Decorating & Design

December 14, 2016

Ask A Designer: Darryl Carter’s Dining Room Advice

Washington, D.C.-based designer Darryl Carter answers your decoration questions.

Q: How can I arrange my existing dining furniture to make better use of the space? Do you have any other ideas to make the room work well? — M.S., via email.


A: Whether you deAAD-Darryl-Carter-Headshotcide to keep your existing furniture or replace it with new pieces, here are two strategies to elevate your dining area into a more sophisticated space.

Game Plan 1: Use What You Have 

Lighting is a critical anchor, particularly in a space with an open floor plan like yours. Either a traditional chandelier, like the one in the Inspiration shot (below), or a more modern design like my Gwenwood Hang will work. If you don’t have a junction box on your ceiling, swag the pendant from a few hooks on a perimeter wall, with cording going down to an outlet.

As for your dining room furniture, I’d sand down your existing table and paint it a soft white, like Crestridge White from my Benjamin Moore line. You could also replace your glass top with stone — a classic soapstone or dark stone with white veining would be practical and work well with your new finish. I’d also suggest updating your chairs with a coat of black paint, like Phelps Black, also from my line, then upholstering them in a high-contrast white or off-white faux-leather fabric for durability. Sanding your existing credenza would also give it an interesting raw- finished look.

Maddux Residence

Game Plan 2: Invest In New Pieces 

If you have the budget and the space for new dining room furniture, I’d suggest a long, rectangular table, similar to the one in the Inspiration shots. It will allow you to accommodate a settee in your space, which can provide a soft, visual punctuation among all the chairs. When selecting a settee, lumbar support and depth are critical, as dining seating needs to be more upright. A larger table will also give you the option to mix up your chair styles. I like using wing chairs as odd chairs around a table to break up the monotony. The number of styles of seating being mixed is always dictated by a table’s size — choose no more than three for the size of table in the Inspiration shot.

Maddux Residence

Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to [email protected]!


Gordon Beall


House & Home November 2015


Darryl Carter