by Nina Makofsky
For most people, the days are gone where you reserve the dining room table for special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner. The dining table once stayed in a room of its own, closed off from the rest of the house. These days, the dining table serves as an essential focal point in many homes, particularly those with open floor plans that afford views of the dining area from the living room, kitchen or entryway. Keep your look fresh and sophisticated by decorating your dining room table with functional and stylish pieces.
Clean your dining room table. Use cleaning solution that works best for the finish on your dining table or, in most cases, a rag dipped in warm water and gentle soap suffices. Remember to get the tight corners underneath the dining room table as well as any extra leaves. The legs and the base of the legs that touches the floor may also need cleaning.
Begin with functional pieces. If you are decorating your dining room table and intend to use it, you need essentials such as table linens and tableware before settling on a centerpiece and other accessories. A table runner has a clean, modern look which looks perfect when topped off with square plates. A tablecloth in floral or stripes has country charm and is perfectly accented with traditional china. Get funky with a bright colored tablecloth and layer it with a table runner in a contrasting color, and then have fun with dishes, mixing and matching styles, colors and patterns.
Create a focal point for the dining room table. The tried and true centerpiece for any style of dining table decoration remains flowers. For a formal look, try a bouquet of long-stemmed roses in a porcelain vase. For a playful alternative, try a bold tropical blossom in a tall glass vase or, for a lower profile, a painted ceramic bowl holding floating blossoms. Paper, cloth or silk flowers provide an interesting twist on a classic design.
Get creative. You could abandon those flowers for something raw and rustic, like an imported wooden or metal dish holding nothing or lined with river stones. A glass bowl filled with lemons and limes adds a burst of color. A sleek black tray gets simple contrast with a scattering of white rocks or shells. Candles or lanterns can add mood lighting to your dining room table while serving as centerpieces. Try a row of tea lights down the center of the table or a glass lantern illuminated by a single white tapered candle.
Keep dining room table decorations seasonal by incorporating what is currently blooming in your yard into the centerpiece.
Make sure that centerpieces and decorations don't interfere with eye contact.