"We are what we believe we are."
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dining Room

Astrid Denelle
 I'm so attracted to modern art in a traditional setting, who isn't?  It looks fabulous, it has that frisson of gorgeous energy ... the pop of modernity within the boundaries of architectural detail, tailored upholstery and historical fabrics, it's just so attractive.  I think we can safely call this ZEITGEIST.  Every single image in a design book or magazine that catches my eye these days somehow incorporates modern art within a traditional dining or living room.
Funny because the concept of "zeitgeist", or the "spirit/essential ideas" of our time, is so often disparaged.  Why?  Well, if we were philosophers (heaven help us) we would like to think of ourselves as individuals, yet so often we will in fact behave as a group, a group of ideas, or thoughts, realized.
 I think we are all influenced by things around us, whether they be visual, political or sociological, and in fact I think we are influenced by these things beyond our control.  How so?  We believe we are in control of our own opinions but somehow the Zeitgeist creeps in... it happens to the best of us.  These days I'm sensing a larger feeling of unease and a corresponding longing for the small comforts.

Yet the everyday things are not small... they contribute to the way we live out our hours/days/lives in profound ways.  When times are anxious embrace the small comforts... well it certainly couldn't hurt.

Shiny copper:  industry matters, whether personal or on a larger scale.

Dining room rug.
Dinner, so important!
Much Depends on Dinner
I'm really focussed on dinners right now, and I've had to ask myself what this is about.  Our Rascals getting older?  Likely.  Zeitgeist?  Probably, and in ways I'm not even able to articulate in the moment.   I'm thinking about the week ahead, the holidays arriving, the years going by so quickly.  When times are fraught, how do we reflect that anxiety back upon ourselves?
 Somehow the dining room, and those dinners... what is the magic, the solidity, that happens there?  What has occurred in those moments, how did it form my Rascals, how do I keep those ideals alive in a family that grows older, more mature?  How do I honour the larger family and our network of friends?  Preparing dinner, gathering around a table, it's such a balm to anxiety, so essential during changing times.
How about the environment?  I'm re-decorating our dining room to better reflect our family and lifestyle, I've just put the order in for the new draperies, would you like to see the sample?
Would love to hear about your dining room (or eat-in kitchen), your dinners, and how you organize this increasingly precious time.
Hope you are well and happy,
xox
Dani

20 comments:

  1. I love this post and can't wait to read the answers. I couldn't agree more. I think the pull toward modern art in traditional spaces does indeed have much to do with where we are culturally. I think it offers an authentic accessibility between consumer and artist because it doesn't feel like there's anything to "get" unless you want there to be, you're either pulled to it or not. Also because the world is so so much smaller than it used to be, I think we're not as enticed by art of far away places as we are something abstract.
    My dining room has two solid walls and two open. One solid wall has a big French door so it's not a good art wall. The other has a huge mirror flanked by sconces. I like the mirror vs art because it incorporates a tree view via reflection for the side of the table that wouldn't have it otherwise. Because my dinners are always very in tune with the light and weather, I like to have this incorporated. Under that I have a room-length floating shelf that can flex for decor, bar, dessert station, holding gifts for showers/birthdays/etc. I like having a rather blank space-maybe because I have just as many brunches as I do dinners. Dining rooms are my favorite room and sometimes I fantasize about turning all bedrooms into different dining rooms for different moods. Right now I really want one with light knotty pine paneling (like all trimmed out paneling not horizontal slats) with a Portuguese tile surround fireplace. But I wouldn't always want that! Love that you're taking stock of where your family is nowadays and transitioning your house to fit. Sorry this got so long!

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    1. Stephen Andrew I think your dining room needs to be tabula rasa for the gorgeous platters, flowers and shiny black dogs you have as centre stage! So much beauty. I love your flexible floating shelf you have on the go, I sometimes think your friends and family have their own personal party-planner/wizard (but not creepily behind a curtain/black cloak, rather instead a brilliant host in aqua polo with lavendar shorts, and barefoot) I love it!
      The dining room is such a room of change, it can take many forms and funny too because mine actually functions as my office during the day as well. Of course that was in some ways a terrible idea because now I can only claim it as a business expense on my tax return from 9 to 6 every day! Which is ridiculous and requires outlandish accounting.
      Your current dream dining room sounds very 80's in the best possible way, like a prepster couple just back from summer hols in Europe decorating their house in Massachusetts. So good.
      I think abstract art is so appropriate for our times because we can take away what we like, we all see different things, and in these anxious times the small bits of individuality we can grasp on to while agreeing en masse on the insanity are KEY.
      xo

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    2. Such a good point!
      And you are totally right, basically all my fantasies are 80s preppy dreamlands.

