In today’s homes it is more typical to have an Open Plan Kitchen/Dining Area as opposed to individual rooms but when we were planning our home, we probably went against the trends and opted for a separate Kitchen and Dining Room.
While our Kitchen is large enough to cater for a greater number of people than our own little family of five, we wanted a more formal space where we could entertain our guests without having to look at a stack of pots, pans and dirty dishes! I like to think I’m always fairly organised when it comes to entertaining (if I do say so myself!) but there can be times, in between courses during a dinner party, when there will be a bit of a backlog around the sink and dishwasher..
The funny thing is, when we were planning our new home, I had never held a dinner party in my life up to that point (I really was a novice when it came to the whole cooking malarkey) so why I wanted a separate room in which to entertain, I can only imagine!
We had a fairly good idea of how we wanted this room to look when decorated. It had to have a large Victorian Mahogany Dining Table with Balloon Back Dining Chairs, Victorian Sideboard and some occasional tables with elegant lamps which would cast a warm glow around the room. The walls had to be painted in a deep red – I had read somewhere that dining rooms in period homes were painted red because it stimulated the appetite and encouraged conversation. From memory, I think we chose a colour called ‘Eating Room Red’ from Dulux which I remember thinking at the time was very apt.
So every weekend in our quest to find the perfect dining table, we would pack up the children and take to the roads. We must have visited every antique shop within a 40 mile radius looking for the perfect table!! We came across so many which weren’t big enough, were the wrong style or were just too expensive. Eventually, and by accident, I discovered the wonderful world of Ebay. We realised that we didn’t need to limit our hunt to Ireland alone and found that there was far more choice if we looked in the UK. It did take a little time and a lot of ‘scrolling’ but we eventually found our table in an antique shop in the south of England and bought it through a ‘Buy it Now’ option. We also sourced some chairs and with some help from the antique dealer had the items shipped over by courier (not as difficult or expensive as you might think). Buoyed up by our success with our table and chairs purchase, our next item on the list was the sideboard and so back to Ebay we went. It wasn’t long before we found what we were looking for, again in England. This time we went through the on-line auction format. We placed our bid and waited with bated breath while the auction closing date came closer. In the end, we needn’t have worried as we were the only bidders and got the sideboard for, approx £500 plus delivery.
The room remained red for the first 7 years after moving in but to be honest, I was never really happy with it. It is double aspect with windows to the north and east, but it always felt very dark and this was before we even managed to get curtains up! We didn’t really do much more with the room during that time either. We ‘inherited’ an old piano which was literally ready for the skip and put it in and also bought quite a large rug from a store in Tullamore, Co Offaly. While the majority of it is hidden under the table, it absorbs the noise created from moving chairs in and out and also gives the room, more of a period look.
Eventually, I decided to risk bad appetites and lack of conversation and redecorate!! So around three years ago I started planning… I knew the rug had to stay, and so had to keep the colour scheme fairly traditional. I decided to go with gold as the wall colour and felt sure this would lighten the room. Feargal also designed some panelling and we had a local joiner fit this for us. I bought the wallpaper which is Delancy Gold in Laura Ashley and I had our local paint shop match the colour for the woodwork from this paper. I’m so happy with how it turned out which is even better than I had envisaged.
The curtains were made by excellent local curtain and blind specialists, Dunne & Nugent. I opted for a plain fabric as I didn’t want to detract from the wallpaper above the panelling and am so happy with them. It might have taken ten years for us to get our curtains but they were so worth the wait.
I bought the drinks cabinet last year as a present for Feargal’s birthday. Over the past couple of years he has acquired a taste for an occasional drop of whiskey and I thought it would be nice to have a press to both display his various bottles along with providing additional storage in the room. Both the cupboard and the lamp which sits on it, were bought from a local antique shop. The picture over this press came from a giftware shop in Mullingar and we’ve had it for many years.
The other pictures and gold overmantle in the room have come from either Ebay or from the Antique Market in the town of Ludlow, Shropshire where we have had family holidays for the past three years.
The light over the table came from the same antique shop in Mullingar where I bought the drinks cabinet. This was a terrific find. It cost less than €100. I had to spend a few hours removing and hand-washing every glass droplet on it, but it was so worth the effort as it came up a treat.
We are so pleased with this room and use every opportunity to get our friends and family together around the table.
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