Ellicott City Pretty
After their nine kids finally flew the nest in 2015, this Ellicott City couple hired interior decorator Kelley Proxmire to create a room that veered between elegant and practical. “They have really pretty china with a coraly pattern, so that inspired the chairs,” says Proxmire, who upholstered square-back, French-style ones from the Wisteria catalog with an easy-to-clean solid on the seats and a Lee Jofa herringbone on the backs. The chairs scoot up to a round table made just for this space with a cherry top and a white birdcage-style base. “It’s 84 inches and seats up to ten, which comes in handy for her big family,” says the designer. “The wife likes to host adult parties in there with no grandchildren!”
In the rest of the room, Proxmire set off the citrus-hued upholstery and artwork with crisp beige, gray, and white neutrals. Among the most showstopping components: a custom chinoiserie breakfront to hold the flower-decked china and, above the chair rail, Thibaut wallpaper in the damask-like “Bastille” pattern. “I try to imagine what people will see when they sit in a dining room, and it’s not a beautiful rug,” says Proxmire. “The wallpaper gives a point of interest, plus it looks great reflected in the mirror.”
High Gloss, High Drama
A husband hooked on traditional style and a wife brought up in an Eames-filled midcentury house found dining-room harmony in this Old Town Alexandria project, thanks to designer Caryn Cramer. “For example, that bookcase is old-school, but that high-gloss color treatment seems fresh,” says Cramer. “I wanted their house to feel like a combination with lots of contrast.” Another successful mash-up: putting a mod spin on wallpaper by choosing Kelly Wearstler’s graphic “Channels” pattern and hanging it below the chair rail instead of above. “It’s a nice way to bring the print all around without overwhelming the room,” says the designer.
A round, marble-topped Saarinen table and crisp black Eames chairs nod to the wife’s Mad Men–era tastes and help the pair host small dinner parties. For bigger bashes, they use the table as a buffet and entertain on the entire first floor. Those dramatic built-ins marry form and function: They store books, while a gentle pull on the left bookcase reveals it’s a door to a concealed powder room.
Hot pink isn’t just for tween girls’ bedrooms. In this glamorous Shaw dining room, the bold hue plays off sleek neutrals and menswear touches for a sophisticated entertaining space. The shade was a starring player in Nicole Lanteri’s collaboration with a young couple who, she says, “loved color and pattern and weren’t afraid to mix them” on the main floor of their rowhouse.
When the pair called Lanteri, they already owned a 1960s Baker dining table and a geometric credenza that they’d had lacquered glossy white. Lanteri added an Osborne & Little bird-strewn wallpaper on one wall, which riffs on the 1970s brass dining chairs with original orangey-pink upholstery. “The bird bellies go so well with the chairs,” says Lanteri. “Plus the black background keeps things from being too whimsical.”
To further balance the rosy hues, she installed window shades in a gray suiting fabric and added a subtle Cole and Son fan-patterned wallpaper to the other walls. The buffet, which serves as both home bar and storage space, “really anchors that long hallway.” Lanteri dressed it up with slender Jonathan Adler lamps and a crimson Serena & Lily mirror above. “Whenever I drop by, there’s glitter on the floor because they entertain so much.”
This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.