Anatomy of a Dining Room

Anatomy of a Dining Room
Dining-Room

Photo: Matthew White

Ever since shelter magazines were born, there’s been a frenzy to try to relate how to design a beautiful room. These “how to” tips often don’t translate to a different space so instead of sharing how to “create the look” we thought it might be interesting to dissect a room we designed, and explain why each decision was made.

A bit of background ~ this dining room is in a beautiful old house, so we wanted to mix classic elements that would feel right for the traditional setting, while mixing in slightly more modern elements without creating the jolting feel of extreme juxtaposition. One could say we aimed for gentle contrasts.

Dining-Room

Photo: Matthew White

Let’s start with the obvious ~ the Gracie wallpaper. This stunning, hand-painted Chinese paper was created especially for this room. It populates the space with pleasant scenes of people doing everyday things while the complementary tones of blue and brown create a wonderfully embracing ambience.

Contrasted with the matte, highly scenic walls, is a sleek, high-gloss lacquered ceiling in rich cream. This creates a pleasing complement while beautifully reflecting candlelight in the evenings.

The room is also almost square, making it perfect for a round table, in this case a vintage, English reproduction. We use round tables whenever possible because they are ideal for conversation and feel less formal than rectangular tables. Hanging from the rather low ceiling is a clean-lined pendant made with simple materials ~ iron and parchment. These materials feel timeless while the shape is more modern. The roundness repeats the shape of the table and is a great scale for the room.

Photo: Matthew White

Photo: Matthew White

Around the table are English chairs covered in a toothy, linen velvet that’s been subtly embroidered with a monogram. This gives the chairs a nice personal touch, while the strong blue color keeps the muted room from drifting off into Snoozeville. Camel-colored chairs might have worked, but would have also been a real bore.

Window coverings were created in beautiful linen and trimmed with fretwork-patterned tape. The rug takes the fretwork idea in a bolder direction but also grounds the room nicely. The geometry of these patterns compliment the more free-form feel of the paper.

Designing successful rooms is a constant balancing act. It’s like anatomy, remove one element and the whole structure can fail. The scale and style of the pieces and how they are placed in the room are but a few things to consider. Then there is color, the values of color, pattern, texture and how these elements play off of each other. It’s like alchemy.

Finally there’s the magic of a beautiful room that is used well. With the table set, candles lit, the hum of friendly conversation and the aroma and taste of lovingly prepared food ~ that’s when a dining room really sparkles.

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