Bring the Charleston look to your dining room with these must-have design details.
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A Dining Room Filled With Southern Hospitality
Welcome to Tara Guérard’s dining room in her 1740s Charleston Single House. Her classic dining room is an inviting mix of old and new―seasoned with an emphasis on hospitality. “I remember being so small and being taught about manners,” says Tara, owner of Soiree, a Charleston event planning company. “I feel like everything is built on entertaining. It influences the architecture of your home and the way your interiors are designed.”
2 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Choose a Round Table
Round tables are perfect for small dining rooms, such as tight Charleston rooms. You can pull up as few or as many chairs as you need, and the number always looks just right. Tara that advises your table shouldn’t be more than 40 inches across to keep it intimate and ideal for conversation.
3 of 7Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Mix and Match Your Chairs
Combine acquired family pieces with new chairs for a collected and personal look. The fact that they don’t all match is part of the charm.
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Include a Sideboard
Tara recommends an antique Sheraton-style sideboard, a true Charleston icon, to provide you with plenty of room for storage and service. Warm wood tones and classical styling lend a traditional feel to your room, while modern accessories such as a colorful lamp or a glass vase filled with shells and branches keep the room current and fresh.
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Mix Formal and Casual China
Feel free to mix and match dinnerware, from casual everyday styles to your more traditional wedding china. Tara’s plates are Mottahedeh’s Charleston Garden, adapted from a pattern in the Aiken-Rhett House, which belonged to Tara’s husband’s great-great-grandmother. Add a modern touch to your place settings with large crisp linen napkins embellished with a graphic monogram.
Family silver is an important part of Charleston table settings and Tara says “don’t stash it away.” She advises to keep it easily accessible and ready to be used, and then to use it all the time. It doesn’t need to be saved.
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Decorate with Flowers and Candles
Arrangements of seasonal flowers not only add color to your dining room, they also set the tone for your gathering. Your centerpiece doesn’t have to be elaborate; Tara often just cuts blooms from her garden, and then uses china compotes or bowls with Oasis floral foam to create her arrangements.
“Always have lots of candles and votives on your table,” says Tara. Most Charleston homes also have a fireplace in the dining room. “It’s like a big candle,” says Tara. “It provides the warmth and ambience of an intimate setting.”
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Stock the Bar
When your guests walk through the door, whether invited or simply dropping by, Tara says the first thing is to always offer them something to drink, even if it’s sparkling water. Fill a portable bar cart with beautiful glasses, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, mixers, and cocktail napkins. You can also designate an area on a sideboard or small table for your bar.