Friday, November 6, 2009

Dining by Design – Six Smart Solutions & A Bonus Idea!

Aside from the chill in the fall air, I get an extra little shiver when I calculate the fast approach of the holidays!  Thanksgiving is merely a few weeks away, and I know the dining room, often a room no one even walks into until Halloween has passed, becomes the emergency phone call many interior designers receive. 

At this date, while I may not be able to offer “major surgery” options, I can share six ways to “resuscitate” your dining room, depending on the availability of your resources.  I hope the Question and Answer format will address some of the more frequently sought solutions.

8-dining-room-xlg-64746037Question:  Do you always need to use a rug under a dining room table? 

Answer: There are no iron-clad rules for needing to use one.  I do; however, consider several factors before guiding a client in one direction or the other.  If, in the case of this room, there were no window panels or fully upholstered chairs, (and the entire room consisted mostly of wood), it would be my recommendation to add a rug for color, texture, and to soften the edges.  (Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.)

manhattan-dining-room-by-designer-jamie-drake-xlg-59328186Question:  I have found some chairs, I really love, but I’m still searching for the perfect table and I have guests coming for the holidays.  Help!  Should I cancel?!

Answer:  Keep those guests on your list!  There are many online sources, with fast shipping, for inexpensive folding, round tables.  Some even go up to 66” or more.  You may also find some plywood table rounds to convert an existing table top.  Oversized table cloths can be ordered, online, and you can customize your look with a topper square or other layered linens.  I like the burlap/linen textures, as they can be dressed up or down.  (Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.)

14-dining-room-xlg-43763333 Question:  I bought a new table and it has a heavier base.  Now my old chairs look too delicate.  They were antiques, given to me by my grandmother, so I can’t get rid of them.  What can I do?

Answer:  Slipcovering is a wonderful solution to help visually enlarge and “fill-in” the backs of chairs, without affecting their integrity or design structure. In the oval back chairs, above, the added “skirt” makes the seat seem fuller, thus creating a better balance with the table base.  (Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.)

atlanta-dining-room-by-westbrook-and-winkler-xlg-5745044Question:  I have a collection of mismatched chairs, an antique chest, and a table that is not really so pretty.  I’m limited with what I can do, right now, because other rooms need more attention.  Should I just ignore my dining room and leave it empty?

Answer:  Often, the dining room is one of the first rooms we see, when we enter a house.  If it’s left empty, it can give the impression that no one is “home”.  Some chairs styles are compatible and are made even more so by using the same fabric.  Eclectic mixes are often very interesting and can be quite nice, if some rules are observed.  Keep the color palette simple, so the eye will have a place to land and not be overly distracted.  Notice how the walls and trim, in the photo above, match the chair fabric.  The table is covered in a simple linen and the antique door chest acts as a server.  A natural fiber rug can be easily found and it adds a soft layer to the mix.  (Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.)

TH 1 Question:  I have a larger, open dining room and it really is a rare occasion that I use it.  What are my options as this feels like a waste of space?

Answer:  As a designer, I think this is one of those rooms that can be missed, during family gatherings or special events/holidays, if it doesn’t exist in some fashion in your home.  I do like to see if I can figure out creative ways to multi-purpose rooms so their square footage has been captured and not lost.  One of the easiest solutions is a “dining/library”.  A library cabinet has similar lines to a china cabinet, and a combination of books and china can offer a nice balance.  The room above, has a console table tucked to the back wall, which can be utilized as a desk.  With today’s wireless connections, a laptop can be easily hidden when folks come over to dine.  (Photo courtesy of Traditional Homes.)

style-is-timeless-dining-room-xlg-59227478Question: I made a wise decision in selecting very durable fabric.  My chairs almost look like new.  I say, “almost”, because the legs have gotten a bit dinged up. I know if I have them refinished, the fabric will have to be changed.  Is there anything else I can do?

Answer:  Often, great furniture technicians can do some touch-up, if the damage is minor.  If that’s not the case, you might want to consider carefully painting the base frames.  To help with the natural wear, a light touch of steel wool, in areas where feet might brush against the chair’s base, will give a beautifully aged look.  I love how the bases of the chairs, above, really pop the fabric color.  This room needed that extra “oomph”. (Photo courtesy of Traditional Homes.)

ss_TDH723396An added bonus question:  I never have time to get to the florist to put together a centerpiece and I always feel like I’m missing that key element.  Do you have suggestions?

Bonus Answer:  If you have scheduled a party, weeks in advance, it is a good thing to make a checklistLet’s just assume; however, you are one of those generous souls who offers to host a dinner at the drop-of-a-hat.  I would always try to keep some unscented candles and open vessels or cachepots on hand.  They can be mixed in for that much desired ambiance.  From there, it’s amazing what you can achieve with things from the garden and the fridge.  If you look at the contents of the tablescape, above - clippings of foliage, architectural garden accents, as well as fruits and nuts bring the harvest home.

I hope this has given you the inspiration to send out the invitations, whether engraved, emailed or by phone, as the most important ingredient is the sharing of your time!

Cheers to everyone!  Wanda


Norbridge Antiques said...

I love what was done to the room with the mismatched chairs. If it were in my house, I would want to keep the same mood in the room. Thank you for all the good tips.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Nice post, Wanda! Especially with the holidays coming, it does seem that's when the phone starts ringing. These are great tips that address many situations.

Jacob @ Safe'n'Dry said...

I always get called by family members. I hope you don't mind that I'll use this post as my secret weapon this year. ;-)