Inviting Dining Rooms: Places to Linger for Longer

Inviting Dining Rooms: Places to Linger for Longer

Catrin Morris
Nov 18, 2010

Some dining rooms are like an impossibly sublime still life; you marvel at the beauty but don't dare touch. Other dining rooms are like performance art; you want to climb inside and revel with the actors. These dining rooms are inviting, warm and conducive to conversation. Because, let's face it: You can serve all the reductions, emulsions, and quinoa-encrusted broccoli rabe you want but what makes a memorable dinner party is the conversation.

The easy, fluid shifting of topics from the most intellectually demanding to the most downright inane. The lingering. The laughing. I fell in love with my husband over meandering, hilarious dinner table conversations. My most wonderful memories of my family unfolded in my childhood dining room.

What makes a dining room inviting and conducive to lively chatter? Dim lights, flowers people can see over, comfortable chairs and an endless supply of drinks are all key. Even in the most luxurious home, a touch of informality and messiness should be embraced. When the host is perpetually clearing plates and cleaning dishes guests feel ill at ease and rushed out. A completely clear table tells your guests it is time to go. (Of course you don't want to leave the lamb carcass on the table for too long, but that doesn't mean the table should be spotless and lifeless!). Once the meal is over, bring out tea or coffee and a block of expensive chocolate. Or nuts or some bread.

1 The dinner table in the Nancy Meyer's movie Something's Gotta Give. What looks like a rather bland generic dining room becomes alive with the right lighting and the very comfortable-looking chairs. Of course, Jack Nicholson helps too! Photos from left, clockwise from Architectural Digest; The Inspired Room; and Hooked on Houses.
2 Can You Spot the Winning Room: California Home + Design Readers Choice Contest. How cozy does this dining room look? I think i would overstay my welcome at this table by at least four hours.
3 Lamps and Wing Chairs: Living Room Details in the Kitchen. For dinner parties at a foodie's home, having the table in the kitchen adds to the fun. The host doesn't have to disrupt the flow of the conversation by leaving the room to fuss on the stove.
4 A quite formal room but very intimate. This dining table is perfect for hosting dinner parties because the leaves attach to the outer edges to maintain a true circle when expanded. Canadian House and Home.
5 This Copenhagen dining room looks like the ideal setting for (very) late and possibly tipsy conversations. House of Bliss.

6 The extra padding on these Saarinen tulip chairs makes all the difference. Desire to Inspire.
7 Having the table so close to the sofa softens up the sharp lines of this modern dining room table. Richard and Julie's Elegant and Industrial Loft.
8 The soft, rumpled table cloth and earthy tones make this room warm and inviting. Lonny. Interior Design by Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar.
9 Screen shot from It's Complicated. Via My Notting Hill.
10 Likely a setting for lively discussions and raucous laughter. House Beautiful.

11 With it's deep reds and rich mahogany, this Victorian dining room reminds me of a big warm velvet cape.


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