Chew on This!

VB SamoaIt’s not often that I design a room around a dog, but Samoa is a very special dog.  She’s a Bernese Mountain Dog, and it was her chewing behavior as a young dog  that prompted her owners, Sue and Bob Van Brocklin, to ask Emery & Associates to redecorate their family room.  Eventually we worked our way to the dining room, and when we brought  this rug to their home, Samoa immediately gave it her stamp of approval. Here’s what the dining room looked like BEFORE:



We spent a lot of time talking about their lifestyle and what they love.  They love traveling, especially in France, and have collected French dishes in Monet’s pattern, and French Indienne linens.  Their old furniture had served them well while their children were small, but they were grown up now, and Sue and Bob wanted furnishings that reflected their current taste and interests.  They wanted a dining table large enough to seat their extended family for holidays, and comfortable dining chairs.  They needed everything redone:  walls, window coverings, rug, furniture, and lighting.  When I presented them with my concept sketch for the makeover, I told them it was easier for me to draw a picture of Samoa than four more dining chairs.

Kathia's color rendering of finished dining room


Along with the concept sketch, I also presented a vision board with fabrics, furniture finishes, rug ideas, and photographs of dining table and chairs:

Van Brocklin Dining Room Colorboard


The “BEFORE” room was calling out for a mix of color and pattern to wake it up.  I found a fresh blue and white fabric from Pindler & Pindler for the Roman shades that flank the built-in buffet, and used it to drape the large front window as well.  The drapery adds softness and color, and a bit of sound dampening. The next piece was the rug from NW Rugs, which adds a pop of red to the blue/white/yellow palette, and also the advantage of enough pattern and color to hide a multitude of sins, including Samoa’s paw prints, food crumbs, and spills.  The small blue and white textured fabric from  Brunschwig & Fils was the perfect choice for the dining room chairs.  The classic “Tula” table from Ebanista, is eight feet long most of the time,  but expands to ten feet when needed for larger groups.  Since Bob is 6’5″ tall, the French antique mouton chairs they both loved were not practical.   My upholstery workroom created the custom-sized chairs to accommodate modern dining height, with a slightly higher and deeper chair for Bob.  The trick was to make sure that the arm of the host chair, and the host’s knees, would not hit the apron of the table.  So far, so good!  Here’s how the room looks now.

VB:DR AFTER 1When I took the “BEFORE” shot (below) of the dining room, looking toward the front window, the table under the window had been used to extend the former dining table for large holiday meals.  It had also became a dumping spot for clutter.



Since the new table can grow to fit their large extended family, and the original built-in buffet has been re-styled, the dining room doesn’t need a secondary table anymore.  The rug is sized to fit the generous proportions of the room, large enough that the chairs can be pushed back without them falling off the rug, but allowing a band of the beautiful hardwood floors surrounding it to show. This room is company ready!




We love working with families who have children and pets.  Nothing is more wonderful than the fun of watching their antics, not to mention the companionship and unconditional love they give us (well, dogs give us unconditional love–cats and kids, not so much).   On the other hand, nothing is more frustrating than the muck, disorder, and chaos they can cause.  If you need help decorating around kids, cats, and dogs, give Emery & Associates a call.  We can help.  We’ve been there.


There are 15 Comments to "Chew on This!"

  • Kathia Emery says:

    Actually, we are STILL there with our 11-year-old black Lab, Emma, and our two 14-year-old tabby cats, Callie and Cassie. If you click on “pets” in the “categories” column to the right of this post, you will be able to see two other posts: “Cats Rule!” and “The Dog Did WHAT?”

  • Mary Bailey says:

    Once again you rock! Fabulous transformation of this dining room. Love the colors, fabrics, and dog. You really brought it all together in a very beautiful, tasteful, elegant way, as always.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Beautiful transformation! As always great job Kathia!

  • Donna Pizzi says:

    Great solutions to a multitude of problems, changes in family life, while creating a sense of style and panache. Not an easy combo to achieve in a single room. I can just see and hear the conviviality your new design will engender when that company next comes a-dining!

  • Dinah Adkins says:

    Kathia, these are all great improvements and enliven a room that was dull. However, I think they should have gone with your suggestions for lighting, which are much more sophisticated than the existing fixtures. But I love your picture of the dog in the sketch. Tell me, do you have to pay extra to get the sketch? Maybe when we get a new dog I could buy a portrait from you!!!!

    • Kathia Emery says:

      To answer your question, Dinah, I charge for the sketches the same hourly amount I charge for all my other work, and it usually takes me three or four hours to do a colored sketch, and occasionally a bit longer. I have done one dog portrait commission for a client who wanted me to do a colored drawing of her two Basenjis next to her Christmas tree, after she received one of my holiday cards featuring Emma.

      Regarding the light fixture, I believe that Sue and Bob will eventually order the chandelier. When that is in place, I’ll probably “fluff” the room (style it), and have it professionally photographed.

  • Barbara Shettler says:

    The room is warn and inviting. I like the way you combined the various prints so that each belongs. It does look elegant.

  • Judi says:

    I want to live there! Perhaps sweet doggie will allow me to share a corner of that luscious carpet. Or, there are extra chairs; I’d be happy to take one of those!

    Many of us have gone through these transitions with our families, both joyous and painful. Hooray for embracing the new phase, making it beautiful and life-enhancing, while allowing space (and chairs) for those occasions when the tribe returns!

  • Karen Cleghorn says:

    Kathia, I like your solution for the tall person’s specially designed and built chair, and how well it blends right in with all the other chairs. Also laughed at your comment about preferring to draw the darling dog over more chairs–but of course! Congratulations on a beautiful and thoughtful job, Kathia.

  • Margaret Retz says:

    What a gorgeous dining room this is. The wood stain of the large table blends well with the red in the carpet which creates a warm feeling in the room. I love the fabric selected for the chairs. They are beautiful!

  • Mark says:

    Another expertly done transformation, Kathia! Kudos.

  • Shari House says:

    There is so much to enjoy in this new look. The varied prints in the shades, the rug, and the chair upholstery (which I love) are all separate but blending at the same time. It’s all rousing to the eye.

  • From mismatch, not in scale, bland, to casual elegance with just the right amount of color. Very nice Kathia! I love your concept sketches!

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