Just before we left on vacation, I got our dining room close to complete. It sits in the footprint of the former formal living room. But our family – well, we would use a formal living room like we would use tickets to an opera. Never.

It’s not that we are uncouth. (Well, some of us are. And the others, well, we’re a far cry from couth… but three of us are pretty cute.) It’s that we have seven-year-old twin boys. And they would ruin the experience for everyone. They jump on things. They stain things. They treat things like they treat each other — with wild abandon and multiple punches to the junk.

Formal living rooms can’t handle multiple punches to the junk. The junk in there is not as resilient as their junk. And it wouldn’t be as funny. 

So we made it into a formal dining room instead, which we will at least use on special occasions. When we can dress them up and threaten them with junk removal if they do anything too untoward while they’re in there. They enjoy food and they eat fast, so it’s less torturous than it seems.

And the things I put in our dining room, they make me feel sort-of-couth. (Hey, if you can’t be cute, you can try to be couth.) The two sets of china I have – one a gift from my mother and the other a gift from my dearest Aunt Ann — I placed inside a legal bookcase. You know me and bookcases. Well, if you don’t, just know I obsess over them the way our boys obsess over their junk.

Our dining table is big and stained dark with clean, almost-Asian-inspired lines (for Mike), and small, spool-turned details (a nod to my casual Appalachian heritage. “Casual” implying common and far from couth… but hey, a girl can try).

The seat cushions are cream (the way we bought them), but they’re going to have to change. Our boys and their stain-making ways have already left their mark.

Over the table, we hung an oversized chandelier, reminiscent of those giant iron ones with a gazillion candles found in the Tower of London. I had wanted something similar since I first laid eyes on them way back when.

Plus, it pairs nicely with the hand-colored Shakespeare prints gifted me via the AP Psych teacher and a designer friend of hers last year during quarantine. I had them matted and framed and they now flank the entrance to the library, my favorite room in the house.

On the opposite wall from the prints, is the entry hall and the entrance to the dining room, with the legal bookcase on one wall, balanced by an Asian-print screen in ebony, gold and jade on the other. In the background, you can even see my grandmother’s antique sideboard and the Shisa dogs Mike’s parents gave us. We truly are a marriage of Appalachia and Asia.

There is a massive bay window looking out onto Maple Drive on one side of the table and a whitewashed hutch that houses more china and my hand-painted collection of martini glasses. So I guess I do have junk after all. Junk tucked in and masquerading as fancy (wink, wink), topped by a massive mirror, gilded when we got it, now painted matte black.

So there it is. Our dining room. With that Henry VIII chandelier and prints of Shakespeare’s greatest characters, it gives me all the feels.

Feeling couth. Might go to the opera later, idk.