British Colonial Style Dining Room Ideas

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Evoking the romantic and exotic feel of British Colonial style for your dining room can change the way you dine. British Colonial style is a product of Great Britain’s exploration during the reign of England’s Queen Victoria.

What Is British Colonial Style?

England’s colonization of India, West Indies, East Africa and other global destinations allowed English expatriates to combine their sophisticated British style with the local customs and craftsmanship of the exotic regions they colonized. During the Victorian Age it was fashionable to collect and acquire bamboo and wicker furniture and bring it back to England. In addition, exotic collectibles such as Chinese porcelain and rugs were also popular. During the Victorian Age, having a home full of global artifacts meant a family was not only wealthy, but it also depicted a well-traveled and sophisticated family too. Queen Victoria employed explorers and botanists to study and collect exotic plants as well as animals to bring back to Great Britain, which laid the foundation for a new period of style and design very much alive and well today.

British Colonial style includes dark mahogany woods and flooring with lighter colors for draperies and walls. In addition, British Colonial style also includes textures such as woven baskets, light linens and elegant porcelain items. Exotic green plants and flowering plants such as orchids are also British colonial style along with animal prints. These basic items combined with Victorian sophistication are what define British Colonial style.

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British Colonial Dining Room Tables & Chairs

A dining room decorated in British Colonial style includes the texture and décor of bamboo, rattan, teak, wicker, ebony and mahogany. A dining room table can have a polished or distressed look with a glass top and wooden base. Wooden tables with leaves are also exploratory items that portray a British Colonial touch. Accents of bamboo and rattan can also be part of an ebony or mahogany wooden base. In addition, chairs can have the same appearance with exotic floral patterns, shells or animal prints for upholstery. Chairs with backs to include insets of caning, rattan and bamboo are also classic British Colonial appeal. Décor for a dining room can include oriental planters and vases as well as bowls. Wood floors can be stained in a darker color to appear as if it is mahogany or ebony wood.

Other Dining Room Furniture

Including buffet and sideboards of dark woods adds to this distinguished Victorian style mixing exotic looks with the sophistication of English ideals. Adding to a British Colonial dining room appeal is using window treatments with fresh and light color hues such as pale greens, yellows and pinks. Combing these colors with light browns and white sisal rugs presents a balance with the dark wood furnishings and floors. Animal print rugs will also create an exotic appeal with dark wood furnishings and can be an exciting focal point for the dining room. Plants and exotic flowers are also a good contrast to the dark woods of a dining room table and other furniture as well as a dark wooden floor. Ferns, palms and orchids are popular plants for a British Colonial look.

Dining Room Fabrics

Cotton and linen are classic fabrics that can add to your British Colonial dining room look. Whether you use them for dining placements, napkins and tablecloths or window treatments, these fabrics evoke a tropical appearance when set against dark wooden furniture with woven accents. Creating an island appeal with a sophisticated feeling in a dining room mixes glass and crystal for table centerpieces with leafy green plants or exotic flower arrangements. Dishes can range from classic china or oriental patterns placed on woven mats with linen napkins and placements.

Dining Room Lighting

Lighting can be as sophisticated as a crystal chandelier or as simple as a plantation ceiling fan. Sconces as candleholders will accent a dining room for a British Colonial look too. With window treatments, plantation shutters, ceiling to floor light, flowing drapery or pulled back curtains with flowing sheers present an exotic dining room feel too. Keeping window treatments light, open and airy will contribute to a British Colonial dining room style. Light and pale colored walls with botanical and bird prints are also in style with the British Colonial look. Crown molding, baseboards and other wall moldings are a sophisticated look to a dining room, which includes exotic features. Painting moldings white with pale walls is also an option to lighten up a dark wood table and chairs or other furniture. In addition, wooden chairs can be combined with upholstery chairs to add more style to a dining room and lighten up dark furniture.

Finding items to create the sophisticated and exotic appeal of a British Colonial dining room can be your own exploration and discovery in stores with particular furniture lines that emulate the British Colonial style or pieced together from antique and home stores. Restoration and reupholstering will provide your own style for dark woods and exotic and animal prints. When using large prints in a dining room, try not over do them because they can be overwhelming. You don’t want to be distracted or lose your appetite because your senses are overwhelmed by your surroundings, especially if you prepared a delicious meal.

Last Updated: January 5, 2012
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About Sabina Dana Plasse Sabina Dana Plasse holds a bachelor's degree in history from Bucknell University, a master's in liberal arts from Johns Hopkins University and a master's in film and video from American University. She is an award-winning writer and editor living in Sun Valley, Idaho. Besides writing on fine arts, lifestyle, home and garden, entertainment, philanthropy and business, she enjoys teaching film and writing screenplays. Sabina has served as the arts and events editor and living writer for the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, a twice weekly national award-winning newspaper serving Idaho's Wood River Valley. Sabina adores mountain town living where she is an active snowboarding, skier, mountain biker, hiker, supporter of the arts and an avid seeker of practical living ideas.  

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