In any home, the dining area is particularly important. Depending on the size of one's abode, it can be a separate, dedicated room or an open-plan area integrated in the kitchen. Wall décor is often used to achieve a certain atmosphere in these spaces, but it also raises questions with regards to colours, patterns, structures, materials and characteristics of suitable wallpapers. The style aspect should not be underestimated as it is what determines the ambience of the dining area. This guide contains everything you need to know about wallpapers for dining areas and the selection criteria for choosing just the right model for your home.
The dining room - a space for joyful conviviality
Let's start by looking back at how dining areas were integrated into living quarters. Historically, separate dining rooms were the domain of well-heeled citizens and aristocrats; unlike kitchen dining areas, they were seen as representative spaces.
During the construction boom after WWII, dining rooms became more mainstream and many families preferred them to eating in the kitchen. Most family households just had a small kitchen, usually not more than a few square meters in size. However, at least twice as much space was dedicated to the dining room. To keep the distance between cooker and table to a minimum, the dining room would be adjacent to the kitchen.
In the 21st century, open-plan kitchens with a generously sized eating area are considered the quintessence of modernity, but separate dining rooms are still popular when it comes to cosy get-togethers with family, friends and acquaintances over delicious meals or for special occasions.
Symbolically, the dining room is the place where family life takes place, where everybody congregates for the evening meal, even if they don't see much of each other during the day. There is eating, drinking, laughter, it's where friends are entertained and where fun-filled game nights take place around the table.
Atmosphere, ambience and cosiness are all elements that make the dining room what it should be: a representative, comfortable space for guests and a meeting place where family ties are strengthened. Wallpapers have a significant role to play when it comes to achieving these very varied goals.
Dining room colour schemes and their psychological effects
Colours have a special impact on moods and behaviours and as such are utilised in wall design. When it comes to choosing wallpaper colours, it is important to consider the desired effect.
Red is a stimulating colour which has an effect on one's appetite. But red can also create a sense of restlessness when a large family with a number of children settles around the dining table. Especially spirited children might find it difficult to quietly sit and eat when surrounded by too much red.
Yellow and orange are considered warm, energising colours and increase the appetite, too, which is why they are often recommended as the right shades for dining rooms. Blue and violet are calming, cooler colours which can mentally curb a large appetite.
The colour green is a classic harmony-creator, balancing and triggering positive thoughts. Green represents nature, freshness, spring. And as many know from experience, food tastes even better al fresco, in other words: the positive associations connected to this hue might well have an appetite-increasing effect. Grey is less popular in dining areas as it doesn't exactly have an appetising impact when it comes to food. Brown shades remind us of chocolate, coffee, cappuccino, and caramel, thus creating an appetising but also very elegant atmosphere.
White is a neutral tone and as such isn't conducive to a comfortable ambience or a convivial vibe when used on its own and in its purest form. It is generally associated with sterile surroundings and clinical hygiene - characteristics more befitting of a kitchen than the dining area. In moderation, black is an option for the more sophisticated dining area, but it is worth considering that the room shouldn't feel too dark as a result as this will create a more of a gloomy and sombre air than a happy and gregarious feel.
Patterns and structures in dining areas - what works, what doesn't?
The simply answer is: on the one hand, it depends on the interior design style as well as the room layout (separate dining room. integrated dining area in the kitchen), on the other hand on the desired associations with the topics of food, enjoyment, conviviality, and community.
Floral and ornamental patterns, stripes, dots, romantic or exotic wallpaper designs, wallpapers with patterns taken straight from nature like tree trunks, branches, ferns, tropical vegetation and colourful birds can all do justice to a great variety of requirements and ideas. Some geometric patterns with flowing, smooth shapes or playfully nostalgic patterns are just as suitable as designs reminiscent of specific art epochs, for instance Expressionism, Surrealism, Avant-garde or Art Deco. “In your face” patterns which are too distracting or challenge the eye too much are less suitable. Psychedelic geometric patterns are challenging the beholder and thus should be used in room where the focus is either on inspiration or relaxation. The chosen wallpaper patterns should always emphasise and enhance both the purpose and the interior design style of a space.
For the wall décor in dining rooms which are clearly separated from the kitchen, your style choices are completely independent. You can choose a design that fits your taste, e.g. country style, colonial style, or how about the funky 70s retro style? Perhaps you lean towards the opulence of the baroque era, embellished with a modern touch, or maybe you prefer a more natural, purist look? If you long for foreign shores and exotic lands, why not transform your dining room into a tropical lagoon landscape? Or are you a fan of the cool industrial chic with its raw charm?
Whatever your preferences when it comes to the design of the perfect dining room for family enjoyment and entertaining, you can find just the right wallpaper to realise your favourite concept. Feel free to let your imagination roam at will when combining patterned wallpapers, or just decorate a central feature wall with an unusual style, making it the centre of attention.
If a dining area containing a table and chairs, sofa, benches and armchairs is part of an open-plan kitchen landscape, a single wall with a wallpaper featuring specific colours, patterns and structures which tie in with other design elements in the room can create a subtle optical border.
Tactile structures that appeal to the eye can really bring a dining area or dining room into its own. A special surface structure or an unusual material are often sufficient to create the desired effect. Exclusive leather, textile, natural fibre or metal wallpapers can lend a certain vibrancy and “je ne sais quoi” to a space without overdoing it. However, it is important to remember that there are some requirements that the characteristics of the wallpaper has to meet. Dining room wallpapers are subject to potential food stains, etc., so washable wallpapers with less delicate surfaces - e.g. non-woven or vinyl varieties - are better suited. Smokers will enjoy their new wallpaper for longer if it is highly light-resistant. Find out more about the reasons for this in our guide blog Smokers and Wallpapers.
Washability - a Must for dining room wallpapers?
Whether a wallpaper needs to be washable or scrub-resistant depends on the type of potential contamination and if the air humidity in the room in question might increase due to steam - as is often the case in open-plan kitchens.
Washable and scrub-resistant wallpapers in various classifications are available in vinyl or non-woven varieties. The special surface coating makes it possible to clean them with a damp cloth and specific cleaning products. This means that many food or drink stains that can occur in dining areas can easily be wiped off with a damp cloth or a soft brush.
Wallpapers with high levels of washability or scrub-resistance are also recommended for households with children where little dirty hands may leave marks on the walls or where babies enjoy throwing their food as much as they like eating it. They are also extremely useful in open-plan kitchens where a lot of steam develops as they won't end up peeling off the walls.