Candice Olson: Dress your dining room with luxury touches

Scripps Howard News ServiceAugust 16, 2013 

After adding some final accessories, including an ornate mirror and a deep pile area rug, this dining room was complete.

SHNS FILE PHOTO COURTESY HGTV — Newscom

I simply adore getting dressed up for a special occasion. I feel incredible stepping out in luxurious fabrics and a bit of bling.

That’s also how I feel about special-occasion dining rooms. Because these aren’t everyday spaces, they contain all sorts of drama for that once-in-a-while “wow” event.

I had the opportunity to design just such a room for my clients Christine and Adrian. They live in a stunning, century-old farmhouse dripping with character. While most of the house was well lived-in, their dining room sat drab, unloved and unused.

The room had great bones but needed lots of work – from the dated ceiling to the old wallpaper to the dismal lighting. I knew I’d need my most dramatic techniques to turn this space into a special-occasion dining room.

The first order of the day was replacing the crumbling plaster ceiling with white crown molding and coffered ceiling panels, both of which complement the house’s historical character. I also replaced a set of windows with French doors, leading out to the grand patio and allowing in more natural light.

It may sound funny, but the room’s color palette was inspired by a gorgeous blouse I picked up on a romantic trip to Paris with my husband. Something about the shirt’s dark teal and black coloring, combined with its lovely beading and dramatic silk, captured the look I wanted for the room.

I replaced the old floral wallpaper with a more dramatic damask pattern, trimmed with paint in the same dark teal tone as my blouse. For an even more exciting effect, I called in a specialty painter who stenciled and painted a glossy black glaze over the pattern’s raised areas, which made the walls really pop. For the French doors’ drapes, I chose simple flowing panels in a rich teal velvet.

Dining rooms are really all about the table and the chairs. Christine and Adrian had a lovely pedestal table that could seat several people. I had it sprayed in a light gray lacquer to match the rest of the palette.

A common mistake people make regarding dining rooms is to buy a matching set of table and chairs, which can be monotonous. I like to mix guest chairs in one style and head chairs in another for a more interesting, dynamic look. For Christine and Adrian, I chose an eclectic mix: comfy guest chairs in a deep charcoal and two glamorous end chairs upholstered in teal fabric on the front and a sparkly, silver-flecked black fabric on the back.

I then installed new recessed custom cabinetry in which the couple can display their gorgeous china. A new, smoky-quartz countertop on the existing buffet is simply gorgeous.

As for lighting, I installed halogen recessed lighting in the ceiling, two crystal sconces on one wall, two polished nickel lamps on the buffet and an incredible crystal chandelier over the dining table.

A lot of the room’s drama is created by artificial light – bright, white light that enhances the glitter of the crystal and the sparkle of polished surfaces. Add a bit of candlelight and the room will simply dazzle in the evenings.

With a few final accessories – including an ornate mirror and a deep-pile area rug – the dining room was complete.

By using the principle of special-occasion dining-room design and using color and texture in super-dramatic fashion, I created a space that absolutely glitters. And when the sun goes down, it’s party time!

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