Friday, March 7, 2014


For most people the dining room is often the most unused room in the house. Oh sure, the china is dusted off and the silver is polished for a couple of holiday events throughout the year but it's mostly a room off a hallway that you glance at as you walk to the kitchen to pull yesterday's leftovers out of a plastic container, popping it into the microwave and bringing it back to that comfy chair in front of the wide screen down in the man cave.
The set up in our suburban cottage is a little different. The real estate our dining room occupies is a leg off a t-shaped arrangement between the dining room, the kitchen and the living room. This makes the room hard to ignore if food or relaxation is a goal.
Coupled with that if you want to go to the snug, our version of the man cave for sissies, your only way in is through the dining room. Perhaps if the snug had been in the original plan and subsequent layout of the house it might not have ended up in its current location but somewhere else more separate and secluded. What has resulted due to the openness of the heart of the house is you can see clear through from the snug over the dining room and into the living room with a right side glance into the kitchen. Since both Rick and I enjoy a nap on the chaise or some peaceful meditation our trek from anywhere else in the house to the snug requires a trip through the dining room. With a motto of neatness first and everything in its place this kind of openness means that the dining room needs to keep its face washed and all its paraphernalia in place. Our rigorous attention to detail and dust requires a regimental enforcement that the two of us religiously adhere to setting up the typical conflict between parent and teen where our daughter uses her independence by displaying her defiance leaving dirty dishes and ketchup smears on the end of the dining table and anywhere else she can.
Given the central positioning of the dining room and our need to put our decorator's stamp on everything we do we've finished off the room with several of our prize possessions. The dining room table is from our original line of furniture and one of the last pieces we added to the line. The Hanson table base is a set of double cerused oak "X's" held together by a faux parchment disk. We've always shown the table with a sandblasted glass top but the top has taken several different forms. For it's introduction at our first entry into DIFFA's Dining by Design the table took the form of a circle with seating for ten.
We had persuaded our friend, porcelain pottery impresario, Dan Levy to create the tableware as a custom set based on the color palette we'd chosen for our installation. The benefit from this was that we were able to finagle some sort of exchange with Dan that allowed us to keep this amazing set of dishes
that now grace the shelf of our Mendota console, a piece from our newest line of furniture that we've developed for Black Wolf Design. We bargained with BWD's Terry Sweeney for this piece, a hand-rubbed walnut version with a grey concrete top. Score two for us, we're really pretty good at this bargaining game.
After the round top version at DIFFA our next incantation of the table paired the base with an oval racetrack shaped glass top in our apartment on 30th Street in that unnamed area of New York by Penn Station.
The most recent rendition and the one we are using right now is a rectangular top that if set right can handle eight comfortably and ten in a pinch.
The vintage chairs are Bank of England. We had purchased them in several batches over a span of years and used them at our dining table in the Catskills. If you look closely you can see that they don't match but that's part of their charm. I put them on Craig's List right after we moved back to Madison and were short on money and storage space but I couldn't find any takers, sometimes things turnout for the best. We had them painted by Sue at BWD in a sage green, one of their classic colors. It updated the chairs from vintage to really cool.
The hutch in the corner next to the fireplace is a real family affair. The design is Rick's from decades ago. The glass knob he found at an antique store that now adorn the front of the hutch inspired the design. He had the cabinet built and then he painted it with this amazing crackle finish. When we had our weekend home in New York we became really close friends with two local women who called themselves the Paper Dolls. June and Linda meticulously papered the interior of the piece. Rick then turned to my family and had my brother's stained glass studio build the leaded glass doors. This is a piece I could never part with. It now holds a small collection of ironstone tureens and platters and decades of memories.
As a final touch the photo over the console is an image of a dance troop in homage to the last supper titled, The Last Supper of Hiawatha by Tony Hauser. It seemed the most appropriate piece to hang in the dining room. My assumption was that hanging this photo was tantamount to having Jesus with the bleeding heart hovering on the wall thus absolving us of having to say grace as our piety was sufficiently on display. If I've offended please forgive. I know Jesus would.

Parlourmaid and Underparlourmaid ready to serve dinner
Bill Brandt, photographer
Represented by Howard Greenberg Gallery

1 comment:

  1. For unknown reasons, my sister and I briefly shared our youthful bedroom with a very large statue of Jesus complete with bleeding heart. This may explain why church going is not a high priority for me. I could live with that Last Supper photo however; especially paired with those curvy metal lamps.