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Dramatic Dining: How to Interpret the Inspiration

Many of us have pin boards and folders filled with photos of gorgeous homes we want ours to look like. But taking that next step of translating a glossy magazine into our humble living room feels, well, daunting. For me, it feels like my job. And I LOVE it!

When I have a new client, I have them do a lot of prep work before our initial meeting. I need to understand their habits and lifestyle as well as how they dream the end product will look and feel. I don’t like to use words like “traditional” and “modern” to describe style because I find that those words mean 1000 different things to a 1000 different people. I have them show me images and ask them what in the photo appeals to them.

A client recently showed me her dining room board on Pinterest. There were several gorgeous rooms. This is my approach to interpreting inspiration photos.

1. The common denominator. There is often a common element between the photos. For my client, the majority of the pictures she chose were similar color palettes and all had high contrast and drama. The rest of the pictures, although lovely, were deleted or put in folders for other rooms. You can’t do everything in one room.Edit!

2. Determine which of these elements could work in your home. My client’s current dining room had a lot of heavy white trim which made the dark walls and high contrast of this photo work perfectly. She even had bamboo window treatments already. This became our primary inspiration image.

Dining Room Inspiration photo

Dining Room Inspiration photo

3. Make it happen, baby. Now that the direction has been decided upon, it is time to find the right paint, furniture and extra trimmings to make it come alive. She wanted a new table but, after talking it through, realized that by refinishing and tweaking her current farmhouse table, it would fit her needs and still accomplish the updated look she was going for.

Our inspiration photo has dark walls, white trim and warm natural elements in the rug, shades and furniture. The accessories are subtle, sophisticated geographical art and accessories with shine.

I decided on these pieces. Glossy dark charcoal walls will be a dramatic base for the rest of the room. A pair of vintage maps will be subtle, interesting art above a buffet, sconces on either side of a wide doorway that leads into the living room, a drum ceiling fixture with great detail, benches that will go on either side of my client’s existing refurbished farm table and bookended by a pair of dramatic wing back chairs.

Dramatic dining plan

All that is left to add is the gorgeous accessories and they should be ready to host a dinner party before they know it!


Cool Dining Room Reboot

When my clients decided to update their dining room, we started by taking the palette from warm to cool with lovely grays and blues. Next came the drama in the beautiful chandelier and draperies with a wooden cornice and steel gray silk panels. With new chairs, the old table has new life and now the room feels chic and glamorous enough to serve the finest chicken fried steaks these Georgia cooks have to offer.

Dining Room Before - Morris'

And after…

Dining Room

Dining Room Vignette with Mirror

Dining Room to Entryway

Photography by Christina Wedge


My Dining Room

This table is where art is made, work is done, vegetables are tried, papers are read, milk is spilled, jokes are told, arguments begin, and forgiveness is granted. This is where life happens in the Sims household.

And a bit about the design…I adore my wallpaper on this focal wall! It’s a charcoal background with the silver pattern that sits on top of a teal grid (you can’t see from this shot) which matches the teal in my kitchen. It’s from Sherwin Williams. My wooden mid-century chairs I picked up at Kudzu Antiques and the table and silver farm chairs I bought off of a movie set (pays to have relatives in the biz with the sweet hookups). The awesome light fixture was picked up at a yard sale in Arizona by my brother (who has killer taste). I love the spaceship look of it.

Photography by Christina Wedge

Photography by Christina Wedge, (squirrel cred: Meredith Story Williams)

To the right of my kitchen table, this shelving unit that displays some of our favorite things. The France print was from an old Starbucks calendar, the flower watercolor is my own and the vintage photo I picked up at a flea market. The fan was an eBay find and the radio was my family’s when I was a kid. Those wonderful little brass owls belonged to my husband’s late mother and are a treasure to me. The rest of this is vintage pottery and our wonderful cookbooks and cooking magazines. Again, life!

Photography by Christina Wedge

Photography by Christina Wedge


Wanted: Skyline View and Chic Interiors (sense of humor, a must)

I assisted behind the scenes with a photo shoot for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams at the W Atlanta Downtown this week. The view was amazing outside and inside. Photos will appear in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and Jezebel.

If you see them you might even see yours truly. I’ll be playing the part of “blurry girl walking with glass in hand” or perhaps “blurry girl talking to man across the counter with dogs roaming about.” If there is a market for blurry modeling jobs, I think I may have a new career. I just hope my blurry passion comes through in print.

MG + BW furnishings are drool-worthy, all of them. The people are great too. Brian Waidelich (a.k.a. “blurry sophisticated man playing with dogs”) is the regional head dude (unofficial title) and is a lot of fun to hang out with. Here’s a sneak peek of our shoot with interiors photographer, Christina Wedge.

The view of downtown Atlanta from the W Hotel atop a reclaimed wood dining table and upholstered chairs.

The view of downtown Atlanta from the W Hotel atop a reclaimed wood dining table and upholstered chairs.

Behind the scenes!

Behind the scenes!

I adore this smooshy nosed dog collection by Georgia designer Sugarboo Designs for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Love love love.

I adore this smooshy nosed dog collection by Georgia designer Sugarboo Designs for Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. Love love love.

This cow made photographer, Christina Wedge, very very happy on the day of our shoot. I love the way the neutral palette was hit in the gut with aqua accents. Nice.

This cow made Christina, very very happy on the day of our shoot. I love the way the neutral palette is sucker punched with aqua. Nice.


Dining Drab turns Dynamic: Before & After!

I am working on this dining room right now and it is turning out beautifully! The ‘before’ picture is drab and completely dated. We painted a cool grey and dark blue, added a beautiful wood cornice board with raw silk steel grey drapery. We kept the old table but changed the chairs out. We upholstered inexpensive chairs and a bench (not shown) with a gorgeous grey and tan ikat fabric and tufted end chairs. And what a difference a beautiful chandelier makes! The brass sconces sitting on the table  in the ‘after’ photo I found on Ebay and put on the wall on either side of the mirror. I’ll show you that wall…later.

And after… Gorgeous!


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