Home for holidays: make room in the dining room

Today's dining room performs many functions. It is where families gather during the holidays. It may be an impromptu work or homework station. It's where friends gather to play cards and socialize. No matter its shape or size - whether a table for two in a studio apartment, or a table for ten set for a party - today's dining room must be versatile to keep up with our lifestyles.

As many of us will be heading to the dining room this holiday season, Chris Garcia, a design expert from IKEA www.ikea.com offers affordable design solutions and product suggestions to help you effortlessly maximize any dining space - small or large, casual or formal:

Start with the dining room icon - the table

Great dinners and great conversations start with the right table. Assess the minimum and maximum number of guests you're likely to have at the dinner table on a regular basis. Match that with the amount of space you have in the dining room. This will define your primary functional needs for a dining table.
  • BJURSTA Dining Table ($299) From everyday to holiday - this versatile table comes with two extra leaves to instantly accommodate up to eight people. The leaves also store easily under the table top when not in use.
  • NORDEN Dining Table ($79.99) This is the ideal dining table for small spaces. It's perfectly suited to dinner for one or two on a daily basis and it can function as an end table when placed against a wall.

Create an inviting space, while making a design statement

Create warmth in this special room by using complimentary textiles such as tablecloths or runners, curtains and even carpets. With hardwood floors, choose a large carpet so when guests pull out their chairs from the dining table, the legs still rest comfortably on the carpet. Also, find unique accessories to reflect your personality in this special room.
  • KALLT Multi-colored Table Runner ($4.99) This new table runner is part of an entire series that includes coordinated dish towels, pot holders, and tablecloths. With its colorful, modern, striped design, it can brighten up any table setting, and works beautifully in both casual and formal dining rooms.
  • CEREMONI Candelabra ($12.99) Turn a functional element into a playful design statement. Forgo the centerpiece with this six-armed candelabra. It's a conversation piece that can add interest to any dining table.

Pick your favorite seat

In small spaces, replace traditional stand-alone chairs with armrests with stackable chairs. If pet hair is a challenge at home, consider choosing leather, wood or metal chairs instead of fabric upholstered ones that attract pet hair more easily. Most importantly, spend time testing out dining chairs when making a purchase; comfort is key considering how much time you'll spend sitting in this room.
  • BÖRJE Dining Chair ($59.99) Padded seat provides increased comfort while the removable, machine-washable cover offers worry-free dining.

Hidden storage

When family and friends are not dining in this room, it often becomes an impromptu home office or kid's coloring station. Add products with hidden storage solutions for clutter-free living. Consider cabinets that feature both glass shelves and closed door storage – the fine china can be showcased above, and guests need not know about the office files, pencil, crayons and construction paper hidden below. For storing below, use storage boxes to hold your various supplies so you can easily convert your dining room to your home office/coloring station, etc.
  • KOMPLEMENT storage boxes (set of six, $9.99) These keep storage neat and organized, and folds flat so it saves space when not in use.

For more affordable design ideas visit Ikea's website at www.ikea.com.

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