Thursday, March 11, 2010

Formal Dining Rooms


Earlier this week Cristin posted about decorating dining rooms over at Simplified Bee and it's gotten me itching to start decorating my own dining room (to get a feel for what I'm going for, see HERE). When we first moved in, we managed to paint out the trim on the lower third of the room to resemble wainscoting and paint the balance of the walls a deep blue (Farrow & Ball's Drawing Room Blue), but that's all the progress that's been made so far -- and unfortunately, until my budget recovers, that's all the progress that's going to be made for quite some time.

But that doesn't mean a girl can't day dream, right? In fact, I'd say a temporary cash crunch can be a good thing for designing a room as you're forced to window shop in favor of actually, well, shopping. This forced abstinence allows you the time to really get a feel for what you love most (rather than what you love today or what your budget allows you to buy today). And, when you finally do have the luxury of going out and buying new pieces, having curtains made, etc., you know the market, the trends and what it is you're really after.

So here are a few of my absolute favorite dining rooms, collected over the past few months as I continue to contemplate the transformation of my small dining room into something truly spectacular.

For me, a formal dining space should be exactly that: formal. It should also be luxurious, dramatic and special. After all, these rooms are for special occasions, most of them occurring at night. So I say work with that and go for lots of drama: crystal, gilt, mirrors, silks, velvets, dramatic colors, hand painted wallpapers...you get the idea. If you're looking for a good guide on how to incorporate all that and more without making the room feel overdone or too stuffy, you need look no further than Kara Mann's gorgeous gray dining room (above) that was featured in last month's Traditional Home. I particularly love the silver-leaf finish on the mantle against the Carrera marble surround.

There are those that argue that formal dining rooms are dinosaurs; that the modern family does not need to distinguish between public and private rooms, formal and informal settings. And that's certainly true to an extent, but at the same time I love the idea of the luxury of having a formal dining room. The luxury of having a place at home to celebrate truly special occasions. The type of room that is filled with memories yearound, even if it is only "used" a few times a year (though certainly there is nothing stopping you from using your formal dining room -- and your formal china -- on a regular basis, and I completely encourage this!).

In this dining room designed by Hillary Thomas, I love how the trim and wainscoting is painted out in a high gloss sage green. It's such a great way to modernize very traditional architecture (and the very traditional wallpaper). The glossy green also works well with the dining chairs, which are done in a high glass black with a sage green seat.

Ruthie Sommers

Wainscoting and wallpaper (especially handpainted wallpaper) are two of my favorite design elements for a formal dining room. The sea grass rug and lack of window treatments make this room feel much lighter than many of the others -- and also more approachable. For me, this room is the perfect balance between formality and luxury, on the one hand, and practicality and comfort, on the other.

Christina Murphy

A simple formula for high drama in a dining room is dark bare wood floors, metallic wallpaper and a crystal chandelier. The mirrored insets into the paneled doors is a simple and inexpensive way to add a little extra sparkle and to dress up an otherwise standard feature. I also love the Kartell Mademoiselle Chairs, with their lucite legs and low backs.


Here, I love how the dark slate walls contrast with the high impact turquoise chandelier and hot pink upholstered dining chairs. I think my first inclination would be to pair colors like this with a predominately white backdrop, but Katie demonstrates here how success dark walls with bright furnishings can be. I also like how she kept it from feeling too cave-like by having a lighter colored rug on the floor. This lightness is similarly reflected on the ceiling, which appears to be papered in a subtle tonal damask.

Pastoral murals in dining rooms are very, very traditional. In fact, you can see many fine examples of them in homes in Pompeii. Here though, the brighter colors in the mural and in the fabrics lend a rather whimsical quality to Thad Hayes' space. So much so that it feels almost cartoon-like.

