By Donna Cornelius
A house’s most intriguing rooms usually are those that mix the old and the new – in a stylish way, of course.
That’s the design plan Casey Faulkner and Jan Nordblom used in the Decorators’ ShowHouse dining room.
“Overall, it’s a play on taking something traditional and making it more contemporary, like combining Duncan Phyfe chairs and formal draperies with new things,” Faulkner said.
Color takes center stage in the room.
“You can choose to have your ShowHouse room painted or not,” Faulkner said. “The dining room was already a beautiful chocolate color, so we left it. I kept seeing teal with it.”
The designers found a set of ready-made teal Dupioni draperies that they thought were perfect for the room. There was only one problem.
“They weren’t long enough,” Faulkner said. “We made and added a silk band at the bottom and a velvet band at the top. If you put heavy fabrics at the bottom, the draperies won’t hang right.”
In addition to teal and chocolate brown, lime green joined the palette. The colors pop in a painting by Faulkner’s daughter, University of Alabama student Caitlan Faulkner.
“I told her what colors I wanted and that I wanted a diagonal in the painting to make it more dynamic,” Casey Faulkner said. “We experimented first with two smaller paintings, which you can see on the walls of the room. I wanted the main paint- ing to be big. It’s 42 by 54 inches. It’s acrylic with a polyurethane finish.”
The painting hangs above a piece crafted by another family member.
“The buffet was built by my dad, Auxford Myers of Montgomery,” Faulkner said. “He’s retired. I have three sisters, and he’d built tables for all of us. So I asked him to make a buffet.”
The custom-designed piece has a granite top and Gothic-style metalwork.
“This room really has been a family affair,” Faulkner said. “Jan’s husband, Walt, cooked for us when we were working, and their son, John, helped us, too. Their house in Hoover became our workshop.”
She said the dining room table belongs to the ShowHouse’s owner and will be sold with the house.
“No tablecloth was big enough for it, so we sewed trim on a piece of fabric and put it on the table diagonally,” Faulkner said.
For four of the chairs around the table, Nordblom found fabric featuring hummingbirds. The designers borrowed two linen and burlap wing chairs from Issis & Sons and added small pillows with a peacock feather print.
Cloches on the table hold spring- time vignettes featuring rabbits, butterflies and dragonflies.
“The place settings are old Limoges dishes that Caitlan found while digging through our storage units,” Faulkner said. “Jan had other patterns. It’s all mixed and matched – contemporary glass with crystal. We found two-handed Limoges cups that we learned are either for bouillon or hot chocolate.
“We also lucked up on some old silver. Caitlan and one of her friends researched a ladle we’d found and discovered it stopped being made in 1864.”
Faulkner’s company, Cottondale-based Design Southern Style, also took on the space adjoining the dining room. She said the butler’s pantry is a “wonderful thing to have,” even for the usually butler-less modern family and particularly for those who like to entertain.
“It has storage for dishes, flatware, glasses and linens,” she said. “There’s a wine refrigerator, an icemaker and a small sink. You could even set up a buffet there.”
ShowHouse visitors shouldn’t be shy about opening the drawers in the butler’s pantry to see the napkin rings handmade by Faulkner.
This is Faulkner’s first time to participate in the Decorators’ ShowHouse. She teaches in UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences and joined the ShowHouse party when a fellow professor asked her to help.
“She had formed a team from the university, and they got the dining room, butler’s pantry and a bedroom,” Faulkner said. “They were overwhelmed, so I took the dining room and butler’s pantry.”
She also wanted to take on the project so that she and Nordblom could work as a team.
“She’s been my best friend since college, and we’re now both in a place where we can do things together,” Faulkner said.
After Faulkner graduated from the University of Alabama, she and her family moved to California, where she worked for two commercial design firms.
“We moved back to Alabama, and I designed pillows and other decorative objects for a Montgomery company and then did the same for a company in Dallas,” she said.
She also designed textiles for Phifer Inc.
“Along the way, I’d gotten my master’s degree and became an adjunct instructor at Alabama,” Faulkner said. “About 14 years ago, I became full time.”
Among the decorating trends you’ll see in the dining room is a touch of gold, which is used to frame Matisse line drawing prints above a wine rack.
“Gold has made a comeback,” Faulkner said. “For a while, it was more silver and brushed aluminum.”
She’s also happy to see the return of bright colors.
“When you use spots of color against a neutral background, that color becomes even bolder,” Faulkner said. “Use it for ‘disposable decorating’ – items that aren’t hard to switch out or replace.”
She thinks the use of color in the design world reflects the mood of the nation.
“With the recession in 2008, you saw more neutrals, more somber col- ors,” Faulkner said. “When the economy starts to turn upwards, that’s when you’ll see a return to color.”
For more information, call Casey Faulkner at Design Southern Style, 792-3378. ❖