The original concept for the dining room, according to Joe Nahem of Fox-Nahem, was to create a calm and inviting atmosphere so that the 14-foot-tall ceiling would be less imposing. Located on the second floor of a seven-story Manhattan townhouse originally built by architect Stanford White, the dining room is an eclectic mix of vintage finds and contemporary classics.
Among the exceptional pieces of furniture is a 1950s André Arbus sideboard with a metallic lavender lacquered finish, gold leaf doors, and bronze feet. “It was an amazing find,” says Nahem. Also remarkable is the clients’ art collection, which includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, and Cindy Sherman. The designer worked hard to keep the rest of the furniture understated. “There were so many great and ornate pieces that we decided to keep larger objects plain,” says Nahem. “We designed the table and the rug ourselves. Both are very simple and have just the bare bones of decoration. The curtains are loose and informal, too. Even though they are large, they don’t overpower the room.” The room’s original elements—the dark wood paneling and the fireplace mantel that was an antique even when the house was built in the early 1900s—blend smoothly with the 18th-century Italian crystal chandelier above the table. The constraints of a narrow townhouse led to an inventive use of space: To the left of the window is a concealed door that opens to a pantry with a small kitchen, storage for tableware, and the back stairs.
While the room is decidedly dressed up, it is not meant to be strictly formal. Practicality plays a key role. For entertaining, Nahem incorporated the clients’ existing chairs with vintage ones from Donzella in New York. “The clients wanted to be able to have large family dinners with children in here,” Nahem says, “so we designed slipcovers that could go right over the chairs but then be easily thrown in the washing machine.”
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