My Parents' Summer Home: The Dining Room

I’m really excited to share the progress I’ve been making on our home, however first, I wanted to give a little sneak peak of another project that I’m currently working on: helping my parents decorate their summer home in Maine! My parents have enjoyed vacationing in Maine for the past 10 years or so, and a little over a year ago, they decided to take the plunge and buy a property there, close by the coast. It’s a beautiful, large Victorian home, built in 1889 with a ton of charm and character. However, it also needed a fair amount of restoration, and so my parents have spent quite a bit of time fixing it up—adding/renovating bathrooms, putting on a new roof, re-finishing the floors, and having the whole interior re-painted. They made a ton of progress last year, and it’s finally at the point where they can really begin decorating it. It’s a huge house however, and they were feeling a bit overwhelmed, so they decided to “hire” me to help them with the process! I am incredibly excited for the chance to work on another house besides my own—particularly a space which has so much history and character already.

The first room that they asked for my help with is the dining room. It actually took some debating to figure out which room should be the dining room in the first place—there were two possible options: a smaller room at the very front of the house with a large bay window, and the room immediately adjoining that one which is very long and narrow and opens out onto a large side porch. The previous owners had used the long and narrow room as their dining room, but it felt almost too awkwardly long for a dining room, and the front room was a little small for a living room. So, we decided to switch them and try putting the dining room at the very front of the house.

Here is a view of the dining room as it looks now, viewed from the front entryway:

Camden Dining Room 1.JPG

The walls are painted in Boothbay Gray by Benjamin Moore and the rug is the Constance Hand-Tufted Wool Blue Area Rug by Wayfair. As you can see from the photos, the bones of the room, even with no furniture in it, are really beautiful. The large bay window adds a ton of architectural interest and gives the room a lot of wonderful natural light. Here is another view of the space from the living room, looking towards the front of the house:

Camden Dining Room 2.JPG

Although my parents want the overall decor of their summer home to reflect a casual New England coastal style, they expressed an interest in giving the dining room a slightly more formal look. After all, it’s the very front room of the house, and since most of the time in the summer, they will use the porch for outdoor dining, it won’t be as frequently used as some of the other spaces. I envision it being an elegant, sophisticated space, with a little bit of drama—still very comfortable for large family gatherings, but a space that makes a real statement. Once again, I used Floorplanner to come up with a few mock-ups of the room to get a sense for how it could be furnished. Here are approximately the same views shown above, rendered with the Floorplanner software:

Camden Render 1.JPG
Camden Render 2.JPG

In order to help give the room a bit more drama, I am suggesting that they install a large central chandelier—something very classic, with clean simple lines like this one from Pottery Barn:

Since my parents are working to furnish a significant portion of the home this year, they aren’t planning to completely finish the dining room all at once. Their main goals for now are curtains, a dining room table, and some chairs. For curtains, we are thinking of something soft and ivory in a fabric that has some weight and sheen to it like these Dupioni silk curtains, also from Pottery Barn.

Obviously, the most important single piece of furniture for this room is the dining room table. This is one of those pieces that has to work very hard—it needs to be stylish and to make a big statement, but also functional and flexible enough to accommodate a large range of seating. For much of the time, the table might only need to hold my parents and a few additional family members, however, they also want to be able to host large family dinners in this space for special occasions. A table with extendable leaves was an obvious choice, and since the room isn’t huge, it was important to find one that doesn’t extend too far and collapses to a modest size. My parents and I both like trestle-style tables—they have a slightly rustic feel while still remaining elegant and somewhat formal. I found this one from Ballard Designs which they really loved in the store and ended up ordering!

It should arrive sometime in March, and I am so excited to see how it looks in the space! I’ll post more in-progress shots of the room once things get further along, so stay tuned for more updates in the next few months!