Dining rooms make a comeback By Design: Dedication to dining is in fashion again, but with an informal twist.


A few years ago, many people would have identified the dining room as the space in the home they could most easily do without.

Today, however, the dining room's made a big comeback -- but it doesn't often look the way it used to. One seldom sees the old-fashioned formal setting, replete with mahogany furnishings and crystal appointments. Today's dining room is generally much more comfortable and casual, though it remains a civilized gathering place for family and guests.

The design for such a room is a matter of personal preference. All sorts of possibilities present themselves, but let's look at one example that can easily be adapted to fit many situations.

The room shown in the photo is fairly small, yet it's able to accommodate up to eight people and is well-suited to buffet service. The round table helps make the most of limited square footage.

Most dining rooms can comfortably incorporate a table up to 60 inches in diameter. My own preference is for one with a mellow-colored wooden top that won't always require a table cloth. It should be accompanied, in general, by chairs of a single type: either with or without arms.

To this central ensemble, I'd add a flat, patterned rug at least 6 feet wider than the table's diameter. Make sure it's darker than the finish used on the chairs and table. A deep-hued rug will not only make an attractive backdrop for the furniture and white linens; it's also effective in camouflaging spills and crumbs. The walls, curtains and other elements of the surround should all be in pale shades of a single light color.

In this model, you'll notice, the chairs are mismatched in their design, though all are made of rattan by the McGuire Company. A further unifying element is their finish: Each is done in a bone color with ebony and gold-leaf accents. Though these chairs do add a whimsical and casual touch to the setting, they would never be confused with porch furniture.

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