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  2. Hi Dani, lovely to hear from you. When our own rascals were at home we always ate at the dining table. However, now that it's just the two of us, I have to admit that we have our dinner in front of the tv. (Hangs head.) BUT - there is hope for us yet! Tomorrow we take delivery of new sofas so we have decided that we must go back to the dining table. And, of course, we still eat at the table when the boys are home. Our whole main floor is open plan, contemporary rather than traditional. We don't have any 'real art', ie original paintings etc. Rather, we like prints and photos from our travels. I've been struggling with the idea of a photo wall in the living area, then I had an epiphany; we'll use those photo ledge shelves that you can buy at Ikea, so we can just prop pictures up there and change then around at will. Much less work! (The real work will be going through the thousands of photo files!)

    We've been in this house for just over 2 years now; this summer we made a few purchases to add to or upgrade furnishings. It's nice to take it slowly. However, our focus for now is saving for travel. Still, I'd love to see your ideas for redecorating your dining room!

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    1. Patricia no hanging-heads in shame allowed, we do this too. Especially on a movie night, or a baseball night (frequent lately, and tonight is GAME 7, dying here, it will be fajitas in front of the telly for us tonight). You have lived all over the world and I would decorate with those photos too! I love your idea of a changing shelf, that will be gorgeous, you can pul out photos from trips and also bring seasonal photos out (especially when your boys are home, they will love that).
      I think these decisions in our homes should go slowly, I didn't replace the dining room window treatments when we renovated because there were too many decisions happening, but they are so tired and such a drab colour they have to go.
      Would love to hear where you are travelling next, I just booked our summer hols in Newfoundland, I'm so excited to visit with my hubs who's never been. He's going to love it and going to want to move there!
      xo

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    2. Dani, Newfoundland will be wonderful - I'd love to go sometime. Please, please blog about it afterwards! We had hoped to be able to go on a European river cruise with some of Gerry's siblings and their spouses, that would be so much fun, but unfortunately the dates won't work for us. So we are back to Plan A for next September - visit Germany, hopefully including the town where we met, and also Budapest. For the future we are hoping to visit Japan; years ago we were host family to a Japanese high schooler who now has a family of her own (5 kids!!). It would be so nice to see her again and to visit her hometown of Kyoto. Now that's a trip that would definitely be wall-worthy! :0)

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    3. Patricia how exciting would it be to go to Japan? Gosh 5 kids, she's been productive! I will blog about Newfoundland, it is one of my favourite places and I haven't been in 20 years. I lived in St. John's for two years so I know the area quite well. Really looking forward to hiking the East Coast Trail too and maybe seeing some whales.
      Germany and Budapest next summer will be so fun for the two of you, back to old stomping grounds is the best! XO

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  3. yes i'd love to see your samples!

    times are v troubling right now. i think the comfort of homecooking and gathering around the table is such a wonderful way to calm myself, even if it's just within the confines of my home. i love that you take the care you do with your meals, decor and family. every little bit does help. xoxo

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    1. Janet I think we have to hang on to the comforts while the world goes mad. When events are out of our control we need to pretend we can control something for our sanity. I think we are all doing the same just now, which is a comfort too. xo

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  4. Hi Dani, I agree, we live in anxious times right now. I wonder if it has anything to do with the American election (which I privately call the Trump Vortex of Doom), which has been dragging on for it seems like forever. I have pulled back from watching the news because it is so depressing most of the time. As for dinners, weekdays are usually a mad rush, but on Friday night, we make a special point of having pizza and watching a movie together, and everyone really looks forward to it. Thank you for writing such a beautiful and calming post!! (BTW, did you purchase that painting for your home? So striking and the colour palette is beautiful!)

