Blue Plate Special

Given today’s frantic schedules and harried households, the stand-alone “formal” dining room runs the risk of becoming obsolete in many homes, its role usurped by grab ‘n’ go meals and quick dinners at the kitchen table. But I’m a firm believer in the benefits of a proper place to gather and dine. Assemble a group, cook up a feast, uncork a bottle (or two) and let the good times roll.

by Sarah Richardson,

sarah richardson sarah's house 4 blue dining room

The look

I prefer the cool contrast of rich blues against warm wood furniture. Here, I used denim-blue grasscloth above the chair rail and teal paint below. I also added custom plaster crown moulding (installed in a day for about $8 a linear foot) for much-needed architectural interest.

Lower walls: Ocean Liner SR11, ceiling: Jetstream SR18. Trim: Snowfall SR29, Sarah Richardson Designer Palette for Para Paints. Grasscloth on walls, Thibaut. Horse photo artwork, Love the Design. Area rug, dining table, round mirrors, Elte. Chandelier, Union Lighting & Furnishings. Light sconces, Residential Lighting Studio. Plaster crown mouldings, F.B. Mouldings.

sarah richardson sarah house 4 dining room blue grasscloth brass candlesticks

Brass is back

So dive into your closets and dig out some old treasures, from sconces and chandeliers to trays and candlesticks. The last two can also be picked up for a song at consignment shops and flea markets.

Brass candlesticks, cutlery, blue glass pedestal bowl, Around the Block. Blue glass vase, IKEA.

sarah richardson sarah house 4 dining room blue bench

Tripple your pleasure

Instead of a single upholstery fabric, use up to three for extra pizzazz. On the dining room chairs, the seats were covered with mohair velvet and the backs in a smooth, casual-looking linen, while the jaunty, wide-striped cotton piping and backs reinforce the nautical theme.

Lindsay bench, custom photography, Sarah Richardson Design. Silk pillows on bench, blue napkins, West Elm

sarah richardson sarah house 4 dining room blue stripe chairs grasscloth

Go divinely deco

If your goal is to blend classical looks with a more contemporary line, you’ll love the look of vintage Art Deco furniture. Besides being beautiful, the walnut credenza, with its curved doors, two-tier top and ample storage space, can hold vast stores of china and crystal.

Dining chairs, FOC. Dining-chair seat and inside-back fabric, bench fabric, Designer Fabrics. Stripe on dining chairs, drapes, drapery hardware, inVU Drapery Co. Sideboard, Florentine side tables, Florentine tray, Of Things Past. Orchid pots, placemats, Crate & Barrel. Brass bowls, Grr8 Finds. Chair rail (#189), Brenlo.

sarah richardson sarah house 4 dining room blue stripe chairs grasscloth

Get vintage inspiration

The colour scheme in this room originated with a set of vintage dishes discovered in a consignment shop for just $175. As for settings, start with a basic antique set, then layer boldly patterned newer plates over top.

Vintage china set, Elegant Garage Sale. Peacock accent plates, Anthropologie. Wineglasses, William Ashley.