The single-purpose, formal dining room is dated.
Seriously. Ask yourself how much a dining room table and chairs, buffet and cabinets costs vs how often it is used? Or why such a room is useful today? Apart from answering “I just like it,” most of us could put the space to better use.
For me, it feels fossilized to have a separate dining room that requires food to be shuttled in and out from the kitchen. Like everything else today a modern dining room should multitask — if not be completely re-purposed. One easy transition in any style house is to install bookcases on one or two walls and use those to arrange things a bit differently.
These three rooms do it well, though formally. However, I chose them because of their bold color, interesting details and ways they introduce lighting — which becomes an issue with bookcase walls.
A long, gray bookcase wall [top] was installed in a London apartment by designer Lars Bolander. It’s mainly filled with books but small pictures hang on the partitions between the sections along with a trio of Besselink & Jones’ Smartie Library Wall Lights, each about $900. The hefty price for the Smarties turns in part on their very narrow mounting brackets. The Boston Hi-Lo Wall Lamp at Circa Lighting could be installed the same way.
The dramatic black dining-library in the Kentucky home of dress designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka has subtle contrast detailing. Trophy antlers, collected in flea markets and on eBay are lined up at the same height as the top shelves which are used to display large silver pieces. A small black lamp with black shade to match the chandelier is set on a bookcase shelves at chair-back height. (An electrical outlet in a book case requires advance planning or retro-fitting). Several black-body lamps from Bellacor could be tucked into this very bookcase, or any other dark one, with the same effect as the one here.
In this London dining-library, the gray bookcase not only covers two walls but is painted a contrasting color in back and on shelves. That happens to be the classical salmon often found in old rugs that casts a romantic glow at night. But it could be any color. The elaborate woodwork around the bookcase includes pull-out shelves on which candlestick lamps are placed. This very traditional style is similar to the 26-inch high Remington Lamp, $210 at neenaslighting. Since hidden shelves like these are rare, a pair of narrow, surface-mounted shelves slightly deeper than the lamp bases would look just as good and be a great DIY project.