• Marie Bateson

Dining Drama

I'll be the first to admit it - I'm rather terrible at throwing dinner parties. My cooking is sub-standard and I never seem to get the timing right which means I spend a lot of time enormously stressed out. I much prefer a BBQ on the terrace or a 'BYO Brunch' sort of deal. In fact, my favourite part of the dinner party is sobremesa - that lovely Spanish custom of sitting around the table for ages after the meal has ended just chatting.

Fortunately, dinner parties aren't so popular here in Spain. Eating out is relatively cheap and there's a relaxed approach of just 'pay for what you ate' rather than the old splitting the bill drama when you effectively end up subsidising the jerk who ordered the surf and turf when you just had a salad. When it comes to social gatherings, people tend to eat at restaurants more than at one another's homes. Yet another reason why I love Spain!

However, given this stupid COVID-19 drama, dinner parties may become more popular here. And while I'd be delighted to be invited to them, I'm a little daunted by the idea of having to throw them. I think my sneaky tactic will be to create a lovely spot in which to dine, thus hopefully distracting guests from the subpar quality of my food.

The dining room is another room in the house that I hope to be able to go a little more dramatic with. If we're going to be entertaining at home more, then I want my guests to feel like they're still getting a special occasion - most of them are paying for babysitters, after all. Something a bit more luxe and glam than the more 'lived-in' areas of my house ought to do it.

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I love the large scale art and the two opulent chandeliers here. The curve of that table support is rather gorgeous, and the shape of the chairs is a perfect complement to it. However.... cream coloured chairs would be a nightmare, especially with kids in the house. My son currently likes to use his chair as a napkin and these poor beauties would undoubtedly succumb to the same fate.

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It's funny - I thought I would love this vibrant look as a substitute for cream chairs, but despite adoring that particular shade of blue, this whole thing together screams "board meeting" rather than "dinner party". The chandelier's lovely, the art is fine, the hyacinths are a unique centrepiece (although their incredible scent would likely overwhelm the mouthwatering smells coming from my kitchen... why yes, that is frozen pizza I'm serving!), the circular setting is very social... but something is off. I think it might be the spindly chair legs and the fact that there's too many of them. I think 6-8 is the perfect size for a dinner party - more than that and everyone is broken off into separate conversations.

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I LOVE that arched entry to this little dining room. I even love the pop of pink on the seat cushions and carpet. But that tassle-y chandelier is annoying and four seats is far too small for a dinner party. This is more of a cozy little 'cup of tea while your kids colour' sort of nook.

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So this is none other than Brooklyn Decker and Andy Roddick's dining room. I love that the chairs manage to be both rugged and fun. The table is a lovely solid one with sensible legs that you're not going to whack your knees on but it also has that gorgeous design on the surface. The floral centrepiece is pretty and unobtrusive - you can still see the face of the person sitting opposite you! And I do have a fondness for Moravian stars after a couple of years of living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In fact, I can't find one single thing I don't like about it... oh wait, yes I can! I actually think it could do with an accent wall in a dark colour. If that whole wall behind the "High on Hope" painting was a matte black, I think that would glam up the overall look and make it more suited for evening dinner parties. Other than that, the only thing I would change would be to swap out their dog for ours.

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