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Elegant Dining Rooms
Gorgeous, gracious dining rooms from the pages of Décor magazine
These glamorous spaces know a thing or two about entertaining in style. Click through for ideas.
A soft color scheme of taupes and pale blues permeates this Atlanta home. A barely blue French fabric with a circle motif sets the color scheme in the dining room, where dining chair upholstery and a grasscloth wallcovering are a smoky blue-gray. A wool-and-silk rug has taupe branches winding on an ivory background. Dining chairs from the Thomas Pheasant Collection by Baker surround a walnut table. The chandelier and foyer lantern are from Niermann Weeks.
Circles, arches, and feminine curves are repeated throughout the house in textile patterns, window and door arches, transom mullions, and chandeliers. “The oval shapes and arches take the house to a more elegant design level, which was important to [the homeowner], ” architect Linda MacArthur says. “She wanted casual elegance.
Nice and Neutral
Family dinners and impromptu gatherings are the norm at the Atlanta-area home of Jeff and Andee Blauser and their two preteen children. Thoughtfully planned for years with a team that included designers Heather Dewberry and Will Huff and architects Bill Harrison and Bulent Baydar, the house reflects a graceful blend of elegance and down-home Southern hospitality. “Both Jeff and I love antiques, so we wanted to go that route,” Andee says. “But we mixed in new things to make the rooms unique and more interesting.”
Take the dining room for instance, where re-covered antique host and hostess chairs with monograms stitched on the back cushions flank a traditional wood table. “We wanted to create family heirlooms," says Dewberry.
In this West Palm Beach dining room, a 19th-century Directoire pedestal table with claw feet is ringed by custom chairs; silk curtains accentuate voluminous proportions.
In a departure from the norm, this house ditches the stereotypical South Florida marine themes and hibiscus prints and is instead awash in peacock blues and rich fuchsias, two colors boldly on display in the dining room. “The color combination brings happiness, refinement, and coolness to the tropical climate,” says interior designer Louis Pepin, one half of the duo behind the Montreal-based design Atelier de l’Opera. “It’s French-inspired, with a happy chic twist," adds partner Jean Turcotte.
Wherever guests gather in this Edina, Minnestoa, home, they’re surrounded by generously proportioned and richly detailed white enameled woodwork, a consistent visual theme that delivers both the character of a historic dwelling and the thoroughly modern bonus of enviable amounts of storage tucked into cased millwork and accessed via clever pop-latch doors. Streamlined storage was high on the homeowners’ list of must-haves. “Our clients had a clear vision,” designer Kirby-Rodman says. “They knew what they wanted, but equally helpful, they knew what they didn’t want.”
Located just off the entry, the dining room was designed to make a statement. It’s a study in subtle texture with a silk-stripe window treatment, a built-in bench cushion covered with cut velvet damask, and walls papered with grass cloth.
A Dining Delight
Although they originally intended the dining room in their Mandeville, Louisiana, home to be an outdoor space, owners Paula and Brett Davis decided to enclose it. The room still retains an airy ambience thanks to French doors that lead out to a terrace and pool. The marine hues in the large abstract painting at one end of the room further connect the indoor and outdoor spaces.
The dining room sticks to a tone of unfussy elegance. It is suited for both everyday use and special-occasion entertaining. Inspired by the sweeping landscape visible through those 10-foot-tall French casement doors, Paula selected pieces with all-natural allure, including a 12-foot-long farm table made from reclaimed pine barge board set atop cast-stone pedestals. A buffet made from an 18th-century cypress beam recovered from a French Quarter warehouse and a chandelier designed from an oak wine barrel also evoke nature.
“The use of natural materials is one of the reasons our house harmonizes so well despite its eclectic mix of styles,” Paula says.
Dramatic Dining Room
This Greenwich, Connecticut, spec home was given a glamorous update thanks to the work of London-based Taylor Howes Design. One look at the dining room's smoky hues and exquisite details reveals the time and attention to personalized touch that went into the home's upgrade. An Italian chandelier crafted from Murano glass illuminates the room and reflects the shimmer of stainless-steel nailheads on the dining room’s silky chairs.
No matter their size or location, vacation homes should evoke a sense of place while emitting an easygoing vibe that encourages relaxing, says Scott Layne, the residential designer responsible for creating this retreat on John’s Island near Vero Beach, Florida.
The newly built structure allows the family to wake up to views of palm trees swaying and sunshine dancing on the pool thanks to windows and French doors galore. The interiors take their cues from the views, and understated sand, surf, and sky themes and schemes unfurl within the contemporary layout.
