How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Dining Room Decorating Mistakes
Kanebridge News
Share Button

How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Dining Room Decorating Mistakes

Advice on sidestepping the decor gaffes that design pros see most often in rooms meant to fire up appetites—from unpalatable wall colours to stingy rugs

Fri, Apr 28, 2023 8:30amGrey Clock 3 min

DINING ROOM décor gone awry can kill appetites. Whether your guests are flinching from an eerie portrait their chairs face or squeezing into too-tight seats, bad decorating can take the joy out of even the most well-concocted meal.

Los Angeles-based designer David Netto believes dinner guests are rarely eager to enter these stuffy rooms. “So what a dining room must have, above all, is atmosphere,” he said. Here, interiors pros detail five mood crushers in dining rooms, and palate-pleasing alternatives.

1. Blinding Lights

Ample light helps diners distinguish between mashed yams and potatoes, but cruelly aggressive bulbs inspire squinting, not conviviality. “Nothing will kill the vibe of a dinner party faster than harsh overhead lighting,” said Marina Medina, a Vancouver-based interior designer. No one feels good under 5000K LED bulbs, says Susane Jory, a designer in London, Ontario, “and few of us look good bathed in it.”

Instead: Kelly Finley, a designer at Joy Street Design in Oakland, Calif., relies on “recessed lighting on a dimmer, a chandelier with soft lightbulbs and wall sconces” for a softer shine. Mark Eckstrom votes for the old-timey romance of candlelight. Said the co-founder of Studio Eckström, in Omaha, Neb., “Every guest at your table should have faces aglow.”

2. Tasteless Walls

Think of a dining room’s walls as a platter on which dinner is served. Sterile white dishes with a hospital vibe often don’t flatter food. Nor do chaotically patterned ones. Similarly, when it comes to walls, some color can help, but Mr. Eckstrom returns to the effect décor has on complexions: “Sorry, but nobody looks good in a yellow or chartreuse room.” And Brian del Toro, a New York City interior designer, warns against surfaces with “overly active patterns, colours which are too bright or distracting, and combinations of the two, which aren’t soothing.”

Instead: Save the pattern-on-pattern alchemy for the powder room, and pursue colors like terracotta, rose and aubergine that Mr. Eckstrom says “stimulate appetite and reflect well on guests’ skin.” But know that naked walls don’t make people feel comfortable and sociable either. “Every seat should have a view—a window, art, sculpture, wallpaper, mirror, flowers,” he said.

3. Prissiness

You won’t feel inspired to plop down at your dining table for a casual brunch if it’s surrounded by austere crystal chandeliers and dusty mahogany sideboards. Mr. del Toro finds that most dining rooms skew too formal, dark and “limited,” appealing only for an evening dinner.

Instead: “Most of us lead relatively informal lives,” said Mr. del Toro, who likes dining rooms casual enough for sipping a smoothie or morning latte. Chris Goddard, an interior designer in Springdale, Ark., said he’s partial to installing weathered wood tables that, while inherently chillaxed, can be “dressed to the nines for a festive dinner.”

4. Sound-Bouncing Surfaces

When you ponder your dining room’s décor, remember that happy repasts aren’t silent. Poor acoustics can turn animated chatting into cacophony, said Olle Lundberg, a San Francisco designer. “Hard surfaces like stone flooring, plaster walls and large windows all bounce the sound back into the space, creating reverberation,” warned Mr. Lundberg.

Instead: For a more discussion-friendly space, Mr. Eckstrom prescribes a blend of softer materials like drapery, carpet, tapestries or a tablecloth “that help absorb echoes and promote conversation.” Mr. Lundberg goes further, endorsing the idea of covering walls with fabric or draping it from the ceiling. Many textiles come in “large formats and can often be installed seamlessly,” he said.

5. Failures of Scale

In a dining room, ill-fitting furniture is more than an eyesore—it can result in stubbed toes and dry-cleaning bills. “If you’ve placed a giant table in a small room,” said Ms. Jory, “your guests will invariably be wearing the soup as you squeeze behind them with the gazpacho.”

Even the size of a carpet can throw a wrench in the roast. “Rugs that are too small pinch the overall vignette,” said Jessica Lynn Williams, founder of Hendley & Co, in Newburgh, N.Y., who adds you should never force your guests to scooch their chairs awkwardly over the edge of a too-tiny rug.

Instead: An occupied chair should ideally have 3 feet of space behind it for proper circulation and flow, said Meg Lavalette, founder of Lava Interiors in New York City. And carpets should accommodate sliding chairs—without giving them any lip. Laura W. Jenkins, an interior designer in Atlanta, says that when it comes to light fixtures and rugs, she prefers to err on the side of a little too big.


