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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Help! Formal Dining Room Not So Formal!

Kristi HaleJanuary 8, 2013
Below is my formal dining room – I am not 100% sure in the direction in which I want to go with but I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts and/or ideas.

I thought about the doing the following:

1. Adding dining place setting to add some visual décor to the table top.

2. Placing smaller pillows on the chairs – We have incorporated a muted red throughout the rest of the house already and thought it would be a nice way to tie this room to the rest since it is located right off of the living room.

3. Adding a natural fiber rug (round) to break up all of the brown on the floor, walls, and table.

4. Repaint or add grass cloth wallpaper the wall above the wainscoting – I am not a fan of the faux texture paint at all. (FYI I cannot repaint the wainscoting since ALL of the moldings in my house are that color)

PS. I know these are not the best photos but I hope they give you an idea of what I am working with.
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Sisal round rug would look good, but it'll be more casual than an oriental style rug. Place settings would look nice. Don't add the pillows, they just get in the way when sitting. Grasscloth wallpaper above the wainscoting would look good too. Maybe add an elegant mirror and have an electrician install some wall sconces for extra mood lighting. I think I'd paint your crown moulding the same color as your wainscoting.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Aja Mazin
Beautiful dining set.

Definitely paint or re paper.

I f you use wallpaper consider papering the panel frames.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 11:54AM
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House of Holland - TX
What is the design direction of the rest of your living space?
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 11:55AM
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Kristi Hale
I would say my style is transitional. Love modern but my house is too traditional/rustic to be modern without it looking odd or in bad tastes.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 12:54PM
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LM Designers
Beautiful room. Maybe paint the crown white and either paint or rewallpaper above the wainscotting. Add a mirror and pictures. I love this style of home, you are lucky. Just curious why you can't paint the wainscotting? The rooms don't have to match.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:02PM
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House of Holland - TX
I'd definitely skip the pillows. I think I'd do grasscloth only if the ratio of the wainscoting and painted wall were reversed. I think you're right on with everything else. What's your favorite color? If you don't think you could incorporate it well then go for a beautiful creamy color. Or go to your favorite glass company and have them cut you some 10"x10" antiqued mirror tiles to use on the upper walls to open up the room but keep it romantic and not 70's. Then change out your light fixture to some thing fun like this:

    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:07PM
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Hi---Great space!
Some ideas for you. Upper wall-keep within a shade or two of the same color as the trim/wainscoting-whether it be paint or wallpaper. Add a SQUARE rug with either a tone on tone pic #1 or a subtle pattern pic #2. If you opt for #1 rug, then introduce pattern either with a wallpapered upper wall or wallpapered ceiling and/or decorative pillow(s). If you like a more colorful rug, then paint the ceiling blue (muted robin's egg would be stunning) and accentuate the inlay areas of the wainscoting with a subtle tone on tone wallpaper or even a fabric. Introduce your red hue through art and accessories that can be easily switched out. Hope this is helpful... Good Luck!

Eclectic Interiors · More Info
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Kristi Hale
Here are some additional photos of my house – Please go easy on me LOL I just bought it and still trying to get things finished and buy furniture, hints why my old dining table is my office desk and yes I have already ordered another set of curtains too!

All of my crown moldings are brown and I think it would stick out like a sore thumb if I painted the wainscoting a different color than what it is now.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:41PM
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By Design EK
I love the wainscotting and traditional woodwork, but I know how you feel I like more modern styles also. I don't think you have to keep the wainscotting the same color in every room. In traditional architecture this was not always the case, but if this room is open to the living area the two would have to blend. If you can't change the brown work with it. It is a neutral so add some color. How about some modern art with bright splashes of color? If you could install picture lights this would give a gallery feel and create a softer mood. Check out Architectural Digest. i have seen many new York apartments in there where the background of the home is traditional trims and molding but the furniture and art are modern. it can be very stunning. I think you could replace the chandelier with a modern shade chandelier or something that makes more of a statement. I would paint or wallpaper over the top part of the walls. Paint the ceiling! This is a very modern design trend and will make a huge difference. Also is the wainscotting painted or wood? Hard to tell. If it is painted what about having a glaze put over it in black to make it richer? You could leave the wood trim and stairs the same color wood and it would work as well. Lighting below from Shades of light. The round one is to small for the dining area but the style could incorporate a more modern feel in the hall or kitchen area. go with the white for the dining room and paint the ceiling red and walls white on top then add bright colored artwork. Find a big sculpture for the center of the table.
    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:47PM
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Hi Kristi...
Your home is Lovely---such wonderful detail---Lucky... I would like you to consider painting the walls lighter in shade/brighter in color. It is dark with all the trim/mouldings. So are you open to the idea? If so, I'm sure we can all offer plenty of suggestions for a cohesive color palette throughout your home. :)
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 1:49PM
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Aja Mazin
Natalie is spot on!
1 Like    Bookmark   January 8, 2013 at 2:02PM
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By Design EK
I didn't see the additional pics. when I was commenting...Gorgeous house. The entry way is amazing. Again if the wainscotting is painted I would consider adding a glaze of black or dark brown just to modern up the color a bit. Otherwise I would paint the walls a warm white or cream to go with your modern look and keep adding the rugs like your office one. Add color in artwork, rugs, furniture, lighting, etc. I think you can really make this house sing! Good luck, would love to see some after pics!
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 6:18AM
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By Design EK
Sorry I really love your house, you have coffered ceilings too! Add color on the ceilings also, this will really give the house ambiance. I would take down the wood blinds and add drapery panels. They could just be clean simple linen drapes in a creamy white to match your furniture, this would be very sophisticated and soften the wood work.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 6:20AM
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Jayme H.
Agree with doing something above the wainscoating! Agree with no pillows. Not sure a sissal rug is the way to go, I would add something a bit of color! :) Nice home!
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 6:22AM
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The period of your house looks like the Arts and Crafts period to me. The height of the wainscotting and the amount of woodwork is typical for that period. I would accentuate the beauty that is already there instead of trying to mask it. There was a lot of craftsmanship in these homes from light fixtures to stained glass and woodwork.

