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Divine Dining Room Makeover

A large, empty space is made over into a welcoming gathering place.

When Christina and Gavin upgraded from a small downtown condo to a sprawling 1960s ranch-style house just outside the city, they found they didn't have enough furniture, especially for the dining room. Christina's large Italian family loves to get together, and with Christina, her mother and three sisters all cooking for this close-knit family, they wanted to share meals and time together in a warm, welcoming space.

I began this makeover by installing recessed fixtures to update the lighting. Then I added a fresh coat of paint in a warm cream and a soft blue.

I had the crew drywall over the outdated brick fireplace, leaving it a blank canvas for something fantastic. Deciding to blend traditional and contemporary styles, I chose a classic cast-stone surround with an updated gas insert that has the look of a natural wood-burning fireplace. Adding double-arm sconces in brushed nickel on either side adds an extra glow.

When you're hosting meals for such a large family, you need more than a bistro-sized table. So I added a 10-foot, double-pedestal Seville table with two extensions. The table is great for a large crowd, and you don't have to worry about guests bumping their knees on corner legs.

The new table was now the dominant piece of furniture, and the lighting above had to be just as grand. A pair of classic Riley chandeliers in antique silver created just the right presence.

Gavin wanted a natural, rustic feel, so I went with a sheer fabric that mimics fine wood grain and a beautiful, leafy pattern for the drapery panels. The dining-room chairs feature solid velvet chenille on the front with button tufting, and the back is a coordinating chenille filigree fabric accented with beautiful silver nail-head detailing that picks up on the metal finishes throughout the room.

Having lots of guests results in lots of dishes and platters of food. To accommodate this, I designed cabinetry that incorporates open and closed storage and a serving area with a heavy granite countertop that can take the heat and the weight of all the food.

And for the final touches, I added a large, gorgeous carpet and perfectly placed mirrors to help bring some of the outdoors into view.

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