Smart Solutions: Right piece worth the wait

Jeanine Matlow

Having a vision for your home lets you unlock its hidden potential. Just ask Dan Davis, interior designer and owner of Dan Davis Design in Ferndale, who says his 1942 Midwest colonial "was almost old enough to have some character."

The dining room was among the lackluster interiors. "I wanted to add some character and make it look old and a little grand," says Davis.

That he did with wood details above the windows and stencils on the cove molding that resemble plaster accents. Other enhancements include a ceiling medallion, new lighting and silk draperies that puddle on the floor. Bronze walls, done by Davis, are covered in a rubbed faux leather effect that envelops the warm space.

The distinctive dining set by the former Widdicomb Furniture Co. in Grand Rapids originally had a white finish. Now the stately table reveals its maple top and the chairs are upholstered in black velvet.

Three 18-inch leaves expand the table to seat as many as a dozen for a dinner party. "We often use it for that many people," says Davis who extends the dining set into the adjacent sitting room.

The wool rug that rests on the red oak floors was one of the first pieces Davis and his partner, KC Vansen, purchased together for the home.

A shapely antique console features a green marble top. The antique pier mirror bounces the light from the nearby sitting room window.

At times, Davis removes the end chair to push the table against the mirror. "It gives an elongated illusion and it reflects the candlelight," he says. The tall mirror breaks the plane of the cove molding. "I wanted the eye to go up. It gives the illusion of a high ceiling," says Davis who designed the space strictly for nighttime entertaining.

A wooden column in the corner is a piece of takaan (a paper mache carved mold) from the Philippines that was purchased through a local dealer. "I thought it would make a great candleholder," Davis says.

Other accents were picked up in Paris, like the sculpture on the table and the decorative hardware that hangs beneath the wall sconces. Davis and Vansen are avid travelers and collectors, and the two hobbies often go hand in hand.

As a designer, Davis knows that furnishing a home requires patience, but the right piece can be worth the wait. "Hold out for whatever it is you're looking for," he says. "It took us two years to find an oval table we liked. When you have eight or more, it gets tight. I knew we had to have that shape."

For his clients who rarely use their dining rooms, he might suggest a more multipurpose space that's flexible for storage or has furniture, such as ottomans, that can easily be moved to other rooms. "Be realistic about how you're going to use the space," he says. "If you don't use it in the traditional sense, make sure the room works for you on a day-to-day basis."

For information, contact Dan Davis at (248) 224-9169 or go to

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at