From the April/May 2016 Issue  

Dining Plus

Writer Ren Miller  |  Photographer Marco Ricca  |  Designer Anna Maria Mannarino, Allied ASID  |  Location Saddle River, NJ
  • A custom dining table made of high-lacquered walnut, oak and bone and surrounded by a mix of seating centers the dining room. The baby grand piano in the alcove helps to turn the room into an entertaining area.

  • Contemporary art and a sleek sofa with curved arms help to modernize the room.

A traditional space gets a fresh look and expanded purpose.


Anna Maria Mannarino wanted to respect the traditional bones of the dining room in the 2015 Designer Showhouse of New Jersey, but also to freshen the look and make it more than just a place to share a meal.

“The scale and grandeur of the room could not be ignored,” says Mannarino, an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers and owner of Mannarino Designs Inc. in Holmdel. “While I wanted to create an elegant yet sleek space, I didn’t want to take away from its traditional integrity.”

The window alcove also intrigued her. “I wanted to fill that space with something unexpected. The overall space was to be much more than a dining room and truly a place to entertain guests.”

Mannarino began with a soothing palette of ivory and midtone and dark grays on the trim and ceiling and a silvery shagreen wall covering. Then she chose contemporary furniture and accessories infused with some classic elements. The dining table, for example, is walnut, oak and bone with a high-lacquer finish. It’s surrounded by comfortable chairs and benches sitting on a silk area rug and crowned with a custom chandelier dripping with large rock crystals.

Finishing the Space
Other elements include forged steel consoles that flank a fireplace topped with an 18k goldleafed mirror, a sleek curved sofa covered in python-print linen and a lacquered server.

And that alcove? “I chose a satin-finish baby grand piano and a delicate chandelier of teak crystals with an ivory silk shade then added a simple, elegant light-filtering window treatment as the perfect backdrop.”

Art also plays an important role. “I wanted pieces that make a strong statement in scale and subject. One is the Sheba Sharrow Worrier diptych above the metal consoles flanking the fireplace; another is Nick Gonzales Goad’s Eclipse over the sofa.

Throughout the space a mix of silver, gold, crystal and glass accessories grace the dining table, server and two built-in display cabinets.