Dining Room Home Staging

How to Stage a Dining Room

Dining rooms are for entertaining and family celebrations and might not be used very often. But buyers are picky about dining rooms and want one that is spacious and can accommodate gatherings even if they are only used a few times a year. It is easy to go overboard in staging a dining room, but we prefer to keep our staging on the simple side.

Task 1. Assess the color palette

From a color standpoint, the dining room is fairly straight- forward. Most of the furnishings consist of casegoods, that is, tables, chairs, hutches or sideboards. We still begin with the basics, however, and basics means paint and no wallpaper.

  • Many times the dining room and living room are connected so their paint colors will have to match. Other times, you can treat the wall color in a dining room separately. Our favorite dining room paint colors are North Hampton Beige (Benjamin Moore's AC-38) if we want to match the living room, and Hollingsworth Green (HC-141) if we want a bit of drama and to create a definite separation. An eggshell finish for paint creates a lively sheen, but not too much.
  • Both of these colors impart a richness to the walls and allow mouldings to really stand out. Dining rooms often have elaborate mouldings - crown mouldings and chair rails are typical. Painting these a semi-gloss white against either of the two paint colors specified above will draw attention to these architectural features in the room.

2. Furniture and its placement

What defines a room as the dining room more than anything else? The answer is a dining table and chairs.

  • The dining table needs to be centered under a chandelier. Most homes have the chandelier centered in the room so it is obvious where the table goes. If it is anywhere other than the center of the room, then homebuyers will have a difficult time picturing their table and chairs in the room. It is one of those cases where there isn't any room to be creative or different.
  • We try and keep the number of chairs at the table to just 4 (6 if the room is very large. Push the chairs completely in and under the table. People must be able to walk all the way around the table comfortably without touching any furniture or walls.
  • A large dining room can take an additional piece of furniture such as a sideboard or china cabinet - but no more than that. Over-stuffing a dining room with extra chairs in the corners or additional storage pieces just indicates that there isn't enough room in the dining room for everything you want to put in it -- and a big red flag to potential buyers. Keep it open and free-flowing and a little "under furnished".

Task 3. Lighten up

Every dining room needs a chandelier. A chandelier defines the room and its function, in this case, sitting down to eat. There are plenty of rules of thumb for selecting the size and height of a chandelier which we will list below. Also keep in mind that the style of the chandelier should coordinate with the style of the home, whether formal or informal.

  • A new chandelier might be a good place to make a strategic update to your home. Manufacturers are getting really good at putting a lot of style into popularly-priced (meaning inexpensive) light fixtures. An updated chandelier will give the dining room afresh look for a lot less than it would cost to purchase new furniture, so it might be worth the investment.
  • Make sure all the light bulbs in the fixture work and are the maximum wattage allowed for the fixture. This will keep the room bright even on cloudy days.
  • A good tip for deciding what size a chandelier should be for the size of the room is to take the size of the room lengthwise and widthwise (for example 13 feet by 16 feet) add these two numbers together (29) and look for a chandelier that is about 29 inches in diameter. You never want a too small chandelier in a dining room - it reads "too small dining room".
  • The bottom of the chandelier should be between 33 and 35 inches above the top of the table.
  • You should try and have one more source of light in the dining room such as sconces, can lighting or even accessory lamps to brighten dark corners.

Task 4. Flooring assessment

You can't really hide carpeting or flooring in the dining room that is in poor condition. There's just no where to hide. Wall-to-wall carpeting needs to be spotless and show no signs of traffic pattern wear. Hardwood floors should be clean and shiny, a task we tackled in Step 2. Clean, Organize and Declutter. Fill in any scratches and make any necessary repairs to the hard surface flooring so that there is nothing for thenew owner to do. Whether or not you wish to place an area rug under the table on top of the hard surface flooring depends onwhether the room is "cold" and "echoes" without it. If you decide to use an area rug for this purpose, keep it very simple.A plain color area rug, in a neutral shade such as brown or darkbeige, will serve to warm up the room and absorb sound. Keep the rug at least 9 to 12 inches from the baseboards so that the lovely hard-surfaced flooring shows around the perimeter of the room.

Task 5. Accessories

Decluttering a dining room is a lot of work, so we will not fill it up again.

  • We almost never put a tablecloth on the table. It is too distracting and hard to keep wrinkle free. Just keep a polished shine on the tabletop and reflect all that beautiful light in the gorgeous finish of the table.
  • If you've made a good choice with the chandelier, then a centerpiece on the table is not necessary. Because we like to have a plant or other fresh greenery in every room, we do like to put few simple flower stems in a vase on the table if we have not used a green plant elsewhere in the room.
  • A sideboard should have a few simple accessories on it. We have used decorative lamps (which also add light), a cluster of three candlesticks, a green leafy plant in a simple decorative planter, a pedestal stand with mints, and a grouping of decorative bowls. Keep your good silver and crystal packed away for your new home, the above listed accessories are merely to keep the sideboard top from looking too bare.
  • The china cabinet should be decluttered and display only dinner plates along the plate rail in the back. The plates can be a solid accent color or some of your good china, but they should all be the same.

Task 6. Windows

Overly elaborate dining room draperies and window treatments block the view and shut off natural light. If possible, keep window treatments in the dining room to the bare minimum: simple side panels that soften the corners and edges of the windows. Because the rest of the room is monochromatic with its neutral walls and floors, you can choose a panels with some color to add texture and interest. We have used sage green panels, persimmon panels and slate blue with much success.

Now that you have finished staging the dining room, you can move on to another area of the house for more home staging strategies. Check back to our main staging page to select another room to begin staging.

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