Dining Room Designed for Art

For an artist whose paintings were left to gather dust, a gallery-style dining room designed by Kristie Barnett created the perfect place to put them on display.

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Gallery-Inspired Dining Room Kristie Barnett Photo Courtesy of Melanie G Photography

Designer Kristie Barnett shows she's a color-palette pro and a talented decorator to boot when she turns a boring brown dining area into an elegant masterpiece for her client, an artist.

Describe the homeowner's wish list.

This makeover was mainly about color and creating a beautiful backdrop for art and ambiance for casual dining. The farmhouse table and slipcovered chairs set the scene for a relaxed dinner party.


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What was the biggest issue the design addressed?

The homeowners love art, but the room was previously the color of peanut butter. This is not the color you want as a backdrop for landscape art, and it doesn’t do anything good for antique wood furniture. Tan, brown, orange or red paint can either compete with wood finishes or make the wood simply fade into the wall color. I love using blues and greens in rooms with lots of wood finishes. Those colors in the background make wood look richer.

Describe an obstacle in the space.

The biggest obstacle was convincing the homeowners to paint the ceiling such a dark color! They were concerned that the ceiling would appear lower, but it actually recedes and feels like night sky. They also weren’t sure about my recommendation to paint the area below the chair rail in trim color and finish – instant wainscoting with no wood added!

How did the end result match your original vision?

It actually came out exactly as I would have hoped. The only thing I really would have liked to see was a new light fixture. I offered the clients a few beautiful options for statement lighting above the table, but the budget was limited. As an alternative, I suggested painting out the existing brass fixture in a wrought-iron finish. I think it turned out great.

What lessons did you learn from this project?

I am always delighted and amazed at the transforming power of paint. Paint color is my specialty, and I really believe that just the right color and color placement can take a room from meh to amazing, even on a limited budget.

What are the hidden gems that make a big difference?

The homeowner is a prolific landscape artist, but most of his art was tucked away in a storage room upstairs before the dining room makeover. By choosing the right paint colors to best complement his work, the art is now the focus in this room. The homeowners gave me free reign to choose which pieces looked best in regard to color, size and scale in this space. His work is available for sale at www.garyyoungstudio.com.

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