Topeka Designer Showhouse: Arhaus + Caroline Bivens Designs

Topeka Designer Showhouse: Arhaus + Caroline Bivens Designs

Written by Caroline Bivens

Let’s toss out the idea that all dining rooms need to be formal. Instead let’s make these spaces inviting where our guest feel at home and welcome.

I love using my gifts of styling and creating beautiful spaces for others and for the benefit of my community. This was my fourth year as a designer at the Topeka Designers’ Showhouse and I chose to design the dining room. The ‘before’ was pretty much all carpet and wallpaper from the 1990’s—that was the first to go. I knew I was going to paint the room Creamy by Sherwin Williams but I wanted texture so I added plywood boards to make a faux shiplap which added a nice finish to the walls.

I styled this room with natural textures and plants in mind. The Kensington table has a beautiful earl gray tone with gorgeous grains. You can dress this table up for a fancy dinner or you can style it in your home as your everyday table. It’s very versatile which excites me because I am always changing things in my home. One day I am fancy, the next, not so much!

For the tabletop I wanted to bring in live plants and although I was terrified they wouldn’t last a week due to my lack of a green thumb, I still took the risk and did lots of research. 😉 I found the most unique and gorgeous planters from Arhaus for the plants. They are great for inside but also look amazing outside too! Since I chose to use them inside I took them to a local nursery to help guide me when picking out the perfect indoor plants. They look amazing and even to this day they are thriving! I am definitely giving myself a big pat on that back for that huge accomplishment!

Not only are the plants beautiful but notice the place settings and flatware! I love that Arhaus has so many unique pieces to make your home right for you. I styled the table with Avignon white dinnerware and the Kent five piece place setting in black. Everyone at the showhouse raved about the tabletop and how much they loved the black flatware.

As a designer at the showhouse, I wanted to make sure I was giving new ideas and inspiration. One of the ways I did this was by incorporating open shelving and a vintage bakers rack. I love to style shelves and show multiple tips and tricks such as varying heights by stacking books or wood blocks. Another trick to style a cohesive shelf is to use similar materials throughout the display, you’ll see I used ironstone, clay pots, ferns and wood textures.

Another way I wanted to stand out was by not using a china cabinet but a buffet. Arhaus had a matching piece to the table and I fell in love with it and the blue stone top! This was a show stopper! I added the Amelie Mirror on the top along with the Delgado Pitcher filled with tree clippings from the property. That is another tip I have—go outside and clip some bushes or trees to add a pop of color and texture to your space!

The best part about this project was teaming up with Arhaus. I was thrilled to work with a furniture company that has the most gorgeous pieces and the best quality. Not only did the furniture fit my design for this room, but it brought the room to life!


Caroline Bivens—CB Designs

Caroline Bivens is a designer from Topeka, Kansas. She has a passion for designing spaces, planning events, wedding design, and hand lettering. Caroline is a southern belle and believes that loving people is one of the best things you can do.

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