Bright white finishes on classic architectural details, including deep baseboards, crown moldings, beamed ceilings, and paneled walls, deliver venerable profiles in a breezy manner. Gray-stained oak floors provide an equally breezy foundation that is unexpected but in keeping with the homeowners’ fashion-forward vision.
Designer Rod Mickley used the buoyant backdrops to highlight custom furnishings, vibrant fabrics, and noteworthy artwork and accents that mirror his clients’ personal aesthetic. “Their primary concern was that the house have a casual, beachy look,” Mickley says. “They have a fresh, sunny approach to decorating and wanted the home to feel light and airy.”
In the dining room, coffered ceilings, paneled walls, and refined furnishings strike a traditional note that’s offset by a graphic palm-frond mural. A black-painted table plays off the charcoal hue in the mural while subtly grounding the room’s light finishes.
Elegant Dining Room
A choppy floor plan and dark interiors led to a whole-house renovation of a 1928 Tudor. “The house didn’t flow very well," says homeowner Caroline Millican. "We entertain a good bit, so we really wanted to open it up." For that, they called on architect and neighbor D. Stanley Dixon. “Stan had been in our house, so he knew our needs,” Caroline says. Plus, the architect was attuned to the structure’s architectural integrity within the established Brookwood Hills historic neighborhood.
The alterations put the dining room in the center of the house, and Atalnta designer Lauren DeLoach made it central to her color scheme as well. “The dining room is the unifying space. So I had the wallpaper custom colored, pulling colors from each of the other rooms,” she says. “Caroline loves blue, so we used that in the living room and kitchen. In the family room we went with green. We married all the colors—the blue, the green, and brown—in the dining room.”
The sideboard, dining table, and mirror are antiques. The chandelier is from Dennis & Leen. Chair upholstery is a Scalamandré strié velvet with a scalloped Samuel & Sons trim.
Rustic Yet Refined
Vintage artwork, antique furnishings, handcrafted items, and organic textiles in natural shades complement the understated backdrop of this mountain home. “We opted to do neutrals and greens so the interiors wouldn’t fight with treetop views,” interior designer Nancy Warren says. “Then we layered the items to get a collected look. The fabrics are informal but warm; gilded finishes add sophistication. The owners wanted the home to be charming but with an edge, to be comfortable but classic.”
Just take a look at the great room, where a round table surrounded by a mix of damask-dressed slipper chairs and gray-painted chairs sporting striped fabric seats. Reclaimed timbers on the ceiling and a stone fireplace surround bring rustic charm to the space.
Sullins Phelan's Birmingham home consists of a series of light-filled rooms that use scale and texture to dramatic effect. Tall French doors with a whitewashed finish visually stretch the height of the dining room. Sullins purchased the doors before the house was built, and residential designer Brian Jernigan seamlessly incorporated them as pantry doors. A recessed niche flanked by a pair of decorative windows balances the weight of the doors while echoing the arched doorways that define entrances between living spaces.
A neutral palette of gray, taupe, and steely blue complements and smooths the push-pull between the home’s architectural features. The sophisticated masculine tones are also forgiving to heavy traffic. “I needed this house to be practically indestructible,” Sullins says. “Our sons always have friends coming and going. The boys even throw the football in the house. Sometimes I feel like our whole house is a man cave.”
The dining room chairs make a bold statement with their flame-stitch fabric. “I love mixing modern prints with antiques,” Sullins says. “When the dining chairs were made, no one would have dreamed of putting this fabric on them.”
Decorator Sally Wheat's design is sleek and contemporary with midcentury-modern antiques and touches of sparkle and glamour. In the formal dining room, upholstered chairs with metal frames—a famous silhouette from midcentury designer Milo Baughman—surround a large trestle table. A sinuous chandelier in the dining room serves as a floating sculpture. “It is plaster of Paris and very lightweight,” Sally says. A mix of eras is the key to Sally's modern look—note the 19th-century French Louis Phillippe mirror topping a sleek white buffet with gold hardware—a midcentury modern classic by designer John Widdicomb.
Simple window sheers blend in with the walls. “I’ve always kept window treatments very nondescript to blend in with walls," Sally says. "If I did a color, then I’m locked in and can’t change it when I get tired."
