Retuned Traditional Dining Room – The Reveal!
As with the living room, the goal was to incorporate some recently inherited antiques – specifically a grand wooden dining table and matching buffet – in an eclectic and unstuffy design well-suited to my client Ashley and her young family’s lifestyle. With its neutral grey walls and abundance of natural light, the room itself was a great blank slate. It just needed some punch!
And what better way to add that punch than dressing all four walls in the Palmetto Wallpaper from Serena and Lily! I love using wallpaper in a dining room because it makes any space feel decidedly special. The subtle grey and white palette tones down the allover palm frond pattern, keeping it interesting without feeling overpowering. There’s a carefree, slightly bohemian vibe to the paper, but in a uniform grid formation and neutral colorway it feels elegant and polished.
Rugs in the dining room can be tricky. Sometimes it makes more sense to abstain than engage in the constant battling of fallen food, stains, and buried crumbs. But when you’ve got a massive wooden table atop wood floors it can start to feel very heavy and unbalanced. A rug excels at grounding the space and adding cohesion with a hefty dose of personality.
That’s why I like an indoor/outdoor rug for a dining room. I chose this one based on how its colors coordinated so well with the more traditional rug in the living room. But multicolored with a broad pattern means it also easily camouflages stains, and if it ever comes to it, you can literally take that thing out back and hose it off – perfectly practical in a house with small kids.
The next phase in this dining room transformation was reupholstering the chairs. Scroll back up and you can see the before fabric – the vestige of a 1970s/1980s refresh – was in need of an update. When I first toured the space, the wingback captains chairs were being used for living room seating, but I knew if recovered their statuesque presence would make a great statement at the table. Now, in vibrant teal, they are the star of the room, and the rest of the side chairs, recovered in an understated light grey, make for a great supporting cast.
The space originally featured a vintage china hutch that was very cute and offered a ton of great storage. But while their dining room is a good size, it isn’t huge; the large cabinet and all that wood in one room felt a little oppressive. I wanted to create more breathing room – perhaps even showcase a bit more of that wallpaper, ahem – and since it wasn’t part of the antique dining set, I didn’t feel criminal breaking them up. I replaced it with a smaller black cabinet, still roomy enough to display much of Ashley’s collection, but a scale in better balance with the other elements in the room.
Tucked in the corner is the table’s matching buffet. I liked the idea of pairing clean-lined modern pieces with it in contrast to the very traditional detailing. A rectangular mirror with thin black frame brightens the room, and a pair of mod-inspired globe lamps from West Elm complete the look.
Calling back to the room’s more traditional elements, the new chandelier is a floating focal point. In sleek brass and white it increases the room’s overall ambiance, coordinating nicely with the modern globe lamps atop the buffet.
A little bohemian and a little traditional made reworking this dining room such a fun project! I love that it marries so many of my go-to design favorites: bold pattern, color, and vintage with contemporary furnishings. But done in a subtler less saturated palette it feels approachable and refined – perfect for Ashley and her young family!
Photography: Emma Morem