To get anywhere on the first floor of our house, you must pass through the dining room.  It’s both the figurative and literal heart of our home.  As you look through the pictures of this room, you’ll see how many doors and windows there are.  It opens onto the Long Room (foyer), the Square Room (tv room), the Glass Room, and the kitchen hall.  That’s in addition to the windows and mantel.  The only real wall in the room is the one the sideboard is on.

This room is where Grandmother presided over dinner every Sunday afternoon, every birthday, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving.  They were all celebrated in this room.  This wallpaper was put up in 1972 by my Grandmother, with the help of my decorator mother.  While I really don’t like wallpaper in general, I do like this paper.   As is true of almost every room in the house, I’m not a fan of the dark stained woodwork, but the walls, doors, and trim are all as grandmother left them.

The chandelier is a gift from my mother.  The scale is a bit small for this room (15’x17′), but I love its shape and sparkle, so there it is.  Grandmother’s dining table is in my parent’s home, and this one is from Flohr’s Vintage here at Chartreuse.  It was found in Pennsylvania, with all 6 of its original leaves, with the word “Frederick” written across the holding case.  I love that it’s come back home to Frederick County again.

We have a mix of the beautiful 19th century chairs from my mother and a set of mid-century, french-provincial, black-painted ones.  I painted the black ones years ago and had intended to recover their black vinyl seats.  But the girls were young at the time, we had many young visitors, and the vinyl seats proved quite handy.  So there they are.

The carpet was always in this room.  We had it in our living room in our last house, but knew it would fit this room perfectly, so when we moved, we returned it to its original home.  It’s getting a bit threadbare in places, but I love it.  And just recently my mother sent me the original receipt for the purchase of it by my grandparents.  She found it among some of my grandmother’s pictures and ephemera.

Here’s a tour of the room:

dining room 2

dining room

The window you see looks out onto the south porch. To the right you can see the entrance to the Long Room, and the door to the closet-under-the-stairs in the far wall.

dining room 3

Here you can see the black chairs, lined up in front of the mantel. Easy extra seating.

dining room 4

Here’s a shot of both chairs: the 19th century, toile-upholstered ones, and the black-painted, mid-century ones. This is a view from the mantel and the Square Room.

coloring paper table runner

I almost always have a runner on the table. This particular one has proven a favorite. I first used it for Easter (It’s paper and comes in a role.  This is our third cutting.  It came from Rubbish, here at Chartreuse). We sit here after dinner with tea and chat.  Bit by bit we’ve thoroughly colored these images. The effect is charming. And the vintage elephant planter is just perfect for holding our colored pencils.

color candles

We eat here almost every night, and always light the candles. I love colored ones, and change them by the season. This blue and chartreuse combo has been our summer look. And before you roll your eyes, thinking this an over-the-top effort, try it at home. Get some pretty candles in a favorite color, and light them. I have a collection of candlesticks ranging from sterling to a $12 pair of crystal ones. Mix it up and see if your dinner doesn’t look and taste a little better.

sheraton sideboard, dining room

Grandmother’s sideboard. This is exactly where it sat my whole life. She had a horizontal, much simpler gold mirror, though.

original oil paining

More of my collection of original art. This is one of two pieces I got from Madison & Mabel, here at Chartreuse.

majolica frog

This silver tray (from Chip’s mother) is always here on the sideboard, but what’s on it is an ever-changing display. The cheeky frog is a wedding gift from an extraordinary artist, the mother of my oldest friend, Nike. The clock is from The Robin’s Nest – I love it’s perfectly aged color. The sherry glasses with their handpainted safari animals is from White Buffalo, and the sherry is from Spain – my favorite.

This elegant lady was a gift from my parents.

This elegant lady was a gift from my parents.

ice cream set

I’m ashamed to say I don’t remember which great-great-aunt these ice cream dishes belonged to, but they harken back to a time when ice cream was a rare treat and handmade, deserving of  its own serving platter and dishes.

Another piece of original art, this one from Hunt & Harvest, here at Chartreuse & co.

Another piece of original art, this one from Hunt & Harvest, here at Chartreuse & co.  I like placing the snow scene above the ice cream plates.

This unframed european oil is from Ekster in Hamilton, Virginia. If you haven't attended one of Caroline's occasional barn sales, you've missed a treat.

This unframed European oil is from Ekster in Hamilton, Virginia. If you haven’t attended one of Caroline’s occasional barn sales, you’ve missed a treat.  The painting, propped up in front of a mirror, has a sense of depth behind it.

dining room 5

Looking back across the table from the sideboard to the mantel piece and the bull’s eye mirror.

cocktail, tanquery, chartreuse, rosemary

A chartini, handmade for me by Sasha, my younger daughter, as I shot these photos. 2 parts Tanqueray gin, 1/2 part Chartreuse liqueur, shaken with ice and poured into a chilled martini glass with a splash of San Pelligrino lemon. Stir with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Cheers!

dining room mantel

The mantel

transferware, st anthony, vintage clock

Just a few of my finds: I love the shape and graphics on this clock. St. Anthony was a find from the Eastern Shore and has just the right amount of wear. I have a weakness for transferware, and this platter delighted me.

