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Chairs can dress up a plain table


Q: A dining table that I recently inherited has a beautiful mahogany veneer but a rather undistinguished design. Its pedestal base supports a top with rounded ends. Do you have some suggestions for how I might enhance the table's appearance?

My home's overall design consists of a mixture of styles.

A: Since you describe the wood grain as beautiful and since the piece's proportions seem pleasing enough, your most sensible option may be to leave the table as is and focus on enhancing the look of its surroundings.

Have you considered adding a colorful rug, interesting wallpaper, graceful curtains or a few unusual chairs? Chances are that such elements will make the room look so inviting that you'll be satisfied with the table's appearance.

Keep in mind that not every item in a given space needs to make a dramatic design statement. A somewhat ordinary piece may even be an important asset when accompanied by exotic objects. In fact, the relative plainness of your table may well serve as an excellent foil for the more exuberant designs you choose to introduce in the dining area.

If your budget limits the number of possible new treatments, then the best strategy could be to devote your resources to the purchase of a few dining chairs. They alone may be sufficient to soften a setting that does not include billowy window dressing or a large rug.

Fully upholstered chairs with tall and gently rolled backs will also add color and pattern to a room with lots of wooden furniture. But if you do decide to bring in a decorative rug, then it may be appropriate to choose chairs that are simpler yet more sophisticated in their design.

The photo offers an example of that type of seating piece. This "Norfolk Neoclassical" mahogany side chair is a Baker Furniture reproduction of an elaborately inlaid original from the 18th-century South. Its construction creates the effect of pierced slats, while the decorative nailheads form a banded and scalloped pattern on the upholstered seat. The flower motif gives the chair yet another elegant feature.

A couple of pieces of this sort would make a particularly good match for your mahogany table. I think you will also find that such a chair design will enhance the appearance of all the other nearby elements.

Alternately, you may wish to add one or two examples of art furniture, which is the name given to pieces designed by NTC contemporary artists. That may well be a good choice in a home such as yours that contains a mixture of styles.

High-quality art furniture can have as much decorative impact as historic reproductions, since both kinds of furnishings are distinguished by attention to detail and elegant design.

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