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Create a Jewel-Box Dining Room

Pattern play and a color scheme worthy of a Fabergé egg create a lively gathering space that's traditional but not staid

Photo by Stacey Brandford

Elegant Dining Destination

Even a bland dining room can be made into an elegant destination with the right finishing touches. Take this stunning space by interior designer Sarah Richardson. To give the room more architectural character, she started by adding a chair rail with wall frames below. Then she assembled a collection of vintage furniture finds, including a Sheraton-style table and shield-back chairs, imparting a sense of history. Scrolling gold-accented wallpaper echoes the shapes of the seat backs, while a round chandelier throws the room another curve. Antique brass accents and chinoiserie-inspired florals amp up the drama, making even the simplest meal feel like a special occasion.

For ways to give your dining space a similarly regal treatment, read on.

Scroll-Patterned Wallpaper

Photo by Burcu Avsar

Inspired by the curves of a violin, this wall covering makes a big statement; using it only above the chair rail means a little goes a long way. Nina Campbell for Osborne & Little, about $144 for a 33-foot roll;

Wall Mirror

The highly detailed looking glass at right comes with a mosaic border, gilded bead trim, and a high-end price tag. A stylized Greek-key motif gives this well-priced version from Bassett Mirror similar presence. About $344;

Candle Chandelier

Cast a flattering glow over the table with a round chandelier like this iron one from Quoizel, which features a silhouette similar to the vintage find below. About $470;


Photo by Burcu Avsar

Rose-colored glasses, not to mention a single flower at each place setting, make every guest feel special. Tumblers, about $10 each; Dessert bowl, about $6.95;

Embroidered Fabric

Photo by Burcu Avsar

Upholstering only the backs of the chairs in a rich peony print is a clever way to use a pricey fabric sparingly and add an unexpected touch. Just one yard of this silk covers three backs. About $70 per yard; Trim, about $3.98 per yard;

Shield-Back Chairs

Photo by Burcu Avsar

Richardson scored the six seats at left in a consignment shop. We found an affordable stand-in and covered it with the same sunny geometric print. Chair, about $199;

Graphic Print

Photo by Burcu Avsar

A bold geometric pattern in a mustard yellow brings a youthful joie de vivre to the chairs and prevents the room from feeling too fussy. Robert Allen fabric, about $30 per yard;


Photo by Burcu Avsar

Made in enameled and gilded metal, tole candleholders like those used in this room were popular in France and Italy in the early to mid-20th century. We found this look-alike for about $36 on

Botanical Artwork

Peonies are a symbol of fortune, beauty, and honor in Chinese culture. The vibrant pink blooms of this print nicely complement the fabric on the chair backs. 18-by-24-inch giclee print, about $60;

Wall-Frame Wainscot

Photo by Burcu Avsar; (paint dabs) Ted Morrison

To get the look at left, tack up chair rail (about $2.50 per foot;, then miter-cut to size panel molding (about $1 per foot at home centers). Attach with panel adhesive and brads; to see a how-to video, go to How to Install Wall Frames. A two-tone gray color scheme, like Sherwin-Williams's Misty and Agreeable Gray, gives the wainscot added dimension.