Anyone else remember Ondine from the second season of Design Star? [By the way, is that show ever coming back? I loved it!] In any case, Ondine is back and in the running for Traditional Home's Young Traditional Designer of the Year. Flipping through her portfolio, I fell in love with this dining room. I love the juxtaposition of the almost Medieval architecture with the vibrant pinks. In fact, I'd happily steal that set of Ikat chairs and the hot pink buffet for myself. How fabulous would that look against navy walls?

Nathan Egan is one of my favorite designers for subtle drama. Rooms like the dining room above show that you don't need bold colors or expensive, embroidered wallpaper to make a big impact. I also love how the oversized photograph is hung between the wall and wainscoting. The gesture feels almost haphazard, but the effect is incredibly striking. I also love the large wine barrel chandelier -- sure, it's been trendy, but there's also a nice rusticity about it that works so well with more traditional interiors.

One of my all-time favorite dining rooms, by the near-faultless Suzanne Kasler. While I usually prefer trim painted-out white, the blue lacquer that Suzanne applied to both the walls and trim here is incredibly striking. I also tend to prefer matching chairs (or at least matching side chairs with a pair of larger chairs for the ends), but yet again Suzanne proves here there's no "rule" that I can come up with that can't be successfully broken.

This dining room was featured in a spread House Beautiful did last year on a beach house Annie Selke decorated and I absolutely fell in love with all of it. I love the mix of patterns here as well as the mix of blues. A deft hand is needed for this type of mixing, but Selke is skilled at mixing both patterns and colors in a way that feels very modern, without any of the eclectic-bohemian element that I'm admittedly not a huge fan of.

34 comments:

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

Suzanne Kasler's dining room is so beautiful {can she do anything wrong anyways? The blue is so you & the trim & all other architectural elements is understated elegance! Oh & I love the mix of the chairs...different but very well-balanced.

Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury said...

Love your idea board. Everything's so crisp and modern. If I had a dedicated dining room, it would look like the not-so-formal Annie Selke space you show here. But I would swap out the crunchy chandelier for something more lantern-like. Maybe a pair like in your first pic here. Have fun imagining! You've found some great inspiration.

ashlina said...

oh girl...those are amazing dining rooms! nice post.

Karen@StrictlySimpleStyle said...

I am in love with the first room. It is elegant without being fussy.

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Each dining room got better than the next. So many stellar pic's Averill. Makes me sick though that I had the op to have a table exactly like the one in Hilary Thomas' room, & with 10 matching chairs and turned it down. Not only was the set free and had a buffet but it was my grandmothers. What was I thinking? Guess the answer was I was not thinking at all. D :
Loved Ondine's room, so unique & Katie Ridder..ahhhh

Kathysue said...

All Fabulous. I think I see a mural wallpaper in your future with interesting shaped chairs???? I know what ever you will pick will be of impeccable taste as always. I agree a girl needs to dream. I am right there with you . I have lots of dreams. Kathysue

Isabella & Max Rooms said...

What a feast! :)

Ondine, I recall her, what a fun show that was, would be fun to have another season air.

Janell

Things That Inspire said...

Dining rooms - one of my favorite design topics (and the fact that I have well over 200 images in my dining room inspiration files attests to my love for this room).

I tend towards the more traditional than you, but I have asked Suzanne to push me a bit in the house - I tend to think that the 'push' will occur more in the other rooms as I already possess a very fine but somewhat stately dining room set (Suzanne called it a classic and was thrilled that we would not need to devote part of my budget towards a new dining room table and chairs, which can be a significant investment).

Marija said...

Love your take on the formal dining room space! I am so behind on finishing ours - I wonder if it will ever feel complete. I seem to recall saying I would finish it during the month of February and yet there it sits. While we're both on the same page, you can bet I'll call on you for inspiration! Marija

Cristin said...

What a lovely post and thank you for the mention. I am drawn to the last three dining rooms in the post. Selke's is heaven - love the mix of fabrics, texture and style. And what a chandelier!

xo,
cristin

Karena said...

