Designer Snapshot: A Feast of Fine Design

By Paula M. Bodah 

For most of the year I find my dining room perfectly adequate. Truth be told, it gets more use as a place for me to spread out whatever I’m sewing lately. The maple table my mother prized—the site of decades of family Sunday dinners and holiday feasts—is usually covered with fabric and spools of thread and the other accoutrements of my creative efforts.

As the holiday season starts, though, I find myself thinking wistfully about how I’d love a larger, more formal space. I picture a room dedicated to welcoming friends and family, large enough to accommodate the table with all its leaves (and maybe a card table or two for overflow guests), and gracious enough to encourage conversation long after the leftovers have been stored away.

It may be a bit too late to consider a new dining room for this year’s festivities, but meanwhile I can enjoy a second look some of the exceptional dining rooms by New England designers that have graced this space.

Photo by Greg Premru

Cambridge, Massachusetts, designer Susan Reddick is known for creating rooms with classic lines, a gentle palette, and an enduring sensibility. She designed this dining room for a Greek Revival house in Cambridge. “The stage is set in this room by the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper by Gracie. The toned silver background works seamlessly with the mirrored cabinet doors, which are original to the house. The silver wall sconces were found in the house and probably were made in about 1920. We softened the light by adding hand-sewn silk lampshades. Our client prefers the lively light of candles on a table rather than a chandelier overhead. Not having a chandelier means she can change the table configuration for entertaining without having to worry about ending up with an off-center overhead light. The table and chairs by Dessin Fournir are contemporary but they have a traditional sensibility. The classic Klismos chair is by Michael Taylor. The monochromatic gray-blue rug, charmingly named Peonies—a traditional motif of Chinese art—came from Tibet via Steven King.”

Photo by Jeff Adams Photography 

As she was making her selections for Perspectives in our May-June issue, Norwell, Massachusetts–based designer Barbara Bahr Sheehan looked for items that speak to her fondness for classic shapes and designs that have been updated with a fresh, contemporary twist. That same sensibility shows in this Cape Cod dining room, where she used classic white wainscoting and a coffered ceiling, then added bright blue for a fresh vibe. “A mix of bright color/pattern and rustic finishes make this room casual and lively,” she notes. “Not a formal dining room but a few steps up from the ‘picnic table at the beach’ look.”

Photo by Michael J. Lee

My ideal dining room would have a big of dose glamour, like this dramatic space by Gerald Pomeroy. Gerald is known for his bold way with color. “For me,” he says, “it’s a perfect tool to convey intimacy, drama or the unexpected.”

In this Duxbury, Massachusetts, house, he and his clients didn’t shy away from making a statement in the dining room. “The bold color of this splashy room then became a reference accent color throughout the more or less neutral palette of the rest of the house. This color is custom, and we call it ‘melon,’ ” he says.

Photo by Michael J. Lee

Jill Litner Kaplan began her career in the world of designer fashion as a Buyer for Saks 5th Avenue in New York City. No surprise, then, that the interior designer, now based in West Newton Hill, Massachusetts, calls on that stylish background whenever she’s outfitting homes for her clients all around New England. Just accessories can make or break an outfit, the same is true for dressing up a room, Jill says. In this warm and sophisticated dining room, a commanding Berman Rosetti table grounds the space, while stunning Fuse Lighting with pendants with chunks of frosted rock crystal float above. A rich palette of aubergine—in the Michaelian & Kohlberg rug and in the flocked chenille from Lee Jofa on the armchairs—makes a dramatic counterpoint to the quiet bisque color of both the walls and the Michael Berman dining chairs sheathed in a Pierre Frey fabric. A graphic Robert Rauschenberg print adds a jolt of bright color and brings the aubergine and rose tones to the wall.

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