I have seen a recurrent theme in many blogs this year of working with what you have. And, in that spirit, this is what I am doing with my dining room set. Because of the 'new' dining room furniture, my current dining room style is quite formal, traditional, and a bit heavy: the chairs are chippendale style, the sideboard Sheraton, and the table a double pedestal. I recently painted the dark walls in Farrow & Ball clunch (a nice light neutral) and replaced the 80s brass chandelier. This helps, but further measures need to be taken to make the dining room look like a thirty-something lives here, not an eighty-something. As always, I went to my inspiration files for ideas.
This dining room is from an Atlanta real estate listing. I found it to be very striking! A wall of contemporary wall sculptures by Carrie McGee hang on wires from the ceiling. The chippendale style chairs have gauzy slipcovers, which enable the beautiful shape of the chairs to be seen. From this picture, I can see that contemporary art and sheer slipcovers help update the space.
This dining room has a lot of traditional elements, but the sisal rug and slipcovers on the seat of the chairs freshen up the space. A light color on the walls helps, as well as a chandelier that has character. Image via Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, interior by Suzanne Kasler.
This is the updated dining room in the vice president residence in Washington, DC. Years ago, then VP Dick Cheney and his wife brought in designer Frank Babb Randolph to freshen up the interiors. He brought in a neutral palette and used a lot of contemporary art to modernize the spaces. In this room, with a very traditional dining room table (on loan from the State Department), chairs (custom made for the Quayles), and sideboard, Randolph used a large dramatic piece of contemporary art and billowing silk curtains, as well as a light color scheme. The contemporary art instantly updates the space. Image via the Washington Post.
This dining room is one of my favorites, although looking at the details it is still very traditional. The neutral rug and the fresh color combination makes it very lively, and more youthful.
When I was thinking about painting my dining room, fellow blogger Cote de Texas said that she instantly thought of this image. The chandelier, sconces, and dining set are very traditional. However, the slipcovers for the chairs brings in a fresh pattern, the bare floors make the room clean and uncluttered, and the color palette is current.
Another option is to use a trendy chandelier to update the look of a dining room. I am not a trendy person, though. If I am going to get a chandelier, it will be a chandelier for the long haul.
Another way to update the look of old furniture is to paint the chairs. Image via Sarah Richardson Design.
Here are two chairs that Eddie Ross found at a flea market. The finish was originally a typical brown mahogany, but he stripped the old finish off, and painted the chairs this lovely color of aqua. As much as painting my chairs tempts me, I know that I could never make such a dramatic change to them. Besides that, I think my mother-in-law would kill me!
So here are my conclusions: a neutral rug (preferably sisal), contemporary art, slipcovers to update the chairs. Painting the chairs would really update the look, but is out of my comfort zone. A really trendy chandelier would update the look too. Any other ideas? If so, please post them in the comments!