Go for the tried and true: a weathered wood table. A secondhand wood table with a farmhouse or industrial heritage has already passed the test of time. Any scratches and nicks in the tabletop surface have mellowed into design details becoming features to admire. If you accidentally add a few more to it it won't matter. For this reason these tables are great for families with children – you never have to worry about whether your brood is unwittingly or even intentionally marking the table. The damage if minor will only become part of the beauty of the piece. That said it's worth protecting your table with a hard wax polish which should be applied about twice a year.
Massive paper lantern. Suspended over the table like a full moon the paper lantern is on a grand scale making this dining space so impressive. And while an authentic Noguchi paper lantern is stunning there are paper lanterns available at all prices and in all sizes.
Rice paper lantern and kids' art wall. Easy affordable rice paper pendant lights come in a wide range of sizes and create a lovely glow when lit. A wall with casually taped‐up children's artwork and simple white walls and chairs add up to a welcoming space where creativity can shine.
Problem‐solve with a versatile shape. Ovals are the new oblongs. Similar to a rectangular dining table the oval dining table is elongated to work in a narrow room but visually seems to occupy less space because of its rounded corners. Oval tables also have the benefits of a round table in that they provide a cozy and intimate setting but can usually seat more people.
Swing‐arm sconce. A swing‐arm sconce designed to extend over the table (like the one shown here) is an unexpected alternative to the traditional chandelier and can work even for renters if you choose a plug‐in version. Because the bulb is exposed you'll need to use a lower‐watt filament bulb to create that lovely soft glow. But because one low‐watt bulb is not enough to light a room on its own it is necessary to supplement with additional lighting – try a second sconce or a pair of lamps atop a credenza.
Statement chandelier and flowering branches. A gorgeous statement‐making chandelier like the hot‐pink one shown here plus tall vases of flowering branches creates a subtle separation between spaces – perfect for an open‐plan home.
Different chairs same color. Sort of like the trend in bridesmaids' dresses to have the ladies pick their own dresses as long as they are in the same hue mixing and matching chair shapes is easy when you match the color. It does help to choose chairs in the same general style (modern traditional) to keep them feeling like a set.
Wood is tops but don't discount glass. The advantage of a glass‐top dining table is that it works well with many decor themes. And because it has a reflective surface it is an excellent choice for a space that might need to look a little lighter and brighter. Glass dining tables are tough too. Today's versions are made with tempered safety glass which means the glass resists scratches and heat and won't shatter if knocked. You can also choose glass that is tinted in a range of different colors even black. Another benefit of a glass table is that you can surround it with versatile seating arrangements from mismatched dining chairs to multicolored options.
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