As an ex-caterer, I have seen many special and individualistic dining rooms. I used to work for an interior designer and he would hire me to do the first dinner, a type of baptism, in the newly completed kitchen and house for the occupants. Sometimes there would be some gentle live music as well–guitar, harp, flute, or piano. Dining areas are an integral part to the entire food scene of each home. There is always special dishes, linen, solid gold or silver flatware, crystal stemware, and service pieces to create the personalized ambiance and show the character of the home separate from everyday stuff (and all needing to be washed by hand with great care).
Going into these mansions and serving table side a menu especially designed for the evening always was a treat in a stressful business. One job we did on a warm summer evening in the newly framed house, all the walls open looking out into a wooded area. We brought in an Oriental carpet (which defined the space since there were no walls), an ornate formal table and chairs, fantastic floral arrangements, and freestanding candle holders to the soon to be dining room and served dinner there. There was no kitchen so we did everything on a portable grill. The
guests walked in over plywood planks just like the workmen. The evening was a great success on all levels.
Cher used to own a home in Malibu that looked like an Egyptian temple. From Architectural Digest is one of the most fabulous of formal dining rooms from Cher’s home, perfect for a candlelit New Years dinner with a dozen friends. In the mid-1990s for a short time, Cher published a mail order catalog called Sanctuary for home furnishings and accessories personally chosen by her. Cher-dramatic, the furnishings were uniquely hers, and she filled the Malibu house with them as reflected here in this dining room photo (below bottom). I love the look of this dining room, which is rather like the inside of a subterranean European cathedral rectory, only better since there is no dogma to restrict diners. I wish I saved the catalog.
The room looks like every piece of furniture has a story. The ceiling must be something from an old mansion or
imported from Italy, oh those gold candlestick holders on the tables like little royal birdhouses, the little salt and pepper shakes dotting the length of the table, chandeliers straight from a French hunting lodge ala Three Musketeers, rectory straight back chairs with the quatrefoil cutout (a symbolic form of pagan good luck magic), beautiful paisley seat cushions that I would like for myself, wrought iron wall sconce candle holders, and the gold rimmed plates on the red velvet tablecloth. The centerpiece is one simple white orchid plant you could pick up at the supermarket. Mac and cheese anyone?
Text copyright Beth Hensperger 2015
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