Dining Room Decorating: From Everyday to Holiday

The dining room gets more use during the holidays than it does the whole rest of the year. See how a few updates can make the space feel appropriately dressed for Thanksgiving guests.
By: Jennifer Berno DeCleene

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

Photo By: Photography by Sarah Dorio

All Dressed Up

Baton Rouge, La., homeowner Lisa Davis Gilly has perfected the transformation from everyday to holiday in her lovely dining room.

Before: Everyday Dining Room

Just about every night, this dining room serves as the family's gathering spot for comfort food and catch-up time. When the holiday season gets under way, Lisa fancies up the space with some choice moves.

After: All Dressed Up

With a few key upgrades, Lisa's dining room is all dolled up and ready to impress her holiday guests.

Bookshelf Showcase

Normally lots of books and baskets live on the shelves in the dining room. But when the holiday season rolls around, Lisa stashes those things in the closets behind the two mirrored doors. Then she restyles her shelves with pretty stemware, platters, and whatever serving pieces and china she hasn't used to set the table. "I also love to show off some of my favorite small paintings by local artists," she says.

Repurposed Chandelier

"I've wanted a great fixture for years but couldn't find the right one," says Lisa. She scored this piece just in time for Thanksgiving and plans to keep it around way past the holidays. It started life as a brass chandelier, but Lisa painted it Old White by Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and used clear and dark brush-on wax to give it an antique look.

The Perfect Tablecloth

Lisa dresses up her everyday table with a custom-fit linen cloth. "A great tablecloth changes the whole look of the room," says Lisa, who designs her own line of custom bedding and table linens (ldlinensanddecor.com). "A short cloth makes the table look special, but it's not too formal, the perfect feel for Thanksgiving." Lisa designed this blue-banded linen cloth to conform to the curved edges of her table. It drops to just the tops of the chair seats, so guests can scoot up without getting tangled.

Patterned Rug

A rug doesn't have to stay in the same room all the time. If you have a casual, everyday one like Lisa's chunky jute, swap it with something more decorative from another part of the house, like this more formal wool carpet.

No-Mess Candlelight

To set a cozy holiday mood, place a layer of kumquats in a small glass hurricane vase, then put a pillar candle on top and surround it with Hypericum berries. The wax will collect on top of the fruit as the candle burns down, so you won't have to scrape it off the bottom of the glass.

Flower-Arrangement Trick

It took three dozen Free Spirit roses and one bunch of leucadendron pods to fill this 7-inch-tall, 8-inch-wide copper vase. Trim stems so they're a few inches taller than the vase, then fill the container halfway with water and the snipped-off bits of stem. Insert the flowers one by one into the stem pieces, which act as a net to hold them steady.

Eclectic Place Setting

A table can look stuffy when everything matches just so. Lisa's place settings are a mix of her formal china and her everyday dinnerware, plus the simplest place cards ever: Gala apples tied with organza ribbon and gift tags. It all sits on top of a $3 braided place mat (World Market stores).

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