05/16/2012 12:43 EDT | Updated 07/16/2012 05:12 EDT

A Dining Room Fit for Royalty

Sometimes living in a room that's badly designed isn't the worst thing in the world. Trust me -- this is a fact! Living in a room that has no design whatsoever, is even worse. I've learned this from my many clients over the years that have moved into new houses and just can't figure out where to begin. At least if the space is painted an ugly color, or has bad flooring you know what NOT to do! But a room that is plain white provides no direction whatsoever, and what usually ends up happening is that it stays that way for a long time.



When faced with just this situation, I find the hardest part is to figure out where to start. I always say start with the hard surfaces -- the walls and the floor. In this particular dining room I recently designed, the floors were in pretty good shape, so I decided to leave the parquet flooring alone and concentrate on bringing the space to life through the walls and furniture.

I began by having a faux finish applied to all four of these plain white walls and the result was the look of burnished gold. A metallic raw umber finish was brushed over gold paint and it instantly brought colour and texture into the space. The inspiration had begun! I had chosen to work with a Harlequin theme in here, which would allow me to bring in the classic design of a formal dining room, while still being fun and whimsical.

Since the walls made such a strong statement, I needed the window treatment to be equally as poignant. I chose a rich deep red color in a crinkled silk fabric and had two heavy side panels made for the solitaire window in the room. Since the view of the neighbor's yard was nothing to write home about, I covered the entire centrr of the window with a single sheet of classic black-and-white striped fabric. This added to the drama and worked well with my theme.

One of the best tricks we used in this room was on the moldings. Simple builder's moldings were in place and we didn't want to spend all the money needed to have custom trim work made. So we visually extended the moldings by trimming what was already there with matching pieces, and painting them all together in a glossy white. You'd never know this wasn't one thick, expensive stretch of molding across the entire ceiling.

The centerpiece of the room of course is the dining table. I chose a dark-stained round table, as round tables are able to seat more people than square or rectangular ones. For the chairs, I had them covered in the same red fabric that's on the window treatment, and even the narrow piping around the edges matches the black-and-white window fabric too!

It's a small touch, but one that has big impact. Overtop of the table we hung a traditional crystal chandelier, and put a few pot lights in key areas around the room. They all work together to bring out the sparkle and the shimmer of the gold walls and red silk fabric. Underneath the dining table I placed a dark, lush area rug. Not only would this provide something soft underfoot, but it also helped absorb sound in this big boxy space.

Choosing the palate of red, black and gold was a bold move, I admit. But this type of room is just the place to try something exciting. My client didn't have anything to work from, so it was up to me to help her find a design direction. Look for inspiration in books, magazines and even other people's homes -- then be brave and take a chance with a room in your home. The result can be just as delicious and decadent as it was here!