Dining room solutions

In January during a blackout our pipes broke resulting in water damage to a number of rooms in our home. What was a bit of a disaster turned into a positive for me because it finally got me moving to do something about  one of my biggest decorating problems.  That would be my dining room.... See my complaints in this  post .  It's quite a list. 

Too much of a good thing

This is how it all looked  in early 2000 .....

problems furniture arrangement dining room
Wood, wood and more wood

Problem lines  

Wood everywhere isn't the only problem.  Note the all the horizontal lines from the buffets to the railing,  a light hung too high and a window that has a view of the window next door.   Below is my first attempt to solve some of the highlighted problems.

arranging dining room furniture
 A different orientation solves some problems

Rearrange and add

I liked the changes and that satisfied me for a short time.  The new light was a good height and the roundness worked well against all the rectangles.  I also added longer (very temporary and too short) drapes to break some of the horizontal lines.    I moved the art work from  the living room to dining room,  and created some height and brightness on the dining table.  Still seriously problematic in my book because I did nothing to alleviate the wood issue, but it was improved but sorely lacking  pizazz.

Enter 2014... 

The power of paint and fabric

One of the cheapest updates you can make to any space is to paint something.  I don't care if it is furniture, accessories or walls, it works every time. Since we had to repaint all the walls (BM Glacier white) I continued on to paint quite a few things which I will reveal over the next several posts.  

painting upholstery dining chairs gray circles
 Bringing  it into 2014

To break up the wood and the set,  I was determined to sell all the dining chairs and buy new ones. I still don't know how I got hubby to agree to selling 8 hand made solid ash chairs because they were too matched. He was probably fed up listening to complaints!

After an extensive search,  I realized the chairs that looked best with the table  were the ones my husband made for it. I don't like sets, but in this case I had to concede.  So ... after much discussion with sister and daughter and varying opinions, I found a fabric I loved and then choose spray paint to work with it. 

I would like to say that cleaning and spray painting 8 chairs was exciting.  Not so.... But I got to use my favourite motif (circles) and my favourite colour gray. What could be better!   Part 2 coming soon... new problems and solutions. Hint:  Look at the vignettes on the buffet and table.

What do you think?  

Do you need a little luck?

We just finished two months of renovations after our broken water pipes  and I wanted something fresh and green  for my living room. I went to the florist to get a....

shamrock plant for good luck Irish

 lucky shamrock seeing it was St. Patrick's Day  and my ancestors are Irish.  The best laid plans often fizzle in the face of something more interesting or inviting. The poor old shamrock didn't get a second look when I saw this....

lucky bamboo pillar
Lucky bamboo pillar

I couldn't help myself.  I was pulled in by this  lucky  bamboo. Most bamboo plants grow into a leggy, somewhat untidy mess, and for that reason I've never bought one.  I didn't realize  there were different ways of braiding or shaping them.

So I am  now the proud owner of a lucky bamboo.  Here's my Cole's notes (am I dating myself?) version of my research on understanding them a little more:

10 facts about lucky bamboo

The lucky bamboo:
  •  has been used for 5,000 years in the practice of Feng Shui
  • arrangement can have  5 essential elements of Feng Shui- earth (rocks or pebbles), wood (stalks), water (for growth), metal (add small coin or ornament), and fire (red or orange   object added) 
  • is not a real bamboo, it is an Asian tropical water lily, botanical name "dracaena sanderiana" 
  • does well in low light, but needs a constant supply of  water (keep at 1 inch)
  • likes distilled water  or tap water left out overnight ,
  • doesn't like  water with flouride 
  •  needs a water change once a week 
  • brings luck (amount of luck it brings depends on the number of stalks) check this link
  • leaves can be toxic when ingested
  • designs are trellis, pillar, tower or "random"

Special designs

spiral triad lucky bamboo
Spiral triad

lucky bamboo pineapple braided pillar
Pineapple braided pillar
simple braided pillar lucky bamboo
Simple braided pillar
two tiered tower lucky bamboo
Two tiered tower
serpentine wall lucky bamboo
Serpentine wall 
trellis lucky bamboo
Trellis lucky bamboo 

If you want a plant in your home a lucky bamboo is your best bet if you don't have a green thumb.  It may even survive for awhile.

Using lucky bamboo in decor

lucky bamboo arrangement dining table
Using repetition of small arrangements in a dining space

lucky bamboo curled centerpiece coffee table
The sculptural quality of curled lucky bamboo makes a stunning centerpiece
curled lucky bamboo zen bathroom
Lucky bamboo in a simple design works well in a Zen bathroom 
spiral lucky bamboo arrangement console table
An  arrangement of curled  stems needs no other adornment 

Too much of a good thing


The big question

Have you ever had to call a halt to buying yet another object  that you love?  When does just enough become too much? I had to confront both questions this week while I was shopping for accessories with my sister. 

Telling it like it is

 " Oh, I love that. "  was answered with " "You don't need another one". I had to admit  then and there that I am obsessed with  birds;  circles and poppies are chasing on their heels (or feathers).   I am trying to control it, but I keep seeing so many that I love.  I'm even thinking about  a birds for next Christmas.  I already admitted that in a previous post before I realized how far I'd gone.

mid century modern birds poppy white vase
Birds,  poppy and circles- perfection in my book

Now my sister is a good one to talk!

