Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dining by Design

If I was forced to pick a favorite portion of the Architectural Digest Home Design Show we attended this past weekend, I would have to choose the DIFFA Dining by Design rooms.  Designers received either an 11x11 or 11x20 foot area to create any dining space their imagination (and presumably their budget) would allow.  The results were spectacular and truly over the top.  Check out our favorite rooms and a few tips on how to transform ideas from the designers’ showcases into something more manageable for YOUR dining space.  

Evette Rios for Buitoni &
Everyday with Rachel Ray

Evette Rios’ enchanted garden display left us spellbound.  The place settings, floral arrangements and hanging potted greens were creative and beautiful, but what really set the tone was the lighting.    You can create a similar effect by using a tasteful amount of colored lighting, or even using uplighting in your home or dining area.  Try changing the bulbs in your fixtures to a Transparent Amber, like 
this one we found at  At less than $2 a pop they’ll give you a taste of atmosphere without doing damage to your wallet.  If you’re interested in seeing what kind of a facelift uplighting will give your room, try something subtle like Indoor Plant Lights we found at Lamps Plus.  They’re inconspicuous, and add just the right amount of light to bring a little something extra to your space.  Of course, if all else fails you or you need to set an atmosphere (and/or look more attractive) right away than simply turn down the lights and break out some candles.  Works every time.  

David Beahm for Continental Airlines

Pictures simply don’t do this masterpiece by David Beahm justice, the vision involved in the creation of this room was amazing!  A look like this is difficult to re-create inside, but we picked out a few elements your can borrow with ease.  To get a taste of the arbor effect try weaving some artificial Wisteria Garland through your chandelier or lighting fixture.  We found some beautiful 
6 foot strands online at for less than $7 a piece.  Check your local craft store and see what they carry, you might find something that compliments your decor even better.  If you’re starting a room from scratch and interested in achieving a cozy ambiance like the one you see here, look for a table and seating that’s low to the ground.  We found this glass Sheffield Round Dining Table for about $500.  Try breaking up a curved sectional sofa, like the one we found at Opulent Items, to create a similar seating arrangement.  

David Stark for Benjamin Moore

We love Ben Moore, so we simply had to include a snippet from their display.  They had a creative take on using technology in design, including using a simulated fire on three iPod touch screens as the flame for their candle centerpieces.  Very fun.  While we can’t bring ourselves to advocate purchasing multiple iPods to accomplish this look, we can suggest a way to mimic it assuming you have an iPhone or the like already in your possession.  All you’ll need is an 
understated phone stand (we found ours on for about $6) and a candle stick wide enough to accommodate a pillar candle, like Crate and Barrel’s Adele Candleholders.  Rest the phone on it’s stand on top of the candlestick, download the Eternal Flame application from the App store and voila!  The other element of this space we really loved was the hodge podge of centerpieces down the long table.  This one is self explanatory and pretty inexpensive too.  Take clear glasses and small vases and fill those bad boys up with whatever greenery you can get your hands on.  Gather interesting clippings from your yard, or visit a local grocery store to see what their floral department has in stock.  The beauty is in the simplicity, so take the opportunity to showcase greens you’d normally only use as filler.

Goil Amornvivat and Thomas Morbitzer 
for Tug Studio

We threw this one in so you could get an idea of just how much creativity some of these designers displayed.  Would I want this in my home?  No.  But it was definitely created by someone thinking outside of the box and some small portion of it could work for say...a bachelor pad perhaps.  It appears Goil Amornvivat and Thomas Morbitze found inspiration from comic books and phones, even turning the place settings themselves into an old fashioned rotary phone.  To capture the retro feel of this room try framing a Roy Lichtenstein poster.  There’s a lot to choose from, and most are right around $30.  


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