House Beautiful

Dining Rooms: Mismatched Seating

Designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber {website / book}

I don’t know about you, but ah (!) the sweet little seating area above – delightfully curated, perfectly relaxed and inviting – looks like heaven to me.  The smathering of seating – a tufted corner banquette, cheerfully upholstered side chairs, and a wicker armchair – feels collected over time, giving it character and charm in spades (grasscloth-y wallpaper and throw pillows add to the cozy vibe).

Now the onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnlly reason I mention the joys of the seating mish-mash is because, by contrast, I still see gobs of people (many of my friends included who ask for design advice) quick to default to what I not-so-affectionately refer to as the “Rooms-to-Go” look.  Otherwise known as wanting to hurry up & furnish a room, so they buy everything from page 47 of the Pottery Barn catalog.  Wuf.  We’ve all seen it…  the lonnnngg formal dining table with 12 matchy-matchy chairs (vom) that also match the vitrine, that also match 5 other pieces of furniture in the room.  All of which will inevitably end up being sold on Craigslist as one big a$$ ugly, can’t-give-it-away set in about 5 years.  Like this monstrosity…

I hear snoring.  And I also hear that line from Steel Magnolias that I always think of when I see stuffy decor:  “An ounce of pretention is worth a pound of manure.”  So go ahead.  Put down the big box boxed set and don’t take it all so seriously.  Mix it up a little.  Sprinkle some fairy dust on it.  How do ya like these apples?


Still buttoned-up and a bit regal – doing 2 lovely, larger armchairs at each head of the table is a good solution for the faint of heart.  Kinda like dipping your toe in the water.

Christina Murphy Interiors

Dining room of California designer Tia Zoldan

Designed by Kerry Howard, as seen in Atlanta Homes Magazine


These are, IMHO, the most inviting mixer-uppers.  Window seats make my heart beat faster…  banquettes take care of one side of the table in one big swoop and – like their window seat friends – are a perfect excuse to pepper in a few throw pillows…  and settees can always be repurposed later on as seating at the foot of a bed or to warm up an entryway.

Lulu DK’s home, via Lonny

The dining room of my dear friend and talented Charleston designer, Joy Nelson Lang.  She looks like Southern Barbie, talks like Paula Deen (who strangely enough is a family friend), and is funnier than almost anyone you’ve ever met.  Homegirl also has talent in spades:  she reupholstered that gorgeous Louis XVI settee herself… check out the before:

Chris Barrett Design as seen in House Beautiful

Home of designer Nam Dang-Mitchell, as seen in House & Home, by way of Full House

via Pinterest {source unknown}

via Cassandra Lavalle’s Pinterest {source unknown}


via Young House Love

as seen on Pinterest {source unknown}

Meg Adams Interior Design, via House of Turquoise

as seen on Little Green Notebook


Especially if you have a lot of hard lines and corners and geometry going on in the room.  Round shapes help to balance it all out.

Southern Living Decorating Editor Lindsay Ellis Beatty’s breakfast nook

via Be Mine Interior Design blog {original source unknown}

as seen on Dwelling Room Interiors


Hey.  Who said you can’t use side chairs, arm chairs, shrimp kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, benches + banquettes all at once?  It’s your party, buddy.  Just try to repeat a few colors/patterns/fabrics here & there to tie it all together.

As seen on Cote de Texas blog

via the website Slettvoll, by way of Pinterest

My favorite pic again.  The biggest mish-mash of ’em all.

The moral of the story is, if you feel confined to choosing a whole set of the same old stuff because Crate & Barrel has 15% off this weekend…  DON’T.  Mixing it up – even just a little bit – will add a heaping load of warmth to your home.  It’ll also give you the freedom to layer and introduce different pieces you love into a room.  Later this week: Shopping round-up on all these fun nuggets, and how to repurpose what you may already have sitting around.  Have fun!


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