Your PREMIER Dining Room




Make dining at home as exciting as dining out with a dining room that rivals San Diego’s chicest eateries.






Make dining at home as exciting as dining out with a dining room that rivals San Diego’s chicest eateries.

O­n the Menu: Contemporary Coastal, Modern Traditional, and California Vintage.

For Dessert: Must have furnishings, accessories, and more!

To get you started we asked some of San Diego’s finest designers to show us how they create a PREMIER Dining Room.


We sat down with the talented Neil of Neil Alan Designs to talk about his design for a seaside-inspired home in Cardiff that combines coastal charm with contemporary simplicity.

Q. Tell me a little about what you wanted to accomplish for your clients in designing their home?

A. We wanted to create a space that was clean, to reflect the soft contemporary elements of the home’s architecture, but also introduce a color and design scheme that incorporated our client’s love of the beach and casual lifestyle without being to “seaside and coastal” cliché.

The color scheme unified the great room (kitchen, dining and family rooms), allowing the focal point of the gorgeous exterior views to shine. We wanted the views to be an element and feature of its own, selecting colors that complimented the views rather than matched or mimicked them.

Q.  That is a great round table to seat a party of 8, it is large without being overwhelming. Where did you ­ nd it? Do you prefer a round dining table for entertaining?

A.  Originally our client had a dark finish rectangular dining table that conflicted with the architecture and layout of the space. In keeping with our contemporary coastal design scheme, it was important that we specify a piece that was transitional in design, lightly distressed, and finished in a medium to pecan tone. This 72” round pedestal dining table by Henredon was the perfect fit.

Personally, I prefer a round dining table over a rectangle whenever possible, but the space/room typically dictates the style and shape. You can’t fight the room.

Q.  I love the patterns on the slip covers and drapes. How did you come to those?

A.  We selected fabrics that were light yet graphic without being too bold. By slip covering the dining chairs in a soft blue stripe from Kravet, we kept the space casual and practical. The drapery fabric is also from Kravet, it brings in just enough pattern for the room but doesn’t take away from the view. By slip covering the chairs we were able to provide a much needed casual element to the space… it is also hugely practical with children and pets.

Q.  And the Chandelier?

We needed a light fixture that wouldn’t obstruct the view but also provided enough lighting for a large family birthday party or intimate dinner for two. We went with a piece from Visual Comfort in a brush finish, put it on a dimmer, and raised it about 10” higher than standard.



Modern Traditional by Esteban Interiors

Or maybe we should call it traditional with a twist; this dining room designed by Esteban Interiors in La Jolla offers some unexpected surprises.

At first glance this may seem a rather proper traditional dining room but look just a bit further and you see an eclectic mix of modern and traditional pieces that create the perfect balance of dignified exuberance. Elegant Captain’s chairs are given an edge with the unexpected use of linen upholstery on the front and cowhide on the back. Organic textures are carried through on the walls covered with grass cloth above the wainscoting. The classic draperies are actually made from 100% bamboo fabric from Designtex. The final twist comes from the Moooi chandelier, when turned off the Mylar shade acts as a mirror reflecting the surrounding room but when lit you find a beautiful classic chandelier inside.


CALIFORNIA VINTAGE – Extended Interview with Brandon A Smith

This delightful dining salon is brought to us by Brandon A Smith of, a spatial design company in San Diego. We asked Brandon how he came up with this charming design.

Brandon A Smith on how he created his PREMIER Dining Room:

Being that our house is a Craftsman bungalow built in 1915 and dripping with vintage detailing, my partner and I wanted to steer clear of typical Mission style furnishings when it came time to begin furnishing our home. Instead we’ve opted for what I’ve called California vintage, a blend of Mid-Century Modern, Provencal French, and a little kitsch thrown in for good measure.  The result is an environment which reflects our desire for comfort above all and to be surrounded with things we love instead of objects hung for the sole purpose of decoration.


Our dining room is quickly becoming the prime example of our cultivated design style.  Because we try to entertain friends as often as possible (I think they love us for our wine collection), creating a comfortable environment where we could all sit a spell with wine and good food became paramount.  The banquette is actually an oversized fern green Chesterfield sofa from Mitchell + Gold.  Although it started its life in our living room, the sofa is a great place to curl up, especially in the morning when the light streams in from the south facing windows.  The chairs were a random find at an antique store in Little Italy.  Eastlake in style, they are completely original and their small scale and carved detailing complement both the size and scale of our dining room. As for our table, remember that a designer’s house is ever changing.  Right now the table in our dining room is a placeholder for the perfect piece that I have yet to find.  It is a good reminder that design is ever changing, that it continues to grow and shape itself as one lives in their home.  Eventually I’ll find the one table that speaks to me.


For me, creating a relaxed, comfortable environment full of details which might spark a conversation, random thought, or bit of wit is extremely important when working with dining environments. I’m not one to simply place a few candleholders and a bowl of fruit on the table and call it a day.  At one point there was a running joke between my friends that after a dinner party that I’d thrown you could take the entire tabletop and sell it on eBay simply because it was possible that the next table setting would be completely different.  Although it isn’t entirely true, it does reflect my inspired whims.  I personally believe a tabletop should say what it’s host doesn’t, to be an expression of interests, thoughts and whimsies.


The end result is that I’m always on the prowl for something new which might not necessarily be meant for the dining table but has managed to find its way to mine regardless. From Gabe the Green Flocked PIg, a piggy bank purchased randomly after having drinks with friends one evening, to vintage Canadian mason jars to the Benjamin Franklin creamer from my Mother-In-Law, random items tucked into the plant and candle-scape work to balance out the table environment and really bring the setting to life.  As for searching out the components of my table settings, I can’t say I’m looking at any one place in particular.  I have several great haunts here in San Diego (Gardenology in Encinitas, Solo in Solana Beach) though I’m not afraid to comb out thrift stores and random back-woods haunts for golden finds.  Our travels have resulted in some great finds (and weird looks from TSA).  I will add that sometimes the best source is simply walking around the house and looking at objects with a different eye.


cocktails and candlelight


Green Flocked Gabe and friends


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