Monday, January 11, 2016

5-Day Do-Over: My Dining Room (and it took me MONTHS)

The After Photo
This didn't have to take me months, but it did. I had a baby, and my priorities changed during the "newborn" period.  Now that I have finally finished the room, here is how it went. I didn't do all of these steps exactly in order, but you get the idea. Note that I previously did this for my living room (see that post for more info.).

The Before Photo:
We subsequently replaced the tired rug, sold the console table, repainted, and cleaned
The end of the first day
The furniture was rearranged, and this is the new rug (based on people's comments, I moved the table closer towards the center of the room later on)
The console table is gone; the art is still the same
Another shot of the same thing; note the relatively small and dark art on the walls and the different objects on the table
A close-up of the old art
Notice the blue kitchen cabinets, which were subsequently painted white, and that I'm experimenting by trying different artwork on the walls
This was the photo that convinced me to change the railing (behind the table / in the background) to a half-wall - it's just a lot of bars to have in one room given the obligatory baby-gate to the kitchen (in the foreground)
The baby that changed everything
It got messy
Once we repainted the walls a calmer blue-gray color, the autumn colors outside really popped
Notice the white kitchen cabinets, and the kitchen walls were repainted gray (before they were a buttery color)
Obligatory cute kids photo
The after photo!
The after photo, zoomed out so you can see the half-wall
A close-up of the items on our table
Another photo of the half-wall
A significantly zoomed out shot
A close-up of the new artwork

"Day" 1
  • Pick a room: I chose our dining room.
  • List all of the decorative items in the room: I had several photographs on the walls and also several smaller framed photographs on the desk (photos of horses, rams, reindeer, and an owl), as well as a cat postcard, and a green placemat that was serving as a small table runner.
  • Of the above items, which do not seem to fit in: The ram photograph and the black horses photograph didn't seem to fit in the most (they didn't convey the airy, spacious feeling I was going for).

"Day" 2
  • What categories* of decorative items are there too many of: I had way too many realistic photographs - I needed more variety in my artwork.
  • Remove a few of those: Okay, so I removed all of the photos. Maybe I went overboard?
  • Look around the house for some items with more variety to add to the room: I added sculptural items via the Korean wedding ducks, and I added a tray (at first I added the colorful circles tray, but later I swapped that out for a wooden turkey-shaped board). I tried adding a candle too but my toddler promptly destroyed it by trying to eat it.
*Categories could be: pillows, textiles, photos, prints, trays, vases, bowls, etc.

"Day" 3
  • What items can be removed because they are not beautiful, useful, or meaningful: I feel like this is sort of a repeat/reincarnation of Day 2, but in addition to the photos I removed on Day 2, I removed the "desk" (or was it a buffet table, a sofa table, or a console table? whatever it was, it now lives happily in someone else's home), and I removed the extra chair. I also added a faux cowhide storage ottoman because the room lacked upholstered pieces.

"Day" 4
  • Instead of buying things, create a "wish list" of items you would like to add to the room and gradually add those items over the next few months: I wanted a new highchair for the kiddo, a pony wall (also called a knee wall) instead of the metal railing, and to repaint the room - these last two things actually happened! I replaced the rug because it was old and stained, but I did that before I got to the Day 4 step.

"Day" 5
  • Write down the colors in the room currently: The room had light brown, white/ivory, and blue-green.
  • Choose a fresh accent color to add to the room and add it in at least three places: I chose maraschino cherry and added it in the framed print on the wall and the tablecloth - I guess the bill on one of the ducks is also red so that's three!
  • Remove a color (optional): I removed some of the brown (thanks to the artwork swap) and I also removed all of the blue-green thanks to a new ivory rug and new steely-gray wall paint (the new wall paint harmonizes with the gray and dark blue in the adjacent living room).

  • There is a lot of overlap between Day 2 and Day 3, which are the steps when things are added and removed based on their decor category (Day 2) and their use/meaning/purpose/sentimentality (Day 3). Although things are also taken away and added on Day 5, at that point it's based on color and seems like a clearly separate idea.
  • I posted a midway photo of the room to people and their main suggestions were: the art is too small (agreed), lower and center the chandelier, add a table cloth (done), and change the upholstery fabric on the dining chairs. Lowering/centering the chandelier sounds like a simple thing, but it's not - first we'd have to remove links from its chain to do it right, and second, it is impossible to actually center the chandelier over the table (because the table would then be too close to the kitchen), which I feel is less noticeable if the chandelier is way up high. However, I did move the table so that the chandelier is closer to being centered than it was. I would still like to change the upholstery on the chairs someday (if we still have them), but it's not a priority for me.
  • I'm most happy with the change in paint color (it feels so fresh and sophisticated now), the half-wall, and moving the ottoman here (which frees up a lot of space in our master bedroom). The half-wall was a game-changer because it's better at holding up our baby gate (which is on the other side of it), it's a nice place to put things temporarily, and nothing "falls downstairs" under the railing anymore.

Note: Because I lost my paper files thanks to a rambunctious cat and a spilled Brita pitcher, I can't quite remember everything that happened.

I made an infographic because everyone loves infographics!

The existing table and chairs are from CraigsList. The existing chandelier is from Lowes. The new tablecloth is from Home Goods. The turkey cutting board is from Etsy. The Korean wedding ducks were a gift. The curtains are from JCPenney. The new rug is from World Market, although the fibers aren't strong so I wouldn't recommend it. The new art print and frame are from ArtCrate. The ottoman is from Overstock.

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