When we were shooting all of the content up at the house, I found myself here a lot, whether writing, planning or just chatting. Today, we’re breaking down all the key elements that we brought into this room to help it feel upscale and sophisticated while still keeping it interesting and casual…and how you can do the same in your own home.
So to give the walls some interest, we brought in a bold paper done in a quiet color. The pattern helps to move the eye around the room, while the tonal blueish-gray color doesn’t compete with all that beautiful woodwork from Metrie on the bottom half of the walls.
Take a look at the picture below and you’ll see that there are a lot of different wood tones in this room and yet it all seems to work well together. Moser credenza is a walnut color and the side chairs in the corner of the room are a blonde wood, oh and don’t forget the flooring below.
People often get scared when mixing wood tones but our rule is as long as they fit within the same tonal family, and have a similar finish (aka none that are crazy shiny next to one that is super rustic) they can work together in the room. For example, if you were to mix cherry wood with a honey oak with a warm walnut, then things might start looking chaotic and random but when you mix woods of varying color within the same tonal family, they all complement each other rather than work against each other. The different wood tones help to bring interest and energy to the room and also give it the warmth that we wanted with the walls and ceiling being mostly white and gray.
Moser) on the back wall is a piece that we all loved so much that we wanted it to really have an important spot in the home. The height of it worked perfectly in the room (one of our dining room design rules is that your credenza/buffet should be the same height as your table, but ideally higher, so…check), and set against the wall paneling flanked by two Rejuvenation sconces gave us a perfect focal point between the windows from Milgard. More of her work is available through Mantel which is a local PDX store that Brady and the crew sourced so many beautiful pieces from for the shoot (we also wrote about it in our Portland design-lovers guide post here).
I was unfortunately out of town when they visited the store but I ended up buying so much of it to take home with me to LA (including this vase) that I still consider it a major win. Above the credenza, we knew we wanted a piece of art but it needed to be something that was tonal as to not compete with the wallpaper and also not too formal or serious.
We had to have four people help us move out the dining table in order to get this straight on shot but it was worth it. To contrast with the refined nature of the credenza, we brought in this massive live edge table from City Home which gave us our “raw” element.
I love the way that it brings the outdoors in with its live edge—it is Portland after all, just look out the windows, while still feeling refined enough to work in a formal dining room. The base of the table is black iron which helped everything in the room feel a bit more graphic and edgy.
To edge it up a bit more, we brought in the black chairs rather than use a brown wood tone. They have a slight mid-century bent to them but work perfectly with some of the traditional elements that are happening elsewhere in the room.
I will always be a fan of having a cushion on a dining room chair because well, cushions are comfy and comfy chairs make for good, long dinner parties (which is only a good thing if you actually like the people you’re dining with).
But on the other hand, they also may not be the most practical with kids that could smear peanut butter and jam all over. The gray also ties in the slate blue from the wallpaper to bring in that middle tone between black and white. I was (and am) very tempted to get a set of these for our home in LA as they come in a handful of color and fabric options and are extremely comfortable and practical.
We get this question all the time: “How do you style your formal dining table when it is not set for a dinner?” While there are a lot of different ways to do this that could work for this space, we wanted the room to feel both high end but special so we chose to go the route of an object—a vase—and then repeated it over and over in various shapes and sizes down the center of the table. “Repeat multiples of something to create a large impact,” in this case, the sculptural vases and vessels.
Probably not due to the fact that their little hands could knock one of those down like pins in a bowling alley, but since we were styling the home to stage and sell, we wanted to give the table a special moment. It also gave us a chance to highlight the gorgeous work of Bobbie Specker (who also made the vase on the credenza that I took back to LA with me). The black vessel ties in with the vases on the table, and the candlesticks (by Bosque Design via Mantel) and bowl (by Elise McLauchlan via Mantel) introduce new shapes but in wood tones already present in the room. In the corners of the room, we had extra space so we styled them out with side chairs from Structube that are insanely affordable (under $250 each I believe) and bring in a new silhouette.
Do you see a theme going on here of introducing new elements but keeping things tonally within the same family to create interest while still helping it feel upscale? We have a big post we are working on about how to pull together a lighting plan for the entire home and trust me it is a lot to think about so we really want to dissect it for you in a post but let’s for a moment talk about how we did it in the dining room and why it works. We could have mixed brass with another metal and it could have worked (like we did in the kitchen with the hardware and fixtures) but this was a formal dining room and therefore we wanted to keep it feeling high-end and refined.
Because we have the wallpaper, the woodwork and all the lines happening on the windows and doors, we wanted a chandelier that read more like one large visual mass than a piece with a lot of different arms or details.
The warmer tones in the glass help to balance out the warmth that is happening on the floor and the brass reads refined and elegant. The sconces have a slight “classic schoolhouse” lean to them which ties into the PDX vibe and lighting in the rest of the home but the clear glass and the polished brass finish elevate it and help it from feeling too utilitarian.
On the opposite side of the room in our dry bar niches, we hung the Small Ignis pendant (from Rejuvenation) above each. When we designed the room, we had two little niches in the dining room which became the perfect area to add some built-in cabinetry and create a spot that would work as a bar and to hold platters and other “entertaining” tabletop items. To bounce the light from the opposite side of the room, we also added these mirrors to the back of the dry bar. On the countertops, we used the Ella Matte from Cambria which is a material that is not only extremely stain resistant and user-/family-friendly but in this little niche looks like a natural stone. This was done in the family room which you see in the distance here where we pulled a tone from the wallpaper into this sofa (from Lulu and Georgia). You’ll also notice the hits of black in the dining chairs that are echoed in the barstools in the kitchen as well as the art on the family room wall.
That might be a good topic for a blog post (unifying adjacent rooms with design and how to do it?) We wanted to create something that was special, unique and interesting while still feeling sophisticated and high end, and I think we did it with this room. The wonderful JP Macy of Sierra Custom Homes was the General Contractor, and Annie Usher was the architect.