How to Design the Perfect Dining Room

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Advice from interior designer Chuck Bolton.

Author: Marsha Fottler


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Chuck Bolton Sarasota

“The 2013 Pantone color of the year was emerald green; that was my inspiration for the dining room I did for this month’s Jewels on the Bay showhouse. Dining rooms are my favorite pro-ject—they should be a standout space, and custom wallpaper is almost always the right choice. Generally, I key the color palette to the client’s china pattern, but if the china is plain then I look for inspiration in an area rug, window coverings, colors in the rest of the house, or a color the client loves and hasn’t tried yet.

“Dining rooms in new construction tend to be small, if they are included at all, but they can still be grand-looking. The secret is to scale the furniture to the room size and to the ceiling height and don’t overcrowd the space. In a tight dining room, you need a serving side board, table and chairs—no china cabinet. Repurpose that piece of furniture for another room. You’ll want a really gorgeous chandelier above the table, perhaps an area rug under the table. If there’s wallpaper, then a mirror on the wall. If the room is painted, then a few pieces of art or maybe a fabulous ceiling treatment.

“Most homeowners hang a chandelier too high. If your ceiling is 8 feet high, go up 30 inches from the table top. For every additional foot of ceiling height, go up another three inches. If your table is long, center the chandelier and then install pinpoint lights in the ceiling near the ends of the table to make crystal and china sparkle and gleam. Never put a ceiling fan over a table. It’s ugly and can ruin the temperature of the food you’re serving.

“If you dine in an open-concept floor plan that includes a kitchen and great room, keep colors consistent throughout the three areas so it all reads as one big unbroken space. If the floor is wood or stone, define the dining space with an area carpet. A chandelier or three pendants over the table further establish the space. Big or small, the key to making a dining room work is to make it really over-the-top special.”

The 19th annual Jewels on the Bay Showhouse takes place January 19 through February 16 at 2145 Alameda Ave. in the Indian Beach neighborhood. Call (941) 780-1790 for ticket information.

slipper chair

It’s a Classic: Slipper Chair

You’ll want one–or two–for any size home.

This fairly wide-bottomed and armless upholstered chair had a specific purpose in times past. It was a bedroom chair meant to accommodate ladies who wanted to sit comfortably while putting on stockings and shoes. So useful, the chair migrated to other parts of the home and in the middle of the 20th century designer Billy Baldwin perfected the style and made the slipper chair hugely popular. A pair of slipper chairs can fit into a tight corner of a room and with a small table between make a fine seating arrangement. The shape is simple, and it’s the upholstery that makes the chair either traditional or modern. Buy a slipper chair of superior construction, because you will keep it from your first cramped apartment to a grand home to a chic and spacious condominium. Designers love this chair and advise that you buy two. Use them as a pair in a room opposite a sofa or split them up to take care of odd little spaces where only a slipper chair will do.

For more Sarasota interior design and real estate news, click here to read our Real Estate Junkie blog. >>

This article appears in the February 2014 issue of Sarasota Magazine. Like what you read? Click here to subscribe. >>

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