Trundle, family crest, Helen Smith

More of the family crests from Helen Smith.  It’s my favorite because I love the motto and the pen.  It’s the Trundle crest, one of my middle names. Yes, my full name is Virginia Jeannette (named for both of my grandmothers) Trundle (family name from my Grandmother Thomas’ side) Thomas (my maiden name) Crum (my married name). Yes, it’s quite the collection. Totally throws the DMV!

Catholic art, crucifix

You may have noticed all the Catholic art throughout my home. I am Catholic and love these images. This particular one was a gift from the nuns who taught my girls in elementary school.

Catholic art, pieta

This pieta would have had lit candles in its candle holders. Just a lovely item from days past.


Details from the china cabinet: The larger two of these Hummel figures are from my Grandmother. I was given the one of the two kerchiefed blonde girls because I had two little blonde girls. The little goose girl is just sweet. The third Hummel is much newer than the others, and was from Chip’s mother. She had one little boy, and this figure made her think of him. The elephant is made of ivory and ebony. It’s from my Grandmother’s travels. There’s a larger, more in-tact one behind the little goose girl, a gift from a dear friend who lived in Southeast Asia for a number of years.

ivory, ebony elephant

Detail of the ebony and ivory elephant.


Detail of the Hummels. My Grandmother collected these, and had so many she placed them all along the window ledge of the Glass Room. It’s a 40′ long room.


This simply elegant ironstone tureen is from Chip’s great-grandmother. When it originally came to me, it’s ironstone ladle was still with it. Alas, it disappeared in the move here, but I still use this every time I make stew, which is most Sundays during football season. If you have nice things, use them. Why else would you have them?

vintage cups and saucers

This delicate set of cups and saucers is yet another gift from my mother. Our wedding reception was at home, in and out of the house and under a huge tent. It was catered, but my mother didn’t want to use rented plates. She had plenty, but worried there may not be enough cups and saucers. So she took the opportunity to acquire a few sets of pretty, vintage ones. This group she gave to me.

painted pitchers

I love pitchers. I love their shape, their function, everything about them. This is just the painted part of my collection, most of which were acquired during my days at The Old Lucketts Store. The butterfly-painted chocolate pot at the back is from a set we had as children. If we were good when we went to the grocery store with my mother, she would sometimes get us cream puffs from the bakery counter. We would bring them home, and she’d prepare hot chocolate in that pot, pouring it out into matching demi-tasse cups. My sisters and I would then gobble the pastries and the delicious hot cocoa. I think of those treats every time I see that pot.

majolica water lily dish

Propped against the back of the cabinet (which was itself a gift from my Grandmother’s sister, my maiden Aunt Nettie) is a water lily plate, another wedding gift from Artemis, the amazing artist-mother of my oldest friend.


Tucked in a corner of the cabinet is this quirky collection: Kentucky Derby glasses from my sisters’ late father-in-law (they married brothers). He attended the Derby every year for decades, and always came home with glasses. The elephant is from my dear friend who lived in Southeast Asia for years. The pilsner glass at the very back is a souvenir from Chip’s junior prom, which we attended together. In it is tucked the program. Yes, I’m a bit sentimental…

vintage piggy bank

This was a present from my parents for my sixth birthday. I love this quirky piggy bank, and even occasionally slipped money into it. There’s just something so charming and a bit silly about it.

broken piggy bank

It’s one of the few items I’ve broken and repaired. Please note: I’ve broken MANY things. This is one of the VERY FEW that I’ve actually repaired. You can see I’m not very good at it . . .

buckeystown clay pitcher

This water pitcher is a rare piece. It’s from my Grandmother’s collection of pottery made by Nancy Bodmer, here in Buckeystown. That it’s handmade makes it unique, but what’s even more distinctive about it is that it’s made from Buckeystown clay. Grandmother LOVED that. And she loved Nancy.

candlesticks, mantel, transferware

Detail of the mantel, and its candlesticks. These appear to have come from a church. I got them at auction years ago. The candles are the flickering, battery operated ones. I love how real they look, especially when placed so high. A decorating note: Rather than placing one on either side of the mirror, or even both side-by-side, these are placed together, but at different heights, so that combined they create movement, leading your eye further into the mantel and its decoration.

transferware 2

Detail of one of the pieces of transferware on the mantel.

dining room 6

The dining room as seen from the Long Room. The windows at the far end of the room look into the Glass Room, which is next on our tour.

So there it is, the center of the home, the dining room.  Check out the vintage/before pictures of it here.

For us, the dining room is easy to use, and we enjoy our family meals here.  They are not formal, though I realize the room may look that way.  They are relaxed, and centered around good food, good company, and good conversation.

I suggest you fill your dining room with things that make you smile, that make you comfortable.  It will draw in those you love, so use it as often as you can.

Next stop:  The Glass Room, Saturday, August 27

(We’re open Saturday, August 20, so I’ll be blogging next the following week.)

Thanks for reading,