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To brighten large dining rooms, extra lighting is needed

February 14, 2009|By ROSE BENNETT GILBERT / Creators Syndicate

Q: We bought a house with an enormous dining room, 25 feet by 15 feet. The dining set from our old house looks lost in there, so we found a great table and 12 chairs at an auction. They are in proportion to the space, but what do we do for a light over the table?

A: Don't stop at one light. Two - or even three, if your table is really long - should fill the space proportionally, as long as the lights are spread widely enough to shed enough illumination on the table below.

Hang them toward the middle of the table, low enough to see what you're eating. But not so low that you're annoyed by the glare of bulbs or risk bumping your head when you stand up.

The pictured dining room is made warm by two 19th-century French gilt chandeliers, which are sparkling with crystals. Using pairs fits in with the essential symmetry of this formal dining room - notice the double helping of mirrored sconces over the fireplace.

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And don't miss the added reflection of the metallic-finished ceiling. It bounces the light back down over the table, enhancing the warm glow that makes this room so inviting and so French. We borrowed the dining room from a new book full of design ideas, "Bringing Paris Home," by Penny Drue Baird. Penny and her family live in Paris, where - she reports - she gets "a tingling feeling . . . (her) senses are constantly titillated." Your senses will be, too, by the time you take a vicarious visit through the pages of Baird's tome about the Parisian home.

Q: I am redoing my condo and have gone mad for a modern area rug with large wine-colored swirls on a beige background. My friends say I'm crazy because it will dominate the entire room. What do you think?

A: Give into your urge for the extroverted and offbeat. The faint heart never enjoyed a fair crack at the pure excitement of over-the-top design and color. But your faint-hearted friends do have a point: With such a dramatic pattern underfoot, plan to tone down the other patterns in the room.

Think solids for upholstery, although you can toss on wine-patterned pillows for relief. Ditto for any window treatments. Something like solid curtains edged in a wine grosgrain would be attractive without competing with your show-stopping area rug.

Q: We have dark oak flooring throughout our downstairs, including the kitchen.

If we change the cabinets - old metal jobs that have seen their day - can we go lighter? And do we have to stick with oak?

A: Yes to your first question. And no to the second one.

Forget matching colors, including wood tones. Nothing's more boring than a room full of the same thing, again and again; that also goes for wood species. Today's interior and kitchen designers advocate a mix, not a match.

Click on www.hardwoodinfo.com for free copy of "American Hardwoods By Design."

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