Though the dining room seems like a simple space to decorate (hello chairs + a table) I can attest that there’s much more that occurs than what meets the eye. Everything from lighting to art selection must be carefully curated in order to ensure a well-designed space (there isn’t much worse than terrible lighting when you’re trying to have a romantic meal). Thankfully, Kishani Perera has agreed to divulge some of her dining room design secrets, and we are all ears.

SMP: Your favourite dining room you’ve ever designed?

KP: A stunningly elegant dining room in Bel Air that was the epitome of decadence.  We wanted to create a Deco chic space with color, clean lines and a bit of sparkle. We started with a gorgeous Chinese Deco rug that that was filled with oranges, plums and teals. We then pulled the electric teal out of the rug and upholstered the dining chairs in a silk velvet. The mix of furniture and lighting was both vintage, custom and new, and the overall affect was simply breathtaking! It was colorful, vintage glam.

SMP: Any tips for designing a dining room on a small budget?

KP: Mix it up, don’t buy sets! One thing I enjoy doing in dining rooms is combing vintage chairs with a new table, or vice versa. Keeps it interesting, less expected and budget friendly.  You’d be surprised how affordable a quality wood table can be on craigslist.

SMP: How do you choose art for a dining room?

KP: It really depends on the vibe of the room, but as a general rule I don’t select things that are very busy. They can be graphic, bold or colorful, but I tend to stay away from pieces that are chaotic in feeling. This goes back to trying to create an inviting atmosphere for dining.

SMP: Fact or fiction: lighting is imperative when it comes to designing a dining room?

KP: um, yes, yes and more YES!

dining-room

1. Lighting is very important. Invest in a unique, eye catching piece light fixture for the dining room. It really becomes such a focal point it’s a worthwhile splurge. So many people get stuck with tacky chandeliers that come with the house – but it’s such an easy thing to swap out. And side note: dimmers are key! There’s nothing less conducive to a relaxing, conversation spurring meal than harsh bright lights. You want your guests to unwind, indulge and enjoy in both the company and food, and lighting plays a very important role in this mindset.

2. Your table does not need to match your chairs. In fact, it’s much more interesting when you have an eclectic mix – so don’t feel pressure to buy the entire “set.” Take your time and look for interesting pieces.

3. Make sure your seating is comfortable! Whether you add a simple cushion to a wood chair, or a fully upholstered one, a supportive chair makes for happy guests! Clearly I love toss cushions, so this is just another place I get to use them.

4. Storage and service areas are often overlooked in dining rooms. No matter how limited the space, I include a small piece to keep barware, and serveware close at hand. It’s also really nice to have a bar cart or cocktail area.

5. Table top designs are one of the most important areas to plan out in your dining rooms. My design philosophy of mixing and matching styles and pieces translates to how I combine table top pieces as well. For example, comingling vintage glassware with antique flatware, alongside new plates creates an interesting, tablescape that looks collected rather than quickly pulled together.

Interior Design: Kishani Perera  | Kishani’s Book: Vintage Remix | Photography: Jean Randazzo & Troy House