Whether the dining room is formal or informal, the dining chairs are an important part of the room. They add a sculptural element that can be very present in the room without competing with the rest of the space. I like to mix and match the chairs, using one consistent style for the side chairs and another, complimentary, design for the host chairs. I also like to add layers to the chairs by using different materials to cover the seat or back, depending on what works for the shape of the piece. Comfort is an important factor in choosing dining chairs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also look great!
1. Royere Armless Dining Chair from Mattaliano. Love this art deco inspired chair – so chic.
2. A recent dining room project, where I used host chairs from Hickory Chair Furniture Co.
3. Greek key infusion, from 1st Dibs.
4. Vendome Side Chair from Jasper.
5. Poliform Grace chair.
6. Another dining room, where I installed these beautiful Queen Anne chairs from Jasper. A very classic and traditional chair!
7. Matahari Home Chair – for a more informal and casual dining chair, this one is perfect and so comfortable.
8. Martin Host Chair with Loose Cushion – great as a header chair.
10. 1940s French Upholstered Barrelback Chair From Restoration Hardware – Think about using two different fabrics, one for the front and the other for the back. Stain the legs darker and it is a totally different chair. I just did it for a client and it is an amazing transformation!
11. Great combination with the rush back, from Dering Hall.
I’ve seen a few examples lately of built-in bookcases creating a library in a dining room, and it’s an unconventional concept I really like. Incorporating an idea like this into your home works for a few different reasons.
First, everything is integrated. You have one space to inhabit in different ways, whether it’s enjoying a meal together as a family, relaxing with a book while you wake up with your morning coffee, or entertain friends against a cozy backdrop of books. Or, incorporating something like a wine fridge into the bookcases introduces another really cool concept.
Including bookshelves in a common room of the home is a lifestyle idea that’s great for families with kids. With so many of our media choices now relegated to computer screens, TV screens, iPads, and electronic readers, placing books in a position of priority in your home, within easy reach of little hands, sends a powerful message. It also encourages parents to read in front of their children and talk to their children about books. What’s not to love about creating a book-centric culture in such an important room in the home?
The idea of a library in the dining room is also great because it works in so many different ways. Whether your home design style is rustic, traditional, modern, or more hip, stocked bookshelves can easily be incorporated into the dining room. You don’t have to commit to a specific look to make this concept work. I think David Kleinberg, in particular, has designed some really great spaces by incorporating a home library into the dining room.
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder. But good design is in the eye of the homeowner–it must appeal in a visual way while also satisfying the needs of those who live with it. It’s no coincidence, then, that the striking projects selected by our esteemed judges to win this year’s A-List competition are also those that wow with their smart solutions and livability. We caught up with the award-winning professionals and their clients to find out what sets the A-List apart from the pack. Their stories reveal a host of creative ideas that are certain to inspire first-rate home projects in the future.
When Liria Heidenreich was looking for design help for her shingle-style house in Greenwich, her sister-in-law recommended Amy Aidinis Hirsch. The young designer had already decorated the homes of other family members, so why not hers? But the Heidenreichs were seeking a different approach: “They wanted to marry a modern style with a more traditional architecture,” says Hirsch. The success of the dining room–part of a whole-house project– lies in the way Hirsch translated their desire for an eclectic interior with little clutter or fuss. “I didn’t want a lot of color. I’m nutty and I need mellow,” says Heidenreich. “She really got me.”
At the center of this sleek-yet-personal space is an architectural Italian table surrounded by Ligne Roset cowhide chairs and a wood bench. The more casual arrangement suits the family’s two boys and also answers Liria’s request: “no boring chairs.” Dark chocolate grass cloth on the walls provides warmth and anchors the abstract art. For the floor, Hirsch put an unexpected spin on a simple wool loop rug. Instead of picking one colorway from the samples, she sourced all of them to create a custom stripe. The homeowner admits to being particular about lighting and this glam three-tiered crystal chandelier from Ochre acts as a jewel in the room, about with she jokes, “My electrician doesn’t like me anymore.”
To add a touch of color and tradition, Hirsch brought in a red antique lacquer cabinet from Greenwich Oriental. This one-of-a-kind piece provides storage and character, picking up on a hue continued in other parts of the house. The sophisticated theme fits the family to a tee. Says Heidenreich, “I still walk into these rooms and say, “Damn, this works!”
When I met with this client to design their dining room, their desire to break away from the traditional shingle style exemplified by the home’s exterior architecture totally inspired me. They wanted simple elements with no clutter or fuss. Because the room began as a blank slate, we started with a completely fresh palette.
In this room, I truly enjoyed using so many creative and unique elements. The cowhide chairs from Ligne Roset provided adult seating around the dining room table and, combined with a bench on the other side of the table, make an unconventional seating arrangement. The lovely drizzle chandelier from Ochre acts as a fantastic piece of jewelry for the entire room. On the walls, digital art prints reinforce the dining room’s modern feel. In addition, I loved the window treatments for this dining room. The pattern reminded me of delicate lanterns floating through the sky. The large looped wool carpet from Patterson Flynn & Martin softens and warms the room.
I was honored to be an A List Winner for At Home magazine’s Winter 2011 issue with this dining room. In the magazine, the dining room was described as “bold, brash, and contemporary, a perfect combination to make a traditional home feel modern.” What an amazing experience, to be recognized for doing something I love!
When a client approached me with the goal of designing a dining room for entertaining large gatherings in a formal setting, I really enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to build a room around many truly beautiful design pieces.
The dining room originally had a generic wood mantel with very little appeal or individuality. I also had to consider how many people would use the space and how to configure the design to appeal to both large and small groups of guests. The bay windows provided another challenge, being difficult to treat while keeping the design and scale appropriate.
To begin, we decided on a fabulous color palette using Farrow and Ball paint in Pipe Down against a chinoiserie patterned butter yellow paper and predominantly grey curtains. In addition, every aspect of this room was custom designed, from the walls to the carpet, for a highly individualized room.
In place of the boring wood mantel, I installed a custom, hand-carved stone mantel which provides a nice focal point for the room. The gorgeous hand-painted chinoiserie wall paper from de Gourney gives the room a lovely backdrop without the need for paintings or decorative items. The unexpected dark color of the woodwork is the perfect contrast to the custom panels, and the window treatments accent the large bay windows without becoming overpowering or detracting from the view.
One of the most stunning pieces in the room is the dining room table. As the centerpiece of the room where guests will gather, the table needed to be something special. Every aspect of the Ebanista table was customized to allow the clients to entertain large or intimate groups of guests in beauty and style. Every small detail of the table, including the inlay, had to be carefully considered and strategically placed.
The overall impression of this dining room is one of luxury and comfort, a room as individual and unique as any client could ask. Using such a range of exquisite products and companies allowed me to give my clients a dining room perfectly suited to their tastes and needs.