Eating ‘out’ is not a choice right now but eating ‘in’ doesn’t have to be boring! Here are a few tips of how to make your eating ‘in’ experience feel more like eating ‘out’ at your favorite restaurant or bistro.

 

A good way to start would be to choose a theme for your ‘at home’ restaurant experience. Years ago I ran a cooking club with some friends and we would get a pin and stick it into a map of the world and wherever it landed would be the focus of our evening. You may not want to get this elaborate but to choose a cooking style like Italian or Chinese can be a good starting place to plan your event around. First look online and gather recipes and ideas for appetizers, main courses and desserts from the country or region of your choice. Begin the evening with some drinks indigenous to that country and a little music. However, if this is all a little daunting you then you could consult your local take away instead…its the thought that counts!

 

Probably the most important part of your ‘at home’ restaurant is your dining space. It seems that during the Pandemic many of us have learned that dining at home can be fun, rewarding and easier on our pockets!  So it may be worth investing a little in your dining furniture. A bar table with stools would be a nice place to kick the evening off with cocktails, and they could be used outside on the patio on a summer’s evening too… same goes for little bistro tables that would give a fun Parisian feel. If you are stuck for space a table with folding leaves would be a great idea, this could also function as a console in a hallway or behind the sofa when not in use.  A sturdy family style dining table can double up as a workspace for kids when the ‘restaurant’ is closed, and extending tables will give more room when we are allowed to welcome guests once more. Using benches for the sides of the tables and padded chairs for the ends is a super space saving and stylish way to go. Mixing and matching dining chair styles and fabrics can give a wonderfully eclectic look… and if you are the kind of people who like to linger over a long meal into the small hours than cantilevered chairs are a must… they are sooo comfortable.

 

Pick a table that suits your style. Glass tops will give the room a feeling of airiness, wood will add warmth and texture, while tables with a man made finishes can come in exciting colours and could be more durable for multi purpose uses… add all that to contemporary, mid-century-modern and traditional styles and the choices become endless. The other components of the room are also important. A sideboard is a useful addition as it can store your tableware and silverware and acts as an extra surface when the food is served. In fact you could even place all the dishes you have created on the sideboard and let the family serve themselves buffet style…a little less formal and easier on the host!

 

Don’t forget that the decor that sets the ambiance too. Hard flooring is on trend and comes in many styles and textures and is a good idea where food is to be served. It is durable and easy to clean and can be softened with beautiful rugs and runners… or you may want to stick with traditional carpet which adds colour and comfort. Use floor standing and table top lamps to create intimacy instead of the ceiling light which can be harsh and unflattering. Candles give an air of magic and romance. A small bunch of flowers is a simple addition that adds to that restaurant feel. Pictures and paintings will give the room personality. Cushions not only give colour and texture but they can make a less comfortable chair comfortable. Don’t overlook window treatments, they will lend colour and excitement to the room and when drawn will create privacy and warmth. Music is all important to setting the scene and it is well worth spending a little time before your event considering what to play.

 

Oh! Lastly, don’t forget to dress for the occasion, as this is probably one of the things we miss the most about going out to dinner with our friends and family!

 

We hope you have fun designing your dining-in experience!

 

Bon appetite