While it's a nice problem to have, a redundant dining room can feel like wasted space in any home. Here's designer Sarah Ward with 7 ways to bring yours back to life.

Even if you're lucky enough to have one, the dining room can be a difficult space to get right.  Here’s Sarah Ward with 7 easy ways to revalitise yours and even make it into a well-trodden family space.

1. Set the mood with the right colour

Colour can change the mood of a space. According to some psychologists, red, for example, stimulates the flow of blood around the body and even gets the gastric juices flowing (notice how often you see it used in restaurants).

Bring a red-based hue into your dining room's colour scheme. But, as too much can be overpowering, limit your red to just one or two elements of the room: an inset wall for example or even just the artwork.

If red is too strong for you, choose another warming colour instead. The Dulux Colour of the Year, Cherished Gold with its earthy depth, is always a good bet for a dining room.   

Gold-coloured home.

2. Buy good quality furniture

Dining table and chairs are the mainstay of your dining room so consider them an investment. Buy furniture that will last and that you will be happy using for years to come.

The Curve Table

The Curve Table (shown above) is designed by Sarah Ward.

3. Keep it to scale

Size matters when it comes to the dining table. Ensure that it is scaled appropriately to the dimensions of the room and that diners can all sit and eat comfortably.

Keep furniture to scale in the dining room.

4. Inject drama with pendant lighting

For a decorative burst, you just can’t beat a large pendant light over the dining table. It looks beautiful by day and of course, comes alive when switched on in the evening. The good news with lighting is, there's a broad range of styles on the market to suit every taste and budget.

Pendant lighting.

5. Soften hard surfaces with fabrics

Unlike bedrooms and sitting rooms, dining room furniture tends to carry a lot of hard surfaces, so counterbalance these with soft furnishings. Try pairing contemporary ‘swags’ with a blind (as shown below) to soften the room and improve acoustics.

A rug under the table helps to ‘pull’ the dining area together. But make sure it is big enough for all chairs to be pulled out fully while still staying comfortably within its footprint.

Soften hard surfaces with 'swags' and blinds.

6. ‘Dress’ your table for the occasion

Placemats, coasters, chinaware and cutlery all serve practical purposes, but they are also game-changers when it comes to creating a look and mood in your dining room. What’s more, they can be easily changed when you fancy something different.

The Matbox by Sarah Ward.

The Matbox (shown above) is designed by Sarah Ward.

7. Make the room more versatile

If the dining room can be used for purposes other than eating and drinking, you’re likely to spend more time there. Create a cosy nook with a pair of small armchairs or a window seat where you can take a good book or store the board games for the children.  

Flexible space.

Sarah Ward is an award-winning interior designer and runs Sarah Ward Associates, based in William Morris Way, London, SW6.

Sarah Ward.

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