Listen, you don’t have to hate your dining room to want an upgrade. But if you’ve got enough of an eye for design to read this article, the Covid-19 stay at home orders and quarantines over the last year and a half might’ve made it glaringly obvious that you haven’t been paying enough attention to your own dining room set up.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The dining room is one of the rooms in the home that often comes second place to the kitchen, bathroom, and guest room during home renovations. But when re-designed and re-decorated correctly, it can effortlessly elevate every meal, birthday dinner, and coffee chat.
For Whitney Jones, owner of Whitney J Decor, a New Orleans-based design firm and boutique, renovating your dining room is simpler than most people think. “When it comes to designing your dining room to entertain, there are a few ideas that everyone can apply to elevate their space, no matter the size,” she notes.
We had the pleasure of inviting Whitney to kick off our new BLACK FOODIE Life series which focuses on sharing tips with foodies to elevate their home. In her Instagram Takeover, Whitney gave viewers a tour of her dining room and shared her top tips for switching up the look of your main eating space.
Start with colour
As a commercial and residential designer, Whitney’s specialty is creating bold, but functional looks for her clients. When it comes to making an impact without breaking the bank, she suggests going straight for colourful decor.
“I love bringing in vibrant patterns on everything from wallpaper to chairs. They can really help to express your personality and you can find them in many different formats.” If wallpaper isn’t your thing or you love the look of your dining chairs, adding a coat of paint goes a long way to changing the vibe of a room. “Don’t forget your ceiling!” she adds, “painting it can really bring the room together.”
If you have an opportunity to add in new items or refresh old cupboards or shelves with a new coat of paint, consider painting your pieces using tones from the same or complimentary colour families as your walls and ceiling to keep your style consistent.
Whitney J’s dining room chairs feature eclectic swipes of navy blue and medium green while her floor-to-ceiling organizer is a deep powder blue to pair with her ceiling and wallpaper for a consistent look.
Make your space work for you
If your dining room doubles as a workspace or is attached to your kitchen, you’ll want to create a space that can seamlessly transition into whatever you need it for.
Whitney achieves a hyper-organized dining room thanks to her built-in storage unit which includes shelves and cupboards to hold everything from books to candles, and kitchen appliances.
But organization isn’t just about hiding tools and; a thoughtfully-designed dining space should also provide visual clues for guests to make relaxation effortless. “Even though we have a full bar behind our dining room area, I like to pair accessories and alcohol on standalone shelves in the dining room for easy access,” Whitney explains.
That means one dedicated shelf for spirits and another for wine/champagne in the corners of her dining room. Rocks glasses and champagne flutes are also arranged on each shelf along with mixers and cocktail accessories so guests can quickly and easily serve themselves. Similarly, the lower shelf of her built-in includes shot glasses and bourbon that can be picked up and taken into the living room when it’s time to unwind after dinner.
Select pieces to help you set the mood
It’s true that the food you’re serving your guests should be the highlight of the visit (this is BLACK FOODIE after all), but a great environment fills in gaps that keeps visitors engaged, relaxed, and looking forward to the next invitation.
Greenery, candles, and pretty jars to hold sweets help to support the mood you’re trying to set and can also double as pops of colour to compliment the dining room’s overall look.
Whitney is a firm believer in lighting having the biggest impact on how you and your guests will feel throughout the visit. “I added a dimmer to the chandelier in our dining room to be able to control the mood whenever I want,” she says. “I love to be able to bring in a moody ambiance with one quick movement.” If you don’t have your lights on a dimmer and would prefer not to call in an electrician, you can use always floor and table lamps to get a warm and welcoming effect.
No matter your style, elevating your dining room without breaking the bank is possible thanks to Whitney’s expert advice. Curate your colour scheme, incorporate furniture that can also help you stay organized, and be intentional in considering the kind of environment you want to offer guests can truly elevate your dining room. When it comes to being a foodie, your eating space should be as enjoyable as the meal you’ve made. Thoughtful design gets you closer to that.
Keep up with Whitney on Instagram or shop her online boutique for bespoke pieces to tie your dining room together. If you’re looking to completely redesign your home in a bold, new way book Whitney J’s services here.