Chairs can alter nature of a room


Eclecticism is favored more by consumers and interior designers, including Amanda Pays. Her own homes have been diverse -- Georgian, English Country and Spanish -- and her furniture line has won over clients as disparate as Barbara Bush and Nicolas Cage. How to channel such varied tastes into the dining room?

Chairs help make the room distinctive, Pays says, and they don't have to match. "You can find a chair that is separate from the table as long as it complements it in some way."

Here she offers tips for finding that elusive, perfect dining chair.

Where to start: Decorating a home is not about designing one room but about unifying a house. "You are integrating your dining room with the rest of your house, so it needs to flow," she says.

Define the room: Is it formal or informal? Do you have kids? Do you want it to be exciting, perhaps for entertaining, or calm and serene for secondary use as a work area?

Define the look: Is it contemporary? Is it modern? Clean lines are a great asset in mixing and matching furnishings, Pays says.

Consider alternatives: A bench complements a contemporary table well. "It's simple," she says. "Plus you could do a great cushion on the bench using a fabric that complements your color palette."

Think comfort: Put aside aesthetics, if only temporarily. "Comfort rules," Pays says. "You want to be able to sit in a good chair comfortably for a few hours and be able to talk and enjoy a glass of wine. There's nothing worse than sitting in an uncomfortable chair." High-end or low, IKEA or Baker, chairs must be tested first.

Note dimensions: Height is an important consideration. Write down the height of the table before shopping for chairs. Pays prefers over-scaled pieces in small rooms because they make a statement.

Palette, texture: Color and fabric add softness and warmth. "You can't fail with linen," Pays says. "It gives the chair a European classic look of its own." Start with a simple background color in the room and then add colorful accessories for drama. Keep the walls, drapes and sisal flooring rather plain, and instead use punches of color on the chairs.

Mix materials: It's all about balance. "You can take organic materials -- leather, steel, wood and fabrics -- and mix them in the right way," Pays says.

Lisa Boone writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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