With wide walls, special overhead lighting, and unblocked floor space that allows guests to get close to view the piece, a dining area is similar to an art gallery. Though it is an ideal place to hang art, paintings, collectible prints, or photographs that spark conversation, you'll want to avoid anything with gory or provocative subject matter. And because you share this room with friends and guests, it is best to keep personal family snapshots out of this space as well.
Mirrors are perfect decorative pieces to hang on the walls in a dining room. They add sparkle and shine to an already special place. They reflect the faces of the guests at the table, making for a festive atmosphere. And they brighten the room by amplifying the light from windows, the chandelier, and candles. Hanging above the buffet, one large mirror (or a group of smaller ones clustered together) creates a natural focal point.
Wallpaper is an elegant surface covering and will bring style to a dining room when used in its traditional manner. But it can be used for decorative effect on the dining room walls, as well. By using molding strips to frame small sections of a special paper, such as one with an iridescent finish or with a bold, colorful pattern, you essentially create an eye-catching canvas. Wall decals work similarly by putting small, but impacting amounts of color and pattern on the wall.
For wall decor that highlights the entire dining space, consider using paint as a special effect. Splash one wall with a bright accent hue. Install a chair rail and paint a pale shade above and a darker shade below. Or, play with texture, painting the walls with alternating stripes of matte flat paint and shimmery opalescent paint. Because it is used for festive reasons, the dining area is a place where you can play with bolder color than you may want for the rest of your house. Some suggestions? Color experts say that reds whet appetites, greens are associated with good health, and yellows cast a cheerful mood in a room.
Whether they are heirloom plates or colorful import-store finds, china is an obvious collectible to show off on the walls of your dining room. But any collectible can create an interesting display, including old restaurant signage, framed vintage silver utensils, shapely art glass pitchers sitting on brackets, or even a collection of taxidermy. The arrangement of these items is open to your creativity. You can hang pieces individually, or in groups in rows, circles, or random freeform patterns. Plate rail molding around the perimeter of the room provides a ready-made stage for revolving displays of platters and plates. And if you don't want the permanence of adding trim work, picture ledges work just as well.