The Perfect Dining Room...

Are dining rooms becoming a thing of the past?  I hope not!  Where would we have family dinners?  Where would we talk about our highs and lows of the day?  Where would we reconnect as a family without TV and multi-media?  Fight for the dining room, America! do we make it pretty and functional?  I have a few (okay, maybe a lot) of tips to get you heading in the right direction.  Start with a piece of furniture.  A beautiful painted china cabinet in crisp white would make any dining room charming (find this one at KalamazooKitty West Main)!

Not sure what size cabinet you need?  Always think about a few things when choosing a piece of furniture for your dining room (or any room in your home):

HEIGHT: Take a good look around your room.  Do you have the height you need? Either from a piece of furniture, curtain panels or architectural detail?  Let's break it down:

8 ft ceilings
Chair rail at 3' from floor
Room dimensions 14' x 16'
Large bay window and two door openings

You need more height!  Add long curtain panels from a nice size rod (1" diameter is nice).  
THIS IS IMPORTANT SO PAY ATTENTION: hang the rod just a few inches down from the ceiling!  You will need 95" curtain panels (check out the end of this article for tips on curtain panels and rods).  This will give you the height you need in this 8'ft ceiling room.  Never.....and I mean NEVER, hang curtain panels that are 84" long!  And while we are talking about "nevers", NEVER hang your curtain rod just above the window!  Always take it up to the ceiling (well, about 3 inches from the ceiling to be exact).  

Whew, now that we got that out of the way, let's address that chair rail.  What is a chair rail anyway?!  It began simply as a piece of trim running around the dining room at a certain height (32" from the floor) to protect the walls from the back of a chair.  Is it really necessary?  Nope.  Does it add architectural interest?  Yup!  However, all chair rails are not created equal.  This photo shows a very basic (and BORING) chair rail.
So let's dress it up (or should I say, lift it up?)!  You have a few options here.  Don't want to waste time removing it?  Then add to it!  Go to your local home improvement store or lumber yard and pick out a new chair rail, particularly a beefier one.  Install that new chair rail at about 6' from the floor running all the way around, just like the original one.  Want to be really cool?  Grab a smaller piece of trim and install that one also all the way around the room, but just a few inches below your new one.  Now you are creating architecture without spending a fortune on huge trims and moldings!  Now pull it all together with paint.  All your trim pieces from your top one all the way down to your baseboard, and all the wall in between, should be painted trim color.  Then add a paint color above the top chair rail piece that you added.  You would think I could find a photo to demonstrate this...but I can't!  Here is another option:
Remove the existing chair rail.  Patch any holes or wall damage.  Add a chair rail at 6' from the floor.  Drop "slats" (flat boards) down from that chair rail to the baseboard.  POOF!  Instant detail!  I do have a photo of that!

Obviously this room is still not complete, but the chair rail and slats have been installed.  They are all painted, including the wall in between, the trim color.  A darker color was painted above.  OOOH!  Pretty :).

So I digressed a bit!  However, we now have height!  So the burning question was....what size china cabinet will work in my dining room?  I like to go for tall ones!  You now have height around your room with your new chair rail and you have height over your windows because you raised up your curtain rods.  Now continue the height with your china cabinet.  80"+tall in a room with 8' ceilings is perfect.

SCALE: If your room is the size of the one described in the "scenerio" above, then a "normal" size china cabinet will do (like the one pictured above).  If you have high or vaulted ceilings, you need to beef it up!  Go taller, wider and deeper.  This will make your cabinet appear to "fit" the room and not feel like doll house furniture in your huge home.

COLOR:  Color, color, color!!!!  Guess what?!  Furniture can be painted (and yes, by you!).  Haven't tried Heirloom Traditions Chalk-Based Paints and Waxes yet?  Then you are missing out!  Both locations carry the amazing colors and waxes.  No sanding, no priming...just paint!  So, find that china cabinet you love, then make it the color you want it to be!  Don't be shy...paint it!  Need a tutorial on how to use this paint, join my paint class (info here).

I could go on for days above how to decorate your dining room (and I will, just not today), but these tips should get you started with the basics.

I promised more info below, so here it is:

*Curtain Panel Tips:
-stay with neutral colors if you want to love them for a long time
-use clip rings to adjust the length of the panel (skim the floor or puddle, never above the floor)
-try backtab panels, they look great!
-avoid tying back.  Just let them hang straight and pretty!

*Curtain Rod Tips:
-use dark bronze or black to draw your eye up to the height of the room
-use at least a 1" diameter rod
-use a solid finial at each end (open airy finials get lost)
-extend the rod passed the window opening to allow panels to be pulled away from the window to let the maximum amount of light in
-always hang up high (3" down from the ceiling) 

This is from you!


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