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Easy Dining Room Makeover

A dining room can be such a fantastic place to entertain, but it can easily be underused if you often eat in the kitchen or in front of the telly instead. Here are a few hints to make it a more special place to spend time?

1) Adding a table cloth and a vase (a pint glass or milkbottle will do for that 'shabby chic' look that is very in at the moment) full of flowers (pick wild ones from your garden/balcony or pick a small bunch of something simple like freesias and gypsophila at your local florist/supermarket) adds instant homely atmosphere to a dining room.

2) Light some candles and turn down the lights to add mood. This doesn't have to be romantic (although it certainly is!) ? it is equally relaxing and a lovely way to end a stressful day at work.

3) Create instant new chairs by covering your existing ones with a pretty disguise. All you need is a couple of old sheets and some ribbon. I would recommend batch-dyeing sheets with Dylon Machine Dye (really easy, just follow the instructions on the packet) to a colour that coordinates with your curtains and carpet, then cutting each sheet in half. Your local haberdashers/John Lewis will stock ribbon ? I'd choose quite wide ribbon in a similar colour, or another colour in your scheme, eg brown ribbon on cream sheets, or gold ribbon on burgundy sheets for a lovely warm look. You'll need about 1 ? 1 ½ metres per chair, depending on the width of the back of the chair. Drape the half-sheet over the chair lengthways, so that the seat and the back are covered, and tie the ribbon around the back of the chair above the seat, so that the fabric on the back of the chair is taut and secure. Tie a knot or a bow at the back, and, hey presto, 'new' dining room chairs!

4) Antique tablecloths and dresses can be cut up to make colourful napkins ? simply cut into squares and hem or overlock the edges to make unique napkins you'll never see anywhere else.

Start making supper time a special time that you spend together as a couple or family ? a place where you have the chance to talk and share the day's successes and disappointments without the distractions of the television, or even the washing-up (at least not until afterwards!). Enjoy!

Emma Cooper Tarry is the founder and owner of I-Candi Designs (http://www.i-candi.co.uk or by calling +44 (0)1227 860886 or emailing emma@i-candi-designs.co.uk.

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