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    1. Louise good nickname for the election! Will it ever end... I guess it will next week, thank heavens. What a shitshow it's been! I've been telling everyone to stop watching it (I mean, we can't even vote!), anxiety levels are very high and there isn't a mystery as to why.
      Pizza and a movie is such a good Friday night! We avoid having to go out on Fridays because we are so exhausted, it's the perfect tuck-in night.
      Yes that painting is in our sitting room, I love it. Our dining room has a full sight-line into the room and I can see it from my spot at the table, it's one of my favourites.
      xo

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  5. Love this. I too am so looking forward to civilized dinners once the busyness leading up to the wedding is done. I had all traditional oils in my old house but sprung the contemporary pieces out of storage. I love the juxtaposition of new with old. Very satisfying. xoxo

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  6. Jen you must be flying around, so busy right now! It's a good energy to throw in the modern art pieces. We don't always have a sit down dinner due to our schedules but I somehow feel bad if we don't. But I shouldn't because sometimes it just can't happen.
    I think we are all in need of a little civility these days! xo

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  7. Oh you are a tease - would I like to see the sample... of course!! I think the family meal is essential. One of my daughters teachers made the comment to me that she could tell we ate meals together as a family often, not because of something E had said to her, but because we obviously talked as a family about all sorts of things.
    I haven't had a lot of time or thinking energy with cooking much lately. Everything has to be fast. I feel very time pressured, and would dearly love to slow down. I'm looking forward to January holidays and a recalibration of the year ahead. But when times are fraught your home is your sanctuary, and perhaps that is the zeitgeist of what everyone is feeling at the moment with the world in turmoil and the news constantly depressing and scary.
    Love the modern art. Our major piece in our dining area gives us so much pleasure. There is nothing better than beautiful fabrics and art and books and delicious smells in a home. xxx

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    1. Heidi I agree you've named all the important cozy things. Family dinners were really essential when all of our kids were at home, I think they actually saved our son from mischief as a teenager. I was very strict about dinners, a bit less so now that we really have little rascal around to monitor, my older daughter is still at home but busy at Uni and will soon be moving out.
      I have hit many many walls in my cooking life! I have to work at getting excited about it again but with lack of time it's very difficult. I hope things can slow down for you! XO

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  8. I agree Dani--modern pieces in a traditional setting add zing--whether it is a small piece of sculpture, a modern textile pattern on a pillow or even one splash of garish colour somewhere!

    Dinners at the table have never worked for us. I'm sorry to have to say it, but there it is. I've tried everything (even telling the girls I'd send them to you for lessons in table manners!). We have been watching Hogan's Heroes for at least six years now, perched on floor and sofa in front of the tv. Our best family times are in the car and travelling together which we do often. Lots of laughter, music, silly jokes and excellent conversations. A fair share of coffee and cocoa too. You just have to grab what works for your family!

    As for unease these days--the news is pretty much ISIS and elections. Just don't tune in, I say.

    dannie

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    1. Dannie oh my gosh Hogan's Heroes I remember you telling me about that show, I've never seen it I'm almost afraid to report because it sounds like your family are superfans ;) True we all have to do what works best for us, it's not the same for everyone that's for sure.
      I've been tuning out of the news quite often lately, it makes me so anxious. XO

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  9. I love all art and modern has a special place of course. my dinners are nothing to write about - my husband and i live like fresh graduates - we eat out - get take out - heat up - i cook sometimes but bc we have such different tastes in food it is very difficult to cook two separate meals. We don't have a dining room although we do have a dining table that doubles as his office desk. But I don' mind that bc I like eating off a little cocktail table.

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    1. Naomi I would say it's nearly impossible to have the traditional sit-down dinner if you have to cook two different meals, that's exhausting! When it's just the two of us our dinners are different and sometimes like elaborate cocktail snacks. It's fun! XO

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  10. For years our dining room was papered in a Pierre Deux wallpaper, and, even though it was a lovely Tree of Life pattern, I was tired of it. We removed the wallpaper and painted the dining from a Benjamin Moore paint color called Hazy Skies. I love it. The trim is a paint color called China White. Then, we slipcovered our Chippendale dining chairs to make them less formal and more relaxed. The fabric is a linen check--a green/blue and ecru.

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