For those who are interested in the design process, I thought I'd share the steps taken on this room for it to come together.
3. Fill in the other major players. In a dining room, it's usually the chairs and table that are the pieces that really set the tone of the room. Once we had such striking host chairs, I knew we needed to keep the side chairs simple, so I found some inexpensive leather parson's chairs (I prefer for slipcovered chairs to be upholstered in complementary fabric so the room looks good even when they are being laundered...you never know who might drop by on wash day) and had them slipcovered in a simple washed natural cotton. I kept the skirts short because it's not a big room--it's rather narrow, and I wanted the eye to pass through the legs and not be stopped short by floor length skirts.
The table was more of a problem: we wanted a farm table, but since this is the "formal" dining room, the client didn't want it too rustic. We also had to find a narrow table--the standard 48" would be too wide for the room, especially after adding a buffet which the client (let's call her "Babs"...I'm sick of typing "the client") needed for storage. Babs is also a fiend for beautiful natural wood and hated all of the veneering that is commonly available. Therefore, we had the table custom made (by Wilkerson Row on Magazine St. for anyone local who needs some beautiful custom furniture) out of cypress with a natural finish. I made sure the wood colour co-ordinated with the wood exposed by the distressed Asian chairs' finish. We were able to pick our own dimension, a lithe 96X40, graceful cabriolet legs, and minimum detailing. Babs was thrilled by the beautiful planks selected for the top.
The art actually came first. I painted the two canvases as a housewarming present, and used the soft blues, greys, greens, and tobacco browns that the client loves. The colours in the art pull from the accent colours used (sparingly) in the adjoining spaces.
The buffet was a more difficult task. It needed to include storage, so an open console was out. It had to be on the shallow side (no more than 18"), it needed to be quite long (around 90"), it couldn't be too high (the ceilings are 10", so a too-high piece would have killed the spacious look of the light filled space, it couldn't be too heavy in feeling (it's not a large room and the client hates overdone, over-carved pieces), it had to play second fiddle to the heavily grained table, and it had to be in a finish that co-ordinated with the natural cyrpess and the Asian chairs. We found a close contender at Restoration Hardware, but the finish wasn't right, and the homeowner hesitated at painting a brand new relatively expensive piece of furniture (not to mention the cost a good decorative finish would add). Again, a custom piece by Wilkerson Rowe was the answer. Again we could choose our own, difficult to find dimensions, we could choose our finish colour, and we knew it would be beautifully crafted locally of solid wood.
In the comments section of the last post, Marlo asked about the hardware. I found it on-line at House of Antique Hardware. I chose this particular hardware for a couple of reasons. 1. My client likes simplicity and clean lines; therefore, I knew the buffet would have little detailing, but it needed SOME interest. I thought prominent hardware would add some punch, but since it's actually useful, Babs wouldn't consider it unnecessary. I also like the matt black finish because it co-ordinates with the oil-rubbed bronze finishes throughout the house. I don't mind mixing finishes, but when you're going for a simple look, co-ordinating them does add polish. And a dark finish always looks striking when the paint colours used for walls, trim, and doors is light. 2. Because I wanted a vintage feel reminiscent of the beautiful bookcases by BoBo intriguing objects, I thought using traditional H-L hinges and latches instead of pulls would give that feeling of age. 3. I liked the hardware, and I'm the decorator, and what I say goes (sometimes...actually not that often, but sometimes). The details didn't photograph, but are really nice in person..the backing of the cabinets is beadboard, the sides are planked, and we specificed thin, thin, thin layers of paint so that you can still make out the graining.