When Ariel Roth’s clients,a young family of five in a suburb of Boston, asked her to dress down their formal dining room, she went right for the wallpaper.
“They wanted the rooms in their early 1900s Colonial to be fun and comfortable,” says Roth, an interior designer with Helios Design Group in the Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. They enthusiastically embraced her suggestion to cover all four walls of the formal dining room with whimsical wallpaper. “We used the word ‘happy’ a lot,” the Boston designer says.
The wallcovering she chose? Flat Vernacular Swallowtail, an organic, stone-like pattern in a mix of sweet and earthy colors. She pulled out the pink with simple drapes, and grounded the room by painting the millwork in Benjamin Moore Old Navy.
Photo by Michael J. Lee
I wrote about this space last year in the Boston Globe Magazine, a year ago. Here, I pulled similar pieces so you can pull the look together on your own. (Or call the designer, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!)
One of the loveliest designers in Boston, Dana Arazi of Arazi Levine (she’s actually an architectural designer trained in Tel Aviv), re-imagined this historic 1,200-square-foot condo in Back Bay for a young couple. I’ll talk about the dining room in this post, but you can read about the rest of the project (and look at the photographs) at Boston Home Magazine.
Photo by Joyelle West
Both Arazi and the couple adored the original woodwork of the grand dining/living space which overlooks the Charles River. The other driving force was the decision to create a design with art deco flavor which Arazi felt merged the couple’s disparate tastes well. “I said to them, ‘What if we go a bit art deco?'” Arazi recalls, noting that the look offers a clean geometry for the husband, who likes modern, and rich materials for the wife, who favors vintage. They loved the idea
To keep the shelves from becoming a too busy backdrop, Arazi found Chinoiserie triptych panels that fit within the vertical openings of the woodwork perfectly (once she removed some shelves). She looked at a million options, but felt that the hand-painted scene was in sync with the Esplanade landscape—specifically its stone bridges and cherry trees—and brought the view inside. She also loved the blue tone with the rich wood and knew the romantic vibe would resonate with the wife.
The branch chandelier and CB2 glass dining table (so well-priced at $399) nods to the husband’s more modern leanings. “They balance the room so not everything looks old,” Arazi says. As for the tables absolutely spare lines she says, the designer points out that the table basically disappears, letting the art and wood be the focus. The CB2 brass and leather dining chairs (the wife loves brass) are comfortable and have an art deco silhouette.
The main ingredients Arazi used in this dining room are available retail (and happen to be StyleCarrot partners). Even if you don’t have 100+year old woodwork, or any built-ins at all, you can make this design work in your home. I lined this scheme with freestanding bookshelves for a look as close to the Back Bay dining room as possible, but you could do a grasscloth wallpaper or a textural wood buffet to anchor the wall and artwork.
With vaccine life on the horizon, I’m thinking that dining rooms might need sprucing up. Throw the kids and their laptops back to their bedrooms and classrooms, and reclaim your entertaining space. I’m sure you practiced plenty of recipes during lockdown. It’s almost time to put them to use for friends.
I love this dining room for its fearlessness. I’ve seen other dining rooms with Kelly Wearstler Graffito wallpaper and adore them. This one by designer Martha O’Hara takes it to another level by pairing an equally busy, but geometric rather than organic, pattern on the floor. Then, O’Hara prettifies it with a floral chandelier and goes for color with green velvet head chairs.