Global Dining Rooms, Part 1

Dining room decor should lift the spirits to complement the food you are serving. Global styling is ideal for creating an exciting sense of theater that livens up the experience of eating at home.

Hospitable and comfortable, the global style combines informality with strong handling of the decorating basics – confident color, characterful texture, and lively pattern. The look is simple and natural yet exuberant, with the emphasis on straightforward materials and unfussy detail. Rugged, natural surfaces and finishes marry with cheerful handmade accessories to create dining rooms which are practical as well as enjoyable. The informal approach goes well with today’s casual lifestyles and the latest trends in decorating.

Global styling is also economical and easy to assemble. You needn’t travel far to find most of the ingredients for the look – homespun furnishings, hand printed textiles, handcrafted baskets, bowls, and tableware are as accessible as they are affordable. It’s always worth keeping your eyes open for ethnic craft items with bold profiles or striking designs, such as pottery jugs or metal candelabra, that look good on the dining table.

Unless you want to achieve a particular regional look – a minimalist oriental scene or a sumptuous Indian setting, for example – you can mix and match artifacts from different countries of the world and combine colors, patterns, and textures with abandon. In this relaxed styling, there’s no need to agonize over what goes with what, since most elements blend well together whatever their country of origin. If you like to travel, global style provides the perfect excuse to display your treasured souvenirs.

Creating the Look Walls: The look is fundamentally bold, rather than pristine, warm rather than cool. Rich earthy tones, from ocher to brick red, epitomize the look. If you prefer a more reticent background, chalky white makes a good foil for dark wood and lively patterns.

For once, less than perfect wall surfaces actually suit the look. Paint loosely washed over rough plasterwork provides a wonderful textural dimension while layers of glazes or washes add luminous depth to the finish. You can accent the main divisions of the wall, at the top, bottom, or wainscoting level, with a hand painted trim.

Floors: Dining room flooring should be easy to maintain. With its bias toward natural materials, the global style is best expressed in plain sanded or stained floorboards, natural stone or brick flooring, plain terra-cotta quarry tiles or natural fiber coverings such as sea grass, coir, or sisal.

As an extra layer of comfort, you can partner basic no-nonsense flooring with bright scatter rugs or runners.

Indian durries, Kulim’s, and Mexican scrapes come in a wide range of colors, patterns, and price ranges. Natural fiber floor coverings can be made up in room-sized mats or runners, loosely laid over a non-slip backing.

Windows: Window treatments are best kept simple and uncluttered. Slatted wooden louver shutters, natural split-cane blinds, or wooden Venetian blinds filter the light interestingly. If you prefer fabric at the window, choose a homespun or hand printed textile, such as batik or tie-dyed designs. You can catch up a length of ethnic fabric, including saris, in front of the window with clips or drape it over a wooden, bamboo, or metal rail for an instant, no-sew window treatment.

Lighting: For atmospheric dining, combine a chandelier over the table with soft wall lights, table lamps, or discreet torchiers. Plain modern fittings are best, while lamp bases in polished metal or glazed ceramics fit in well. Metal candleholders with tiered branches look right on the table.

Copyright 2009 Rhonda Morin, May not be reprinted.

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