By Anna Dantoni –
Tonya Olsen is a design professional who approaches room decor as if she were a home cook preparing a meal. She assembles the ingredients, starts stirring the pot and later presents the delicious dish in an enticing fashion with garnish. Voila, good taste! Over the years she’s been so successful with this simplified and logical process that she’s now collected many completed and polished spaces in an illustrated book called Room Recipes, a Creative & Stylish Guide to Interior Design. The book (with before-and-after photos) covers every room of the house, but since Flavors & More Magazine is dedicated to the pleasures of the table, it’s the kitchen and dining room remodels that caught our attention.
Four dining rooms and three kitchens are in a section called Eat. Each room has a specific style theme such as Industrial Farmhouse, Gold Leaf Luxury, White Done Right or Charmed, I’m Sure. Olsen’s way of organizing the book is to categorize “ingredients” such as paint, furniture, flooring, lighting and accessories. Then she tells you how to mix them. If you follow Olsen’s step-by-step instructions and take her advice, you should achieve balance and harmony in an inviting dining room that expresses your personality and will be comfortable for family and guests.
Besides overall room shots and vignettes of sections of the finished room under consideration, the author gives plenty of advice and instructions. For example, in one of the dining rooms she correctly notes that dining room furniture needs to accommodate the maximum number of guests you intend to host. Consider a table with leaves you can insert or a drop leaf style. If you’re going to put a rug under the table, make sure that rug is big enough so that when the chairs are pulled back from the table, they are still on the rug. A skimpy rug will ruin the look of your dining room because it throws off the proportions.
Other good suggestions include painting a dining ceiling something other than white. If the room is dark, you might want a soft metallic sheen on the ceiling which casts a lovely glow on the people beneath. If you have open bookshelves in the room for displaying artwork and collectibles, paint the back of the shelves a different color than the wall. It’s more interesting. Hanging a plate collection on a dining room wall is also a good idea. Arrange the plates close together in a pattern so you end up with one big statement, otherwise it just looks likes clutter.
In a kitchen, it’s all about overall color and finishes on the appliances and counter tops. Decor features such as the backsplash, trim color, lights, art work and bar chairs will establish the personality and the individual style of the room, so work all of that out before you start making your design recipe. In a tight kitchen where storage is paramount and you cannot give up any upper cabinets to create a sense of airiness, you still have options. Make some of your cabinets glass-front or mirrored front. And consider having a few open-shelving options. That means no doors at all. Varying the types of cabinetry will make your kitchen seem bigger and definitely more pleasant. If there is any possible way to include a walk-in pantry in the kitchen or near the kitchen, Tonya Olsen says to give yourself that luxury.
All the dining rooms and kitchen remodels in this book are fairly budget friendly. There are no high-end renovations and in most cases the footprint of the room stays the same. There are plenty of craft and DYI projects in Olsen’s recipes for success, so if you’re the least bit handy this book will be extra useful to you. Paint and wallpaper will make the biggest differences, followed by flooring and furniture. Accessories are the frosting on the cake. Think of decorating a room like making a meal and Tanya Olsen says you’ll end up with a custom menu and happy eaters.
(Room Recipes by Tonya Olsen. Plain Sight Publishing. $26.99)