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Modern Reflections 

Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Formal dining rooms are not used very much anymore. During the week, it seems a miracle to have everyone home and fed at the same time. The casual seating approach around a kitchen table or counter has become the norm. However, the dining room in our house remains a very important place, a special room where we entertain friends and celebrate feast days with family. A room's decor should complement its function. So if you are planning a dining room for special get-togethers, why not enhance the space with glam and sparkle? It's also a night room, which lends itself to imaginative, dramatic strokes.

In the dining room seen here, I employed a combination of luxurious materials and reflective surfaces. The maple hardwood floors and banana-cream painted walls blend softly together to create the backdrop for a tone-on-tone palette of rich light-wood browns and warm whites. The furnishings are an exciting mix of modern and traditional. White leather Parsons chairs surround a full-length wood table that is topped with bronzed glass.

It's always inspiring to think up some feature that's fun and fanciful, a conversation piece I consider the wow factor. Chandeliers are all the rage again; this one exemplifies today's trend of mixing the old and the new, the sleek and the ornate. A traditional crystal drop chandelier sits inside a tinted tube of plastic. You can make a cheaper version of this expensive European fixture with a glass chandelier floating inside a sheet of mirrored plastic. The ultra-modern fixture becomes a focal point, reflecting off the table and the convex surface of a classic butler's mirror hung over the serving buffet.

You can enhance the reflective qualities of the room even more by choosing paint with a semi-gloss sheen. Both light and dark colors reflect if the surface is shiny. The quality is especially bewitching in a setting where the lights are low and flickering candles produce shadows that dance off mirror and crystal.

Luxurious materials and tactile surfaces make us feel pampered and special, a lovely experience to share when life's not too frantic to dine with friends and family.

Dear Debbie,

We are building a new house and are planning to decorate in the new pastels — light pinks and salmon, lavender and midtone blues. My question is, what color should I use for the hardware on the interior doors and the bath and kitchen fixtures? Oil-rubbed bronze seems too dark, satin nickel is too dated. What do you suggest?


Dear Sharlene,

Choosing hardware for your home is not necessarily something that you should connect with a trend. It will be part of the house for a long time, so I suggest you select a finish that will stand the test of time and complement the overall style of your home. If you are leaning toward a pastel palette, chrome, silver or nickel will keep it modern and fresh, while bronze and gold will lend a more Old-World feel. It sounds like you veer toward the modern, so look for polished nickel or chrome. Kitchen and bath fixtures do not need to match the other house fixtures. This is a great place to splurge on stylish design; it's like jewelry for the sink.

click to enlarge Debbie Travis
  • Debbie Travis
click to enlarge Modern features update traditional design in this sparkling - dining-room setting.
  • Modern features update traditional design in this sparkling dining-room setting.


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