Whether it’s a formal dinner party or a family holiday dinner, memories are intertwined with meals together.

The main things to look for are space, proximity to the kitchen and flexibility. Is the dining area a comfortable size for the table and chairs (and hutch, if you have one)? Is it close to the kitchen, reducing steps when carrying hot dishes, or clearing the table? Can the space be closed off for privacy? Does your dining space flow openly into an adjacent space for additional seating?

In addition, flooring choices, color, wall textures, ceiling treatments and window coverings are primary considerations. In addition to the aesthetics, look at maintenance issues—a high chandelier with lots of light bulbs can become a real pain when it’s time to change those bulbs. Having control over lighting is critical to enhance your get-together. Think window shades/coverings as well as direct and indirect lighting on dimmers. A table for breakfast and a snack bar for a quick dinner provide informal eating areas. The snack bar also makes a great display for the “big game” buffet.