Artwork selection / Dining room / Wall art / Wall treatments

3 steps to make your dining room sparkle for company this holiday season

Even though it’s only November and we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet, one of the top “things to do” in London last week was to visit the opening nights for the Christmas lighting and the German-style “Christkindlmarkt”. So I guess it’s a good time to start preparing our homes for the party and big meal season. Let’s get inspired and update the wall decoration in the dining room, since that is a space that is well-used during the holidays.

I’m, of course, not referring to Christmas decorations, but to color and artwork that will continue to grace your dining room for years to come. We’ll assume that you already have dining room furniture that you’re happy with and will just work on wall finish and artwork selection. Whether you are still settling into your home and need that little push to get the dining room done, or just want to renew the atmosphere, these elements can make a huge impact.

Step 1. Decide on the scope of the project and commit to it.

Think about how much time, energy and budget you have for your decorating project. Talk about it with the whole family. Be realistic – you don’t want to create too much stress in the holiday season. If it’s too much to do now, make it a New Year’s resolution. You could do part of it now, and part after the holidays.

You can just purchase and hang a new piece of art or you can paint or wallpaper too, matching both the wall treatment and the artwork to your furnishings. Maybe the piece of art will be an early Christmas or Hannukah present?

A large piece of artwork or furniture can be very impactful even without doing any more work. In the examples below, imagine the same scene with a white wall instead if this colorful artwork, whether it be the pop-art print or the large painting.

In this traditional dining room, a large china cabinet in white, filled only with white dishes, is used for good effect.

On the other hand, the artwork and wall color can really complement each other for maximum impact if you plan it well, like in the dining area below, where the light olive wall color creates just the right contrast with the large, abstract photograph.

Or the strongly colored accent wall in this beach residence that offsets the white of the framed shells and sea stars.

Step 2. Decide on a color scheme and select artwork.

Which will drive the decisions, artwork selection or wall treatment? Does the wall need to match other rooms that are in the field of view? What style and color is the furniture? Do you have a favorite color reflected in your choices of dishes, tablecloth and other tableware? Check out these basic tips for picking out paint colors, or my previous post about choosing colors for an accent wall for more information.

This funky dining room with yellow chairs uses a bookshelf that covers the whole wall as it’s principal wall decoration. The window shade matches the chairs, while the shelf is in more neutral colors, leaving all the color for the contents.

In this dramatic dining room, a spectacular hand-painted silk wall covering picks up the gold tones of the furniture and rug to create a unified look.

While in this eclectic home the mural of a beach is the dominant color accent with largely white furniture.

The bright, lime color of this accent wall is picked up in the pattern of the chair upholstery.

Shop around and pick colors and artwork that reflect your personality and the style of your home. Most paint stores have color swatches that you can take home to look at in situ, with the correct lighting and furnishings.

Make sure you measure the wall where you want to hang the artwork to know the dimensions that will best complement the decor. And if you haven’t read them yet, see my tips on having fun shopping for art.

Step 3. Purchase artwork and other materials and hire professionals if needed.

Once you have decided on the artwork, furniture, wall color and/or wallpaper, make an implementation plan. In which order do the steps of the installation have to be done? Can you do it yourself, or do you need to hire a professional for the wallpapering or painting? If you do hire a professional painter, it’s usually cheaper for them to supply the paint than you purchasing it in a store. Remember that you should plan to finish painting about a week before you have guests, since it takes about that long for the smell of the fresh paint to go away.

To close, here’s a shot of a dining room where they went all out, combining wallpaper with a dark paint color and a large painting, al coordinated with the colors of the furniture and rug.


As a seasonal post-script, here is a selections of links with holiday decorating ideas for the dining room, not just for walls:


Let me know your ideas!

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