Sitting down for a meal at the table seems to be less and less common these days. Family members eat at different times, we eat on the go, or meals are served in front of the television. But treating yourself, and/or your family, to a meal at the table is a great way to encourage conversation, relaxation, healthy eating habits, and appreciation of food.
Here are a few tips to creating an enticing dining area:
– Often dining tables become a dumping ground for all our stuff like mail, book bags, purses, keys… or serve multiple purposes like desks or craft tables. Try to keep the dining table clear of clutter, and if it has another use during the day make sure to clear it after you finish the project, work etc… Look for other places to sort mail, or place your stuff.
– Choose comfortable chairs. This is key to keeping everyone at the table. In general, upholstered chairs are more comfortable and will make you feel like sitting even after you are finished eating. Make sure the chairs can easily scoot in and out. You don’t want any obstacles to getting in and out of your seat. Finally, be mindful of tall or large people who may need a certain size chair to feel comfortable. Also consider little children, who may not fit or be comfortable in adult-sized furniture. A great solution for children is the Kinderchair which you can adjust as your child grows.
– Check the views from each chair. Ideally everyone will have a pleasing view. If this is not the case, try to create one with by hanging artwork, closing doors, screening or curtaining off any unpleasant views such as a bathroom (ideally, the bathroom is not located near the dining area—if it is always keep the door closed).
– If your dining room is separate from the kitchen, keep the door to the kitchen closed. The active energy in the kitchen, created by the hustle and bustle of preparing the meal, isn’t conducive to lingering at the dining table—especially if you are reminded of the dishes that will need to be done, etc… If you can’t close off the kitchen at least turn off the kitchen lights while you eat.
– Avoid placing larger or more comfortable chairs at the head of the table. Promote equality in terms of comfort and conversation by making all chairs equal in size.
– Small, intimate tables or oval tables promote better conversation and generate a more even energy flow, which creates greater family harmony.
– Solid wood tables connect us to nature and ground the energy in the room, as opposed to glass or metal tables where the energy moves too quickly for relaxed eating. If you have glass or metal table, consider adding a tablecloth to see if it the changes the energy in the room. Also choose a table where the legs do not get in the way of comfortable seating.
– Create a cozy atmosphere. In large homes, many formal dining rooms are vast spaces with high ceilings—although impressive to look at—they’re not always the most comfortable rooms to spend time in. If you have very high ceilings, try creating a strong horizontal line at a more intimate height by hanging your art and curtains rods at a lower height. This creates the illusion of a lower ceiling. If the room is very large, place a rug under the table that is only slightly larger than the table and chairs to anchor the table in the space.
– Think about your favorite restaurant where you not only love the food, but also the environment—somewhere where you just want to sit for hours. What qualities does it have? What colors? What style? What kind of chairs? Music? Lighting? Try bringing some of those elements into your home.
– While large mirrors in dining rooms can look beautiful, they can make a room feel more active by doubling the motion in the room. Also, it’s not always appetizing to watch yourself eat. To keep everyone relaxed and comfortable place artwork or wall hangings in the dining room instead of mirrors. However, if you use a large mirror to either bring in light, open up a small space or reflect a great outdoor view, you may need to place flowers, pottery, or other objects in front of the mirror to block people seated at the table from seeing themselves.
– Make sure the art in the dining room is art that you love and is suitable to eating—for example no dead animals or gruesome scenes.
– Use color. Color affects our emotions and even evokes a physical response. Orange is a great color in the dining room—it is a social color and is known to stimulate the appetite. By no means does this mean you have to paint the entire room orange—you can use orange accents such as a bowl of oranges flowers or orange placemats. Other warm colors such as beige, terra cotta, and even red in small doses (red is an active color and too much may cause arguments) are great colors to create an intimate space. Another direction would be to use peaceful colors such as blues, greens, creams, or other pastels.
– If you live alone and find yourself eating in front of the TV every night, try setting the table, lighting a candle, and playing some music to entice yourself to eat at the table a few nights a week. Or invite some friends over for a weekly potluck.
– You don’t need a dining room to have a family meal. Kitchens are the hearth of home and are therefore excellent places to gather. Living rooms are also good places to have a meal, just be sure to turn off the television and keep distractions such as phones, radios, and other activities to a minimum.
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