A reader facing some decorating dilemmas in her living room emailed Your Decorating Hotline for help. She and I corresponded about the room and I’m sharing the results here as you may find the information interesting and applicable in your home.
Dining Room Dilemma
“I have a question regarding my dining room. I have attached some pictures for you. I want my dining room to be comfy, casual but nice at the same time, and traditional (I believe). lol
1. Drapes for the dining room (I have a picture attached – they are gold/beige tone in color) and wondering if they would go well or what color/type might work if they won’t d0.
2. What color of fabric should I use to re-do my dining chair seats?
3. Accent colors for the room?
4. Mirror for the dining room - over the hutch or over one of the long side walls?
I forgot to add the color of the dining room – the accent/window wall is Audubon Russet by BM (Benjamin Moore), and the remaining 3 walls are Wild Mushroom by BM.”
In order to provide some detailed feedback I asked Krista some questions about her room and gained the following information and some additional photos:
- The space is 12′ X 16′
- The hand made curtains were available from a model home (high quality!) for an unbelievable price of $120 for four 40″ X 90″ panels and they are just a bit lighter than the three mushroom colored walls
- The dining room is not visible from any other room and the hallway into the room is painted the same mushroom color as three of the dining room walls
- Flooring in the dining room is dark hardwood and butts up against the cream stone flooring in the hallway
- Krista likes warm colors and traditional style
- She is considering painting the hutch to freshen it up but didn’t know what color to use if she did
- She wondered about adding two parson chairs to the dining table
- She wondered if one of the longer walls should have a nice piece of art on it
- She thought about decorating the dining table top with a runner but didn’t know what else to do
Drapes: The drapes are a great find! Great quality, great price and great color. Krista purchased them and sent the following photo to show the color and texture against the russet colored window wall. The formal pleats follow the traditional style Krista loves. To soften the formality of the drapes and make them a bit more casual, however, Krista can hang them on rings from a metal rod (ties in with the metal on her chandelier) placed above the window trim. The price is incredible for handmade drapes that work in the room - don’t you love it when you find the perfect solution at a bargain price?
Hutch: Paint is an easy and inexpensive way to freshen up a piece of furniture. Since the only russet in the room is the window wall, and much of that color will be covered by the new drapes, I suggest Krista use the same russet on the hutch pictured above. Painting the hutch russet extends that color to the other side of the room so it looks purposeful and not just a “one time shot” on the wall. Additionally, using a latex enamel paint on the hutch provides a durable and easy-to-clean surface so Krista can safely use the top of the hutch as a bar or serving station.
Mirror: I would definitely place a mirror over the hutch instead of on one of the long side walls because it will reflect the light from the window during the day while providing more visual importance to the hutch. If placed on one of the long walls the mirror would only reflect another wall. The mirror width should be 3/4 to full width of hutch – but no wider than the hutch. Adding a pair of candlestick lamps or tall, chunky candlesticks with pillar candles in front of the mirror will reflect soft light at night, adding ambiance that the overhead light fixture can’t provide.
Rug: Although Krista did not ask about a rug I suggest she consider adding one to the dining room in order to bring in additional color and pattern and soften the dark hardwood floor. The rug should include some of the wall colors and it can introduce other colors that she can use for upholstery, art and accessories. There are many wonderful area rugs available – below are just a few to consider from our affiliate World Market (Tip: I just bought a rug for my dining room at World Market last week – right now they’re still 50% off! Save up to 50% on All Rugs, Plus Get Free Shipping & Surcharges at WorldMarket.com (Ends 3.14.10) ). Can’t you just imagine one of these under the dining table – tieing the entire room together?
Chairs: Krista wondered about adding a parson chair to each end of the table and placing two of the current dining chairs on each side of the table. This is a great idea that adds functionality, interest and variety as well as a casual feel to the formal dining room. I suggest leather or a microfiber fabric for these two chairs since they are both durable and easy to clean in the event food or drinks spill, plus they introduce a new texture into the room. The parson chairs could be brown (especially if a rug is used on the floor so it’s not just brown chair on brown floor), a rust color similar to the russet paint (don’t worry about matching the colors exactly - just make sure they work together), or a color from the rug pattern could add an interesting pop of color – maybe one of the blue or green tones shown in some of the rugs above. The seat cover fabric on the four other dining chairs would be nice in a solid color picked up from the rug or, if Krista opts not to use a rug, the patterns above can be used as inspiration for finding printed fabric for covering the four seat covers.
Art on long wall: Pick art you love – either a large single piece or multiple pieces that work on the wall. Read two of my previous posts, Tips for Hanging Art in Your Home and How to Hang Art at the Right Height, to help you determine the shape, size and placement of the art. I suggest you use dark wood frames to bring the look of the floor up onto the walls, integrating it into the room. The dominate mushroom and russet on the walls do not have to dominate the art – but it would be nice if there was a touch of these colors in the art as an additional tie-in to the room.
Runner: You most certainly can use a runner on the table top but I suggest you pair it with vertical elements to add height and drama to the flat surface. See what you’ve got around the house that might work. If you use candlestick lamps on the hutch then use a trio or larger cluster of pillar candle holders , perhaps in a wood and iron mix, in various heights. Bunch the runner up in places around and weave it through the bases instead of stretching it out straight and flat on the table. If you have a pair of matching vases that look good in the room, fill them with tall twigs or blooming spring branches like pussy willow or forsythia.
Is there a green plant somewhere in your house that could be used on the table? What about hurricane glass covers to cover pillar candles?
Pick something fairly large that makes a statement – stay away from the typical pair of taper candles on each end of the table with a small bowl in the midde!
Etc: If the chandelier is not already on a dimmer switch I suggest Krista add one. It makes a tremendous difference to the mood of a dining room in the evening.
Can You Visualize It?
Now that I’ve answered her questions can you visualize where Krista’s room is heading? Have you any other tips or comments for her? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And what about your dining room, or any other room, do you have questions or need help visualizing a finished design? You know we’d love to hear from you.