Must a dining room be ornate to be beautiful? The function o a formal dining room, more than any other room in the house, is an artificial one. Here, a highly designed room is not only expected, but desired.

Yet architects, builders and their clients too often treat this room as an afterthought. Architectural details such as fireplaces are saved for the living or family room or the master bedroom. Even such architectural bonuses as a dramatic window view usually cannot be enjoyed after nightfall.

As a result, many homeowners over-fill dining rooms with furniture, cover walls with pictures, overwhelm with pattern and color in an attempt to distract from the inherent lack of ambience.

This simply designed dining room effectively borrows architectural strength from the magnificently executed table and chairs commissioned especially for its owners by world renowned artist George Nakashima. The buffet and storage units along one wall complement rather than do battle with the room's simple design. Sculpture by New York artist Paul Wallach provides additional impact, while a contemporary tatami-type wall-to-wall carpet infuses the room with a subtle Asian influence.

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