Helpful Tips for Buying Dining Room Furniture

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Your dining room is the welcoming center of your home, a place where you share your hospitality with friends and loved ones, and a gathering spot for those nearest and dearest to you. Choosing dining room furniture begins with an understanding of the functions you want your room to perform, as well as a determination of the style you'd like your room's design to reflect. While certain simple styles are at home in most d├ęcor, other styles are better suited to dining rooms that reflect specific styles, like Victorian or Tuscan.

Once you've determined which style you'd like to feature, you can start making furniture selections that will bring your design choices to life.

At the heart of the dining room is the table, offering a place for food, games and even more mundane tasks, like paying bills or doing other paperwork. The key is to choose the table that can suit your needs and reflect your unique sense of style.

For a traditional dining room, the Queen Anne Expandable Table offers a single leaf extension that allows you to seat more people for big family gatherings. Pair it with Versatility Side Chairs for a more casual accent, or Rita Espresso Side Chairs for a more upscale, metropolitan feel.

For small dining rooms, a round table is a good choice, taking up less space than a square-cornered table to allow for unhindered movement. The Riviera Round Table meets the needs of smaller spaces stylishly, with its uniquely curved legs and dual-tone finishes. Combined with comfortable padded seating, you'll have a dining area that doubles as a pleasant conversation nook, as well. Choose the Microfiber parson Side Chairs for comfort and a surface that is easy to keep clean.

Of course, not all families make full use of a formal dining room on a regular basis. In those cases, combining the dining function with another function makes sense. One of the most common alternative uses for the dining room space is as a home office. Most dining rooms can be designed and furnished to allow the space to be easily converted form home office to dining space, and furniture choices can aid in the transformation.

The Spring Extendable Dining Table is a good choice for dining spaces doing double duty as a home office. A hidden mechanism lets this table easily convert from a small, four-person table to an extended eight-person table, freeing up space for other work as well as providing a more casual dining area for families or couples.

The Aristo Two-Door Buffet is another great piece for double use. Offering two solid doors, this server can store more than extra dishes; it's a great place to stow files, office supplies, and even small electronics.

When using your dining room as a home office, be sure to select chairs that will be comfortable for long periods of sitting. If you prefer the look of wooden dining room chairs, consider adding an occasional chair that can also do double duty as a work chair. The Sloping Bi-cast Leather Chair is an ideal choice, and its slim lines and neutral design mean you can combine a pair with traditional wooden chairs for a cosmopolitan flair.

If your dining room is large enough, consider adding a bar-height table and stools for a convenient place for snacks, breakfast or just a place to relax with a cup of coffee. A bar-height table and stools, like the Nova White 3-Piece Counter Height Dining Set, is also a great place for kids to do their homework, or for an impromptu craft activity.

Having an extra set of stools on hand means you can change the look of your dining room easily. For a Victorian flair, consider the Clifton Extension Leg Adjustable Height Stool. The scrollwork back combines with a softly padded seat to offer style and comfort. Combine it with the Gabriella Pub table to complete the Victorian theme. Or go retro or mod, with the Tabouret 30-Inch metal Barstools or the height adjustable Modern Barstool, offered in silver or black.

Another bar-height option with a warmer feel is the Newport Black/Cherry Pub Table. Once again, combined with different styles of stools, this table can lend itself to a wide variety of dining room styles, from Mission to country to loft-style. The York Faux-Leather Nailhead Swivel Barstool, in either cherry or espresso work well with the dual-tone finish of the pub table, or add a splash of color with the Sonata Square Bar Stool or the Igloo Swivel Microfiber Barstool.

Your dining room can serve more than delicious food; by choosing the rights types of furniture, it can also serve as home office space, a spot for kids to do schoolwork, and a relaxing spot to sip a cup of tea and work on the Sunday crossword puzzle, quickly becoming the welcoming heart of your home.

Karen Zabel is a freelance writer who writes about dining room furniture.

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