Weekly Home & Lifestyle Articles

MAY 2018

the moody blues

A Dining Room Design That Appreciates Imperfections

In older homes, it’s rare to find the perfect lighting, an excellent floor plan, flawless walls and ceiling, and unmarred floors. Ursula Carmona, author of the blog Home Made by Carmona (homemadebycarmona.com), believes in accepting these imperfections and turning them into charming characteristics that make a home distinctive and pleasingly quaint.

Carmona lives on sixteen country acres with two homes just outside of the city of Greensboro, North Carolina. One building is the original home that was likely built in the 1930s. “We have been updating the older home for occasional use by friends and family, but we also rent it through Airbnb,” explains Carmona. The dining room measures ten feet by thirteen feet, and has relatively low ceilings at a height of seven feet. “My challenge,” she says, “was to make this small space useable as well as attractive and roomy looking.”

The floor was original to the home and showed rug shadowing, a mix of dark and light areas, and water marks. “Some people feel they must do everything over, but I decided to simply buff and shine the floor and just let it go,” says Carmona. “The imperfections contributed to the cottage-like feel of the entire home.” A rug from a Habitat for Humanity store completes the floor. “This rug was totally new,” she says. “It was a little smaller than I originally wanted, but [it] still worked well in the space.”

The dining room only has one small window, which faces a wooded area, so natural light was limited. The walls were imperfect in spots and covered in outdated textured wallpaper. “I chose Gotham Gray by Valspar and painted [the walls] in a flat matte finish. It’s almost black, but looks a deep, rich blue depending on the lighting,” explains Carmona. Painting right over the existing wallpaper created additional interest with the textural surface. To contrast the deep tone of the walls, Carmona painted the trim white. She first added additional trim pieces to the dining room’s thinner molding to match the wider trim in the rest of the house.

A white table and chairs provide a lovely pop against the dark walls. It keeps the room from feeling gloomy but allows the dark walls to maintain a “moody” nuance, according to Carmona. An electric fireplace sits in a niche created by a brick column in the middle of one of the walls. “It would not have been cost-effective to remove the column in order to achieve a smooth wall, so I decided to embrace the quirkiness of the space and searched for an element that would add interest and character to the area,” says Carmona. “The fireplace was a perfect solution.”

Shop the Look.

Love the art in this dining room design? You’re in luck. All the paintings on the gallery wall are by Donald Towns—a contemporary American fine arts artist, background animation illustrator, and art director—and his prints are available for purchase. Works titled Encroaching FallHostasPuddle Walk, and Sense of Calm are all featured on the gallery wall and are available in multiple sizing options. For more information about Towns or to purchase his artwork, visit DonaldTownsArt.com.

The Moody Blues

Carmona admits that she is obsessed with the trend toward gold accents in decorating. “Metallics always add a ‘glam’ to a space, but I think gold is the best,” she notes. Tableware, frames, and the ceiling fixture all add a touch of elegance. She even spray-painted the outlet covers gold for a quick DIY update. Sparkling glass is another way to introduce glam. “It’s clear and doesn’t take up visual space in a room. The eye goes right through it,” she says. “That is particularly helpful in a small area.”

Doubtless, the most impactful design element that Carmona introduced to the space is the artwork. She covered the walls with beautiful pieces of art interspersed with mirrors. The reflective glass on the prints and the shine of the mirrors helps to break up the solid walls, thereby creating the illusion of space. Carmona feels they keep this relatively small room from feeling closed in. The paintings are by her father, artist Donald Towns (see sidebar).

Carmona advises that any room, even if it’s small, can be jam-packed with elegance. She believes that the quirkiness of a space can be embraced and can transform a simple room into a delightfully charming place with extraordinary character. This dining room is perfect proof of her theory. Written by Carolyn M. Runyon. Photography by HomeMadebyCarmona.com.