Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dining Room Update

Disclaimer: My photos are no good. The middle of the house is dark and today is overcast and that's just how it is. They are for illustrative purposes only, not to show off my mad photo skillz (because they are nonexistent).

With the exception of the kitchen re-do, which was my vision but not my execution, we haven’t done much to the house this year. It was time to tackle the dining room. I haven’t been satisfied with it since we painted it blue.

I only liked it marginally better than the unfortunate shade of olive green that it had been.

In fact, at some point David repainted the wall above the chair rail the same cream color as the living room, but it still felt dark with the deep blue underneath. I was craving something lighter and brighter. It’s in the middle of the house and the only windows are small with stained glass. Couple that with the fact that the front of our house is heavily shaded and our dining room just feels dark.

Also, I've never been crazy about the glass-top table that was a hand-me-down from David's grandparents and had been improved by a spray paint project, but still wasn't the style I really wanted for the room. I also just felt kinda meh about the mirror and frames that we had hanging over it (sorry, I should have taken more before pics). It was high time for a change.

So I spent the weekend painting! After much deliberation over the color, I went with Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams, which is also what’s in our upstairs bedroom. I love this gray-blue-green color. I kept looking at other colors but I didn't want another gray-gray and I really love Sea Salt! Plus I think it looks different in different rooms and different lights--a soothing sea green in our upstairs bedroom, and more of a gray-blue in the dining room.

I decided to do the same color above and below the chair rail because I wanted to keep things light and simple. Uncertain, I was pleased to discover that a little googling suggested that doing different shades of the same color above and below the chair rail might even be a bit "dated" (hey, do enough googling and you'll find someone to agree with you). I don't really care about being super on-trend in my decorating, but I knew I didn't want a darker color under the rail, given that the light in this room is so limited, and ultimately, I'm happy with how it turned out.

The big challenge is that—with the exception of paint—I am really determined to re-do the room without buying anything new. I can thrift or buy consignment if I need something, but I’m mostly going to try to re-use or make things myself. The one exception may be the chandelier. I'm DYING to replace the one that's there--it's builder grade boring and hung way too high. I'm going to check out the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and I'm looking at Craigslist, but I've been overwhelmed by options. 

Oh, light fixture. You should be 30-36 inches above the table. You are at least a foot higher than that. You drive me crazy.
My problem is I like so many different styles--I find them all appealing in different ways, and I'm just not sure what I want for my own home! As I think about it, though, I am pretty sure I want something more classic or traditional than modern. I think it's just more consistent with the design of our home overall.

I'm finding brass to be really lovely these days, but all the brass fixtures I like are out of my price range and I think this is an area where inexpensive could really read as cheap. So I'll probably look for a different finish.

I love this light from! But it's outside my price range.
I also like lights that are very fancy crystal--this waterfall style appeals to the racoon in me.

This Pottery Barn light is so FANCY! It's also more than I want to spend (though Overstock has a similar option), but also, I don't think the style is exactly right for us.
The other thing I'm keeping in mind is the view through the house. The dining room is centered between the living room at the front of the house and the TV room in the back of the house. There's an open archway between the living and dining room and French doors that we always keep open between the dining room and TV room. So it's all kind of an open shotgun style layout and I want a chandelier that is nice to look at but not super intrusive.

The current light is non intrusive. Because it appears to be amputated.
I think this means I want one that is more open, as opposed to a shade. Maybe something like this?

Joanna Gaines used this PB light (or a very similar one) and I really like it. This style may be closer to what we end up with? It's also more affordable than the others. 
Anyway, I'm considering my options and will definitely start by trying to find one that's used, but I don't want to compromise too much on this since it's such a permanent fixture.

Everything else, though! Used or repurposed is the name of the game. 

One thing I wanted to do was bring in some white. I've been thinking about what I like in other people's homes and WHITE is a big part of it. The truth is, I love white trim and our house the original wood trim. I appreciate the original wood, and I know that it adds value to our house given its particular structure and particular neighborhood. So that just means that I need to bring in white in other ways--like when I painted the brick in our fireplace and added backsplash tile in the kitchen.

The other thing our dining room needed was more storage. The glass top table was fine for holding pretties, but it just wasn't super functional. As a solution, I brought up two white bookcases from our basement. 

I don't think this is an IDEAL solution (ideal would be an amazing buffet with closed storage and also a hutch), and it's definitely not on-trend (UNTIL NOW--PIN THIS IMMEDIATELY), but it was FREE and it works for us. It has the benefit of bringing more of my books upstairs, and when I think about what I love in homes on Pinterest and in homes that I visit, visible books are a big part of it. They encourage perusing and conversation and they make me happy being in the center of our home instead of regulated to our basement. 

(Plus I was reading Design Mom's book and one of the things she talks about is doing what works for your family instead of just doing what a room is "designated" to be. This makes sense to me, and the shelves definitely work harder for us than the table did.)

David was not on board at first, so I ignored him and set about filling up the shelves while he and Zuzu were at swimming lessons and the grocery store. When he came home, he kissed me and said, "I should have trusted you!" So that made me feel good. I mean, I will totally ignore his opinions when he disagrees with me, but it's nice to get approval.

Just tilt your head to the right and the photo will appear straight.
I'm still considering re-painting the little black hutch that hangs out under our wine shelf (and stocking up on more wine!). 

Maybe bringing in a blue since I still have leftover Annie Sloan paint from the dresser/changing table I painted for our room last summer (leftover = free), but it will have to wait until after I get through prepping for this semester.

Eventually, it will be time to update the table and chairs to something that's more reflective of our style and not just what we could afford when I was in graduate school. But for now, the table works for us and we have two little kids who are pretty hard on it. So I just want to update the chairs. 

I like the idea of a dark table with white chairs, and my friend Monica suggested I could save money by just painting our chairs white, but I'm not quite ready to commit to that yet. I'm going to start by making white covers for the chairs. I’m going to look at a few tutorials and figure out what I want to do… I'll probably end up keeping them super simple and just covering the backs but not the seats. 

My mom thinks the room needs a rug, but I’m just not even dealing with that right now. Too much food dropping going on around here.

I'd also like to sew a table runner. Easy project. I just need to get on it already.

I spent $50 on paint and supplies for painting and I'm giving myself a budget of another $50 for fabric. Here's something crazy, though: I'd like to get a chandelier for $250 or less... very do-able if I find it used, more challenging if I need to buy it new. Still, a brand-new dining room for $350 would be awesome, wouldn't it? And I do think that it's off to a good start. Even if these pictures don't do it justice.


  1. Last lamp. I think it would work perfectly in your home. I'm on the same boat with the dark trim, which I think I've mentioned before. My entire house has dark wood trim and I love white as it freshens things up... but alas.

    My neighbors attempted to sell their super dated house (like appliances from 1970) and were having no luck. Their real estate agent told them people want white trim, so the owner spent a crapload of time and effort and it still sat on the market almost a year! You can't do white trim and ignore wallpaper and dated everything else, silly! It's finally been purchased and they have basically gutted the place.

  2. I like the "tilt your head to the right" comment. That's funny.

    You know I love bookshelves. Everywhere, every room! I love my living room shelves so much that it's sort of embarrassing.

    Your updates look great, love the color.

    I have six chairs slipcovered in white I'd practically give you. But they are upholstered and so I don't know if that's really the look that you're going for. The chairs are in excellent shape. The slipcovers too, although there are a few spots that I could probably treat and get out. I bet the slipcovers are too large for your chairs though, but you could try them.

    That means I need to get on my own house projects...

  3. Love the new paint job, looks a lot more inviting and warmer.
    The third fixture I love, I did a similar one for our dark dining room, the only thing I would add to the fixture is a down light in the center. This fixture just doesn't give off enough light. We raised the fixture so it would reflect off the ceiling. Now I have a too high fixture and still not enough light for other than dining (playing games, etc)

  4. Bead board under the chair rail and paint it all white. Craigslist dresser for the new storage - paint and new pulls. Lovely ideas here.

  5. Chair covers - I bought these for a home wedding when my daughter married. They wash up nicely, tumble dry gets the wrinkles out. There is a lot of fabric to them, if you want to cut up and make the cushions. I have a granddaughter who is two weeks younger than Zuzu. The chocolate and the spaghetti both washed out. :-) If you buy them and don't like them, save them for birthday parties. I think they are going to look fantastic for a six year old's Princess Party, when the time arrives. 6 covers should run you about $20.00/$25.00 with postage. These are the ones I ordered for my straight backed dining room chairs. They did not come all the way to the floor, as they would with banquet chairs.

    Jill A.

    P.S. The dining room is looking nice!

  6. Sea salt is always a good choice and totally brightens up the room.

    I debated white chairs with our new table, and really like a set at target. But I agree with Monica and you should just paint yours and see how you like it.

    My mom has bookshelves in every single room of the house and I do love just scanning through options and categories when I visit and picking something new (or several) to "borrow"

  7. I was excited to see a renovation post. I always love your ideas. The last lamp was my favourite and seemed to go with the rest of the house. I also love how David was able to see your vision and told you so, kind man.

    I think it looks much more bright and fresh. I would paint out the small side table as it is the only peice left that seems like it doesn't "match" the rest of the space. Also, because you have a 3 year old and a one year old so naturally there's all kinds of time for these things.

    Looks fabulous!