Apartments, small flats are what we call our homes today. As the times change, and population and values change, the square feet area of our homes have also changed. Gone are the days, when you had a room specially dedicated for dining. Today, we talk in BHKs. Halls are where we need to accommodate our drawing and dining areas together. These living areas give an informal and inviting look to your place. In other words, your guests feel more welcomed to your personal space. Incorporating an eating area within the main living room is a sensible arrangement and provides congenial surroundings for mealtimes.
In a well planned living area or hall, you can make best use of the space at your disposal. Pay attention to the layout. The shape of the room may suggest obvious way of separating living space but you can also do so by placing your furniture decoratively and aesthetically. You can not only use the dining area of your living space for eating purposes, but also for additional worktables or study. Proper lighting and flexible furnishings help you to bring the right kind of look for your living space.
Before you start decorating your room, make a rough sketch of your room. Mark all the important features like door, door-swing, windows and electrical and plumbing points in the room. Cut out paper shapes of your major furniture units. You can move and place them while you are experimenting with the look of your room.
The basic shape of the room may suggest where to plan your dining area. Area closer to kitchen is ergonomically correct. The alcove formed by the bay window (if any) can also be a good location. If the room is L-shaped you do not need any furniture or dividers to be used as partitions. In case of very big halls, adding a partition is simply worth it. You can add a free-standing double-fronted cabinet or an open shelving system to separate the two areas. If the hall is not big, but rectangular in shape, a sofa can act as an effective room divider. A line of low storage cupboards, a folding screen or even a large potted plant can also be used as good room dividers.
One important thing you shouldn’t ignore is the ergonomics. The dining chairs should be able to be drawn back comfortably in the given space. The kitchen-dining passage should be wide and without any obstacles in between. A service window or an open serving counter in open kitchens can also be opted if need be. A pleasant view adds to the enjoyment of food. Try placing your dining table near windows/French doors where it also benefits from natural light. Another way of dividing your living area is by a slight change in the floor level. However, this is applicable only when large areas are involved.
While decorating your living areas, keep some things in mind. Keep the colour scheme, finish and the fabrics same. It tends to increase the sense of space in the room and also gives a harmonious look. For larger spaces, a subtle contrast of textures and finishes can work well. But avoid decorating the different areas in widely different styles. Results can be disastrous. You can always opt for some robust floor-covering in the dining area. Spilt food may not damage the look of your floor coverings this way. If you have a fully carpeted room, place some washable cotton rugs in your dining space. In case of laminated/wooden floor, throw some soft rugs on the floor to add warmth. Vitrified tiles that are easy to maintain are good for your living areas.
Lighting of the room is also important. You can use wall mounted fixtures or uplighters for general lighting. For highlighting, use directional, spotlights which can be fixed on walls or ceiling. A pendant light over the dining area can be used to define that area. Place floor lamps in the room strategically. You can include local lights for reading if required. Dimmer switches help you to set the right mood in your room.
In small living areas, large dining tables are really not practical. Why not choose a table that you can extend as required to accommodate more people, and chairs that you can fold, or stack to save space? Canvas director’s chairs, wicker work chairs, bent wood or ladder backs are additional seating you can add to your living space when required.
Always remember to keep the accessories, cutlery and glass-ware near the table. Corner cupboards, side boards and dinner wagons or low chests can store a lot of things. So double up your serving and storage area. Merge your dining space into the living area aesthetically. Happy living.