our first home: finding inspiration for the dining room

Find something to inspire your room.

Find something to inspire your room. This lamp inspired my dining room.

A lamp inspired my dining room. Actually, it was a pair of lamps I found at a second-hand store in Jacksonville Beach. They are a beautiful pale, matte blue porcelain with  intricate gold flowers painted on them. They were delicate and strong at the same time, and in the midst of a menagerie of things they caught my eye.  One of  my favorite interior designers, Bunny Williams, said that pretty, stylish pieces catch her eye because she learned to have a “trained eye” from Albert Hadley and Sister Parish. You always learn from people with great taste. Mrs. Williams has Hadley-Parish, I have my mother, Mary Browning, and Mt. Vernon. Oh, how I love Mt. Vernon. George and Martha had impeccable style and great taste. I find myself drawn to certain architectural details, colors, and objets d’art because they remind me of Mt. Vernon. My favorite room  is their Front Parlor which is full of trim and molding, and is painted “Prussian blue,” which was quite a modern, fashionable choice for 1785.  It is beautiful without being stuffy, and I can just picture the Washingtons playing cards, having drinks, and hosting guests in this room. In 1768, they had guests over for dinner 82 nights! Can you imagine planning, hosting, and serving 82 dinner parties in one year? That’s an average of 1.5 a week. So much for my “once a month” goal. Thanks, Martha. 🙂 You have to really love your entertaining rooms to get through 82 dinner parties.

So, between Mt. Vernon, my mother’s eye that found  us a fabulous black  1920’s Jacobean buffet (another great secondhand gem from Cottage by the Sea ) and my two blue porcelain lamps, I had the inspiration for my dining room. More later on how it all came together, but before you can set up your table and pull up a chair, you need to do a bit more planning.

I was inspired, now what?

Besides the kitchen, the dining room is the second most important room for hosting and serving. What special memories are made around the dinner table! So, think about your dining room from each guest’s perspective including your own! Often times, you are the most important guest. So, go take a look at your dining room with fresh eyes and these questions:

  • Is it configured easily for people to move around?
  • Is it lovely to be in?
  • Can people get up easily from their chairs, or do they feel stuck once they sit?
  • Is it too crowded?
  • Is it inspired? What “style” does it have?
  • How do guests feel in it? How do you feel in it?

Even though Washington’s Front Parlour was not their dining room, Washington is recorded as saying it was his favorite room in all of the mansion. I bet it was his guests’ favorite room, too.

If the host is happy in the room, the guests are as well. So, make yourself a room you are happy in. All it may take is a lamp. signature [credits: facts checked and photo creds from mountvernon.org]


    1. Thank you so much, Sharon. I love decorating and writing about it! I wondering how I can transition out of teaching and into this, haha. Thanks again!

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