My favorite magazine stories are the ones where an interior truly speaks to its inhabitants, and it’s filled with furnishings, patterns, artwork or objects that are especially meaningful. That’s going to be the subject of the keynote speech I’ll be delivering at the Resources Tabletop Trade Show on Sep. 10, sponsored by the local chapters of the IFDA, NKBA, and Home & Design Magazine; the title is “Passion and Storytelling in Design.” I hope you’ll join me!
For now, this dining room I wrote about for the current issue of Arlington Magazine is a case in point.
Designer Marya Karlton swung into action for her clients, Amy and Jack Smith of Arlington, when they moved into their house in 2014—a week before Thanksgiving. They had twin 2-year-olds, and Amy was pregnant with their third child (a fourth has since arrived). Marya made an initial push to make everything functional throughout the house, which included furniture that was in stock at Restoration Hardware for the dining room.
Then they spent the next five years moving from the functional to the personal.
The gorgeous draperies—Schumacher’s Citrus Garden—came in 2016, and they define the room. “I knew I wanted something cool to stand out, because it’s one of the first things you see when you walk through the front door, so I didn’t want to rush it,” Amy told me.
This part didn’t fit into the story, but I love how Marya used red trim tape to dress up the white Roman shades and also the smaller draperies on the side windows.
Here’s the part of the story that is sad but also beautiful: Amy’s sister Mary died of cancer in 2013, before the Smiths moved into this house. In honor of her memory, Amy incorporates yellow wherever she can, because it was Mary’s favorite color. “We have that color everywhere—even our front door is bright yellow,” she told me.
And that’s where the next installment for this dining room comes from. Earlier this year, Amy and Marya found the room’s bright focal point: a giant yellow heart painted by Artist Kerri Rosenthal.
“That heart marks her presence when they’re gathering with their family,” Marya said. How completely beautiful and appropriate! In another view here, you can see how it picks up from some equally dramatic artwork around the corner, which also has pops of yellow:
Marya was holding off on wallpaper for this dining room until that final piece of art was in place. She turned to a textured blue pattern by Cowtan & Tout, for a “crisp, tailored” look, Marya said. Yellow, blue and white—can’t think of a more classic (and happy!) combination.
Now, although Amy’s sister wasn’t able to share a meal in this dining room, her memory is right there. Waiting to find that perfect piece was well worth it in this case, Marya told me. “If people want to take their time to find just the right thing, those rooms end up being extra special.”