Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
the french provençal dining room
Inspired by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European homes, this sprawling—and perfectly divided—living room/dining room manages to feel both formal and incredibly welcoming.
The spare use of color, as well as the lack of curtains and absence of artwork, directs attention to the defining moments of this space: soaring 10-foot ceilings, antique pine floors in a point de Hongrie (herringbone) pattern, and triple-hung windows. There’s power in the large-scale but simple nature of these elements. And in a room so full of built-in character, it’s wise to select furnishings that blend into the setting, instead of trying to outshine it.
Everything from the rustic dining table to the mismatched antique garden chairs around it lends an inside-meets-outside feel to the space. Two large lemon trees create an “orangerie” along one side of the room in the colder months. But come spring, the trees are moved outside, and the windows are thrown open to their full height, turning them into multiple narrow doorways. Dining here is magical.
SPRING GREEN. Vintage Frette napkins with thick green stripes add just the right pop of color to this all-white tablescape.
MEYER LEMONS. The bonus of having lemon trees in your living room is that you’ll never lack a colorful centerpiece. The lemons in this bowl came straight from the trees.
THE COOL DOWN. While this house was designed as a summer retreat, it doesn’t have air conditioning. But thanks to the many large windows and carefully planted trees that block the sun, the whole home stays cool year-round.
the breakfast nook
Jessica + Scott Davis
Designer, Nest Studio + Marketing
son, Bryan + daughter, Lucy
In even the tiniest space, it’s possible to create a cozy dining area. You just need three things: nice light, a built-in window seat (or bench, if that’s not possible), and a small round table.
To separate the tiny corner of this New Jersey kitchen into its own intimate room-within-a-room, it had to have a center and at least one element that helped to visually divide it from other spaces. This nook is centered on the window to the right, while the bench (loaded with hidden storage below) and large pendant light anchor everything. If you were to remove any one of these elements, this little room would begin to unravel.
Color completes this story. The homeowner hand-stenciled the finished-plywood floor to look like tile. The warm shades of gray are echoed on the walls and in the ikat bench cushion. For a pop of color (which is perfectly in line with our 80/20 Rule; see chapter 4 for more on this), bright pink and orange pillows line the window seat, offering a comfy spot for family breakfasts.
FOLLOW THE LITTLE BLACK LINE. Painting these French doors a crisp black pulls your eye straight to the corner retreat, creating a rich layer that (again) helps to visually separate the space.
STORAGE, STORAGE, EVERYWHERE. A window seat allows for maximum seating and storage. When it comes to the latter, think about what you’re stashing. Jessica needed a place for cutting boards, so the cabinet openings are extra-wide.
the glossy cabin dining room
Christopher Coleman + Angel Sanchez
Interior Designer + Fashion Designer
Don’t be fooled by the wood-paneled walls and mounted taxidermy; this is not your typical rustic cabin in the woods. Hidden away on a hilltop in New York’s Hudson Valley, this open, modern, masculine weekend home is an elevated version of everything you love about escaping into nature.
Take, for instance, the glossy dining room. It sits in one corner of the multipurpose living space (the kitchen, office, living room, and dining area all exist in roughly 400 square feet). The layout is all function: it squeezes neatly between the kitchen and the back deck, the table size is perfect for intimate dinners for two, and the modern chairs tuck tightly to the side of the table, conserving space.
But despite its pip-squeak size (and all that focus on functionality), it’s also a major style statement. The red lacquer table is all drama, while the sleek drum pendant light grounds the space and adds its own particular moodiness. The inside of the shade is covered in pebbled copper; turn it on at night, and light flitters around the room like lightning bugs. A taxidermy rooster and tabletop bar finish the space: a gorgeous example of what can happen when rustic meets modern.
PUT A PIN IN IT. Take note of the pin-thin legs on this dining room table. They balance the fuller, more robust chairs perfectly—so things don’t feel heavy in such a tight corner.
DRINK-A-DOODLE-DO. These homeowners have a thing for birds and taxidermy, so when they spotted this rooster, it came home with them immediately. It now holds court over the couple’s small bar (and is the official mascot of cocktail hour).
the farmhouse-in-a-skyscraper dining room
Moon Rhee + Heyja Do
Shop Owners, Dear: Rivington+
New furniture in a new-construction building can make for a particularly sterile room, no matter how amazing the view or great the location. Mixing in a few old things gives you depth and dimension. Mixing in all old things gives you a room like this.
Set in the thirtieth-floor penthouse of a brand-new tower in Brooklyn, this dining room has sweeping views from every direction. But even with the impressive Manhattan skyline as a backdrop, the focal point of this space is the 20-foot-long farm table. (The homeowners had to cut it in half lengthwise to get it inside.) Paired with an eclectic mix of chairs—no two are alike—the extra-thin table is both grand and intimate; the lack of width means you’re always sitting close to one another.
While this open space could have been arranged into two or more individual areas with smaller furnishings, the unbroken length of the table creates a luxurious flow from the staircase to the living area, movement that’s echoed by the stacked books and collected art at the base of the windows. If you have the means to do it, you can achieve grand results by letting a large space like this simply “breathe.”
