Comfort is the essential element of a successful interior and the hallmark of the Parish-Hadley style. In the book Sister Parish Design – On Decorating, Libby Cameron, Sister’s last protégé, and Susan B.Carter, Sister’s granddaughter, explore this aspect and much more in a series of conversations with leading decorators.
I find this book not only a very entertaining read but also very useful, with a lot of tips and valuable information for any decorator or interior design aficionado. The first chapter analyzes the rooms of a home. It’s very interesting to see that the part dedicated to the dining room is cleverly called ‘The underused dining room’. It’s a fact that the dining room is probably the least used room in a home (if you’re lucky enough to have one, of course!) That’s why more and more often we see library/dining rooms, dining rooms/studies or dining rooms located in unexpected places like a hallway.
Below I’m sharing some advice from the earlier mentioned book and great examples that will hopefully help you to create a dining room that is actually used and lived in.
Dining rooms are rooms that sometimes need to double up as another room; libraries and dining rooms are obviously wonderful together
E M M A B U R N S
Carolina Irving’s Paris dining room reveals her vast collection of reference materials, carefully organized for easy inspiration. By day, Carolina employs the space for research and work and in the evening it is home to frequent dinner parties. Jansen oak chairs are upholstered with her own Kandily pattern. Mileu Magazine
Caroline Sieber’s dining-room library is crowded with the monographs that Caroline drew on for inspiration to design her London home —Jacques Grange, Elsie de Wolfe, and Madeleine Castaing among them. A panel of Braquenie’s Tree of Life hangs on the window. Vogue UK. Oberto Gili photography
There is this convention: oh, I have a dining room, so I have to put the table in it. I say, don’t do that. Okay, if you are going to use it as a dining room, fine. But you could make it a library and do something else with the library, if there is one. Just use your house in a way that is useful to you
B U N N Y W I L L I A M S
The library-dining room-office in Frank de Biasi and Gene Meyer’s Park Avenue apartment. ‘At 7:15AM I make my way to my weekday home office—the end of our dining room table. This is a George III mahogany table (ex-Christie’s) with the sole weekend function of hosting dinner parties’ Architectural Digest
Vermont home by Billy Cotton
I love the idea of not having a complete set of dining chairs. Nancy Lancaster did this. She would often have a pair of tall and skinny wing chairs at the head of the table and single chars around it. (…) Dining rooms can often feel like dead rooms. Quite often people don’t have a nice dining table so I will just make the table out of chipboard and put a floor-length cloth over it and overlay this with another cloth on top for dining. That can look fantastic and the focus will become the chairs around the table. You can paint chairs and cover them in endless different ways
E M M A B U R N S
Emma Burns designed a delightful and inviting dining room in London using an eclectic mix of furniture, rich colors, charming objects and paintings. The variety of chairs adds to the interest of the room. Illustration by Mita Corsini Bland.
I like to encourage people to combine the dining room and make it a room that is used. Perhaps it contains a collection of things – or maybe the best solution is to make it into a library. You can add bookcases and still have your dining table, but there are more ways to use the room. You can have the dining table at one end of the room, and if it’s a living room combination, then you can make the other end more of an area where you gather around
A L B E R T H A D L E Y
A dining room by Albert Hadley. It has a light blue ceiling, a favourite Hadley hue for the upper plane. The American Empire mahogany armoire is topped by a Tibetan gong. Next to them are two works on paper by Connecticut artist Mark Sciarillo, also a metalworker, who made the sculpted bronze base of the living room’s coffee table. The vellum lampshade, the Eyelet gold-on-ivory wallpaper, and the chairs are all Hadley’s designs. Fernando Bengoechega photography. House Beautiful
The Manhattan Apartment of Albert Hadley
Albert Hadley’s former country house in Tarrytown, New York.
At Gateley Hall in Norfolk, owner Vivien Greenock has used her expertise as an interior designer to restore the once neglected eighteenth-century house and decorate it in a quintessential English style. In the entrance hall, which doubles as a dining room, eighteenth-century chairs surround a large circular table and a collection of Delftware is framed by the plasterwork above the chimneypiece. From the July 2014 issue of House & Garden.
Argentinian architect Mario Connio has chosen a striking jade green for the walls in the dining room of his Andalucian farmhouse. Family portraits and pictures by Mario’s friends are a well considered personal touch. House & Garden
Evangeline and David Bruce’s London dining room at Albany, decorated circa 1970 by Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler. Photo: John Vere Brown, copyright Colefax & Fowler
You really have to know a lot about people and how they live. Where do they have dinner? If they don’t entertain, why use the dining room for dinner parties for fourteen people who are never going to show up? Do something else interesting with it
B U N N Y W I L L I A M S