rustic french dining room
Photo: Stephen Saint-Onge
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Rustic French Dining Room

A formal dining room doesn't always have to look so, well, formal. Just take a look at this farmhouse eating spot: With casual, mismatched furniture and eclectic accessories, it offers as good a setting for takeout pizza as it does for catered dinner parties. "The key is choosing furnishings you can easily change from time to time," says designer Stephen Saint-Onge, author of No Place Like Home (Wiley Publishing, 2011). With flexibility—and budget—in mind, Saint-Onge combined items the homeowners already had, such as the weathered tabletop (an old barn door), with thrifty finds, like $15 sawhorse legs. Wicker and metal chairs can be used indoors and out, and convey the weathered elegance of a French country garden. "This room is designed to grow—you can swap the light fixture, remove the sisal rug, or switch up the art," Saint-Onge says. "That's part of what makes it so inviting." Here are some ideas for creating an equally cozy space at your house.
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