Friday, July 26, 2013

Dining Room

The dining room opens off the living room.  This first picture is a view from the other end of the dining room, looking toward the living room and the front of the house (you can see the curtains and sofa).  The door on the left on this picture leads to the kitchen.  There used to be a full-sized swinging door there, but the previous owners removed it.  So what you see here is an open doorway and the (closed) door of the pantry.

I want to make a lot of changes in the dining room, starting with the paint colors.  That muddy olive green does nothing for the trim except make it look like mud.  I also want to switch out the light fixture.  There's nothing wrong with it, but I don't love it.  Or really like it.  I'm not sure what I want, but I think the room could handle something dramatic, so I'll be saving my pennies and looking around.

You can see the glass-topped table on the right is bare.  That's because Zuzu's tiny little hands can reach just far enough to grab on to the edge.  And if we put anything up there, it entices her to reach up there.  The last thing I need is my baby pulling a sheet of glass down on top of herself, so for now the table is naked.  Zuzu minimalism, just like the coffee table!  I'm not in love with this table anyway--it was a gift from David's grandparents that was originally shiny brass.  I want to replace it with a buffet we can use for storage.  Something like this would go well with the table we have now, but I'm not sure it matches my vision for the dining room in the long run since I actually think that a wider, chunkier table would look good in here.

Like the living room the dining room has two stained glass windows.  They're identical to the ones in the living room:

The view of the windows:

David gave me this huge reproduction of The Singing Butler when we were first married and even though I like the painting, I'm kind of bored with this (still not bored with the husband, so that's good).  We think we might eventually get some kind of hutch that would take up that space on the wall.  If not, I think we may look for some fresh art to put up there.  I'd love to get something from a local artist, and probably something more abstract.  (Side note:  Are you supposed to italicize the titles of paintings like you do novels?  Or put them in quotation marks like short stories?  I guess I should look that up sometime.)

Another issue I have with this room:  the chair rail is too high.  You can see in the above picture--the back of the chair hits about two inches lower than the chair rail.  For some reason this drives me nuts.  The previous owners were very tall--the guy was well over six feet--and I've noticed that everything in this house was hung several inches higher than I think looks right.  So I want to lower the chair rail, but I'm nervous about being able to get it off the wall without breaking it to pieces.  It was not original to the house, so we could scrap it or replace it if we really needed to, but I also don't want to damage the plaster walls.  I don't know how quick and easy that process will be, but it needs to be done.  Maybe I should just grab a crowbar before David gets home from work...

I like the concept of having a chair rail, if not the execution in here.  We had one in our old dining room, and I liked the two-color wall.  Assuming we keep it, I know I want the top half to be very close to what we use in the living room--perhaps the same color, a shade lighter, or even the same color at 50%.  As for the bottom half...  I'm not sure.  I think it would be fun to do something dark and dramatic, like navy or plum, but I'd have to make sure that I liked that against the wood trim.  I keep thinking navy would look really cool but with our dark table and chairs I'm not sure...  Maybe a charcoal gray?

Here's a look at the other side of the room and the door leading into the kitchen:

You can see our frame on this wall, hung too high on a nail left by the previous owners.  I also stuck a small black cabinet under the wine rack.  The weird thing on top of the wine rack is a D made out of wine corks that will eventually get hung on the wall.

Some day, when we feel like we are being weighed down by too much money in the bank (that happens, right?), I'd like to try to do a big renovation and take out the wall there that the kitchen cabinets are hanging on.  I think it would be nice to open the kitchen to the dining room and have a small bar there where that little black table is.  I can picture Zuzu doing her homework there and it would bring more natural light into the dining room through the big kitchen window.  There's ductwork in the wall, though, and we'd have to figure out the loss of cabinet spaces, and then we'd maybe need to switch around the stove and the dishwasher, so it's one of those things that might never quite work out.  But a girl can dream.

And while I have no plans to replace it right away, I'm not super crazy about our very modern looking dining table in this space.  I think updated paint will help considerably, but the dark, glossy finish is a bit weird with the oaky floors and wood trim.  Some day I'd like a chunkier dining room table, maybe even with upholstered or slipcovered chairs.  In the meantime, I'm considering some less expensive options, like a textured tablecloth or table runner, adding slipcovers on these chairs (or maybe just on the chairs that sit on each end?), new chair cushions, and possibly bringing in a cushioned bench to replace a couple of chairs.  I actually wanted to remove the cushions from the chairs entirely (they are green and they clash atrociously with the wall color) but David's tushy couldn't handle the lack of padding and he complained so extensively that the cushions got replaced.

So that's the dining room.  Typing this up has made me realized that I really do have a vision for this room, I just need to make it happen already.  A lot of it can be done quite inexpensively, so I should get a move on.  I guess the big thing that's been holding me back is paint color.  You think I'm crazy for considering a dark color on the bottom half?


  1. I LOVE the idea of a dark color below a chair rail. I really like the navy idea, although I love plum. I have a chair rail in my kitchen and once we take the wall paper down I'm flummoxed on what colors to use as well. We are preparing to sell our home, so I'm hesitant to do anything that might be not so universally liked.

  2. I am in love with the windows and arches in your house=- so pretty! I also like your style-- we have almost no furniture (we have a few ginormous pieces), and I like that you always have a shelf or a table or a chair tucked somewhere.

  3. Definitely too high of a chair rail, but I love a chair rail in the dining room!

    Those windows in there are gorgeous. And I think the idea to break through the wall is genius, but not cheap.

    Your house has a really good layout/flow. I like my rooms with multiple entrances.

  4. Excuse my Irish ignorance but what an earth is a chair rail?? I love the D made from cork, my last name starts with a D also so I may just have to try a replicate that! Im loving the house tour, but you are making me so jealous!

  5. Ciara - a chair rail is wood trim installed at a height that protects the walls from damage caused by chairs being pushed back from the table and hitting the wall. That's why you see it most often in dining rooms - or sometimes wainscoting (that serves the same purpose).

    So Brooke is bothered that her trim is actually installed above the top of her chairs (and those chair backs are tall, so the rail is most certainly too high).

  6. Thanks so much! That term for what we call skirting board here in Ireland is another example of the variation in terms used in different areas. Chair rails aren't actually too coming here as most of the houses in Dublin city that are older were built for workers so there were no dining rooms per se and most of the newer houses are open plan. I thought that it was some piece of furniture or something that I was completely not seeing! Sorry for the annoying question!

  7. I loooooove the idea of a dark color--my dining rm is charcoal but we have a carrera marble (white with dark grey veins) table and a humongous picture window, so it's a very bright room and could handle the dark color all over. We took down our chair rail altogether bc in my house, it made it look dated, like 80s dated, not cool like yours. In your case, it's a great way to use a dark color without making the room too dark. Love the idea of te breakfast bar. We made one at our house, NS it thrills me when sloane sits there. :) Again, can't wait to see it all in person. I'm going to make this trip happen sooner then later I hope.