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Get your dining room ready in time for Christmas!

Many of us ignore our formal dining areas for much of the year – whether we’re just eating a regular weekday meal or have friends over, we often choose to eat in more informal places such as at the kitchen island, or even on the sofa in front of the TV.

The irregularity of use of the main dining-room table in many homes means that this is an area we tend to forget about when it comes to making improvements or decorating. However, this might become a problem on special days such as Christmas, when it really is this area’s time to shine.

So don’t worry if your dining room could do with a little TLC – the truth is, turning a sparse or gloomy dining room in a bountiful room fit for a banquet is really easy. Just follow our simple tips!

Clear the clutter

This should be the first step on anyone’s list, and possibly goes without saying. But we’ve all been there, visiting friends or family for a meal, and being forced to eat in a dining area that’s crowded with items that could easily be somewhere else. Vacuum cleaners, kids’ toys, clothes horses covered in damp tea towels… We know these items get in the way, but you should surely be able to find a better place to put them on Christmas Day. You toiled for hours getting this meal ready – don’t let it down by making your friends and family feel like they’re eating in a utility room.

Large Laminated DarkWood table in a Victoria style living room.

Fix up your table and chairs

If you can, try to ensure that all of your guests have matching dining chairs – but we do appreciate that this can expensive! If you want to avoid the cost of buying a new set of dining chairs to accommodate everyone, then mix and match what you do have. Just try to ensure that all of the chairs are roughly the same height, so you don’t have diners seated at different levels.

Check out places like eBay, junk shops and Gumtree to see if you can pick up some relatively inexpensive vintage dining chairs. A couple of hours one weekend spent with some sandpaper and furniture paint could be all it takes to create a beautiful seating set. If you want to take it even further and you’re a dab hand with a needle and thread, why not pick up some fabric and stuffing and try upholstering them yourself?

Space around the table can also be an issue – especially if you’ve got the whole family visiting. Rather than putting together a selection of different tables you’ve fished out of the shed to try and seat everyone, see if you can get extendable table that will accommodate all your guests. The great thing about these types of tables is that, if you’re worried about it taking up too much space for the rest of the year, you just need to remove a couple of leaves to reduce its size.

Give the room a lick of paint or a splash of wallpaper

Wallpapering or painting a room is a rapid and cost-effective way to freshen it up. Remember that the scent of fresh paint can linger for a little while, and we’re sure you’d rather your home smell of mulled wine, cinnamon and all manner of delicious treats this Crimbo rather than paint. Certain low and no-VOC brands of paint such as those by Farrow & Ball are meant to have less of a odour issue, which could buy you more time for decorating.

Dining Table set for christmas dinner

Credit: Austin Kelmore (Source: Flikr. License)

If you go for wallpaper, we know it can be tempting at this time of year (even subliminally) to go for a pattern or colour that’s rather festive, so before you commit to anything, imagine how it will look at a dinner party in June. And no matter whether you go for paint or wallpaper, avoid dark blue and green hues. These colours have been proven to make food seem a lot less appetising!

Create a themed centre piece

Although some may consider them a bit fussy, centrepieces are seeing a resurgence in popularity in the UK. If you like the aesthetic, why not try creating one yourself rather than buying one? Not only will you save cash, but it will probably be nicer than any you could buy. It’s also a great activity to do with the kids.

Check websites like Pinterest for inspiration, or be creative and create one purely from your own imagination. You can make a beautiful centrepiece practically for free if you already have a candle and a glass holder already. Simply go for a walk in your local park or woods and see if you can forage a few pine cones and some holly and ivy to group around the holder*.

* Never leave a lit candle burning unattended.

Get your lighting just right

The secret to good dining-room lighting is perfecting that balance between giving the room a certain ambiance… and it still being bright enough to see. After all, no one wants to accidentally put their elbow into a bowl of Brussels sprouts! This is what makes dimmer switches such a great-yet-simple home improvement.

 If you go for dedicated dining pendant lighting, you should hang the lights lower than seems right. But do remember that once you install this type of lighting, you’re essentially committed to keeping your dining table in the same place.

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