Contemporary Dining Room

This dining room became one of my favorite projects.

When I meet with a client to present my ideas for a design project, I come prepared with samples, tear sheets, and specific products.  This way, the finished room is true to the original vision.  When working on this dining room, I was so fortunate to have a client who was open to unexpected ideas.  While her style was reserved in many ways, she had a contemporary edge that particularly shows in the completed dining room.  By giving me carte blanche with this room, my client pushed me to be creative in designing a strong, confident room that combines traditional elements for a funky effect.

After getting to know this client by asking questions and spending time learning about her lifestyle and tastes, I went back to my studio to put together a presentation.  These are some of the individual elements I presented.  Sometimes it can be difficult for clients to look at these separate pieces and create a mental image of how they will come together in the finished room, but in this case we had a perfectly shared vision.

Restoration Hardware chair, before staining and reupholstering.
Restoration Hardware chair, before staining and reupholstering.
Light fixture and Greek Key pattern for ceiling.
Light fixture and Greek Key pattern for ceiling.
Fabric for window treatments and chandelier.
Fabric for window treatments and chandelier.
Carpet with gradated color and grasscloth wallcovering.
Carpet with gradated color and grasscloth wallcovering.

When I presented my ideas for the window treatments and ceiling, as well as the cool digital printing on the chairs, my client had faith in me that the installation would be cohesive.  When a client and I work together like this, the outcome is always a truly special interior.  That level of trust when working together produces the ideal collaboration.  Seeing the dining room bring together so many eclectic parts and become a wholly unique, exciting room was a testament to the relationship between client and designer.

Amy Aidinis Hirsch Interior Design
The finished dining room.
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Detail of finished chair.
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Greek Key wallcovering by Schumacher.
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Window treatments, light fixture, and grass cloth wallcovering in completed room.

One of the challenges in designing this room was finding the right dining table.  My client wanted a table with versatility that would also give the room needed weight.  After an exhaustive search, we were able to design a table similar to another style we liked, but using different materials to achieve exactly the right look.  Brass bands were added to the table legs at the last minute to give the piece some needed jewelry.  The chandelier by Tony Duquette adds a bit of glam to the dining room.

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The brass bands were the perfect finishing detail here.
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Same chandelier presented above in a different finish. Perfect vintage vibe.

One focal point of this whimsical room is the art, a piece the client found.  I love it when my clients discover artwork; it’s such a personal, emotional choice and when the client has a hand in choosing the artwork, the room is a truer reflection of their taste and style.  This piece enhances the room’s art deco edge with whimsy.

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Love the art my client chose!

Other fun details add to the personality of the dining room, giving it added color and visual interest.

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Bar cart with rivet details.
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Even the greenery is funky.

This dining room became one of my favorite projects.  It is more artistic than most rooms I’ve designed and really shows the voice of the client as well as the result of an ideal collaboration between designer and homeowner.

Favorite Things: Dining Chairs

Whether the dining room is formal or informal, the dining chairs are an important part of the room.

Whether the dining room is formal or informal, the dining chairs are an important part of the room.  They add a sculptural element that can be very present in the room without competing with the rest of the space.  I like to mix and match the chairs, using one consistent style for the side chairs and another, complimentary, design for the host chairs.  I also like to add layers to the chairs by using different materials to cover the seat or back, depending on what works for the shape of the piece.  Comfort is an important factor in choosing dining chairs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also look great!

1.  Royere Armless Dining Chair from Mattaliano.  Love this art deco inspired chair – so chic.

2.  A recent dining room project, where I used host chairs from Hickory Chair Furniture Co.

3.  Greek key infusion, from 1st Dibs.

4.  Vendome Side Chair from Jasper.

5.  Poliform Grace chair.

6.  Another dining room, where I installed these beautiful Queen Anne chairs from Jasper.  A very classic and traditional chair!

7.  Matahari Home Chair – for a more informal and casual dining chair, this one is perfect and so comfortable.

8.  Martin Host Chair with Loose Cushion – great as a header chair.

9.  Gothic Chair by Moooi

10.  1940s French Upholstered Barrelback Chair From Restoration Hardware – Think about using two different fabrics, one for the front and the other for the back.  Stain the legs darker and it is a totally different chair. I just did it for a client and it is an amazing transformation!

11.  Great combination with the rush back, from Dering Hall.

12.  Robsjohn-Gibbings Klismos chairs.

A Library in the Dining Room

I’ve seen a few examples lately of built-in bookcases creating a library in a dining room, and it’s an unconventional concept I really like.

I’ve seen a few examples lately of built-in bookcases creating a library in a dining room, and it’s an unconventional concept I really like.  Incorporating an idea like this into your home works for a few different reasons.

First, everything is integrated.  You have one space to inhabit in different ways, whether it’s enjoying a meal together as a family, relaxing with a book while you wake up with your morning coffee, or entertain friends against a cozy backdrop of books.  Or, incorporating something like a wine fridge into the bookcases introduces another really cool concept.

Library with wine fridge via Modest Home Libraries
Design by Jonathan Adler

Including bookshelves in a common room of the home is a lifestyle idea that’s great for families with kids.  With so many of our media choices now relegated to computer screens, TV screens, iPads, and electronic readers, placing books in a position of priority in your home, within easy reach of little hands, sends a powerful message.  It also encourages parents to read in front of their children and talk to their children about books.  What’s not to love about creating a book-centric culture in such an important room in the home?

