Modern formal style

My partner and I have just moved in together and we are having a debate over how to mix our tastes in decorating.

The dining room in this new home has a welcome mix of traditional details and modern features.

Dear Debbie: My partner and I have just moved in together and we are having a debate over how to mix our tastes in decorating.

He likes the traditional look with lots of wood, and I prefer a more modern design. I’d like a glass top dining table, he’s not so good with that. Is there any way to blend the two so we can both be happy with the outcome? — Melanie

Dear Melanie: Your dilemma is a common one, it’s not always easy to combine two homes or to blend two design aesthetics, but today’s trend is to do just that.

The modern classic look is the perfect solution. With a little compromising on both sides, I’m sure you’ll both be delighted with the outcome. You have many surfaces to cover – walls, the floor and windows. Walls can be repainted easily, so experiment with colour.

There’s furniture and dishes, lighting and table accessories. You might be surprised at how well your pieces can fit together.

I would begin with the walls; build a traditional background by adding wood panels. It’s not necessary to go to the expense of real wood. You will find wainscoting and moulding at your lumber store and it’s not difficult to apply this detail around the lower walls of the room.

Crown moulding, deep baseboards and wood panels are classic details that will transform the space.

You could paint the wainscoting to replicate the look of real wood, but for a more contemporary look, pick paint colours that are fresh. A combination of white walls and gray panelling is a good choice.

Hardwood floors are ageless and a traditional favourite. There is plenty of variety in laminates that are available in a full range of colours including the glossy patina of fine wood. A laminate floor is less costly and convenient to install as they come stained and sealed. A patterned carpet is a natural accessory to add some texture and colour to an otherwise simple decor.

Now it’s your turn. Go for that glass top table, or check out the newest in mirrored pieces. It will be the focal point of the room, and surround it with upholstered chairs that have a more formal design.

Dining room furniture no longer needs to match. Mixing styles makes an imaginative setting. This freedom goes for dishes and serving platters too – be adventurous and mix family heirloom china with everyday crockery, fancy patterns with solid colours.

Look for interesting pieces for the table centre, oversized candy jars or identical rectangular glass vases fill with pebbles, coloured stones or marbles, a row of single flower blossoms, even a pretty photograph that suits the mood.

Full-length draperies suit a formal dining room; they add a sumptuous layer of colour. Hang sheers and drapery panels simply from a decorative rod. Swags and pelmets are too Victorian to suit this classic modern style.

Look for lighting that swings both ways; install tiny spots positioned to brighten the room when you are serving, and a chandelier or modern pendant light over the table.

Buy a few new items together that you both love such as a piece of art. Invite your favourite friends to dinner, and celebrate your enchanting new dining room with lots of good food and laughter.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.

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