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Bringing back the class: Dining with elegance

By Leah A. Zeldes, Tribune Brand Publishing

Modern Dining Room Formal dining rooms have fallen out of fashion, and many people are forgoing the classic dining-room set of table, chairs, sideboard and breakfront in order to put that space between kitchen and living room to other purposes. Yet nothing gives cachet to a dinner party like an elegant dining room.

Back in the Victorian era, no fashionable hostess would be without an opulently decorated dining room, one of the most important rooms in her home. Dinner was an important meal even just for the family, and everyone dressed up for it. The London Social Mirror of the period dictated that the best dining rooms "should be furnished with a view to convenience, richness, and comfort."

That remains true today. If you like to entertain in style, a formal dining room becomes the perfect backdrop. Hearken back to the elegance of earlier eras with beautiful furnishings in a room where friends and family can share meals with grace.

Dining Room Sideboard Edith Orlansky, a designer for Baer's, a collection of fine furniture stores with 15 locations throughout Florida, offers tips for creating a stylish and sophisticated dining room.

"You might obtain an elegant atmosphere through the correct combination of furniture, accessories and color," she says. Whether your style is contemporary, transitional or traditional, you can create an elegant dining room.

"Once you decide which is the style you are inclined to," Orlansky says, "and the color palette that inspires you, the selection of the different items becomes easier."

Central to the room, of course, is the dining table and chairs. A table with leaves can open up to serve a crowd or be closed to serve a more intimate occasion.

"Remember that we usually associate our elegant set with tall-back chairs," Orlansky says, so choose dining chairs with high backs.

A sideboard is essential. In Victorian times, it was the focal point of a dining room. You might also want to have a breakfront or hutch to store and display tableware, dishes and serving pieces.

Tropical Dining Room A beautiful chandelier, a couple of candle holders, a floral arrangement and exquisite flatware all combine to give you that classy look," Orlansky says.

Choose a nice color for your walls, she says, and add texture in the form of wall covering, paneling or molding. Marbleizing or other faux finishes add interest. Wainscoting, friezes and murals are other options. Hang beautiful pictures and perhaps add a piece of three-dimensional artwork, such as a statuette.

"A good picture, a piece of artwork, a curio, a grandfather clock are different options you might have in mind to enhance the ambiance," Orlansky says.

Try to leave plenty of space for circulation around the furniture and ornaments, she says.

Now all you have to do is invite interesting guests and create a delicious menu.

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