The North River Collection from Martha Stewart Furniture mixes different wood tones for a contemporary, eclectic feel. Photo: Copyright © Martha Stewart Living
The Katonah Collection from Martha Stewart Furniture with Bernhardt incorporates the Byram Ringback dining bench that is a nod to classic American style. Photo: Copyright © Martha Stewart Living
Top 3 Features of Casual Dining Furniture
Look for these common features in contemporary, laid-back dining sets:
- Unique finishes and fabrics
Keeping it Casual
Choose the perfect set of furniture for everyday dining.
- by Monica Young
The family table is back in vogue. And as more people opt for eating in, the casual dining space is becoming the focal point of many homes. “There's a style shift when it comes to dining room furniture," says Donnie Lesley of Lane Furniture Industries in Tupelo, Miss. "People have grown up with furniture that is very ‘mind-your-manners’ in the dining room. Now that's changing."
What is casual dining? It invokes a relaxed feeling, a place where khakis and blue jeans are more at home than a suit and tie. Casual dining is for active families who are too busy to polish silver and wash linen napkins for an evening meal.
Casual dining furniture reflects this attitude. Bill Aultman, owner of home furnishings company Tritter Feefer, says casual dining sets offer simple, clean lines and unique, non-traditional finishes.
Casual Is the New Traditional
Casual dining at home doesn't mean doing away with mealtime rituals. Rather, it's a 21st century take on family dining—family togetherness without the pageantry. And modern families will find many furniture options to complement this contemporary, casual approach.
There are several features that make casual dining sets stand out from their more formal counterparts:
- Customizable: Customization is inherent in creating the right feel for a casual dining space. Gone is the cookie-cutter mahogany approach to dining rooms. “Casual dining furniture means flexibility," says Aultman. "You can dress down a table with benches, or dress it up with upholstered slipper chairs or unique European side chairs.”
- Finishes and Fabrics: Lighter finishes and elements from nature are other ways to incorporate a more casual theme into the dining room. Botanical prints in fabric or wall coverings can bring the outside into the dining room.
- Multifunctional: Lesley suggests you choose pieces with an eye on how much usable life the furniture will have once it has served its original purpose. “In the back of the your mind, you should be thinking: ‘After we move out of this house, can we still use this piece of furniture?’" he says.
Keep these features in mind as you shop for your casual dining set, and you're sure to have a family dining area you'll love for years.