I always say that we travel through different windows in our life, often passing through the opening so quickly that we don't realize how the time has evaporated. My husband and I went through a few windows during out "downsize" period. It's the time when you find yourselves wondering through a large cavernous home with more rooms and furniture than you need. So you sit back and identify the next step, hmmm - this is a different experience because you don't have to be concerned with school zones, work commutes or who gets which bedroom. Just focus on your needs and wants.
The first "downsize" came fairly soon after our youngest started college. We thought we had found the perfect home. It was a lovely home, less rooms then we currently owned, open floor plan and a beautiful setting. It was a contemporary farmhouse on a large lot overlooking the river and rolling meadows. Lots of natural light and custom features, everything and more (this being the key word) that you could ask for in an empty nester's home. Needless to say, after a few years in this beautiful home, we realized that we really had not "downsized".
Second time around for the "downsize". Ok, let's be realistic about the needs and wants. Less is definitely more... we begin to think about what we wanted in the next home and most importantly how we wanted to live. One of the things that was important to us was to still be able to seat up to eight people for a meal. Yes, this is an odd expectation for empty nesters. We had a few challenges; our home had sold in such a timely manner (thank you Sandy and Angela) that we were not really prepared to custom build, unless we did the two move thing and this was not an option for me. Therefore, we were frantically searching for smaller and roomy. Oxymoron, I know but that is what we wanted.
We overcame the dining room and seating issue by choosing a home with a large open plan. This enable us to use the family room space as our dining area. Remember it is your home, use the space that works for you. Next came the furniture, selecting a long table was essential for the space. What I did after that was to create a concept, more so than a space.
I decided it would be fun and interesting to let each family member choose their own chair. I also offered my guidance with some "up cycling" if needed. To my pleasure, everyone embraced this assignment with much thought and determination. Each person selected their chair and pre-approved any changes to be made with paint or fabric. The results of this project have been endlessly rewarding for everyone.The concept works so well that other dinner guest try to identify which chair goes with which family member. My remnant of joy is that I live in a home in which the furniture is more than function and decorum, it is family.
Here are a few tips when looking for a dining table and chairs. Please note I sometimes reference a table and chairs as a dining set, however a table and chairs can be purchased independent of one another. Do not get concerned with matching a table and chairs. What you should want mostly is for the table and chair to compliment each other. Remember, furniture can be up cycled, painted or re-upholstered to suit your desires and needs.
Identify - Find the shape and size table that best fits your room and needs. Do you want a table that has leafs? What type of leaf would work with your room? Butterfly leaf is nice because it is stored in the table, drop leafs are a great way to drastically increase or decrease a table size. Do you want a standard table height or a bar height? What type of legs, pedestal or base do you want on the table? Remember these decisions will influence the type of chairs you will need.
Create - A dining set represents more than functionally. They are a part of the meal and the people involved. Create a concept of who you are when selecting dining room furniture. Look at your daily life, your closet - yes your closet. The clothes in your closet are a prime example of you. If you are relaxed and casual, you will be very uncomfortable with a formal dining set. You will need to create a way to make the dining set less formal and more you.
Invite - Invite ideas and thoughts of those in your life. They are most likely the ones sitting at the table with you. Jot down their comments and make notes of how to visually interpret. Take a deep breath and let the creativity flow.
Enjoy - The most important factor for any dining experience is to enjoy. This is achieved through comfort, energy and visually pleasing aesthetics,