Entertaining the sensesPublished on March 17, 2014

  • Photo by Nicholas Downward

I especially enjoy entertaining during the winter. When cabin fever sets in, entertaining friends and family can really break up the long season. Come to think of it, winter is the only time of the year that I entertain exclusively indoors. Whether having a formal dinner or just entertaining friends, everything is done inside, or more precisely, in the kitchen and dining room.

For John and Nancy, entertaining family and friends always seemed to be a shuffle between their kitchen and adjacent dining room. Even though they had a sprawling great room, they just couldn't seem to get their guests to budge. Eventually Nancy threw in the towel and accepted that if the dining room was where her guests wanted to be, she would make the space worthy of both fine dining and entertainment. That's when I got the call.

When I first took a look at the area, I was struck by its great lines and many interesting features. A large window overlooked the front yard, a curved wall wrapped around the dining room into the hallway and a large window nook peered over the front entrance. No wonder she couldn't get her guests out of there!

Nancy and John wanted the space to be welcoming, but also eclectic with a variety of contrasting tones, textures and furniture. Nancy also wanted it to have a "wow factor", something that would attract the eye and start a conversation. Colours and an accent wall would have to encourage socializing and comfort.  

To kick things off, wallpaper was applied on the curved wall which led into the front hallway. Using embossed wallpaper helped to distract the eye away from the curve and towards the paper's texture. I often use textured paper if the walls are in rough shape or I am looking to add decorative details using colour. Paint and glaze can be applied to this type of wallpaper, and rubbing the paint/glaze off after it has been applied creates depth and colour variances. However, this time a soft green was selected as the perfect tone for encouraging social joining and a sense of belonging.

The accent wall was painted flat-latex black in order to absorb the outside/inside light, as well as ground the many different pieces and patterns present. Nancy, who is an accomplished artist in her own right, decided to create the "wow factor" by painting bold petals over the black using a metallic premixed glaze. Her freehand art not only added drama to the space but also created a centrepiece for conversation.

A custom-made dining table — round, of course — allows for easy conversation and ease of movement. Family antiques and collectibles complete this unique space. Now on to the great room!

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