Features Mann Overboard

The Dinner Game

Photo credit: Scott Snyder

For years, we’ve been fed an HGTV narrative that interior walls should be torn down in favor of open floor plans. But after the pandemic lockdown, when many Americans found themselves living in one open plane with life’s flotsam on full display, the idea of a little intimacy and separation took root. 

“As more of us were forced to stay and entertain at home, we wanted our kitchen prep mess hidden from the dining room,” explained designer Gil Walsh, who does design work in both Palm Beach and Martha’s Vineyard. “People have gone back to using their dining rooms and making them into their own interesting space that is equal parts functional and beautiful.”

Palm Beach-based Scott Snyder, who has amassed a distinctive international clientele, said one of his favorite rooms in the house is a private dining room. 

“They provide an opportunity to express a bit of theatre, yet always rooted in tradition and standing the test of time. My dining room style ranges from formal to frivolous; it all depends on the home and the resident,” said Snyder. “As it’s not an overused room, it needs to be an adventure unlike the rest of the home.” Finally, a place to not simply sit still, but to project all of our creative musings. 

Below is a three-course primer on essential dining decor. 

Light It Up

“Chandeliers layer a room and help fill the space. They are an art object in their own right,” said Gil Walsh, founder of Gil Walsh Interiors. “Today, there are wonderful artisans creating amazing sculptural art fixtures from so many different materials. And clients are paying significant amounts of money to hang this lighting.” 

Table Manners

“A large round dining table has been one of my go-to selections in a dining space. Circular elements allow people face time with their dinner guests,” said Krista Watterworth, founder of Krista + Home. “Comfortable yet stylish seating is key. I use some of the most beautiful performance or outdoor fabrics for seating at the table, and I also love bigger, sink-in types of chairs, benches or banquettes. This is a room that is not only used for Thanksgiving dinner; it’s a comfortable spot to make a long phone call or sit with a laptop for a working day.”

Build the Walls With Color & Character

“I’m not a fan of straight paint; I prefer Venetian plaster, if you have a great art collection to balance the simplicity of the wall finish. Personally, I prefer stenciled European wall painting and most certainly Chinoiserie silk painted wallpaper; it’s art in itself and requires no other embellishments,” Snyder said. “Hand-painted murals that depict something personal to the homeowner are also distinctive and, if executed properly, timeless. Skip grass cloth unless you are in the Caribbean or Maldives. Dining rooms are not a place for practicality; they are not a cafeteria. They are the special jewel in the home. Save practically for the kitchen and the more utilitarian areas! Allow your designer to take you on a journey where you let your imagination run wild.” 

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