Two rooms with very different personalities share the stage in this Louisville, Kentucky, home.
Decorating is not like doing the laundry. Lights and darks go together just fine. In fact, they’re made for each other in this living and dining room connected by a large cased opening. Resisting the traditional tendency to match the color scheme of the two rooms, designer Lee W. Robinson created two sovereign spaces linked by understated touches. See how uncommonly good common ground can look.
Lee wanted to remain true to the early-20th-century style of the home without ignoring the modern tastes of the homeowner. He swathed the dining room in a rich horizontal-striped wallpaper from Osborne & Little. Set against the citrusy yellow of the living room, the combo calls to mind chocolate and fruit. The difference in tones gives the eye a break from room to room.
Consequently, the fabric choices vary as well. A dark red, which Lee describes as “tomato-soupy,” is used for the modern Chinese Chippendale-influenced dining chairs. Next door, a rich blue sofa anchors the living room with the large patterned chairs and recamiers. Throw pillows pull the chair fabric onto the solid-colored sofa.
Unify spaces with architecture.
A Neoclassical mantel found in the dining room was replicated in the living room. The stark white of both mantels against the colors of the respective rooms ensures each feature maintains its importance.
Art ties the two rooms together.
Modern pieces by New York artist Melissa Meyer hang in both rooms. The contemporary art in the relatively traditional space of the dining room adds a sense of youthful irreverence while respecting the classical bones, creating a perfect blend.
Fabrics and wallcoverings don’t have to match exactly, but they should be complementary. The stripe of the dining room wallpaper is picked up by the bands of color in the living room draperies. It doesn’t have to be so literal, folks. Your eye will naturally notice even tiny similarities. A repeated pattern or the smallest touch of the same color in two rooms will instantly bring them together.
My favorite thing about these spaces was actually one of the most subtle features: the vertical row of pet portraits hanging in the dining room. These paintings of several of the homeowner’s most beloved four-legged friends were painted in oil by artist Madison Cawein (who, incidentally, is the grandson of the well-known Louisville poet of the same name). Pet-centric artwork doesn’t have to be a magnet and a snapshot on the refrigerator. Great black-and-white photographs, drawings, or paintings will become high art when framed well. But no frames that look like bones! Novelty frames make your pet look like a novelty. Give your art a great look that will set tongues and tails wagging.