Every room in our house needs to meet some simple criteria: to be a space that’ll be used every day and to add value to the way we live as a family. I’m not a fan of dining rooms that are never used because everyone eats dinner on the couch - or having a huge table to cater for the occasional dinner party we might host. I question if, in general, we put too much focus on creating spaces to host or impress others, rather than spaces that ultimately serve our unique requirements as the full-time occupants of our own home! So our brief for our dining room is all about what we want as a family, not how to fit in eight people for a dinner party that might only happen every few months at best. What we wanted from our dining room was a place for the family (including toddlers) to eat meals together, a place for Caleb and I to work and a relaxing adult space that won’t constantly be covered in toys and small hand marks! This has lead us to a final design that we love, for so many reasons.
The seat nook is the focus of our dining room design. From a styling point of view, it’s the statement piece - an unexpected addition that’s a combo of strong colours and inviting textures. But the seat nook isn’t just about style. It’s allowed the dining room to make an impact without encroaching on the rest of the living space. With this layout the dining space is around 5.5m2 within a shared living space of 23.5m2. Without the seat nook we would have used around 8.5m2 for the dining room. The seat nook didn’t just save floor space but added 3.2m³ of storage underneath the seat.
We made the seat nook 60cm high (including swab) despite the standard height of a dining chair being 45cm. We wanted the seat nook to be a place our children could sit with us - and where we could have a tea and read a book without kids climbing all over us! It’s now the place in our house where we gravitate. Caleb and I often sit nestled into those feather cushions and chat over drinks. It certainly has added value to how we live.
The floating white shelves are our answer to having a small hallway without the space for a table. While I cannot help but cover the shelves with décor (I am a stylist after all) these shelves could be used to hold a book collection, stationary, kids toys or crafts. We used an old beam we removed from our last renovation and had a builder create the shelves. It took him around seven hours to complete. While Caleb was keen to stain the wood, I went with white so the shelves wouldn’t compete visually with the seat nook.
For me, the most important element of design is colour and I didn’t hold back with the dining room. We have used Black Reef by Dulux New Zealand on a feature wall before and I knew it would work perfectly in this space (it helped I had 2L in the paint shed too!) Black Reef works well with mustard and once I saw some velvet mustard material, I knew it was perfect for the seat nook. I created the swab myself and with the leftover material I had cushions custom-made to match. And while those two colours are my favourites in this design - it’s the combination of all the colours, including the contrasting white on the walls and chairs, the soft natural colour of the wooden floors and table, and the greenery of the palm tree - that make it all work together.
I recently learnt (which means watched a Netflix documentary) about the idea that interior design needs to feel as good as it looks. That’s what I love most about this dining space - it’s the texture and feel of the room. The softness and organic feel of the Nood jute rug and the luscious velvet cushioning of the seat nook make the space comfortable. The glass detail of the pendants gives the space mood and ambiance, and the palm tree makes it feel relaxed. It’s a space that suits a romantic dinner or a full blown craft activity with toddlers. So while I do apologise for that tight squeeze when I have six guests for dinner, I am glad for a dining room that suits our family and how we live.
As usual we have a summary of all the costs and design details listed below. It’s important to note that tradesman breakdowns are not exact. It’s an estimated split from overall work on the house. All prices include GST.
Cost + Supplier Overview
Floating Shelves Labour and Materials $560
Electrician by Pro-Spec Electrical $ 1,140
Custom Made Swab and Cushions Material and Custom Cut Foam from Guthrie Bowron | Cushions custom made by friend $440
Flooring by Active Floor Sanding $220
Building Work (including plasterer) by So Renovate $3,800
Lighting Amber – ESSENTIALS pendants from Mr Ralph $756
Total Cost: $7,916
Colour Scheme | Wall and Ceiling Mt Aspiring by by Dulux New Zealand | Trims and Windows Okarito by Dulux New Zealand | Feature Colour Black Reef by Dulux New Zealand all from Guthrie Bowron