Ask a Designer: How to make dining room more useful
Special to The Detroit News 12:04 a.m. EST January 23, 2015
(Photo: Century Furniture)
Q. My design dilemma is my dining room that is off my great room. It’s been a space that we really only use twice a year or so for a sit-down holiday meal or buffet table for the holidays. Our kitchen, which also has a dining set, is adjacent to this space. You can be sitting at the kitchen table and look at the dining room table. Too many tables, I think!
What I’d like to do is incorporate that space into the great room area. I was thinking some sort of sitting area with a feel of a nice cocktail lounge — where you can still be a part of the great room action, somewhere you can have comfy seating with friends for a few drinks, or a place to read. I thought comfy chairs around a low coffee table would be nice, but also some sort of game table and chairs would be kind of cool (and functional), too. Would love your advice!
Jill, Washington Township
A. Margaret Skinner of Margeaux Interiors in Birmingham likes Jill’s idea of making a rarely used dining area into a functional room. “Creating a multipurpose area that can be used for additional comfortable seating, for television viewing, as well as games, reading, and even informal dining, would make great use of your space,” she says.
“Four occasional chairs like Hancock & Moore’s Abby Chairs would work nicely for the grouping. The scale of these chairs is easy to manage should you need to move them to directly face the television. Bunching tables, which do not have the leggy look of a dining table, work great for added flexibility depending on the activity. Placing all four tables together works as an appropriate size coffee table as well. Lisara Game Cubes from RJ Thomas Ltd. at Michigan Design Center give you the capability of being a game table with vintage board game options and can easily separate into a different seating arrangement.”
Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to email@example.com. Or mail them to “Ask a Designer,” c/o Michigan Design Center, 1700 Stutz Drive, Suite 25, Troy, MI 48084. Pictures are encouraged. Your question may appear in an upcoming Homestyle.
A special thanks to Jeanine Matlow for the recent feature, which focuses on layering for the home.
Layer on the looks for fall and winter
Jeanine Matlow 7:55 p.m. EDT October 23, 2014
Focus on color, and think of walls and floors, too
It’s that time of year again when more is more, whether it’s the way we approach our wardrobes or the way we dress our interiors. Layering our homes during the cooler temps lets us build on the basics while adding visual interest to our rooms.
This concept can go beyond the obvious to include the more neglected areas of the home. For instance, Margaret Skinner, principal interior designer with Margeaux Interiors in Birmingham, says we can even layer our walls with architectural details like molding and trim, as well as paint and window treatments.
“Cover them in paper or fabric and then add art,” she says. Heavier draperies can be removed in the warmer months to reveal sheers.
If you’re in a rental situation, you can camouflage unsightly elements, such as covering a dull carpet with area rugs. If you have an outside view that you’d like to disguise, try a folding screen that still allows light to filter through.
For a sofa in a color that is no longer current, Skinner suggests pillows, throws and slipcovers.
Now is the perfect time to layer your lighting to lessen the amount of darkness on those often dreary fall and winter nights. If you are relying on recessed or overhead lights, add wall sconces, floor lights and lamps.
“This can affect the way everything looks and create different moods,” Skinner says. “Take advantage of natural light as much as possible by changing the way your window treatments are functioning.”
Under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen is another easy fix, and candles can instantly change a space. Lastly, Skinner suggests lightweight fabrics and softer colors to lighten the look.
Comfort is key come this time of year. Jackie Schwartz, owner of Home Interior Warehouse — Furniture & Design in Walled Lake, says, “When we think of fall and our homes, we tend to think of warmer, cozier looks. While summer styles lean toward simple and light, now is the time for layering.”
“This can mean adding extra pillows, a cozy throw, a beautiful textured rug or a cozy shag style. Just like in clothing, fall is the time to add warmth and dazzle with accessories.”
Switch your accent pieces. “We love to focus on home accessories, such as layering a cocktail table with bound books, a pumpkin-spiced candle and incorporating a new lamp,” she says. “Consider adding an extra pattern in a throw pillow or an accessory that incorporates a big, bold print.”
Schwartz recommends introducing a pop of color during the colder months. “Think about charcoal, rust, deep teal and rich warm taupes,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of stylish, dramatic accent colors to help make the most of less daylight hours.”
Incorporate pieces you love into your rooms each season. “Rotate some special family photos featuring events from the fall and winter months into more prominent places during this time,” Schwartz says.
For information, contact Margaret Skinner at (248) 593-9774 or go to margeauxInteriors.com. To reach Home Interior Warehouse, call (248) 624-6700 or go to homeinteriorwarehouse.com.
Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.