Designers recall meal-spoiling decorating gaffes

“Once I saw a light fixture that hung so low and so close to the edges of the table that even the older kids in that family complained about bonking their heads against it!” —Noz Nozawa, interior designer, San Francisco

“I tried to convince [a client that] even though red was his favourite colour, it wasn’t a great choice for a dining space and that we could bring it in through other avenues—décor, rugs, wallpaper. We ended up not taking him on because he couldn’t get past the red for the dining room, but it was so bad.” —Shaolin Low, interior designer, Honolulu

“I was once seated in a dining room with a table that was too small. The chairs were covered in Fortuny, but not even the chicest choice of fabric could keep my knees from bumping against the person who was sitting next to me.” —Michelle Nussbaumer, interior designer, Dallas


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realise
By SUMATHI REDDY 24/05/2024
Wasting Too Much Time on Your Phone? Tips to Regain Control—and Feel Better
By RAE WITTE 23/05/2024
Scarlett Johansson Rebukes OpenAI Over ‘Eerily Similar’ ChatGPT Voice
Anger Does a Lot More Damage to Your Body Than You Realise

We all get mad now and then. But too much anger can cause problems.

Fri, May 24, 2024 3 min

Anger is bad for your health in more ways than you think.

Getting angry doesn’t just hurt our mental health , it’s also damaging to our hearts, brains and gastrointestinal systems, according to doctors and recent research. Of course, it’s a normal emotion that everyone feels—few of us stay serene when a driver cuts us off or a boss makes us stay late. But getting mad too often or for too long can cause problems.

There are ways to keep your anger from doing too much damage. Techniques like meditation can help, as can learning to express your anger in healthier ways.

One recent study looked at anger’s effects on the heart. It found that anger can raise the risk of heart attacks because it impairs the functioning of blood vessels, according to a May study in the Journal of the American Heart Association .

Researchers examined the impact of three different emotions on the heart: anger, anxiety and sadness. One participant group did a task that made them angry, another did a task that made them anxious, while a third did an exercise designed to induce sadness.

The scientists then tested the functioning of the blood vessels in each participant, using a blood pressure cuff to squeeze and release the blood flow in the arm. Those in the angry group had worse blood flow than those in the others; their blood vessels didn’t dilate as much.

“We speculate over time if you’re getting these chronic insults to your arteries because you get angry a lot, that will leave you at risk for having heart disease ,” says Dr. Daichi Shimbo, a professor of medicine at Columbia University and lead author of the study.

Your gastrointestinal system

Doctors are also gaining a better understanding of how anger affects your GI system.

When someone becomes angry, the body produces numerous proteins and hormones that increase inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can raise your risk of many diseases.

The body’s sympathetic nervous system—or “fight or flight” system—is also activated, which shunts blood away from the gut to major muscles, says Stephen Lupe, director of behavioural medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s department of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition. This slows down movement in the GI tract, which can lead to problems like constipation.

In addition, the space in between cells in the lining of the intestines opens up, which allows more food and waste to go in those gaps, creating more inflammation that can fuel symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating or constipation.

Your brain

Anger can harm our cognitive functioning, says Joyce Tam, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. It involves the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex, the front area of our brain that can affect attention, cognitive control and our ability to regulate emotions.

Anger can trigger the body to release stress hormones into the bloodstream. High levels of stress hormones can damage nerve cells in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, says Tam.

Damage in the prefrontal cortex can affect decision-making, attention and executive function, she adds.

The hippocampus, meanwhile, is the main part of the brain used in memory. So when neurons are damaged, that can disrupt the ability to learn and retain information, says Tam.

What you can do about it

First, figure out if you’re angry too much or too often. There’s no hard and fast rule. But you may have cause for concern if you’re angry for more days than not, or for large portions of the day, says Antonia Seligowski, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who studies the brain-heart connection.

Getting mad briefly is different than experiencing chronic anger, she says.

“If you have an angry conversation every now and again or you get upset every now and again, that’s within the normal human experience,” she says. “When a negative emotion is prolonged, when you’re really having a lot more of it and maybe more intensely, that’s where it’s bad for your health.”

Try mental-health exercises. Her group is looking at whether mental-health treatments, like certain types of talk therapy or breathing exercises, may also be able to improve some of the physical problems caused by anger.

Other doctors recommend anger-management strategies. Hypnosis, meditation and mindfulness can help, says the Cleveland Clinic’s Lupe. So too can changing the way you respond to anger.

Slow down your reactions. Try to notice how you feel and slow down your response, and then learn to express it. You also want to make sure you’re not suppressing the feeling, as that can backfire and exacerbate the emotion.

Instead of yelling at a family member when you’re angry or slamming something down, say, “I am angry because X, Y and Z, and therefore I don’t feel like eating with you or I need a hug or support,” suggests Lupe.

“Slow the process down,” he says.


This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

Related Stories
Young Australians cut back on essentials while Baby Boomers spend freely
By Bronwyn Allen 24/05/2024
The fast-approaching ‘silver tsunami’ set to hit the Australian economy
By Bronwyn Allen 23/05/2024
Boost for World Economy as U.S., Eurozone Accelerate in Tandem
By JOSHUA KIRBY 25/05/2024
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop