How to Make Your Dining Room Pretty and Functional

Artist and interior designer Linc Thelen, whose solo show opens this weekend at Buckingham Interiors, gives practical tips for an ideal space to break bread.

Photo: Courtesy of Linc Thelen

Linc Thelen is an artist. No, really he is. Not only is he a talented interior architect/designer (whose sharp little armchair was one the top bid generators at Chairs for Charity last week), but he is an incredible painter whose abstract work expresses every mood known to man.

Well, actually, his oeuvre is usually a bit dark, but when I ran into Thelen at Chairs for Charity last week, he was in the midst of a self-imposed cheerful period, finishing up a collection for the opening of Buckingham Interior’s newly expanded space in the Grand Avenue Design District. “I had to paint something bright,” he said. “I’m not used to that, but look at Julia’s [Buckingham Edelmann’s] space!” Indeed, Edelmann does do happy very well (that is, not so cloyingly happy that you need sunglasses and a copy of The Denial of Death to deal with it—she’s definitely in touch with the dark palette). Make sure to check out her newly expanded space, and Thelen’s solo show, which opens Saturday, September 28, coinciding with Design Harvest.

So, what’s with the dining room?  Not long ago, Thelen sent over a picture of a North Shore dining room he designed, and I was completely taken with it. His artwork is a major focal point in the room, naturally, but there are multiple elements going on there (I personally love the contast between the charcoal grasscloth wallcovering and the crisp white trim). Thelen kindly shared his tips for putting together the perfect space for breaking bread—other than buying a piece of his art, which never hurts.

1. Make a statement with your chandelier. "The chandelier is the fireplace of the dining room. It’s the focal point of the room and should be special. It sets the tone of the room whether your style is traditional, modern or eclectic. The fixture shown here is from Arteriors Home.”

2. Get comfortable chairs—they don’t have to cost a fortune—and reupolster them in your own fabric. “I chose a fabric from Fabricut. I wanted a geometric patterns with a splash of color. Use durable fabrics and don’t forget to have them stain treated—I suggest Sealmaster.”

3. Tackle your storage needs in style. "Choose a beautiful console or sideboard that can be used to store dining room essentials. The console can be used decoratively or function as a place to serve buffet-style.”

4.  Measure twice, purchase once. ”Know the dimensions of your dining room so you can select the right table for your space. You don’t want a dinky table in the middle of a room, but don’t go too big either: when sliding out a chair, you need three feet of clearance. If your space is limited, buy a table that extends. On occasion the dining room can be a bit cramped to accommodate more dinner guests.”

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