If you truly want to eat, drink, and be merry this holiday season—or any time of year for that matter—it’s time to reevaluate some dining room ideas. The place where you entertain guests or have a nice meal should be more than a table surrounded by chairs. “This is where we come together as a family, where we spend time with friends, where we break bread regularly, and, during holidays, where we share stories and experiences and ideas,” says Gideon Mendelson, founder and creative director at the New York–based Mendelson Group. “What better spot than the dining room to have a well-designed and inspiring environment?” In fact, this corner of the house is a true extension of your living space or a quarter with a personality of its own. Whatever the setup, the good news is that updating the dining room doesn’t have to involve a complete renovation. Here, design pros share nine tips on how to achieve an instant face-lift that will keep you entertaining year-around.

Bring the outdoors inside

Designer Janette Mallory embraces holiday dining with seasonal foliage.

Photo: Janette Mallory Interiors

Given all the time you likely spend in the dining room during the holiday season, it’s worth making it look unforgettable, says Janette Mallory, founder and principal designer of Janette Mallory Interiors in Santa Monica. “I love using natural organic elements that create a layered look for my holiday tablescapes,” she says. “Not only does this underscore the beauty of nature at this time of the year, but they perfectly frame and bring life to the food that you will be serving.” Depending on where you live, you can probably forage for evergreens and holy branches with crimson berries right in your backyard. Otherwise, the local flower market or grocery store, like Trader Joe’s, will likely carry seasonal foliage. Mallory’s top picks? Beautiful leaves, wood sprigs, and pine cones. As Mallory highlights, organic items also mix well with traditional holiday decorations, or you can incorporate them to coordinate flawlessly with silver, dishware, and table linens.

Design around natural light

“We also weren’t afraid to go bold with color,” Mendelson says, pointing out that the various shades of orange zip around the otherwise neutral breakfast space.

Photo: Eric Piasecki/OTTO

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