Decorating And Arranging Your Dining Room For The Holidays


Christmas is rapidly approaching, along with its family meals, constant snacking, and frequently-used kitchen. If you want to decorate your home to make it fun, festive, and functional, you’ll want to listen to the advice of Tricia Huntley, expert interior designer named on the Washington Design Center’s Ones to Watch list in 2010.

Have Flexible Seating And Table Settings
First, she said to focus on your table and chairs. What kind of entertaining will you be doing? Large family functions will need flexible seating, extendable tables (the kind with inserts that make them longer) and plenty of room for movement and serving dishes. Scale your furniture to the size of the room—not too big and not too small. Holiday centerpieces are nice on empty tables, but you’ll want to remove them during meal time. Also, if your dining experiences will involve the presence of children, you’ll want to choose table linens that will either wipe or wash off easily.

Scale Your Furniture To The Room
Huntley said she also has had clients who have recently moved from a smaller house to a bigger one. She said she tells them, “When you drape [your table] with fabrics, you can make it appear as big as it needs to be. . . . And make sure the walls have something on them.” Bare walls can make a room appear bland and empty, resulting in an uninviting dining area.

If, on the other hand, you have a small dining room, a table with a clear surface can help the limited space feel larger. Huntley explained, “The transparency creates volume where it doesn’t exist. That’s true of all spaces.”

Choosing A Serving Style
When it comes to serving styles, the choice you make will depend on your available space. Passing dishes can be cumbersome and take up space on the table that’s needed by other place settings. However, it can make a more homey feel and allows easy helpings to seconds. Huntley’s preference is a buffet style of serving. “It gives me the opportunity to create a looser, more interesting tablescape,” Huntley explained.

She also said you can create a food “guide” by serving hors d’oeurves in the living room, setting up the buffet in an adjacent room, and having the guests sit in the next room. “Don’t underestimate the power of sequencing,” she went on. “Guiding guests from one room to another with food is a wonderfully subtle way to add a sense of procession to the evening.”

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