One of the most dramatic transformations in my home was my dining room, thanks in large part to to the eye-catching Chinese hand painted wallpaper from Griffin and Wong. I’ll be going into more depth on the paper later this week, so for now let’s look at the furniture and lighting.
The original dining room in the house had lovely wainscoting with built-in cupboards on either side of the windows. There was also an arched niche in the centre of the room that could fit a hutch. All together the room was a decent size, but with my visions of entertaining large groups (my immediate family alone is double digits), we decided to add three feet to the room as part of the addition. That bonus length combined with removing the built-in’s allowed for a table that could sit twelve when extended. It also made room for a server, so with these main pieces space planned, I set out sourcing the perfect dining table and chairs, server and hutch.
I hunted down antique and vintage tables and chairs for months, but ultimately I realized it would be nearly impossible to find such a large antique table and suite of chairs that were in my price range. After resigning myself to shopping for new pieces, I was delighted to discover Carrocel Restorations not only fixed up old pieces in need of some love as their name implied, but also did a beautiful job custom finishing and upholstering reproductions that they stock.
I have always loved the classic silhouettes of traditional Louis chairs. I had previously had the more frou-frou curvy Louis XV in my apartment, so this time I wanted a chair with more restrained lines to let the fanciful wallpaper shine. Also in terms of investing in a set of twelve, I liked how the straight lines of the Louis XVI chair feel traditional, but can be more easily modernized with a dark finish and solid neutral upholstery.
I of course usually am not one to go with anything too subdued, so I had Carrocel finish the chair frames in creamy antiqued ivory with gold leaf accents. For contrast and drama, I chose aubergine fabric, which is one of my favourite colours of all time. I wanted a buttery leather that would crackle and patina over time, but real hide was too cost-prohibitive so I went with a vinyl. I chose Kravet’s valera in currant, which looks like the real thing at a fraction of the cost. The seats are finished off perfectly with brass nailheads on the base adding a second accent of warm metal.
Because I invested in the chairs and wallpaper, I needed a simple more-budget friendly table. Carrocel offered a classic Duncan Phyfe pedestal table with minimal detailing that was in my price range that they custom stained for me in a rich walnut colour. I would have loved a table with a graphic banding detail on the perimeter, but considering I knew the table would be covered up with a cloth most of the time when entertaining, I knew it was the right decision to go with this more basic top.
The top is veneered in mahoganny, which has a beautiful highlighted grain. The pair of solid beechwood pedestals are fluted and complement the Louis XVI chair’s carvings. The final touch are the brass lion paw caps which add a dash of glam underfoot.
Next up were pieces for serving and storage as well as the only wall decor element in the entire room: a mirror (who needs art when the whole room is covered in hand painted wallpaper!) I have a lot of china, flatware and stemware and needed a place to store it. The mirror above the server and Queen Anne hutch that sits in the niche were hand-me-downs from my parents, and I love how their arched cut-out tops echo the chinoiserie motif of the paper.
For the server, I lucked out at Of Things Past, where I found this preloved gem. The fluting in the legs was a perfect fit for the chairs, but even more incredibly, it had an onyx top that was the same colour as the wallpaper background! Talk about a score!
Refinished by Carrocel in the same stain as the dining table, it looks incredible but is also functional, thanks to its heat and moisture resistant stone top and felt-lined drawer which stores my silverware. The brown veining in the onyx highlights the deeper wood tone, which is a vast improvement from the original honey stain. The mirror was also given a new look by Beresford Inc. with a coating of the same creamy paint on the dining chairs to balance the rest of the wood in the room.
When it comes to lighting, you can never go wrong with traditional crystal chandeliers and sconces. They’re eternally elegant and instantly make a room feel more sophisticated and glamorous. Although I love my antique fixture that I found at a great price from Akladios Antiques, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show you the fixture that dreams are made of:
The Metropolitan series by Lobmeyr is enough to make any decor-enthusiast go weak in the knees. Made for the NYC Opera House in 1966 which gives the fixture its name, I love its elegant elongated sputnik with just the right sprinkling of crystals. It’s less severe than the current Adler design (which is still fab, don’t get me wrong) but unfortunately is sooooo not in my price range so I went the more traditional chandelier route. My chandelier has a few mismatched crystals, but was the perfect size and scale for the table. One day I may add some shades to the lights, but for now it totally works!
(after photos by Stacey Brandford)