Here are a few examples:

In picture 1 below you can see the square lines in the windows. There are also lines on the inside edge of the table. Mission table and chairs were used. Notice also the stained glass light with square lines and the square rug with a geometric pattern, the square lines in the vase that is sitting on a pedestal, the square lines of the mirror, the buffet legs that also sit on a pedestal, the line that was created around the room between the two moldings. The knobs and pulls of that time were characteristically artisan. Notice too the warm color on the walls that bring out the woodwork and ties in with the light and rug which is flanked by a contrasting green.

In picture 2 here:
You can see some beautiful friezes with typical patterns of the era. Also notice the drop lighting. Simple yet with ample lanterns and the square patterns on the glass of the chandelier. The ceiling between the woodwork in the coffered ceiling is papered to compliment the frieze on the upper wall. There is also an off-white molding applied around each square in the ceiling in addition to the molding that is the same color of the beams.

In picture 3 here: (Third picture down)
You will see an example of an updated Arts and Crafts look with painted woodwork. Chairs are modernized but still retain the lines that are characteristic of the period. The light, dropped from a single pole, which is also characteristic of the period, is round however and carries the theme of the round table. The table legs are also square. The hinges and knobs on the buffet carry the Arts and Crafts theme as well. The upper part of the wall is a gorgeous wallpaper that breathes life into the room.

Have fun! Your house is GORGEOUS!
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 11:38AM
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Have you looked at any Arts & Crafts style wallpapers? William Morris type prints would be in keeping with the house, but you might be able to find them in colors that you like and don't bring things too far into the "I'm doing my house in period detail" look. Check out this link:
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 11:48AM
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I am curious about the encouragement to the idea of having table settings laid. It seems unbearably tacky to this New York WASP. Am I being a snob?
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 11:51AM
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RE: wall hangings.
Try googling Arts and Crafts stained glass. I would suggest having a light box made to display some stained glass typical of the period. This will also give you some more light. Try a pattern that is longer than it is tall to compliment the shape of the wall that is not covered in woodwork. Perhaps a sectional piece where the middle part is twice as long as a piece at the beginning and a piece at the end. Louis Tiffany (of Tiffany lamps) lived during this period. Alternatively a different shaped piece would look nice on the wall directly in back of the table, bringing these two spaces together.
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Browsing some rugs... Another wall color could be Behr's Victorian Iris-it's complimentary to the wainscot/trim hue... Just throwing ideas your way and showing how diverse the style/color palette could be. :)

2 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:35PM
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Kristi Hale
Thank you all for the ideas and comments! I like the rug with the red tones to it never been a fan of blue/purples lol
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:35PM
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3 Likes    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 12:49PM
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I keep thinking that the wainscoting in the muted red you referenced, but very glossy, with grasscloth on the upper part of the wall, would look amazing. Then with a rug that references that color (I like the ones Natalie just posted) and a giant, modern, round/globe statement lamp in the style North Bay posted earlier (or this:
Spinnaker Development · More Info
)... wow.

I wouldn't set the table since that just seems fussy and like it would get dusty, but a centerpiece with more impact and height would be good. This is the first thing I saw that was close to what I had in mind:
Cochrane Riversong - Innovations by Jayman · More Info
. This one keeps the round modern theme going: http://www.houzz.com/big-centerpiece/p/8

For a completely different direction - I saw this and it reminded me a lot of your room, but with a modern take. I really wouldn't be afraid to change the color of the wainscoting, either in this room or throughout the house - I think it will give it more of the modern look you like.
Dining Room Re-Design in Edmonton, AB for Magazine Photo Shoot · More Info
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Julie Thome Draperies, Inc.
Kristi, your room definitely looks Arts and Crafts period. In the absence of windows, why not add a portiere to one of the door ways. In case you don't know, a portiere is a double sided curtain which acts as sort of a room divider, draft excluder. Usually they are tied back, not left handing down. This would inject some color and fabric into the space which I think it needs.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 1:52PM
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I would paint all of the woodwork white, hang navy blue grass cloth, a beautiful gold mirror will pop off the blue, a tribal rug under the table with reds and blues and a few pieces of contemporary artwork. Also a beautiful crystal contemporary chandelier . Keep your table and chairs, no pillows and no table setting,a beautiful orchid in a great vase/container.
1 Like    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 2:02PM
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A sissal rug would work but also some colour too. I would paint the top part of your walls a rich dark navy for example ( dark colours create drama in a dining room) with wide white framed prints to highlight your beautiful chairs. Maybe get some glass cut for your table top to add a different texture.
    Bookmark   January 9, 2013 at 3:15PM
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Kristi Hale
I thought I would share a photo - we are creating and installing drapes today. Special thanks to my mother in law who knows how to sew and my design assistant Stella!
3 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Kristi Hale
Here they are hung up, I can already feel a difference in the room temperature!
4 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 12:12PM
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Aja Mazin
1 Like    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 12:20PM
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Looking Gorgeous! I like these photos so much better than the set from the other night. I think with some addtional lighting, you could very well keep the walls the colors they are. Sooo cozy. Nice-really nice... :) Sweet Mother-in-Law, and Talented... CheerS!
2 Likes    Bookmark   January 12, 2013 at 3:41PM
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dk Gallery
Hi! Art is such a powerful tool for design but also enriching your life. May we suggest four small paintings for your dining room....
    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:28PM
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