John Lewis

Dine in Style

Over the festive season, your kitchen/diner or dining room is likely to be at the heart of the action. Here’s how to make it work

Around the Table

Chances are you’ll have a lot more people to fit around your dining area than unusual. If you have adults and children, then a table for each can work well. Low tables and chairs for children can be bought fairly cheaply then used afterwards in the playroom as a crafts table, or in the garden in the summer months as a coffee table. Kids are often happy to sit on beanbags or large cushions so you may not even need the chairs. Benches are a godsend for squeezing more people around a table. Pick a slimline one that you could also use in your hallway later. Alternatively, wash down those garden chairs – by the time you have covered them in cushions, throws, or even a faux fur, no one will know.

Adds interior designer Becky Hirt: “Height adjustable stools in a simple shape are a brilliant way to create a flexible entertaining space. They can be raised fully to create extra seating around a kitchen island or breakfast bar, or kept low for an additional seat at the dinner table. They can also be used as impromptu side tables in the living room when everyone has a drink in their hand.”

If you’re in the market for new chairs, go and try out a selection to check for comfort, particularly if you are the type that likes long, leisurely dinners. Upholstered chairs can be harder to keep clean but a much better option for sitting into the night while the conversation flows.

Set the Mood

Christmas dinner can feel quite frantic and all ideas of lighting candles and creating an atmosphere go out of the window. But no one wants to sit in a bright glaring room surrounded by the Brussels sprouts peelings. Effective lighting can work wonders. Says Anna Howell, interior editor at Chaplins: “Lighting is a designer’s secret weapon when it comes to creating a luxurious yet inviting dining room. We’re all familiar with the idea of installing a large pendant light to illuminate the table but it really shouldn’t stop there. Recently, we’ve been enjoying experimenting with “contemporary candles” — portable table lamps that can be moved around with ease to provide soft bursts of illumination. These look particularly great on the table itself or adorning any surface you wish to draw attention to. Some of the best ones are equipped with high-performance speakers which allows you to set the mood visually and audibly.” Try Pablo Lighting’s UMA Sound Lantern, which offers state-of-the-art Warm Dim lighting technology with 360° high fidelity surround sound.

Extra Storage

You will have so much more food and drink to store over the festive season. “Practical storage is essential,” says Ben Burbidge, MD of Kitchen Makers. “Creating an area for drinks, whether a wine rack or dedicated fridge, will ensure you can raise a toast at the perfect temperature at a moment’s notice. Including space close by for glassware and accessories will create a versatile and visually appealing home bar, where guests can be served or help themselves.”

Style Your Table

Look at the colour scheme you want to create and start collecting now, looking out for crockery, table runners, cloths, napkins and candles in your chosen scheme. If you have a pastel kitchen or dining room, you don’t need to go down the traditional reds, golds and silvers route, you can find festive touches that work with what you have. Equally, a predominantly white colour scheme looks great with a rainbow of different shades.

Quick Fix Kitchens

If your kitchen is more shabby than chic, look out for a few simple updates. A new splashback can really lift the room, and if your cupboards and drawers are marked with sticky fingers, then buy some special paint for the job and give them a quick spruce up. Replace old handles on dressers with a pretty vintage style, update a grotty old worktop, and if your appliances are looking the worse for wear, then give them a makeover with a special spray paint. If your kitchen/diner feels rather too utilitarian, then add a rug, or wallpaper a feature wall.