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Dressing the table for your family

By Wangeci Kanyeki | July 7th 2016

While setting up the table recently, my four-year-old daughter, who had all along been observing what I was doing, curiously asked: “Are we having visitors, mum?”

It dawned on me that I need to be making special centerpieces not just for visitors but especially for the family. The space where you eat is likely to be the focal point for communal activities such as holding conversations, doing homework, playing board games.

The space should be comfortable enough to encourage relaxed interaction and aimed at helping family members to linger long after the food is finished. No one wants to linger in a dingy, poorly lit, cluttered place with hard cold chairs that beg one to exit as quickly as possible.

Like a restaurant, dining room colours should be warm and leaning towards reds and orange yellows, which are said to visually stimulate appetite. Pictorials can include food art and photography. Health pictorials like a vase with an accessory of fruits will subconsciously inspire the viewers to eat healthy while pictorials for fast foods like pizza and chocolate cakes may trigger unhealthy eating.

Usually near the kitchen and the living room, the eating room should have a smooth transition in style, mood and tempo from the dining area to its neighbour, says interior designer Terence Conran.

Here are a few ideas to help you dress the table for the family rather than for the visitors.

Drinkable centerpiece

A quick way to make family members want to linger longer at the eating table is to add unexpected fun and colour with a tray full of drinkables.

In this cold weather, that can include a flask with hot water and mugs for a quick serve of tea, coffee or drinking chocolate.

Arrange the accessories in unexpected fun and colour and put miniature mandazis or biscuits or nuts in a jar for easy snacking for an early morning breakfast. Alternatively, you can place water in a jug with pleasantly arranged coloured glasses to encourage family members to hydrated.

Table cloth

Invest in a good tablecloth that is attractive and practical and wipeable to accommodate unexpected spills, pencil sharpener peels when children are doing homework and handle splashes from a messy art and craft paint job.

The table cloth also protects the table top from scratches, so have several options in a variety of colour, shape and texture material for a kaleidoscope quick alteration to appearance.

To keep the table cloth in place, place a bunch of fresh flowers for the enjoyment of your family or use a line of similar coloured candles to create a runner effect or a round tray to cluster different height candles, but use the same colour for a minimalist look.

With its multiple uses, the eating room can be transformed into a space where a family shares time together and where lingering memories are made.

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