The dining room is a wonderful place to display collectibles and artwork. For example, a friend of mine travels each year to a different country and collects pottery wherever she goes. She had a shelf built high on the walls around the room where she displays her plates. A collection of baskets in an open cupboard will lend texture and character to a country dining room. A collection of blue-and-white willowware displayed in a china cabinet would echo the theme in a blue-and-white room. You might create a vignette of objects on a small table under a window. Arrange high and low items such as two candlesticks, a small plant in a pretty ceramic cachepot, an interesting little plate in colors that reflect the wall or fabric color, a table lamp and a photograph in a standing frame. A simple clear glass vase filled with fresh cut flowers and a collection of shells in a basket might be all you need on a small table or shelf.
When my husband and I were working on our book Nantucket Style, we photographed an artist’s house that was built in the 1700s. There was a very narrow wall space in the dining room, next to the door, and she used this to create a photographic display. Here she had framed black-and-white family portraits in the same simple black frames and arranged them to fill the area. Large colorful portraits of these same family members filled the larger walls around the room.
Another artist friend displays a collection of souvenir English coronation tins in the dining room. They are housed on glass shelves in a display case mounted on the wall and illuminated with lighting within the box.
Decorative accessories don’t have to be expensive to be interesting. Whatever appeals to you can be used to add decorative touches. Plants, fresh flowers and potted trees add style to any room. Flowering plants add color on windowsills. When in doubt, use white and garden green. The freshest and nicest color combination is a grouping of white flowering plants with deep green leaves in simple terra-cotta pots. Look for old, used garden pots at yard sales. Sometimes you can find interesting shapes. I like to whitewash mine or create a mixture of glaze and paint to rub over them, very crudely, to make them look Old World. Place these on ceramic dishes on a highly polished table. It’s fun to mix textures and put things together that you wouldn’t expect to find side by side.
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