When we started looking at houses in Kentucky, there was one non-negotiable wish on my wish list: I wanted a formal dining room. I wanted walls and a doorway. A room completely dedicated to dining, and I wasn’t compromising. You see, in our modern era the dining room has been abandoned. Today’s homes knock down the walls and create large open spaces so that one can easily watch TV or other things while eating. Even worse, many people eliminate the room all together. They turn it into a “mail room” (exactly how it sounds: heaping pile of mail on the table) or an extended living room.
To me, the dining room is the most special room in the house. Yes, the kitchen is where the meal is built, but it is the dining room where it is remembered. A wonderful dinner is part quality and taste of food, and part conversation, atmosphere and the people you share it with. That atmosphere cannot happen with a tv blaring in the background, heaping piles of mail, or the sights of dirty pots and pans.
This is why I believe this room must have its own space. Walls to keep it cozy and quiet…and to hide the pots and pans.
When we first looked at the house, the dining space was as most are in today’s world. It was completely open and flowed into the kitchen. A space that most would love…but this was not going to work for me.
We continued walking through the house when we entered a narrow den-like room. I looked around. It felt darker. The windows were much smaller than those in the rest of the house. The ceilings and floor mirrored each other with beautiful old wood, and there was a small wood burning stove at one end of the room.
“This is another living room.” The realtor said.
I couldn’t help but feel the coziness of the dark room. I loved how tucked away it seemed from the rest of the house. I turned to Nick and said “this should be the dining room!”
It didn’t take me long to mentally envision how I wanted to design the dining room. It was the one room I always wanted, and I have known for years exactly how I would decorate it. To be honest, it was the very first room of the house that we did.
To achieve my dream room, I needed two things: a lot of wood and a lot of Nick. This room was going to be custom built. Since Nick works for brownies, he fit my budget and was willing to take on the job. It began with the wine racks. I love collecting wine, and always thought a wall lined with wine racks would be amazing in a dining room, like a library but filled with wine instead of books. He custom built each rack, and we stained them a dark mahogany to add to the room’s deep, cozy feel.
Between the wine racks we added a shelf to display two special bottles that we bought on our honeymoon. This also kept the window area open.
Now, I know what you are thinking, how do you have enough wine to fill this? Well…I don’t, but now you won’t need to worry about what to get me for Christmas (for the next 30 years).
In addition to the wine, we also created two bars: one for liquor and one just for Bourbon. The Bourbon bar was important. We ARE in Kentucky, after all. This cute country cabinet was left in the house and we decided to make it our Bourbon Bar. For now, the bar has whiskey on it, too, but we hope to eventually have it filled with local Bourbons.
At this point you are probably starting to wonder how we have sooooooo much liquor?? No, we didn’t dress in ski masks and rob the local liquor store. I promise. Nick spent over 35 years in the bar business in South Florida. To be honest, it sure beats some of the mugs and lotions that I get as work gifts.
This brings us now to the champagne area. Wine may be number #1, but champagne is 1a. I wanted to give it a special place, but didn’t know how it should look. I thought and thought, but finally just decided to let Nick create “something.” Well, he did a pretty amazing job. It came out beautiful. He even incorporated one of my favorite posters into the center. What I love most about this is how special everything on here is to us, personally. Yes, these bottles are very pretty, but they are very personal. They spark memories every time I look at them. This is something I believe is very important in your home. It should be personal.
The wine glasses on the top were a gift from Nick on our 10th Anniversary. The glasses on the lower shelf are from our wedding. Mumm Napa is where we have celebrated many special events (it also reminds me of our little dog, Napa). One bottle is from our wedding, two from a trip to France, and the others were gifts from special friends. The area is very special because it’s very personal. I never feel like I’m just walking through the champagne aisle of the store.
Often, I don’t think people decorate their dining rooms with personal things. It tends to be a very out-of-the-box room; making it feel disconnected. Hang pictures or display collections. Decorate with things you love.
And now, I have saved the best for last. The most important furniture in the dining room. The table. Nick built this beautiful beautiful beautiful harvest table. He built it in Florida and we transported it all the way to Kentucky. We bought the chairs at a thrift store in Fort Lauderdale for $100 (for all 6…not per chair). The flickering candle light chandelier seals the deal, pulling the whole room together.
I said it at the beginning, and I will say it again, the dining room is the heart of the home.
Sometimes it is the only part of the day that we can sit and connect. It is so special.
I love to cook, but we have many simple meals, too….sometimes it’s even just left overs. No matter what it is, we always sit at the table for dinner. We use serving ware and glasses. We take our time. The TV isn’t on, and neither are our phones. Instead, we talk. I may be old fashion when it comes to this, but it is something I will never compromise on.
This room is my favorite room in the house. It is everything I ever dreamed of.