Thursday, September 22, 2011

Welcome to My Home: Formal Dining Room

When we first bought this home six years ago, red dining rooms were all the rage on HGTV.  Designers encouraged making "a dramatic impact," and nothing was deemed more dramatic than red.  I like red, and I wanted a dramatic impact in my formal dining room, but I worried that red walls would get tiresome, and more importantly, clash with the reddish undertones of the hand-me-down mahogany dining table and china cabinet from my mom.

So instead of red, I chose blue.  A deep blue, somewhere between cobalt and navy, Martha Stewart's French Blue, to be exact.  I wanted our dining room to be an intimate space, one that encouraged long dinnertime conversations, one that felt different from the rest of the house, which is lighter and brighter.

Overall, I think I achieved that goal.  The French blue walls pop against the white moldings and plantation shutters; I further use the blue as accent in the wall art, china cabinet contents, and centerpieces. The Henredon mahogany burl china cabinet and table are past their prime but still meaningful to me given their family history, and the table seats 12 comfortably, which is a bonus. I covered the old chairs in cheapo chocolate brown covers from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to coordinate with the living room sofas; upgrading them is somewhere on my to-do list, but in the meantime, they work fine, especially given they are often used as fort-building materials by my daughters.

In addition to repainting the walls (which required removing wallpaper), we also installed Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors, recessed lighting, a new chandelier, and plantation shutters, and we removed the popcorn ceilings.

Here are two "in progress" pictures, taken after we re-did the floors and painted the walls, but before we removed the popcorn ceilings and added fresh lighting and the shutters.  Note that the old faux-Tiffany chandelier is reminiscent of those found in Pizza Hut restaurants, circa 1982.  Pretty horrid right?

Luckily, a family friend found a new home for the old light, and I found a new chandelier at Pottery Barn. I love the way it reflects light in both the living room mirror and the china cabinet.  When dimmed, it creates a lovely atmosphere for quiet dinners, sans kids.  Much better:

Once the major elements were in place, I adorned the walls with paintings, photography, and mixed media from local artists.  I live in an artsy town, and I thought this was a nice way to honor my cultural environment and provide some conversation starters.

This mixed media collage represents Austin, self-proclaimed "live music capital of the world":

These two photographs were taken of an iconic bridge down the street from me:

I took the top photo of a magnolia blossom on my old college campus; the bottom photo was gifted by a friend and depicts the church where I was married.

The beautiful photo of a boat's reflection in a New Zealand lake was taken by my talented step-dad; you can see more of his work here.  I like it because the blue water perfectly complements the wall color.  The painted collage on the adjoining wall was created by a local family friend; the scene is of the Charles River in Boston, which has special significance to my husband and me.

My favorite piece, by far, is this painting by Kathy Womack, from her Women and Wine series.  My husband gave me this painting as a "push present" upon the birth of our second daughter, who shares my red hair.  The picture somewhat wistfully reminds me of my big city days in my 20s, when I would occasionally wear pretty clothes and drink a lot of wine with good friends at fancy soirees.  By contrast, my life today includes a smaller city, much less wine, clothes that are practical rather than pretty, and few fancy soirees, unless you count the pretend-tea-party-with-your-daughters-kind.  ;-)

Next time around, I'll likely go for a very different look, something lighter and more modern.  That's the fun of growing up, moving on, and re-decorating.  But in the meantime, I am content with this room and its memories of many happy family holiday gatherings, birthday parties, baptism celebrations like these and these, election night parties, baby showers, and tea parties:

Our dining room is a happy place, and in every sense, adds brightness and color to our family life.  Is there a room in your home that does the same for you?

My dining room was featured by Involving Color:

and shared as part of:

I'm also sharing this post with Savvy Southern StyleSaved by SuzyNo Minimalist HereFrench Country CottageThe Charm of HomeBetween Naps on the Porch and The Shabby Creek Cottage. If you are visiting the cul-de-sac for the first time, welcome, and please consider following!  Also feel free to check out other rooms in my "home tour" by clicking "Nest" in the navigation bar.  


  1. I had to study each photo - can we be neighbors? And more importantly, will you let me invite myself to all of your fab gatherings? I'll pretend I'm one of your BFF's in Womack's incredible painting. Absolutely stunning. Ready to paint my dining room blue now. Thank you for sharing such sweet inspiration.

    xoxo michele

  2. Your blue dining room is so pretty and the chandelier is gorgeous. It looks like you throw some pretty great parties as well! By the way, I am also a lawyer and mother of three girls. It's amazing how many lawyer/design bloggers I've run into. Maybe it's our creative outlet?

  3. Michele: We would be such good neighbors! Can you imagine our book club meetings?! Thanks for visiting today. I'm glad you liked the Kathy Womack -- her work is just pure fun, a good reminder that life doesn't have to be so serious!

    Suzy: Thanks for the visit, and for hosting! I noted our commonalities when I started following you this summer. I agree that practicing law can stifle creativity, which makes blogging about the beauty in life a very appealing exercise. I also think most lawyers just like to hear themselves talk, which translates well to blogging. ;-)

  4. Your living room is just beautiful! I love the color and the chandelier, and I'm totally drooling over your mahogany furniture. Thanks so much for linking up to Roomspiration!

  5. fabulous! the color takes on so many different looks as i scrolled through. i adore how open your space is, while still being defined as a separate space. and you've got quite the honkin' huge table in there-how great for entertaining!

  6. The dinning room looks gorgeous. Seems like a lovely party. Thanks for sharing.
    Hope to see you on my blog:)

  7. Hi, found your blog thru Involving Color. I love the blue you chose, it really does make the wood color pop. By the way, LOVE your chandelier, I also have the same one, but I got mine from Overstock. I love all the crystal balls, I even put clear round lightbulbs to complement them. Your whole formal dining room is well put together.

  8. Your blue dining room is absolutely gorgeous~ I love your blue walls!! Thanks for sharing at Feathered Nest Friday!

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