The 1st and the last are my very favorites!! Breathtaking. Kara's and Selke's I adore!! Thak you so much for sharing.

Karena
Art by Karena

Karena said...

Love the 1st and last images the best!! So elegant and alluring.
Karena
Art by Karena

Fran said...

What a wonderful post. My favorite is Ruthie Sommer's room - love the lightness of it all. However, Annie Selke and Katie Ridder are close seconds. And, I have to say there is something so appealing about high gloss lacquer in a formal dining room and I love it in Hillary Thomas' design.

Nichole said...

Thanks for the inspiration. I am currently window shopping and thinking about my dining room as well. I think I liked the Katie Ridder room the best. But I'm not that gutsy. :)

Kara said...

That first image is by far my favorite. Simple yet not.

Keri said...

I actually love all of them, but the one that matches my style the most is Nathans. It's simple and pretty without being plain and boring.

Keri said...

I love all of them, but my favorite has to be Nathan's. It's simple and pretty w/o being plain and boring.

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

The Christina Murphy dining room is definitely my fave - so glamorous yet inviting.

Christy said...

The Nathan Egan one makes me salivate. That painting is just toooo gorgeous. I want it! I need it! But the others are equally cool...though I have to admit, I am more excited about yours than any of these. Your mood board rocks them all!

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I recently clipped the Kara Mann image as I love the detail on the top of the draperies. We have a formal dining room and we use it a lot...We have a round dining table and I love it for conversation. I cannot say I always pull out the china, crystal and silver but I would miss the space if we didn't have it. You have great inspiration photos, as usual! Have a great weekend.

High-Heeled Foot in the door said...

Amazing post. I love, love Hillary's room. That wallpaper and the high-gloss green..perfection!

Couture Carrie said...

Tremendous spaces, darling!
Love all the murals, especially the Thad Hayes one!

xoxox,
CC

Laura@JourneyChic said...

These are all so gorgeous! We don't have a formal dining room, and I'm not yet sure if we'll look for one in our next house. I think it's one of those rooms that some people (like us) don't use as much as they think they will. As it is, we eat most meals in the living room in front of the TV!

SogniSorrisi said...

I LOVE the blue of your dining room. I have seen several rooms with this kind of dramatic colour scheme that are just so beautiful!

Great dining rooms by Sherrill Canet, Christina Murphy and Suzanne Kasler.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I can imagine yours having super fab wallpaper or a painted mural! Great collection of images!

*Chic Provence* said...

Great inspiration for dining rooms, all fabulous in their own right! I love the first, and that pink sideboard of Ondine's!

xx

Kit

Style Redux 2 said...

Some beautiful rooms here. I love all the Chinoiserie wallcoverings.

Emily A. Clark said...

I am definitely in a similar boat w/ our dining room right now. Low budget and it looks like it hasn't even been touched. In fact, I no longer have chairs in there so it's pretty sad! Love these inspiration pics. I'm trying to come up w/ a cost-effective way to temporarily decorate until I can do what I really want later. . .

Sanity Fair said...

These are wonderful examples Averill - what a great eye! I loved your reference to Pompeii - when I visited I was just amazed at the wall murals in the homes. So incredibly beautiful. It's a great tradition to carry on today!

Sarah Klassen said...

Lovely rooms, Averill! I really enjoy the dining room by Suzanne Kasler - it has such a warm and inviting quality to it :)

Hope you had a great weekend, xo

Sarah (Matters of Style) said...

LOVE the first pic! I don't usually gravitate towards gray, but I love that room!

walrus studio said...

Wow I love the high drama pic ♥ Nice post!

Dallas Decorum said...

Your blog is so great, you source the best designs and rooms! I continue to turn here for inspiration!

♥SimaG Jewelry♥ said...

B E A U T I F U L !

I found your blog this morning while i was searching for Damask Wallpaper.

Thank you for sharing your designs,i love it!

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