Outdoor dining at Bonavista Social Club and listening to birds

A family thing

Vera has a bit of the same affliction and doesn't even recognize it; her focus is birds in art work. She can't pass one up without a comment. There was also a liberal smattering of birds when I featured her house at Christmas in this post.  Must be the result of growing up next to a forest.

This obsession is causing me other problems in addition to having just too many of the same thing and not enough surfaces to place them.

My granddaughter, age 2,  is suddenly sizing up her environment and putting things in the " I likka" or the  "I no likka" category.  Birds are in the "I no likka " camp!   What do I do about that?   If exposure is going to make her more comfortable with our fine feathered friends she's in the right house. Since most of my birds are highly stylized it took her awhile to notice they were birds, but she's on to me now.

Bird sightings 

I like to  think that I place the products of my  obsession artistically by  weaving  them into vignettes and moving them from room to room so they aren't in one space too long.

mercury bird vignette living room books coffee table
Sitting proudly in the knowledge he was the first 
kubus 4  mercury bird living room table
Not so happy with the " I no likka birds" title
Look closely.  There are two birds. Oh my!

autumn vignette tray mercury bird fall flowers
 At home in autumn finery 
mercury bird vignette dining room
His latest home on the dining room table
white stylized bird on shelf
Bird sighting in the family room
Yes, they get around. But some are stationary. 

hummingbird key hook

There's the  hummingbird key hook, 

filigree bird with wreath

and the filigree bird hanging in my wreath thanks to my friend who also likes birds.  Yes, it all adds up.

Kubus4 blackbird red pot vignette
Black bird
 My latest acquisition and hopefully my last. Thanks Target. But will it be my last?

You can always dream

Eames house bird shelf

But...... this is the one I dream about and will probably never have (unless the lotto comes my way or my relatives decide on a group gift). I'd pitch that Target bird in a heartbeat.

Please tell me that you too have an object obsession~!  Time to own up. 

Seeing double

 I couldn't resist this title. Anyone who knows me well will laugh when they see it because I do in fact have double vision  resulting from a fall.  Not to worry clients, it is corrected with a special lens in my glasses.

Two of something is often  considered boring in interior design, but as you know there are exceptions to every rule. Usually you will find one mirror in an interior, but in some cases two can be much more interesting and effective than one.

Think about  using two mirrors when you :

 Have double sinks

double mirrors bathroom
Double mirrors in bathroom

 I like the change from the predictable one large mirror you see in most bathrooms.  While there are lots of  double mirror applications above sinks,  what brings this one up a notch is the inclusion of art in the space between the mirrors.

 Need to extend horizontal lines

double mirrors bedroom
Mirrors supporting a  headboard

This is an interesting take on using mirrors in a bedroom. We have all seen them mounted mirror height behind night  tables, but this placement brings mirror use to a new level.     The mirrors add depth to the room and provide a reflective surface that is so necessary in every space.  I feel a conscious decision was made to extend the visual line of the bed itself into a larger rectangle. How do I know this?   The art work above the bed has been added to complete the second rectangle.  Very nice.

Want to add symmetry and depth

 Adding depth in a small dining space

 Double mirrors are a fantastic solution when you want to add symmetry to a space. Everything about this space is right especially the scale.  Think how uninspiring the room would be with two small mirrors or how out of proportion the mirrors would look without the equally large twig arrangement.  I call this effect creating a visual destination.

Want to replace art work 


Above a sofa

Mirrors are used to good advantage in a small space because they visually enlarge it.  Check out what is reflected in your mirrors.  If it's something you don't like skip the mirror idea and go with a piece of art that has depth.

  Need to fill an awkward space

Vertically stacked round mirrors
Sara Richardson

This take on mid-century styling is one of my favourite Sara Richardson  designs.  The stacked mirrors fill the narrow vertical space so nicely,  repeat the circular shape in the coffee table, and soften the many rectangular and triangular motifs used throughout the space.

Repeat a shape

Mirrors repeat door shape

Mirrors add sparkle to a bathroom and they are certainly functional.  Not quite sure I would want to sit in a tub and look at myself, but I do like how the stacked mirrors draw your attention away from the fact that the tub extends out into the room.  The mirrors are also placed to create a larger rectangle with the door.

Solve several problems

Mirrors repeat shape in pillows

These mirrors are a powerhouse of design:  they expand the space by mimicking the window; create depth in a small space;  increase the visual width so the window doesn't overpower the sofa; reflect the light from the lamps; repeat the geometric motif in the pillows;  provide symmetrical elements; and add subtle darks with the inlay. That's the whole meal deal!

Mirrors aren't just for looking in.  They are strong design  elements in any space and when you use them wisely they provide huge impact. I've written about mirrors before and provided a link to a great article on mirrors in it.  Check it out.  We seldom think about mirrors as problem solvers, but they can be.   Do you have a space where double mirrors would solve a design problem? Do tell.

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