Bold & Beautiful
Florida is a trove of architectural diversity. Consider Henry Flagler’s Beaux Arts Palm Beach mansion, which is now the Flagler Museum, or George Merrick’s experimentations with French, Chinese, and Dutch South African styles during his development of Coral Gables. So erecting an English Tudor manse in Fort Lauderdale is not out of context. It did present some challenges, though, for architect William Taylor and his wife, designer Phyllis Taylor—who are co-authors with Beth Dunlop of Classic Florida Style: The Houses of Taylor & Taylor (Monacelli Press, 2014)—when clients asked them to build a classic English-style home sans anything tropical.
Inside, Phyllis balanced traditional and modern influences to create interiors with a youthful twist suitable for a young couple with three preteen children. “It was important that furniture frames were modern and sleek,” she says. “And if we used a traditional frame, it has a very contemporary expression in the upholstery or color.”
The wood frames of the dining room windows are painted to mimic the look of steel. The hue extends to the wainscoting. The walls above are covered in a stitched red fabric glazed and buffed to appear like leather.
Gracious Dining Room
One of the perks of building a custom home is the ability to create spaces that reflect the way you live. For Marcia and Mark Miller of Atlanta, that meant calling on architect Peter Block to draft a floor plan that included only useful spaces and working with designer Joel Kelly to fashion interiors for real life—no for-show-only rooms or fussy finishes. “We wanted a jewel box that was comfortable and inviting, where our kids and future grandkids could plop down,” Marcia says. “We love old-world style, but also wanted something that was a little quirky.”
Comfort was the guiding principle as Kelly and Marcia chose a color scheme and furnishings in step with the home’s architecture. “The neutrals were inspired by sepia photos we looked at in books about Lutyens and his designs,” Kelly says.
The great room’s dining space has a peaceful aura thanks to a tone-on-tone approach that uses texture rather than color to entertain the eye. The upholstery on the antique chairs, for example, is a single color, but the seats are covered with leather while the backs feature silk panels. European-inspired Juliska dishes also add geometric interest but in neutral fashion.
Light and Lovely
A little timeworn yet still grand, this 1929 Georgian home in Little Rock boasted classic architecture features that spoke to Stephen and Wendy LaFrance’s passion for traditional style. Yes, it was a little dusty and missing its luster in 2009 when they bought it, but they were sure designer Kevin Walsh could help them make it shine again.
Reviewing a photographic history of the home, added to by each of the property’s previous owners, prompted Walsh to include bronze-and-crystal chandeliers, hand-painted wallpaper, and stone and wood surfaces. All were inspired by details that once decorated the home. Walsh then gave the home an updated lift by mixing streamlined arrangements of midcentury modern pieces with refurbished French antiques. “The LaFrances wanted a home that was fresh, breezy, easy, and a little glamorous, but still timeless and in keeping with the home’s original design,” he says.
In the dining room, a gray stain brightened by gilded details refreshes chair frames, while hand-painted wallpaper and an Oushak rug continue the soothing scheme and contribute understated pattern. Blue-banded ivory silk drapery panels, French-style chairs, and mirrored French doors add to the room’s elegance. “Those doors keep the room light-filled, catch the room’s design nuances, and let you see things from around the room,” Walsh says.
Thanks to the work of interior designer Susse Budde, this Colorado mountain retreat seamlessly blends the homeowners' juxtaposed preferences for rustic and refined resulting in a house easily welcomes large numbers of far-flung family members for long, cozy weekends and activity-packed holidays, all in sophisticated—yet approachable—mountain style.
“His taste is reflected in the building itself, in the more permanent things like walls and floors and ceilings, which are nearly all made of reclaimed wood,” Budde says. “Her taste can be seen in the interior design, which is all about modern furniture mixed with steel and glass.”
The furnishings are atypical, that’s for sure,” Budde says. “You’d expect a mountain home to have lots of giant leather chairs with rolled arms, nailhead trim, and plaid pillows, all of which would have been fine here. But we weren’t going for fine. We wanted to create something extraordinary.”
In spite of the home’s palette of cool, gray neutrals—chosen so breathtaking mountain views and noteworthy furniture silhouettes would take center stage—colorful art and accessories perform key supporting roles. Also enlivening the design is an abundance of texture. “Going from steel to wood to stone is a lot more interesting than painted drywall,” says Budde.
In the dining area of the great-room, hand-blown glass orb lights float above a reclaimed-pine table surrounded by chairs with indoor-outdoor fabric seats. A stainless-steel backsplash and range hood in the adjoining kitchen add sheen to balance rustic wood- and stone-clad walls.