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Dress to Impress

Dining Rooms are such adaptable, convivial spaces that can be dressed to impress or decorated elegantly to soothe. From glamorous birthday parties to relaxed family dinners, a dining room should be practical as well as stylish: a perfect combination of Neptune ideas.

How to create the perfect dinner party...

Flowers? Very high, or very low, so that people can talk across the table.

Candles are essential: they flatter jewellery, crystal and, crucially, complexions.

Dress? Up. It's an occasion: guests will want to allure. Black tie is a tiny bit golf club, but, in a tie-less dinner jacket, the very tweediest are rendered palatable.

Gender-alternate seating is as passé as a Middle East dictator. Predict where the liveliest conversations will happen, put those guests together, and voila! Husbands next to wives is, frankly, common; it leaves no notes to compare in the car, and flirtation is essential to the mood as freshly ground pepper.

Now, the meal itself. Follow the admirable fad and have food locally sourced. Very locally indeed. Depending on your acreage, serve your own game, newly dug potatoes or window-box tarragon. Personalisation fuels that sense of privilege.