The dining table can play one of the most important roles in a home. An emotive piece of furniture, it brings everyone together – we do life around the table! A family place for eating and catching up on the day, sharing a tipple with friends or doing homework, your dining table is an important purchase and will become a staple of your home. Finding the right model is paramount – after all, this table must be able to withstand the demands of everyday life and still look fantastic. The leading lady of furniture is often attributed to the sofa but, in an age where many homes bring living and dining into the same area, the dining table takes centre stage. Place it at the heart of your home to encourage a space for community, devoid of screens and distractions other than old fashioned good company.
Finding the right vintage dining table for your home
This is a chance to have real fun choosing which style to go for. Are you drawn to weathered farmhouse tables or prefer something sculptural and postmodern? Elegant antiques or classic mid century brands such as Ercol and G Plan? The scope for creativity when bringing vintage references into the home can seem daunting. What can further paralyse the decision process is the enormous array of options. Simplified, the table you go for should tick these boxes.
Does the table seat enough people? Tick.
If you live in a more compact space, consider whether an extending table might serve your needs better. The more the merrier – but only when you need it. Leading vintage brands G Plan and McIntosh both have beautiful round extending tables and of course the Ercol drop leaf table deserves a mention.
Will it physically fit into your home? Tick.
This is self-explanatory! Make sure the table fits when getting it through the front door and into the desired room. Once in situ, is there room to move around it easily?
Does it bring you joy to look at and use? Major tick.
It really is that simple. Practical details aside, notice which styles of table spark your inspiration and don’t be afraid if this looks different to what you expected. The heart doesn’t lie.
Embrace imperfections found in vintage dining furniture
Something else key to think about is how you are planning to use your table. Will kids be crafting on it? Gathering friends around for a cosy dinner party? Furniture facilitates how we navigate a home and embracing the imperfections found in vintage allows its story to become a part of your own, generating enormous character. Opt for an antique or vintage dining table that doesn’t require any tiptoeing around it, but becomes a central bustling presence in your home.
The eclectic aesthetic goes hand in hand with vintage furniture. After all, an eclectic interior is a celebration of character with a dose of witty panache. Vintage dining furniture – weathered as it is and testament to the merry spirit of after dinner cocktails past – adds a welcome dash of warmth. The American, funnily enough, who popularised the soft yet maximalist British country house look was Nancy Lancaster. Of eclectic decorating, this iconic ‘taste-maker’ warmly opined that a ‘gentle mixture of furniture expresses life and continuity, but it must be a delicious mixture that flows and mixes well. A bit like mixing a salad!’. She warned in particular against ‘slavishly sticking to one period’ and that charm would abound from nostalgic touches. So as for those weathered Bentwood bistro chairs you’ve been eyeing up? Go for it.
Pairing your dining table with vintage chairs
We believe that some of the most beautiful homes are those which embrace the British love of eclecticism. Does that translate into a jumble of just about anything? Yes and no. Without a vision or direction, the design can begin to veer towards the chaotic. When skilfully done, intentional mismatching of design styles can be spectacular, creating a unique yet cohesive space.
So, how to achieve this? First of all, don’t abide by whatever the latest trends dictate. Cassie Nicholas, winning designer of BBC’s Interior Design Masters and champion of vintage design, encourages people to discover and express their style without feeling tied down by trends. ‘I never really think about the rules or breaking them either. I focus more on just doing what feels right for each space.’ Fortunately taste is entirely subjective, so if you see a table or chairs that makes your heart skip a beat, then trust that instinct and the pleasure that will come from enjoying these pieces in your home. Practice makes perfect: the more you mix and match, the more confident you will feel doing so!
Our next tip is to experiment by pairing different textures, forms and tones. Is there already a wooden floor and table? Look for vintage chairs with a frame made from another material, such as brass or chrome, to break up the space. Is the table round? Why not pair it with a set of more angular chair frames to create an interesting contrast of linearity. One dictum it is worth obeying is tonal matching. If the colour temperature of one piece is ‘warm’, try to match that with any accompanying furniture. Mismatched tones can be very jarring to the eye! By contrast, complementary tones (see the example below) will look coherent even when represented across forms that visually are very contrasting.
Three inspiring examples of eclectic vintage dining rooms
This vintage inspired dining room makes a strong case for mismatched decorating. Eclectic soulmates, the sculptural chair frames sit in perfect contrast to the traditional wooden table. Not only the chair contours but the materials contribute to the success of this space. Soft pink upholstery and metallic detailing add texture and interest to the simple wooden table.
What jumps out from the dining room below is the pleasing linear contrast between the angular base of the table and the sweeping contours of the round mid century chairs. Note that the same tonal warmth has been matched across the wooden chairs and table. This helps to create an eclectic interior which plays on variety, yet remains cohesive and visually pleasing.
This jungle wallpaper definitely indicates a lover of eclecticism! Leather seating references a pleasing natural texture which sits happily next to the dynamic wooden table surface. Similarly to the first look, the brassy chair frames break up the wooden floor from the table. We also love the angular square frames which echo the strong contours of the table.
Title image: jessicabrigham.com
If you’re feeling inspired, begin your search here for the dream vintage dining table and chairs.
Title image: mydomaine.com