Image via Elle Decor
Eclectic design, image via Maureen Bower

The idea of a library in the dining room is also great because it works in so many different ways.  Whether your home design style is rustic, traditional, modern, or more hip, stocked bookshelves can easily be incorporated into the dining room.  You don’t have to commit to a specific look to make this concept work.  I think David Kleinberg, in particular, has designed some really great spaces by incorporating a home library into the dining room.

Design by David Kleinberg
Design by David Kleinberg

 

at home: Meet Our A-List Winners

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder. But good design is in the eye of the homeowner–it must appeal in a visual way while also satisfying the needs of those who live with it.

I am so honored to have been chosen as one of at home’s A-List Winners!  Here’s the full article and photos of the dining room that earned this award.

at home magazine presents the Second Annual A-List Awards 2011

Meet Our A-List Winners

Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder.  But good design is in the eye of the homeowner–it must appeal in a visual way while also satisfying the needs of those who live with it. It’s no coincidence, then, that the striking projects selected by our esteemed judges to win this year’s A-List competition are also those that wow with their smart solutions and livability. We caught up with the award-winning professionals and their clients to find out what sets the A-List apart from the pack. Their stories reveal a host of creative ideas that are certain to inspire first-rate home projects in the future.

When Liria Heidenreich was looking for design help for her shingle-style house in Greenwich, her sister-in-law recommended Amy Aidinis Hirsch.  The young designer had already decorated the homes of other family members, so why not hers?  But the Heidenreichs were seeking a different approach:  “They wanted to marry a modern style with a more traditional architecture,” says Hirsch.  The success of the dining room–part of a whole-house project– lies in the way Hirsch translated their desire for an eclectic interior with little clutter or fuss.  “I didn’t want a lot of color.  I’m nutty and I need mellow,” says Heidenreich.  “She really got me.”

At the center of this sleek-yet-personal space is an architectural Italian table surrounded by Ligne Roset cowhide chairs and a wood bench.  The more casual arrangement suits the family’s two boys and also answers Liria’s request:  “no boring chairs.”  Dark chocolate grass cloth on the walls provides warmth and anchors the abstract art.  For the floor, Hirsch put an unexpected spin on a simple wool loop rug.  Instead of picking one colorway from the samples, she sourced all of them to create a custom stripe.  The homeowner admits to being particular about lighting and this glam three-tiered crystal chandelier from Ochre acts as a jewel in the room, about with she jokes, “My electrician doesn’t like me anymore.”

To add a touch of color and tradition, Hirsch brought in a red antique lacquer cabinet from Greenwich Oriental.  This one-of-a-kind piece provides storage and character, picking up on a hue continued in other parts of the house.  The sophisticated theme fits the family to a tee.  Says Heidenreich, “I still walk into these rooms and say, “Damn, this works!”

at home Winter 2012

 

Unexpected Dining Room

When I met with this client to design their dining room, their desire to break away from the traditional shingle style exemplified by the home’s exterior architecture totally inspired me.

When I met with this client to design their dining room, their desire to break away from the traditional shingle style exemplified by the home’s exterior architecture totally inspired me.  They wanted simple elements with no clutter or fuss.  Because the room began as a blank slate, we started with a completely fresh palette.

In this room, I truly enjoyed using so many creative and unique elements.  The cowhide chairs from Ligne Roset provided adult seating around the dining room table and, combined with a bench on the other side of the table, make an unconventional seating arrangement.  The lovely drizzle chandelier from Ochre acts as a fantastic piece of jewelry for the entire room.  On the walls, digital art prints reinforce the dining room’s modern feel.  In addition, I loved the window treatments for this dining room.  The pattern reminded me of delicate lanterns floating through the sky.  The large looped wool carpet from Patterson Flynn & Martin softens and warms the room.

I was honored to be an A List Winner for At Home magazine’s Winter 2011 issue with this dining room.  In the magazine, the dining room was described as “bold, brash, and contemporary, a perfect combination to make a traditional home feel modern.”  What an amazing experience, to be recognized for doing something I love!

Chinoiserie Dining Room

When a client approached me with the goal of designing a dining room for entertaining large gatherings in a formal setting, I really enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to build a room around many truly beautiful design pieces.

When a client approached me with the goal of designing a dining room for entertaining large gatherings in a formal setting, I really enjoyed both the challenge and the opportunity to build a room around many truly beautiful design pieces.

The dining room originally had a generic wood mantel with very little appeal or individuality.  I also had to consider how many people would use the space and how to configure the design to appeal to both large and small groups of guests.  The bay windows provided another challenge, being difficult to treat while keeping the design and scale appropriate.

To begin, we decided on a fabulous color palette using Farrow and Ball paint in Pipe Down against a chinoiserie patterned butter yellow paper and predominantly grey curtains.  In addition, every aspect of this room was custom designed, from the walls to the carpet, for a highly individualized room.

In place of the boring wood mantel, I installed a custom, hand-carved stone mantel which provides a nice focal point for the room.  The gorgeous hand-painted chinoiserie wall paper from de Gourney gives the room a lovely backdrop without the need for paintings or decorative items.  The unexpected dark color of the woodwork is the perfect contrast to the custom panels, and the window treatments accent the large bay windows without becoming overpowering or detracting from the view.

One of the most stunning pieces in the room is the dining room table.  As the centerpiece of the room where guests will gather, the table needed to be something special.  Every aspect of the Ebanista table was customized to allow the clients to entertain large or intimate groups of guests in beauty and style.  Every small detail of the table, including the inlay, had to be carefully considered and strategically placed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The overall impression of this dining room is one of luxury and comfort, a room as individual and unique as any client could ask.  Using such a range of exquisite products and companies allowed me to give my clients a dining room perfectly suited to their tastes and needs.