambience during your dinner party. Bigger in size is better. Create a statement by creating a cluster of pendants or lights in different sizes. Think of the lighting as an art application in the room. Make sure to have the table light on a dimmer so that you can choose the desired mood for your meal.

Flexibility: Utilize a table with one or multiple leaves to accommodate even your largest dinner party. Some tables even have a self-storage system for the leaf, so that you can keep the leaf in the table, safe from being scratched or damaged when not in use.

Side boards and buffets- A sideboard is a great way to add extra storage to your eating space. They come in a variety of configurations and sizes. Using an old refurbished antique adds an interesting piece to the room, without making your dining set look too matchy. The sideboard also acts as another serving surface in the room, which is great for buffet style dinners or large meals with many courses. Try utilizing a higher than normal unit, that takes up more vertical space in the room, and is at a comfortable work height. Keep in mind that a kitchen countertop is 36” high and ideal for meal prep.

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