Ample storage and jewel-toned accents serve up style in a basic dining room.
Q. I have a really boring wall in my dining room that I'd like to do something with. I need storage — I've just had a baby and would like a spot to keep all her toys, blankets, etc. But I'm afraid a full-height wall unit will make the space look too heavy. Any ideas?
— J.C., via email (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)
A. I agree that you need more storage and that a floor-to-ceiling unit may overwhelm the space. Also, full-height units are not always as efficient as something low and wall-to-wall. Float a custom sideboard above the baseboard that stretches corner-to-corner, like the one in our inspiration photo. The length of the unit will mean it offers plenty of storage for baby gear and serving ware, but it will still leave empty wall space for statement art, like this piece by Meredith Bingham from Canvas Gallery.
Walnut is a classic choice for a sideboard and would complement your dining set. Or you could have it painted the same white as your millwork. If a custom piece is not in your budget, Ikea's Bestå system is a great option. Go for the glossy white finish and mount it directly on the wall (you'll need an anchoring device from a hardware store). Whether you choose a custom design or the Bestå, leave a 6" gap between the unit and your door frame to allow for drape panels to be pulled back.
Speaking of drapes, they're a fantastic way to bring interesting pattern into the room. I like Laura & Kiran's Spiral Branch in Pewter from Tonic Living. It's very graphic but also has a lovely hand-painted feel.
A new light fixture will work wonders here. Take a look at Tom Dixon's Bead and Top pendants. A trio of the mouth-blown glass gems at staggered heights would have an eye-catching sculptural effect, and the greenish tone will amp up the retro vibe created by your good-looking table and chairs.
Layer in some texture with an area rug under the dining set. A heathered stripe pattern will lend subtle contrast to the floral drapes; something like the Aubrey wool rug from Restoration Hardware Baby & Child. The Denim or Grey colourways will play up the tones in the new drapes.
Finally, create a vignette on the sideboard using a collection of diverse items, including a cluster of vases in varying heights and shapes, like the light purple Vårlikt vases from Ikea.