Q: We recently bought a home that has a beautiful walnut-paneled dining room. The choice of furniture is proving difficult, however, because we can't decide what style and types of finishes will look best with the paneled walls and a dark oak floor.
A: One good option would be to use painted, lacquered and even bleached woods along with some more typical finishes. Such a combination will look especially fine if the paneled walls have turned light and mellow with age, as often happens with walnut.
The composition will be more striking still with your dark floor. In fact, you may want to stain it an even deeper brown, to the point where it looks almost black.
The photo should provide some inspiration as you go about making the most of your beautifully paneled walls. This marvelous dining environment is the work of New York interior designer Brian A. McCarthy.
His aim was to recapture the elegance of the turn-of-the-century Newport style. And there's no more effective way of doing that than by filling the room with pieces from E. J. Victor's "Newport Historic" collection.
Although the entire setting is superbly executed, the dining table does stand out as the focal point. Its delicately carved and hand-painted apron with wood parquet top is in the Italian neoclassical style. The upholstered chairs with painted frames complement the table while introducing a pleasing color contrast.
The exuberant yet formal combination of furniture and finishes is only part of the design. No one could overlook the spectacular 18th-century Aubusson rug. Few of us could afford it, either, but alternatives are available, including a traditionally styled flat-weave carpet. It will certainly provide the variety of color and texture essential in an all-wood room.