We live in a circa 1999 home that still has a formal dining room, which I love. It’s cozy, and when we entertain in there, it really feels special, almost cocoon-like. Over the years, we have shared many memorable times, lingering over melting candles with family and friends. I know the current trend is to have all of the living and entertaining spaces in one giant room, but I say bring back the cozy dining room that has a little separation. Anybody with me?
As much as I love our dining room and its feeling of being nestled in the trees that frame the outside window, it was starting to look a little tired. So, I decided to see what I could do to bring in a little freshness without spending much money. And by not spending much money, I mean keeping most of the fixed elements of the room, which in this case meant the wall color, draperies, furniture, and most of the existing wall art. And I was thinking of using my husband’s favorite color…green.
Whenever I begin a project, my approach is to go in search of inspiration, and in this case, that came in a pair of prints within a shadow box that I found at a shop in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. They had the freshness I was looking for with various shades of green, tempered with a good amount of white, and even a little gold sparkle in the stamen of the flowers. They would coordinate with the existing artwork and window treatments, and I knew that by adding more of this green and white palette around the room, it would feel lighter and brighter. These prints were just the jumping off point I was looking for.
Next, in the same shop, I found two salad sized plates that were white with green botanicals on them. These would be the perfect starting point for a fun plate wall! Lastly, I purchased two white ceramic artichoke-looking finials to sprinkle the white in other areas. At that point, my shopping was done.
The next step was to accumulate any green and white accessories I had in my decorating stash, and bring them all into the dining room. I knew I wouldn’t be using them all, but it provided options and allowed me to go into it with an open mind and edit as I went along. This is basically the same method that worked well in composing displays in my retail store, and it works well in the home environment as well. Starting with the table, I layered a green table runner over the existing runner. I removed some of the candlestick holders to give it a cleaner look, and then put a large white orchid in a terra cotta pot in the center.
Moving on to the long wall, I flanked the large gold framed mirror with the two new prints. On the built in glass shelf, I placed some books in shades of green, topped with a handmade plate from my store in Hawaii, a small plant, and one of the white finials. On the other side, the copper tray was topped with a gray urn and a greenery ball, and another white ceramic piece. So far, so good!
For the wall opposite the window, I wanted to create a plate wall in shades of green and white, with a couple of black framed pieces added to the mix. I had a green pineapple plate from our Hawaii days, as well as a white plate that had been above our kitchen cabinet. I also had a small round bird print framed in black, as well as another larger bird print just found when shopping with my sister on our recent visit. I also had a little framed sign with a saying befitting a dining room that says “With mirth and laughter, let old wrinkles come” by William Shakespeare. The final piece was a notecard made by my sister that once framed, magically had the green, white and black scheme that tied it all together.
After photographing everything, I realized the orchids on the table, while striking, were a little too “bossy.” So I moved them to sit atop the nesting tables in the corner, and placed the lower succulent arrangement in a brass pot there instead. And now with fall coming, I actually put the brass container away for a bit, and brought in a white ceramic planter from the patio and filled it with a fall arrangement of plantings and white pumpkins for the center of the table.
In the end, after raiding items from all over the house that would support the color scheme, as well as purchasing a few new things, the dining room feels refreshed and new again. Moving into the holidays, I can see the little tabletop tree sitting in the corner with ornaments in all shades of green and white.
If you have a room that is feeling a little tired or lifeless, maybe it’s time to make a few simple changes that will make it feel more contemporary. Don’t be afraid to pull things out of closets, steal items from other rooms, or find inspiration in a few inexpensive purchases. Taking on some of these mini-makeover projects can be a great way to regain some enthusiasm during this pandemic, as well as a way to pass the time until we can entertain, and have mirth and laughter in our homes once again.