Inspiration 29 December 2015

Furniture to dine for

Out with the old and in with the new

So it's farewell to the old kitchen table, which was the very first thing we bought when we got married over twenty years ago.

We've dismantled the shed in the garden so our little pine table (which had latterly been used to plant up seedlings and store garden tools) is now nothing more than a scratching post for the cat!

Dining tables play a really important part in the home, bringing us together for very ordinary and also very special occasions. They're where we eat our meals together, share wine with friends, celebrate birthdays with family, help children with their homework. A dining table can hold a heap of memories. And in this blue-screen world of ours, it's also a really good piece of furniture to sit round and talk.

We've owned quite a few tables over the years - each of our three houses has had a different type of dining area, so we've had to mix and match. Fashions change quite quickly too. 

We owned a huge (and looking back, rather ugly) recycled pine table when we lived in Manchester, but we were lucky enough to have a dedicated dining room. In our last house, the dining area was quite cramped and our new oblong table felt like it had been designed especially for little people to bang their heads on!

I swopped it for a circular one, this time a 1950's G-Plan table with an extendable leaf in the middle. It was in perfect condition until my youngest decided to help with the dusting and took off half the french polish! But that's part of the table's story. And part of its charm.

The mid-century look is very on-trend at the moment and it's easy to see why - the bent wood detail of these teak chairs and their sumptuous gold velvet seats would add rich, warm tones to any room.

Nowadays, dining rooms tend to be less defined and living spaces are more open-plan and multi-functional. The kitchen (traditionally just used for cooking) is now very much a communal area, often incorporating a dining table, a television and/or computer, somewhere to do homework and sofas for lounging. In every sense, today's kitchen really is the heart of the home.

I've been photographing some new dining furniture for Arighi Bianchi and have been struck by the range of styles and designs available. There are some especially beautiful dining chairs in a variety of fabrics and finishes, like this one from the Carte Blanche Dining Range.

With seats made of lilac velvet, this range has just the right amount of Parisian-style decadence.

It's also nice and neat, so you don't need an enormous space to accommodate it.

The Santa Maria Dining Range includes a solid wood bench (a lovely, informal way to dine) and two complimentary chair designs, with seats made of fabric and rice rush.

Chairs are available wth seats made of fabric or rice rush.

The Maestro is a beast of a table. I love the contrast between the black glass and these yellow Latino Low Chairs with fabric covers. A real statement in any dining room or kitchen diner.

For contemporary dining, nothing beats a bit of leather and steel and these handsome boys (sorry, but some pieces of furniture just have a very definite gender!) combine comfort with class.

The Apollo Dining Chair.

Available in black or tan.

But if you're looking for something with a little more colour...

The Planet Dining Table and Jam Dining Chairs (below) wouldn't look out of place on the Starship Enterprise! I just love the retro feel of the circular glass table, and the contrasting red and black of the chairs. The mirror-like surface of the table base would allow you to have some fun with lighting too, as anything overhead would be reflected back.

Everything shown here available to buy in store or online.