As our winter lingers longer than hoped for, I've decided to hold a few more Sunday night dinner parties - a great way to keep in touch with friends before patio season. With more emphasis on the dining area, there are many considerations to make, and size, shape, style are all equally important. The most common decorating mistakes in dining rooms is often to do with size, proportion and comfort level. Here's a few suggestions to help:

Table shape
The best way to choose the shape of your table is to follow the shape of the space you've allocated for dining. If the space is rectangular, then choose an oval or rectangular table, if square, then a round or square table will fit best. Keep in mind that the table needs three feet of clearance on all sides to fit comfortably into the dining area. The perfect dining table is a 54-inch pedestal-based round table with a leaf extension. Round can generally fit more people -- no corner to contend with -- and the pedestal base means no legs to deal with, either.

Chair style
In order to get away from the 'matchy' look that our parents had, I suggest dining chairs that look different from the table. My favorite trick is to add modern chairs to a traditional style table or vice versa. A Parson style chair with an upholstered seat and back tend to be the most comfortable and can easily be transported as side chairs or extra seating in other rooms when needed. The lower the back of the chair the more modern the style generally is.

China cabinets
Remember that adding a large cabinet to your dining room will most likely offset the center of the room, which often results in swagging your chandelier to re-center itself over the dining table. The trend these days is to choose a long and low credenza style cabinet -- it acts as a great storage center, its top is at a respectable height for use as a server, and will not intrude in the room as a taller, bulkier traditional cabinet might.

Area rugs
I am not always a fan of placing an area rug under the dining table, it's a war zone for spills, drips and wear and tear from chair legs. The right-sized area rug is important. Make sure the rug is 18-24 inches larger on all sides of the table and the chairs must be sitting well on the rug when pushed in at the table. Consider an area rug that has a plain centre and decorative border that will frame the table and chairs nicely.

I am a big fan of matching the chandelier not to the table or chair styles but the environment. If you live in a modern condo then choose a modern-style, if you live in an arts and crafts home then choose arts and crafts as your style for a chandelier. Measuring for the right size is easy. Your chandelier's diameter should be 2" for every foot of width in the dining space, so if you have a 10 foot wide dining area, you get a 20" diameter chandelier. Hang your chandelier 30-36 inches above the top of the table, and of course, install a dimmer switch to create a relaxing mood.