Decorating & Design

Ask A Designer: Dated Dining Room

Q. What can we do about the glass-block window in our dining room? It lets in a lot of light, but is ugly and doesn’t fit with the style of the house. I just stencilled the border above the plate rail (which took longer than expected!). We’d also like a new table and chairs. We have two spill-prone kids so we don’t want to install carpeting.

— A.M., Toronto (To submit your own question, see our Ask A Designer™ page.)

A. Great job on the stencilling: it’s graphic but also subtle — well worth the effort! You’re right about the window: it doesn’t fit with the room’s traditional elements. You have two options to cover it up. One, hang a set of drapes in full-pleated linen on a decorative rod to cover the entire window. Or two, have a taut “screen” made from a double-wide sheer that can sit right inside the window frame. Either choice will soften the wall and still let light filter through.

Your current dining table has great lines. If it’s large enough to suit your needs, I would keep it. Instead of getting rid of your chairs, consider painting all the Windsors white and just removing the red leather ones. But if you do want new, the white Vintner side chair with striped cushion from Crate & Barrel has a lovely, curved X back.

Paint your dark wood hutch white, like the one in our inspiration photo, to work with the white chairs (painted or new) to freshen the room and complement the blue-grey walls.

A rug would add softness and an extra layer of pattern to the room. I often recommend indoor-outdoor rugs for casual dining rooms since they offer great texture and are very durable — which is great if you have small kids! Look at the Izmir outdoor dhurrie from West Elm. It feels like wool but is waterproof.

Add a few accessories in the room’s blue and white palette to your sideboard (not visible). I like the slightly vintage look of the Thayer porcelain table lamp from Arteriors Home. Place one on either end of your sideboard, and then layer in a few Pool Blue ceramic jugs from Lazy Susan to create a well-rounded vignette.

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1. Fabrics: Open weave linen in Ivory (top), 200077-O-L/Batiste Blanco Optico scrim, Designer Fabrics; drapery rod, West Elm. 2. Izmir dhurrie, West Elm. 3. Vintner chair, Crate & Barrel. 4. Thayer lamp, Arteriors Home. 5. Pool Blue pottery, Lazy Susan.