When we first saw this dining room, designed by Greg Natale for a home in his native Sydney, Australia, we immediately approved. It’s not easy to make those tragically hackneyed Hans Wegner Wishbone Chairs look new, but Mr. Natale has done so by coating them in blue paint, and ranging them around a solid black Restoration Hardware table that’s so imposingly chunky it throws the chairs’ lithe, overfamiliar curves into a lovely contrast. Also playing against the bull of a table: the painterly, cloudlike carpet pattern, a custom-colored version of one of Mr. Natale’s creations for Designer Rugs. Its nebulous character is echoed in the painting, “Florabunda” by Kate Barry, that spikes the otherwise nearly monochrome room with pink. But back to those chairs: You wouldn’t think their serpentine lines and organic natural-cord seats would mesh with that pair of right-angled, gilded étagères, but it works. The angles can be seen as a nod to the geometrically paneled ceiling, but the choice of gold can only be attributed to bravado. And here’s where our approval of the room hit a snag. By adding the effulgent gold-plated chandelier—whose lines get mixed up with those of the étagères from this vantage point—and those big, shiny objets to the right (which remind us of department store props), Mr. Natale may have overdosed on metallics.
The Designer’s Response
“A lot of people have looked at this photo and said the lighting fixture was hung at the wrong height,” said Mr. Natale, who noted that in real life, the chandelier doesn’t get lost. He does concede, however, that the fixture could have been more vertical, something he likes about the two étagères of his own design. As for the way the gold shelves interact with the chairs, he said, “In my work I always look for a visual balance, and I do that with contrasts.” In his quiver: clean and curved, black and white, organic and metallic. He did consciously choose the dark, substantial table as an anchor, he added, and commissioned the vibrant painting to offset all the blue, a color that also suffuses the rest of the house at the client’s request. The chairs’ four different tones of azure satisfied this “50 Shades of Blue” brief. The ceiling paneling, which he added to bring this new addition to an Edwardian house into harmony with the existing structure, didn’t, in fact, play a role in his design of the étagères. Rather, it mirrors the shape of the dining table, adding cohesion to the space. On the copious gilt, Mr. Natale is unrepentant. “I love gold,” he said. “It’s a matter of knowing how to balance it.” As for the giant bibelots to the right, he concedes a beautiful plant could have worked there. “The room could have taken some greenery.”
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