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.
Tray and Glassware
At about $85, it's a splurge, but kitted out with colorful bottles and etched tumblers, this wicker tray negates the need for a centerpiece.
Tray, about $85; Gracious Home
Glasses, about $8 each; Comptoir de Famille
While it may be intended for indoor use only, this handwoven seat delivers a casual, garden-inspired look.
About $380 for two; Ballard Designs
A tough aluminum frame means this sleek perch—an affordable take on the classic French Tolix chair—can move from the dining room to the patio with ease.
About $100; Home Decorators Collection
Turn everyday meals into special occasions with fancy, brasserie-inspired utensils.
About $6 each; Comptoir de Famille
Patterned Wool Pillow
Lend seating a unique look with a one-of-a-kind cushion made from remnants of handwoven Turkish kilim rugs.
About $90; Ethan Allen
Modeled after vintage Parisian workshop lights, this sophisticated fixture features a counterbalanced suspension rod and glazed ceramic shade.
About $130; Pottery Barn
Distressed Wood Table
Follow Saint-Onge's lead and prop a salvaged barn door on a pair of wood sawhorses to create a character-filled (and inexpensive) dining surface.
Pine door, about $175; Old Wood Workshop.
Trestle, about $15; IKEA
Anchor the room with a textured mat in neutral tones, such as Weaves' budget-friendly jute option.
9-by-12-foot rug, about $270; overstock.com]