Why the dining room is back on the menu
From self-isolating to opening up your home for a small number of visitors, COVID-19 has been a process of managing health concerns and fears while trying to maintain order at home.
Never has there been so much focus on the home front, with parents working from home while homeschooling and everyone having more time to hang out together. Every room in the house is in high demand, with formal rooms seconded as makeshift studies and the kitchen acting as the communal playground. The dining room, which had given way to the convenience of the breakfast bar, is now back in the spotlight.
Great Dane founder Anton Assaad says the pandemic has definitely changed the way we live, with the dining room going through a renaissance.
"It has opened our eyes to what is possible at home," he says. "How can we create a home that is a place of safety and comfort, as well as finding places to hide from each other during lockdown?"
Anton says the breakfast bar is not a replacement for the dining table, where everyone can talk while facing each other.
"I sat down with my three kids on Sunday night at the table - I couldn't bear another meal served on the bench," he says.
"My youngest is often trying to drag me and the other two kids to the table. I think she feels it's a place where we can sit together and share a laugh."
When entertaining, he says it's important to take the time to create a good dining experience.
"This includes good quality alcohol, great company and good food - in that order."
With open plan living popular in new builds and renovations of older properties, it can be challenge to create an intimate dining setting. Having guests look into a messy kitchen is not ideal.
"This is a challenge," says Anton. "We have all felt this need to have one giant open space, a sign of a successful design."
Instead, to create a sense of warmth, Anton suggests using dimmable lights and overhead pendant, floor and table lights to create intimacy.
"Stay away from downlights - they are ugly and throw harsh, unflattering light on the table and your guests," he says.
Senior interior designer at Home by Belle Alexandra Bradley has also noticed a distinctive shift in how clients feel about their dining rooms.
"We can't travel at the moment so people are investing in the place they're spending the most amount of time," she says. "They are looking at how to better use the space available to them."
Interestingly, in the lead-up to COVID-19, dining room trends favoured soft furnishings and larger, comfortable chairs.
"Rather than the straight-back etiquette at the dining table, we've seen chairs that are more relaxed," Alexandra says. "This soft furniture is perfect if you're claiming the dining room as your office right now."
Looking forward, Alexandra says open plan living and dining spaces suit lighter colours, while separate dining spaces benefit from darker, moody tones to create a more intimate feel.
Originally published as Why the dining room is back on the menu