Dining Room or Area?
Dining areas can be a problem, especially if you don’t have a specific room for the purpose. Today, dining areas are often shared with kitchen or a family room or even outdoor areas. Family dining patterns may differ from meal to meal. Families may dine together always or only occasionally. So, dining furniture may be used for everything from pickup meals to homework to formal dinners. The way your family thinks and feels about dining will guide your choice of casual or formal arrangements and furniture.
If you have a separate dining room, you may have a broader choice of furniture styles and materials. A more formal approach opens up possibilities for elegance in line and richness of materials you might not want in an informal, multipurpose dining table, for example.
Start by thinking about the largest number of people you will want the table to serve. How much space will you allot for each diner. Two feet is common. This will tend to sort out the type of table you need; single or multiple pedestal, trestle, four-legged. Your room size will point toward a shape. Will a round, oval, square or rectangular table work best in your room? Boat shape often works best for more than six diners. You need at least three feet from the table edge to the nearest wall or other furniture, to allow for chairs to move in and out and for serving space. Perhaps you need an extensible table with leaves. There are several possibilities for the way leaves are stored and deployed.
Imagine giviing a party at your table. Are the guests opposite each other close enough for easy conversation and to pass dishes across? Will you keep serving dishes on the table or at a sideboard?
That brings us to a decision on style; Country, Farm, Period? If Period, Regency, Danish Modern, Art Deco and so on. French, Chinese, American Shaker, English, Baroque influences can all be considered. One of the pleasures of furniture built for you is developing a design that feels right and expresses your personal taste.
A choice of wood and a choice of finish open up rich possibilities. There are pros and cons to the use of solid wood versus veneers. For example, solid wood is subject to movement, veneers open up unlimited design possibilities. In terms of finish, there are choices between Oil & Wax, Lacquer, Varnish and others. Each has its advantages in terms of strength, beauty and repairability. And, the decisions do not end for there are choces between open or closed grain, filled or unfilled grain. For all of these choices, a master craftsman’s knowledge and guidance is a great support.
Chairs are the hardest working pieces of furniture in the house. They are like a moveable sculpture that must be strong enough to handle substantial weight, twisting, tilting and general banging about. The first question about dining chairs is probably, how many do you need? A chair is a complicated construction so handmade chairs tend to be expensive. Sets are likely to less expensive because some parts can be roughed out in gangs although final fit and finish is individual.
People have great expectations and demands of chairs. They have to be comfortable enough to spend two hours propped up in. One chair does not fit everyone. Should they be upholstered or not. Thickness of upholstery? Lumbar support? Moveable cushions or pads? Are armchairs more desirable than side chairs given the space available? Then, the question of style arises. Do you match the table style or choose a complementary or similar style. Here again working with an experienced designer and craftsman can make a big difference in your experience and in the result.
Storage and Service Furniture
Well designed storage and service furniture can make the dining experience easy and smooth. Look at how much of your dining service needs to be next to table. Consider the flow from kitchen to service surface to table. Will you serve to table or from a sideboard? Do you have fine pieces that you would like to display. A glazed hutch may be the answer. As you think through the dining process, the form and size of your storage and service furniture will be clearer.