One of the easiest ways to give a feeling of individuality to a contemporary space is with wood furnishings. Wood’s color and texture is a warming agent. The shapes if forms may be curved and soft, in contrast to the cold, hard look of contemporary glass and chrome. In fact, one of the best ways is to combine wood with modern furnishings. The mix can be made in many ways.
In a small dining room I designed, I had the good fortune to have a super-accent, a fine antique hutch that was the perfect size for the room; because it was very shallow, it was in scale with the small room. Standing at six feet, its importance was immediately established. The open shelves that diminished its bulk made it seem instantly at home in this modern room.
As soon as we decided to buy the hutch cabinet, I specified wood crown molding to match the antique cherry finish, to divide the ceiling from the walls. This molding also made it possible to paint the ceiling a darker color than the walls. I used the same molding around the windows, and covered the two double-hung windows with shutter panels in a wood stain that matches the hutch as closely as any modern finish can match a 200-year-old patina.
The chairs, however, were a problem. We couldn’t afford the real thing, and yet we didn’t want to “hoke up” the room with reproductions that didn’t match the quality of the antique hutch. So, we used inexpensive reproduction Early American high-back chairs, purchased from the local furniture-in-the-raw shop, and painted them off-white to match the walls. These chairs, totally in keeping with the feeling of the room, recall country-painted furniture days, when fine wood was used only by the wealthy city people.
To continue the wood look of the room, I used a contemporary oak wood cylinder to support the glass top table and had this stained to approximate the antique cherry wood of the cabinet. The glass top, large enough to seat six comfortably, makes a cozy place for a week-end breakfast for two or four. An extra pair of dining chairs reside in the bedroom, waiting to be pressed into service on festive occasions.