March 25, 2018

Dining Room Refresh: Historic Modern Charm

We recently finished a complete refresh of our dining room, which has made all the difference in how much we use it and how we feel about entertaining.

It all began back in November when I found the deal of a lifetime on the dining chairs I'd been pinning over the last year. What started as a new chair purchase quickly turned into re-thinking the space in a much more holistic sense — and we're so glad we went the full mile.

In all, we kept our farm table and antique rug as a foundation, then re-thought everything else around them. We painted the walls above the chair rail white, swapped out our older chairs and buffet for more modern pieces that complement one another in color, replaced our ceiling fan with a modern chandelier and hung new floor-to-ceiling length curtains in a neutral gray hue.

Before we had a bit of a melting pot of pieces that we loved but were mismatched in style so lacked an overarching point of view. Now the room feels fresh. Still collected, but with pieces that complement one another in the good kind of way.

To give a little background on this refresh, our dining room sits in the rear of our home where the kitchen would have originally been given the footprint of the typical row homes in our area. Because this space would have been a kitchen at one point in time, you'll notice we have marble floors in here. It's also quite dark with just the two windows, so one of our main challenges has been trying to find ways to brighten and warm up the room.

The inspiration for the design came easy and all centered around unifying accents in black and brass. I fell in love with the idea of black as a unifying color for our dining room after seeing Joanna Gaines do it at their B&B, and the more modern approach from Studio McGee's Denver Tudor. Not long after, I'd pinned together an entire mood board to start from but really stopped in my tracks when I happened across the following dining room (anyone know the source?):

Everything about this space spoke to me — from the light walls and weathered wood to the antique rug and those black framed wishbone chairs. It's just so good, right?

Like I mentioned, it all began with those chairs that came from the image above...

We actually loved our old metal chairs, but quickly realized they would get really cold. We could handle it but felt like they just weren't as welcoming when we'd entertain.

The new ones are a classic mid-century style known as a wishbone or "Y style" chair. I found ours on the deal of a lifetime over Cyber weekend and bought two sets of four. They're called the Modway Amish dining chair and are carried by several places in different sets and colors depending on what your needs are.

Funny side note — about a week after ordering these chairs, I realized during a work trip to the Brooklyn Etsy offices that I'd chosen the exact same style that surrounds one of the main family-style tables. It was definitely one of those surreal moments where work unconsciously permeates into family life.

I just can't get over these curves!

The cabinets along the wall have added just the right amount of storage. We had a difficult time finding what I'd call a traditional buffet that was either long enough or in a more transitional style that we were going for.

The solution came as a bit of a surprise — we ended up pairing two glass cabinets side by side which gave us just the width we needed and more storage than we could have hoped for. They're the Malsjo cabinet from Ikea and we just love having a way to display some of our favorite family pieces like my grandmother's china and our wedding flatware. There's so much room, we're even using one of the top shelves for wine storage.

Lastly, we (ahem, Tim) installed a pendant chandelier, centering it over the table. We love the modern take and how it fills the white space beneath the tall ceilings in here. We used to have a ceiling fan back here, and there's just something about a chandelier that anchors the space more as a proper dining room.

We fell in love with this chandelier the minute we laid eyes on it at Crate & Barrel — it's 100% modern in design but still hints at the classic shape of older fixtures. To bring a touch of historic character back in, we mounted a medallion where the pendant meets the ceiling.

It certainly helps to have a husband with an electrical background when it comes to lighting upgrades. Tim not only took down the ceiling fan, but installed a new junction box about 18 inches over in order to center the chandelier directly over the table. I have to say, it makes all the difference.

We still have a few finishing details to address in here — things like art, a touch of fresh greenery and perhaps a few candlesticks to make the space a bit cozier. Down the road, we also like the idea of rethinking the marble floor all-together, but for now, progress is progress. We're loving the cleaner, minimal vibe and finding every excuse to share a meal in here.

As a reminder, and since we all love a good before & after, this is where we started:

We've since found a new home for the sideboard, a family heirloom, in the transitional space between our kitchen and dining rooms. We're using it as a bar and couldn't be happier with the change.

Isn't it amazing how re-thinking just a few things can completely transform the feel of a room? While this space has its set of unique challenges, we're loving the updates and are generally getting more use out of our dining room.

Paint Colors: RH Stone & Ultra White

Discover More Before & After Projects

1 comment

  1. It looks great. The rug really works there. I'm sure you have some art planned too.


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