Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Dining Room Renovation

After I inherited some things from my parents' estate, my dining room veered into dangerous territory:

It began to look like an old lady with too many cats and a fondness for crocheted doilies lived there:

I needed to un-fussy it. I was aiming for gracious. Less stuffy. A few contemporary elements.

For the first time in my life, I hired a decorator to help me get it right. She was a friend, and--ta da!!!--she stayed a friend all through the process.

Here are my before-and-afters. I hope you enjoy the dining room's new look. (I sure do.)

Street-Facing Wall, Before: Wall-to-wall, pale carpet spotted with 20+ years' worth of stains. Padded moiré silk walls above decent wainscoting (Really? who does moiré silk right next to a kitchen? Cooking smells burrow into the fabric and never come out. The look of them was very Nancy Reagan-1980s. I must clarify: The silk was there when we moved in.) Geriatric drapes and sheers that the cleaners refused to clean any more, for fear they would fall apart. And an under-used area in front of a big window that only the plants were enjoying:

Street-Facing Wall, During: We pulled up the carpet and put down new flooring that resembles reclaimed barn wood (but it's really a gorgeous laminate--much more practical for an eating area). We tore out the drapes and created built-in bookcases flanking the window. Underneath the window, we installed a seat with lots of storage below:

Street-Facing Wall, During: We painted the walls a beautiful blue-gray from Benjamin Moore called "Nickel." The trim is Benjamin Moore's "Swiss Coffee":

We installed these gorgeous glass-and-metal starburst knobs from Anthropologie on the window seat cabinetry and elsewhere in the room:

Street-Facing Wall, After: Now there's a cozy place for me to read the morning paper and look at the goldfinches marauding the bird feeder just outside the window:

I love the happy mishmash of fabrics on the pillows. All pillowcases zip off for the occasional cleaning:

We filled bookshelves with our silver, and art and photography books (but left some space, so the displays could "breathe"):

Corner with leaded-glass window, Before: Too much stuff crammed into too small a space. Small, splotchy art on the walls. A jumble of undersized plants:

Corner with the leaded-glass window, After: One larger piece of art, a well-edited bookshelf, and a single chair:

Interior Wall, Before: The pinky-beige wood on our built-in hutch that screamed "Mid-80s!" Fussy, overly formal fabrics on the walls and dining chairs:

Interior Wall, After: Painted hutch and walls, contemporary fabric on seats:

Interior Wall, During: We painted the entire hutch wall the same colors ("Nickel" and "Swiss Coffee") as the rest of the room. We calmed down the formerly pink ceiling with a coat of white. (We added a lot more of those Anthropologie knobs, too, but they're not yet installed in photo below):

(Here's a glimpse at the color the ceiling used to be. Eeek!):

Before, Inside the Built-in Hutch: A dizzying mashup of crystal, china, and gewgaws:

After, Inside the Built-in Hutch: Some objects moved out, remaining things grouped (like objects with like) to calm down the mad jumble:

Built-in Hutch, After: With the cabinet doors closed, the display calms down even more: 

North Wall, Before: An antique sideboard with too much stuff on (and in) it, and those damned moiré silk walls again:

North Wall, After: The mirror between the upper and lower pieces of the sideboard unfortunately is reflecting a lot of extraneous stuff in this shot, below. But trust me, the area is much visually quieter now:

South Wall, After: (Sorry; I couldn't find a "Before" photo, but what used to be here was a dresser that I used to change the diapers of Lovely Daughter #2. Let's just say, baby furniture doesn't belong in a dining room.) An oil painting by The Hubby's mom, and a dignified little side table:

Flooring, After: On top of the beautiful flooring, we put down a Pottery Barn rug below the dining table. Here, Pao Pao (l.) and Mu Shu show off the blues, grays, and warm tones that are echoed around the room:

Ceiling, Before: Waaaay too many pot lights, fitted with bulbs that made them look like Alien Bug Eyes. Plus, pink paint. Ugh!:

Ceiling, After: This oversize chandelier. Pot lights fitted with the proper bulbs now. White ceiling. Calm--and a touch of modernism--prevails:

Love it, love it, love it!

Next time, I'll show you another room re-do. Because, this all started with the dining room. But I didn't stop there.


  1. I always liked your dining room, but now I love, love, love it! What a beautiful change. Well done! I need to do similar updates in my borderline-old-lady-with-too-many-cats look in my home (love the family pieces, but they need to be balanced/refreshed with a more contemporary look), and I am now inspired!

  2. I love my mom's painting in that space, with that frame! Just FYI-it was from a class she took at Barnsdall Park near Hollywood long ago and they sat outside and painted what they saw. She had it in her bedroom for many years.



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