By Sandra Cooper
When homeowners Joe and Holly Burke first visited the property that would become their home, Holly did what any avid horse woman would do: she toured the barn, and she fell in love. Her husband, however, had to be convinced of the potential in the dark, dated interior of the house. Holly, a veteran of several whole-house remodeling projects, knew that, with some tweaking, she could turn the 3-bedroom ranch house into the home of her family’s dreams.
In the dining room, Holly’s tweaking involved installing French doors to maximize views of the enclosed pool and the farm beyond and laying large bisque ceramic tile flooring that mimics the look of natural stone.
For the dining room décor, Holly called in decorator Danielle Morris of Tres Chic Interiors. The two decided to blend family treasures with new furnishings. As Danielle advocates, “Use what you love, and your home becomes a reflection of who you are.”
Holly warmed the dining room walls with Ralph Lauren Country Cork paint, a khaki with golden undertones, and installed a chair rail in glossy white. To increase visual interest, the full color was used below the chair rail while a lighter shade was used above.
Although Holly was nervous about the color change, she trusted Danielle’s vision. Danielle laughs that Holly’s apprehension is not unusual.
“People are afraid to use color, even though it is the easiest, most inexpensive way to add impact, and it’s the easiest mistake to correct,” says Danielle, “Just re-paint.”
A new mahogany table centers the room under an iron chandelier. The table can extend to 12 feet when the Burkes entertain. The table is elegantly and dramatically topped with two oversized glass hurricane lanterns. Danielle likes the lanterns because they hold one of her favorite decorating accessories — candles. She advises that candles add instant, inexpensive ambiance, warmth and romance. And the bonus — everyone looks great in candlelight.
The dining table is completed by eight parsons chairs upholstered in olive green velvet. The upholstered chairs soften the wooden surfaces of the dining room table while ensuring that guests dine in comfort.
A 4-foot, glass-front bookcase is used for storage and display. The bookcase shelves are stacked with her grandmother’s china in addition to Holly’s own wedding china. For a big party, the two sets are mixed for an elegant, eclectic table service.
A silver tray that Holly won at a horse competition tops the bookcase.
“Our awards show who we are as a family,” says Holly. “We work so hard; it would be a shame not to show them off.”
An antique, off-white trunk embellished with gold stenciling occupies a corner of the dining room. Holly’s parents bought the trunk in Hong Kong, where she was born. A whimsical figure of a dog in rider’s regalia to her by a friend finishes the trunk dramatically.
Holly adheres to the idea that it is important not to buy all new furnishings for your home when decorating. Family possessions turn a house into a home, and the Burke’s newly redecorated dining room serves up elegance in family style.