Project Abby Road: Dining Room Design Process

Life is a series of steps. And when we’re not bogged down with the craziness it can bring, that silver lining of clarity and flow can take hold and lead us down the right path. Project Abby Road was, and is (we’re designing one space at a time), a piece of that clarity and flow every interior designer hopes to have.

Where We Started: Custom Window Treatments

Our initial project inquiry was for custom window treatments for the front windows of our client’s new construction home.

Step One: Consultation 

This is a must because you not only get to see the client’s home, but see them – who they are as people, as a family, “how they home.” It’s important for me to understand what our clients want their homes to say about them. It’s really a deeper, even spiritual, nature to design. It’s more than label dropping, far more. This is your home. The story you choose to tell about your space should reflect pieces of you, emote whatever energy aligns with your spirit and be functional for your daily life.

It’s also important to note that many of our clients already have furniture, accessories, etc. that they would like to integrate into the new design. This is what I call real life. It’s not a home renovation television program (although I do sometimes wish I could have hair and makeup on staff).

This was the case with Project Abby Road Dining Room. Our clients already purchased a dining room table, chairs (head of table chairs have a thick, chevron pattern) and rug they wished to keep. We spoke about aesthetics, patterns and colors to get a better feel for the end goal. Knowing I would get to pattern play is what this gal’s dreams are made of! 


Step Two: Source

Probably my favorite part of the window/furnishings design process. Using images I snapped with my trusty iPhone of the current chairs, I sourced drapery fabrics in patterns that would complement both the colors and bolder, chevron print. Design tip! A general rule of thumb when it comes to pattern play is to select prints that vary greatly enough in scale but work together in tone.

Another part of step two was selecting hardware finishes for the drapery to be hung from. This was an area to be mindful of because at the time, a decision wasn’t made to replace the current, brushed nickel, chandelier. So selecting a finish that could go with anything – from brass to chrome – was important. 

Step Three: Presentation

It didn’t take long to see what our clients gravitated toward – flowing, organic, nature-inspired patterns. Each fabric was draped over the chairs and next to the dark wood tone of the table to ensure they worked. The hardware finish chosen was also my favorite – a soft mixture of champagne and pewter with just enough warmth to blend with what was to come.

Step Four: Creation/Installation 

When you sign up for custom, you sign up for something that is truly yours. You also sign up for waiting weeks (sometimes months) to see the work come to fruition. I completely empathize with the yearning! The good ‘ole saying of “good things come to those who wait” is genuinely spot-on here, guys. Because the second those gorgeous drapes made their debut, the next words our clients said was, “So, I think we need to complete this space – and paint the entire house!” 


Designing the Dining Room

Good design starts with a floor plan and lighting plan. Always. Unfortunately, lighting is often an afterthought, coming into play only once the rest of the furnishings and soft finishes have been selected and an opportunity is missed for the lighting to be a star in your design.

So that’s where we started. Measurements were taken of the existing furniture and space to create a floor plan, elevation and lighting plan. We wanted to add a buffet for both storage and aesthetics behind the table, and we also wanted to add sconces flanking a mirror above the buffet. And that brushed nickel chandelier? The scale was too small for the space and the finish had to graciously move aside to make room for, wait for it, antiqued brass.

The room already had a chair rail and crown molding but it didn’t feel holistic. We upped the millwork and added picture frame moldings below the chair rail throughout the dining room and painted it a high gloss white. Above it? Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray (Cashmere Low Lustre finish was used throughout the entire home for an easier wipe-ability factor).

As the previously purchased dining table had a rich mocha finish, I wanted the buffet to complement its warmth, but also add some levity. The Salon buffet chosen did just that. With an alabaster finish and doors with inset Capiz shells, a welcomed additional texture was introduced. 


The large Salon mirror selected has an antiqued gold finish and its unique shape shares a likeness with both the pattern on the head of table chairs and the nature-inspired fluidity of the drapery pattern.

Getting back to the phrase I’m sure you didn’t forget: antiqued brass! This dining space just called for it and it was a natural choice for the lighting finishes. The warmth, complimentary hues – it was a clear winner. The chandelier needed to wow, but also work in harmony with the bold weight of the Salon mirror.

The selected chandelier not only had the brass, but also the glass! The stems of each arm are finished in glass (with a delicate brass stopper), which gave just enough pop while not competing with the mirror. The coordinating sconces provided the same effect, flanking the mirror perfectly.

The Finishing Touches: Accessories and Styling

Accessories and styling are typically things I implement at the end of the design, once the space is grounded (unless a piece of art or other focal piece is the main inspiration for the space’s design). This allows me to take note of what the space needs to feel complete (and to get a feel for what our clients truly want in the space for function).

Our clients envisioned a formal yet informal dining room. They wanted a calm, warm gathering place for adults to break bread, share a drink and relax. The addition of an oversized brown metal tray lined with a brass finish, housing various decanters and social glasses, is just what the buffet needed. Design tip! A serving tray also lends to mobility. It can be moved, re-styled for the occasion and prevent spills on your buffet! 


A dining room table centerpiece has many meanings. If you search for “dining room table centerpiece” on Pinterest you will end up in a design hole that will leave you with so many pins you’ll feel like you didn’t find an answer at all (and you possibly exercised your thumb for hours). Design tip! All design elements should come into play when deciding if your table needs a large, simple vase with greens, a long, low-level bowl filled with fruit or a set of vases with colorful flowers – to name a few. Consider the following elements:

  • Color

  • Line

  • Shape

  • Texture

  • Space

  • Form

  • Unity/harmony

  • Balance

After considering these design elements and how they translate in your space, you should be better equipped to search for a more specific description of centerpiece ideas, and your thumb will thank you when you’re 70.

For Project Abby Road’s dining table, we went with a medium-height and width glass vase filled with draped, leafy greens and balanced it with a low-level marble bowl (with an alabaster finish to complement the buffet) filled with lemons for a pop of color on the dark table.