My husband and I are just starting with our home.
We have a large dining room which was used as a landing area for moving in. And, just now, we are beginning to plan our new furnishings for the dining room.
My husband asked me yeeeaaars ago if we could “never have a stuffy china cabinet like my mother has.”
Well, we do have china; I love it and would love to display it. However, in the spirit of marital harmony, I am okay granting his wish and can store the china in a buffet, I guess.
My challenge is this:
What do I do with all of this wall space? I mean, it’s a vast room, and I’m so accustomed to a cabinet along the long wall to fill it out. Therefore, I’m stumped as to how to:
1) have a semi-formal dining space without a china cabinet and
2) fill the walls beautifully.
Thank you so much!
Hi Everyone! Michaela (not her real name) is a genuine reader who recently sent me this dilemma.
As an aside, she sent her email on a Tuesday.
Please make a note: If you want to get me at my worst, write to me on a Tuesday. ;] It’s a blog day, and they can be intense for me—my problem. However, Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday are better.
However, this query regarding Michaela’s dining room is quite interesting to me.
It has to do with the words “china cabinet.”
Let’s go back to Michaela’s husband’s words. We’ll call him “Mike.” :]
“never have a stuffy china cabinet like my mother has.”
Did he say? “I hate all china cabinets and will not marry you unless you promise to never put one of those abominations in our home.”
No, if I’m reading it correctly, he said he didn’t want a STUFFY china cabinet– like Moms. And, undoubtedly, it’s the one that he is associating with his childhood home. I can hear Mike’s mother yelling at him all sorts of things that mothers yell at their little boys to try to maintain some semblance of an orderly home. l
I can imagine how it all began…
One day, Mikey (age 8) was
terrorizing chasing his little sister (age 5) all through the house– It began upstairs, and they tore into the living room, family room, kitchen, and finally into the formal dining room.
There his little sister, now exhausted with this game, cornered Mikey with the Martha Washington host chair. Mikey, attempting to avoid impalement with the chair arm, instead crashed into the giant china cabinet. Subsequently, an antique Wedgewood china platter that had been so artfully displayed came crashing down and broke its matching teapot and several teacups in the process.
Uh oh… That china set had belonged to his great grandmother, and it was a cherished heirloom of his stressed-out mama.
Mikey didn’t understand why his mom was so upset. And, he didn’t know why he had to sit out going trick or treating five days later as punishment for rough-housing in the formal dining room. He and his tough little sister were just having some fun on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Ahhhh… childhood traumas. We all have them. And, yes, to be clear, my little story above is pure fantasy.
Or, is it? ;]
However, this one’s true. I’ll never forget the time circa 1999 that a husband said to me, “Please, no caning. It reminds me of my grandmother’s furniture,” he said with intense disdain as if I had just recommended that we do all of the furniture in pink lucite or something.
I managed to keep my professional poker face with a reassuring, “no problem.”
However, my inner eye roll was screaming,” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? CANING IS GORGEOUS!”
We all have positive and negative associations with certain things. They might not make sense to other people, and we might not even understand them fully.
And, I’m not saying that’s what happened to Mike. Although after raising two Tasmanian Devils disguised in human boy’s bodies, I fully understand how a home can get trashed with minimal effort.
It’s possible that Mike’s mom also had a lot of heavy, fuddy-duddy furniture, and it just wasn’t his thing.
We’ve certainly had some posts which have addressed this type of “ersatz” furniture.
Ersatz Queen Anne
For those just tuning in, “ersatz” or “fake” is furniture that’s given the designation of “traditional” but is actually just a made-up design not belonging to any particular period. It’s almost always referred to as traditional; you might hear the word Queen Ann bounced around or Chippendale. Or, some sort of “provincial.”
Ersatz Chippendale (especially those chairs!)
If this is the case, I don’t blame Mike for not wanting to have a china cabinet like this.
So, Michaela. Mike doesn’t want a “stuffy” china cabinet. But, what about a super-cool china cabinet and some ways to dishes displayed vertically from crashing down?
However, even if Mike eventually comes around to a cool china cabinet.
We still have the issue of the actual design of the space.
In other words, whether or not there’s a china cabinet, we need to address the wall or walls.
You might enjoy this post with some ideas for addressing long, unbroken walls in the living room. Perhaps some of these ideas will be helpful.
However, I have no idea what their dining room looks like. But, that’s okay. I can create dining room layouts based on several dining room configurations. And, I’d love to do that, just like I did for these living room configurations.
However, for today, let’s concentrate on some cool ideas for china cabinets for a new-trad style dining room.
So, first, some china cabinet and dining room inspiration. Maybe if Michaela likes some of these, she can share them with Mike, changing his mind.
And, then, I’ve found some wonderful china cabinets in several styles, including authentic 18th-century pieces and reproductions.
But, first, the china cabinet inspiration.
Miles Redd and Gil Schafer beautiful dining area. The black china cabinet is stunning against the blue walls, I think.
Above is one of the 40 mood boards from the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection. I love deep rich wall colors if there’s a sizeable brown cabinet. It creates a greater balance in the room, I think.
Above the Bronxville dining room is a china cabinet we designed and was created by Englishman’s Fine Furniture.
An apartment I did several years ago with a painted reproduction china cabinet.
Fabulous dining room by Timothy Corrigan with a china cabinet that looks to me like it grew here.
Stunning beauty by Suzanne Kasler and featuring some of her product line from Hickory Chair.
Another moldboard from the Laurel Home Palette Collection. I love the colors and how the painted china cabinet creates both harmony and tension in the design.
I adore this dining room by Douglas Vanderhorn architects. And, one of my favorite parts is how artfully the French Doors mimic the china cabinet!
Another idea I featured last year was about taking a new Chinoiserie cabinet and antiquing it to look more believably old.
If a cabinet is brown and not a rare antique, then painting it is a great option. This piece is fun, and painting always knocks back the formality of a big brown china cabinet. (Find out how to make it classic and fresh.)
Yes, there’s a bit too much furniture here, but I adore this dining room and especially those twin china cabinets.
I didn’t realize until now that this is the same dining room, but the cabinets were obviously painted black. I love it both ways!
I’ve long admired her fantastic kitchen/dining area and her Gustavian-style china cabinet. There’s nothing stuffy about this!
If you’d like some styling information for your china cabinet:
Martha: “With the handles all in one direction. Don’t make a mess.”
How delightfully OCD!
In my house, that stands for Obsessive, Compulsive Disarray. haha
Okay, and now it’s time for the widget mentioned above of 24 china cabinets.
To find out more, please click on any image. These are all vintage and antique pieces. Some are expensive, and some are pretty reasonably priced.
I’m closing with a board I made last year from this post about another reader’s dining room.
This might be too much Chinoiserie, but maybe if the design were very faint or there were different chests on the opposite wall.
Or, I could also see a beautiful Chippendale breakfront along the lines of the piece Gerald Bland is selling. (below)
please pin to Pinterest for reference
Happy October, everyone!
Please remember that the Serena & Lily 20% off sale ends at 11:59 PM on October 5th.
Also, please check out the rest of the HOT SALES.
And, If you’re looking for some custom Roman Shades, you’ll find an exclusive promo code for 20% off. These are wholesale-level prices for Laurel Home Blog readers! How cool is that!
Getting very excited about the Boston Marathon. Did you know that the finish line is around the corner from where I live?