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Curating a dining room that’s right for you

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

“The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table”

Every time I read this quote, it reminds me of a dining space that is warm, inviting, and intimate. It does not matter whether it is a stand-alone space or an open concept, in the end, it is a destination for everyone to have a good time with family and friends and indulge in everything from entertaining to cooking delicious meals, to enjoying lively conversations.

Pulling together a beautiful dining space that truly reflects your style but is still practical is an art form and not many of us succeed at. Luckily for us, we had the privilege of talking to Sujatha Giri (@sujatha.giri) who makes creating aesthetic yet functional spaces look effortless.

Sujatha started her career as a marketing professional selling hotel rooms and conference packages and while she excelled at it, there was a constant yearning to follow a dream. That dream became a reality when she opened her home décor store in 2011. The idea of a home décor store took flight on one of her many trips abroad; she noticed a lot of Indian decor being sold and wondered if she could bring the “export” quality stuff directly to customers here in India.

She met with artisans from across India who introduced her to fabrics that were all destined for the export market; she knew she had found what she was looking for. Her store was set up to look like any home and gave her customers the chance to visualise the product in their homes too. This brought out her natural flair in visual merchandising and in choosing the right soft furnishings. The store was a success and Sujatha had many clients asking her to take on styling projects for their homes which after a few years became too much to manage. In 2017, she decided that styling homes was something she wanted to pursue. What followed was Sujatha shutting shop and obtaining a degree in interior styling from the Coco Republic Design school, Australia.

Fast forward to 2019 and Sujatha has now become a full-time stylist of interior spaces for offices and residences predominantly in Chennai. She also offers an on-phone consulting service for clients who can call in and go through styling ideas for their homes.

Sujatha’s sense of style is rather eclectic – her gorgeous home is inspired by her travels and experiences from across the world. Sujatha believes that reinventing yourself and finding new ways to evolve is paramount and in keeping in line with that, she is now leaning to a more mature design style - something she likes to call “grandma chic”.

All the images featured here have been styled and shot by Sujatha.

For the dining space, Sujatha believes it is all about scale, balance and harmony and she has a few tips for us to get started.

# Choose the right table

It all starts with choosing a table that fits and complements your space just right. When choosing a table, remember to factor in a spacing of 2.5 feet per person. ( since we’re a predominantly ‘elbows-on-the-table country’) This offers a good balance of personal space and aesthetics. Always choose a table that has the legs at the further end to provide maximum room for legs under the table. The tabletop should not be more than 3 inches thick to ensure maximum space and comfort while seated.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Lighting is an absolute essential.

The lighting you bring to this space can add tons of character and contrast. Using a pendant lighting in the dining space creates a focal point and adds a decorative design element to the room. Another option would be to go with soft focus lights; these work great too. With respect to fixtures,, there are a few simple rules.

  • For a long or rectangular table, go with oval or linear lighting

  • For a round table, go with round lighting (single or 2-3 small hanging lights at different levels)

Having one big focus light can really turn your dining space making it the highlight of your home.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Create interest using different styles of furniture

Adding different textures to your dining furniture can create a rather interesting dining space. For example, choosing a table that has a mix of chairs and a single upholstered/wooden bench can work great for a young family. For a slightly older family, a simple yet comfortable seating with easy-to-pull dining chairs work well.

Golden rule: Pick something that works for your family first and not because you like the design or have seen it on social media.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Mix and match furnishings

Your dining space needs to be calm, muted and not too loud while staying in sync with the rest of your home. You can achieve this look by mixing and matching your soft furnishings so long as you stick to a harmonious colour palette . The idea is to ensure that all the elements work with each other seamlessly.

For your chairs, you can go with dark colours but if you want to stick with a lighter shade then Sujatha recommends a 2-tone approach; lighter on the outside but a more practical colour on the inside, so that spills are more manageable.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Decorate your walls

A nice painting brings to life an otherwise functional space; it exudes character, tells a story and ties in all the elements in your dining space. It goes without saying that you should pick out a piece of art that reflects your personality – anything from a travel experience to an abstract piece of art adds that pop of colour and texture to your dining room. Another feature that adds a lot of character to a room is a statement mirror. Pick out a mirror with a bold frame or otherwise eye-catching and try to place it so that it frames whatever it reflects, such as a window, a piece of art, or an interesting bit of architecture.

If you have the luxury of a large dining space, you could have additional furniture such as a sideboard with table lamps, vases, or a nice floral arrangement.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Accessorise your table

Final touches in the form of accessories always completes the ensemble so to speak. Dress your table with either a tablecloth or a runner with placemats as it adds a sense of aesthetic to the space and protects your table from spills or damages. A few tips:

  • Go with bright coloured table linen or pastels in summer,

  • In winter, go with darker colours, smaller prints or repetitive prints to make the table look more harmonious.

Another must-have is a statement centerpiece – this could be a nice vase with fresh flowers, interesting seasonal décor such as diyas for Diwali, a pumpkin for the fall season or something neutral during summer like fresh fruit or a tea station.

Sujatha recommends that you start with a neutral base and layer it as you work your way up – you could mix and match your plates with the soft furnishings or other pieces of decor on the table.

Remember, keep it simple – an overdone table with too many décor pieces will make the space look cluttered.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

# Opt for comfort

The dining space is the heart of your home and is usually where you end up spending a lot of time. It's where you enjoy delicious meals and enjoy quality time as a family, so it's important to keep the space warm, personal, and comfortable. You can add layers of comfort by reusing or repurposing special pieces - whether it’s an old photograph, an antique vase, or even a reupholstered chair.

Pic Courtesy: Sujatha

As a parting note – remember, it is important to have a dining space that makes you feel at ease, only then can you extend that feeling to your guests.



Deepthi Velkur (@deepthi9844) is a Bangalore based freelance digital content writer, and mom to a busy 10-year old. Her writing credits include health and fitness magazines, running stories and wedding planning articles. While redecorating her apartment she fell in love with home styling and now marries her love for home decor with writing.


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