MIX WITH MEANING. Not necessarily intentional, this combination of a fig tree (earth), stacked books (mind), and African masks (spirit) shows the breadth of thought and feeling in this space. Comfortable rooms are aspirational as much as they are practical.
the roundabout dining room
Laura Jay Freedman
Shop Owner, Broken English
Located smack in the middle of a small Spanish bungalow, the dining room is the epicenter of this home. Every other room in the house is located off the sunny space, so passing through it is an almost hourly occurrence. To help with flow in this high-traffic zone, the smart homeowner picked a large round table and kept the rest of the furnishings minimal, which means there are fewer corners for energy to get “trapped.”
With such a pared-down aesthetic, choosing big-impact pieces is important. At the center of it all is the amazing, 1930s dining table by Karl Springer (made from hundreds of pieces of inlaid bone). The twisting pedestal accentuates the table’s roundness, a detail that’s also echoed in the curved chairs by the same designer. A “halo” of lights punctuates the room—another standout vintage find, this one by Alvin Lustig—so even the lighting scheme has a circular gesture.
A graphic, oversize painting finishes the space. The piece was a cherished gift from a very good friend; a personal note that makes the whole room feel all the more special.
MORE CURVES. Since most homes are filled with straight lines, the addition of curved architectural elements—like the arched doorways and built-in nook here—has a tremendous impact.
SOME PEOPLE HAVE ALL THE LUCK! Karl Springer was a furniture designer in the seventies and eighties, famous for his use of exotic materials. Today, his work is hard—and expensive—to come by. Laura found these Springer chairs for a steal at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
the dark menagerie dining room
NEW YORK CITY
Michele Varian + Brad Roberts
Shop Owner, Michele Varian + Musician
This dark, gothic dining room may look as if it belongs in the country home of an eccentric French aunt, but it actually sits in a former factory space on one of Manhattan’s busiest streets.
These homeowners eschew anything new or mass-produced in favor of vintage finds and artisan-made crafts. The wonderfully quirky blend keeps your eye racing around the open space in search of the next treasure. Framed gold mirrors by Brooklyn artist Ria Charisse hang next to vintage daguerreotype photographs and avian taxidermy. And the sweet oval table and leather banquette are set up just like a European brasserie, folding red café chairs and all.
But the true star is the Neisha Crosland wallpaper. Swirling floral shapes highlight the 12-foot ceiling while playing off all those dark wood frames. The wild pattern covers imperfections in the wall and transforms each surface into an artwork in itself.
The charm of this dark and cozy style is in its easygoing nature; this dining room is always ready for guests. As the homeowner says, “There’s no reason to clean before a party; just make sure there’s plenty to drink! Cleaning is for the day after.”
HIDDEN TREASURES. You never know what you’ll find when you start renovating a hundred-year-old apartment. Michele discovered an old wedding photo, now hanging above the dining table, under the floorboards during construction.
DELICATE WHITES. This stunning arrangement of white ceramic pieces forms the basis of a mobile tea set that’s always at the ready.
the country porch dining room
ROUND TOP, TEXAS
Paige + Smoot Hull
Bed & Breakfast Owners
son, Pierce + daughters Eisley, Cameron
Everything in this sunny, window-lined room feels comfortably lived-in and well-loved, right down to the floor, which is made of hundred-year-old longleaf pine (once used as shelving at a local lumber yard).
By enclosing the original front porch, the homeowners were able to create this long, narrow dining room, grounded by a spectacular, equally long and narrow 10-foot dining table. The tabletop, which in a past life belonged to a carnival camp, sits on antique legs and is surrounded by a custom-made bench—the only “new” piece in the room—and a mix of collected-over-time, secondhand chairs.
A no-fail trick for helping to marry pieces of various styles and eras is utilized perfectly here: one coat of glossy, clean white paint, and the mismatched collection feels like a perfect set. Delicate, wire-frame café chairs provide a nice counterpoint to the sturdy wooden pieces, and they echo the pin-striped lines of the paneled walls. The light fixture, created from repurposed farm equipment, is intentionally left in its unfinished metal state to encourage more patina, adding to the lived-in look over time.
VINTAGE VESSELS. When it comes to flowers, the rule in this house is that if it can hold water it can be used as a vase. Vintage jelly jars, water pitchers, antique medicine bottles—the options are endless.
DELICIOUS CONTRAST. We’ve always heard that food tastes better when it’s served on round white plates. Whether you believe that or not, white plates are a classic that work well in a farmhouse setting.
the fab two-in-one dining room
It’s always impressive to see starter apartments where so much attention (and precious square footage) is focused on being able to entertain. This area is 16 × 13 feet, which is plenty large for a dining room on its own but pretty compact when a living room shares the same footprint.
The sofa sits opposite the table, allowing for as much open area as possible between the two largest pieces of furniture in the room. Selecting the right dining table was key here. It has unusually small proportions. With the leaves down, it’s the size of a card table and fits snugly in front of the large window. When extended, however, the long table seats as many as eight people comfortably. The rest of the furnishings are mobile: dining chairs turn to face the coffee table when guests arrive, and the bar can be scooted around (or out of) the room.
Over-the-table lighting was skipped in favor of a striking metallic (faux) antler chandelier. Hanging one statement light fixture in the center of the room, instead of using multiple smaller lights in the dining and living areas, helps unify the multipurpose space even more.
DREAM BIGGER. This rich palette is a nod to the homeowner’s style inspiration, Jenna Lyons, J.Crew’s Executive Creative Director. Lyons’s former Brooklyn brownstone was done in shades of gray, white, and black, which are elegantly imitated here.