December 2021

Photo on Unsplash

By Tiffany Edison

The idea of “open concept” living spaces, once the most desired floor plan amongst the majority of Western families looking to relocate or remodel, appears to be going by the wayside. I’m not sure if we can attribute this trend to the pandemic, however; many of those whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with in my design practice the past few years appear to be craving more “separate” spaces in general.

There was a wonderful book written by Sarah Susanka a few years back titled The Not So Big House, in which she describes a space known as the “Away Room.” In a nutshell, what she describes is the need for each family member to have a space of their own — one that’s not necessarily their bedroom. It’s the idea that having a designated area of one’s own, such as a reading nook in the living room, offers family members the peace of mind they so rightly deserve. These spaces don’t need to be large. However, the call for dens, libraries, and meditation rooms can be unrealistic for some due to space and budget restraints.   

The phenomenon I’m currently witnessing (and loving, by the way) is what I call the “return” of the dining room. That space that was so casually cast aside to make way for a massive kitchen fully equipped with a flat-screen TV and seating for the entire neighborhood is making a come- back! It seems that many families appear to be regretting their decision to knock down walls and actually want to have a room set aside for entertaining, whether it’s for Sunday family dinner or hosting friends in the neighborhood. Dining rooms are the perfect place to laugh, talk, and solidify our most important relationships — without distraction. Nowadays, it often doubles as a quiet place away from the rest of the house.  

As an avid collector of antique china, it would be an understatement to say that I love dining rooms. I seriously do love decorating and entertaining in this wonderful space. Part of the allure of hosting Thanksgiving dinner is breaking bread with those we hold dearest, and if you’re lucky enough to have a dining room, I highly recommend hanging on to it.  

Due to the fact that most people don’t use their dining room on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that it’s often clutter-free and immediately offers a calming influence. It’s also the perfect place to push the boundaries in decorating. I encourage my clients to show their unique style, whether it be the choice of a bold wall color or opting for the formality of a fine chinoiserie wallcovering. Why not go all-out and paint the ceiling with bronze metallic paint, perfect for reflecting the light of a passed-down crystal chandelier or a simple dinner by candlelight? It truly is your time to shine. The idea is to create a spark when guests enter for the first time and leave them wondering what’s on the proverbial menu.

The table is the focal point of every dining room, of course. How you “dress” the table is what distinguishes a nice meal from an unforgettable experience. It really is that simple. If you have a dining table that you’re just dying to show off, then by all means go ahead and leave it uncovered. Opt for fine placemats versus a cloth. This also holds true if you don’t own an attractive dining table; simply cover it up with a beautiful tablecloth. You need not break the bank for this, as a fresh floral centerpiece and carefully placed tea light candles can do wonders.  

Keep in mind that the reason for gathering is the meal itself, and that décor is just the cherry on top. Bon appétit!


Tiffany Edison has been an interior designer since 2002 and specializes in both
residential and commercial projects.  She holds a Master of Social Work degree
(ACSW) and utilizes interpersonal relationship skills on a daily basis with her client
base, largely comprised of Ann Arbor, and Metro Detroit residents.  She has a
wonderfully large blended family residing in the city and enjoys the comforts of home.
When she’s not fully immersed in client projects, you can find her active on the golf
course, a favorite pastime.