There’s so much to love about winter, even if our’s is acting up a bit strangely this year, whats going on? I love the ‘nest building’ instinct I feel in winter and the snuggling up inside cosy luxe spaces, if you love interiors being INSIDE is what is all about isn’t it? So I embrace the ‘coming home’ and love being inside more than ever. Now its nearing the end of January I reckon its time to start climbing off ‘the wagon’ a tad, not that I really was ever on it to be fair and enjoy a bit of comfort food in comforting dining spaces. So this week, off I went to a fab restaurant in trendy Brick Lane. Entered via a women’s clothing shop, yes its at the back of a shop, only in E1, it’s aptly named ‘Back in 5 minutes‘, a great retro interior, (can’t beat a bit of restaurant inspo) and even better food, it’s my new favourite place. It’s run by a wonderful innovative company called Disappearing Dining, which had me thinking about the disappearing dining room….

Most of us these days have done away with the separate dining room, opting instead for the more flexible living of an open plan kitchen or living room/dining space. As much as this makes perfect sense to me, I do mourn the loss of the separate dining room, because it offers so much potential and license to really ‘let your hair down’ creatively. It doesn’t have to be old fashioned and formal, I like to think of my dining room as informally formal, if that makes sense. Its the perfect space as far as I’m concerned to marry drama, glamour and comfort and achieve magic in a way that’s probably slightly ‘over the top’ for every day rooms. If you are lucky enough to still have the addition of a separate dining room, then it makes sense to make the most of the luxury of this fast disappearing room and even if you don’t, I think you can still use some of the same ingredients to vamp up your dining area, why not? There’s no reason why it needs to look like an extension of your kitchen, in fact I don’t think it should. Make the most of a great opportunity to be bold, dramatic and delectable in the dining room! If you do, you will be surprised how much more you will start wanting to use it and how delighted by it your guests will be, it definitely creates a sense of occasion. My sister won’t even enter without a Tiara, seriously! Ok she is my little sister and has never really quite grown up, i.e. she’s still pinching my stuff! and it’s not a real Tiara, just part of a stash of junk jewellery props I keep for those feeling the need to ‘dress up’, but still its significant!  There are 4 key elements that I would always be sure to include to create a stunning but comfortable space that will have your guests begging for more…

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Colour, pattern, scale and bling.

Create drama and be bold with colour and/or pattern.  Create ambiance with dark moody colours that you may not want to use in other areas of the house, these are spectacular at night which is when you will most often use the room. I’ve used a deep Blue over Anaglypta wallpaper which gives a lovely subtle texture to the room.

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Take inspiration from glamorous restaurant dining rooms that go all out for impact. I love the fun but glam jungle element of the Blanchette, Soho and the elegant gallery walls of Berner’s Tavern, Fitzrovia.

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Add large scale elements for maximum impact. Check out the elegant mural walls of the fabulous Turandot Restaurant in Moscow, the same effect could be created with large scale wallpaper such as this gorgeous ‘dark floral’ by Ellie Cashman and Surface View do some amazing wall murals that you could get really creative with.

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Nothing adds drama quite like an oversized chandelier, apart from two oversized chandeliers! Don’t be tempted to pull back on size, whatever size you think are big enough, go bigger! hang them low over the table these will create the biggest wow factor, trust me. Look how even in this relatively small black dining room the size still works as well as in the incredible baccarat chandeliers, in the Cristal room, Paris, designed by Philippe Starck, I’ve got to visit this place, marvellous!


Furs, skins, velvet & wood.

Whilst you want  to create the drama and glamour of a fabulous restaurant, its important to keep it relaxed and luxe, this is after all your home. Do this by balancing the grandeur of colour and scale you have added with soft tactile fabrics such as wool or velvet, animal hides and sheepskins, leather and suede. I think curtains are a must for adding opulence but make sure they are draped and full, lying in puddles on the floor to give a soft and informal feel. Likewise add rugs, especially hides and sheepskins and rustic wood elements perhaps the table or raw untreated floor boards? the layering of contrasting luxe fabrics and finishes with these more organic textures will keep the vibe relaxed rather uptight and formal.

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Another way to keep a more laid back feel is to mix different dining chairs, be sure to keep them all fairly neutral or in the same colour so you are mixing shapes only or it can become a coloured mish mash! Using fabric covers over chairs, a varied blend of soft cushions in contrasting fabrics or unusual seating such as benches or small sofas are a great way to mix it up and add a relaxed boho vibe.

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Lights, candles and fires.

Now all your dramatic, stylish and laid back luxe dining room needs, is a touch of ambience. If you can get your lights on a dimmer, great. If not make sure you choose warm white bulbs with a kelvin value of 2500 or below, which is nearer a warm candle light, the higher you go the cooler the light, so move in the downward direction. Add several table and/or floor lamps to create atmospheric areas of light. Put candles and tea lights pretty much anywhere you can fit them and if you have a fireplace then use it, even if it means turning off the radiators because it’s too warm, there’s nothing like a fire to create ambience. If your fireplace is non-working you can always add a mass of different height candles instead or you could add a bio burner,which does’t require an open flue and looks very realistic, watch out for a forthcoming post on these.

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Mirrors, Art and Accessories.

Reflect all that wonderful warm light you now have using plenty of mirrors. You could go all out and install a mirrored panel wall. These look great, especially if antiqued, Rough Old Glass make hand silvered antiqued mirror to bespoke sizes. Alternatively seek out individual mirrors, large and small, in different shapes and periods from antique flea markets and auctions or check out Ayers & Graces for a range of styles and sizes. Go from over sized to tiny, the array of sizes will add an eclectic feel, keeping it elegant but laid back. Same goes for art add a mix of sizes and styles but keep the look cohesive by keeping the frames in the same colour. Adding some fun ‘tongue in cheek’ art always keeps the mood light and ‘unstuffy’ try some ‘bad boy’ or graffiti art like these fantastic screen printed portraits from Mineheart  which feature a humorous take on the old masters, perfect for a fun take on the classic formal dining room. Seek out a collection of different types of candlesticks and other accessories in different finishes, crystal is amazing for twinkling the light and add metallics, gold, silver, brass to reflect the light and add a wondrous glow. Don’t worry about mixing gold and silver, that rule is old school and way too uptight, mixing styles and periods and finishes creates visual tension and thats what you need to achieve the wow factor!

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One final thing and your done, don’t forget the bar, think Hollywood!

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Now go forth and create! Check out my pinterest board for more dining room porn!

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