dining room | new arrangement & plans

by | May 4, 2018 | All Things Home, Decorating, decorating dilemmas, Dining Room, My House | 78 comments

This squared-shaped dining room has been a little tricky to figure out, but I think I’m getting a little closer.

The primitive blue hutch has felt wrong from the beginning, but it’s what I had and I needed time to live in the space and think about it before I bought anything new or made any big decisions.  After thinking about it for a while, I decided to try something free…swapping around the furniture.  I had an oak sideboard that I moved up to the master bedroom, really as a place-holder more than anything else.  I decided to move it back downstairs and try it out in the dining room…

Obviously, everything is low and the space is a little naked, but I really like this option better than the hutch.  It seems to open up the room a bit more and the pieces of furniture, while found secondhand on craigslist and in consignment shops, seem to relate well with one another.

About that empty wall, though.  I was originally thinking about built-ins, but I have recently been imagining a soft, tonal landscape mural.  I am inspired by Susan Harter’s Muralpapers and would want to do something along these lines…

Image source – Susan Harter Muralpapers

I have to admit that I am a little intimidated by a mural like this, but I think it would look amazing and will be worth the attempt.  If it’s terrible, it’s just paint and I can always paint over it and it never has to see the light of day again.

I’ll start drawing out the mural layout and establish the color palette, so I’ll be ready to paint when I have the gumption to go for it.

I am also on the hunt for an oversized mirror to hang over the buffet.  The way it will reflect the chandelier and bounce light will add a lot to the space.  I’m thinking of something like the mirror below, but I’m hoping to find one secondhand, so let the hunting begin and we’ll see what I turn up.

So, what happened to the primitive blue hutch?  I moved it to the other side of the room.  I like the height and the size is okay, although very close to looking like too-big-of-a-piece-wedged-into-too-small-of-a-corner.  A part of that has to do with the strong color, so I am considering two options…

1.) Selling it and buying something that works better in that corner or 2.) paint it in Farmhouse White, so it’s a little quieter in the space.

Don’t freak out about painting this hutch.  It is an old piece, but it has been painted several times and wasn’t wearing the original paint when I bought it.  Painting it would be just fine.  I love the piece in the blue, so I just don’t know if I want to paint it, but I also don’t think this piece works well in our new house as it is.

I had thought about looking for a corner cabinet for that spot, but we have an air return that is in an annoying spot.  It limits what can go on that back wall and a corner cabinet just won’t work.

The mural would wrap around the whole room, though, so it would visually fill up that wall.

That’s the plan for now and I’ll give you updates as I work on it…


  1. Rudolf Fairbanks

    Enjoying a meal with family and friends is an important part of our lives so take a look at these pages on dining room design to make sure that your mealtimes get the well-designed space (or spaces) they deserve. “This cozied-up formal dining room is wonderful for those who have a large family or group of friends and often find themselves throwing dinner parties or hosting for the holidays. — Sara Gilbane” Your post is very informative and must follow tips. Thank you so much.

  2. Nancy A

    I think you are on the right track in your thinking re painting your blue hutch white. In and of itself the hutch is not too big for the wall—if the color was adjusted.

    I also love the idea of a mural and think it would bring a wonderful softness to the room—and home. Everything is looking so fresh, with a look all us readers resonate with, it seems!

  3. Downraspberrylane

    I’m loving the murals too, and am surprised by that because I grew up in the 70’s when it seemed everyone had a wallpaper mural somewhere in their house. But I love the ones I’m seeing today, and I think one would be really pretty in your room. An ambitious project, but I can see you pulling it off!

  4. Renee Cordell

    Everything is so pretty except the hutch. A softer color maybe would be nice but maybe something totally different there.

  5. Cindy

    I LOVE the mural idea! I think that room is the perfect size as well as the perfect function for a mural <3

  6. Lee Ann

    Here’s an idea for the hutch: How about removing (and storing) the top section’s doors, then filling the shelves with your pretty ironstone or other items? It may lighten the feel. I have a hutch that’s almost identical and when I moved it to an area where it felt too heavy, I removed the doors. Viola! It was perfect, then. (And then when I moved again and could use the doors, I just popped them on again.)

    Happy Furniture Moving!

    • Marian Parsons

      I usually do have the doors open to display the contents, but there isn’t room there. I hadn’t even thought of removing the doors, but that’s a great idea! I’m going to add it to the list of possibilities!

  7. Susan

    I love the idea of a mural as that I would definitely infuse your style and be so personal and I know you would do an amazing job. I am a mirror fanatic and can tell you that you should have no problem finding your style of mirror at a secondhand store or antique mall. The oak sideboard goes beautifully in that space and I think the blue piece is just the wrong style for that space (in my amateur opinion). This room is really looking like the perfect mix of your new home and your signature style. Love it!

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I agree that the hutch is not the right style for this house. I do think painting it would help, but it might be better to sell it and find a piece that really suits the space.

  8. Susan

    A mural would be so unique and lovely. I have no doubt you will pull it off and your dining room will be the envy of the internet. 🙂

  9. Kathy

    I vote for keeping the hitch and painting. I think it fits perfectly there. Love following along as you feel your way thru this new home.

  10. Marva

    I like your changes to the dining room Marian. I think you should keep the hutch, but paint it white. I think it would look great and it is a really cool piece. If nothing else, you could live with it as white for awhile and then be on the look out for something smaller if you still think it looks too large for the space. I have enjoyed seeing your new home and all that you have done to make it your own.

  11. Terri

    Remembering your beautiful furniture with painted murals and I have no doubt that this will be gorgeous! I think of the big canvas that you, your mom and Kriste painted for Lucketts. I was in awe. One of these days, I’m going to get the courage to try something like that on a piece of furniture. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

    • Susan

      Whatever happened to that canvas you took to Luckett’s?

      • Marian Parsons

        I sold one of them and I have the other one that had “miss mustard seed” painted on it. It’s folded up in the garage right now.

  12. Brenda

    I love the mural idea! I can’t wait to see the process. Have you considered incorporating the hutch into the mural? Would it retreat into the room? Just a weird idea. 😉

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, interesting idea. Not totally nutty, since I’ve seen that sort of thing done before in older homes. Hmmm…

  13. Mary in VA

    Yes and yes! Already love the new buffet in that spot, and the mirror is beyond gorgeous! (you’ll find one soon, I’m sure). Add the mural and it is going to be an amazing room. Can’t wait to see it when completed.

  14. elin noller

    The blue hutch might work better whith the murial behind it, tone it down a bit to where it seems less overwhelming.

  15. Susan

    Marian, I am loving the dining room. It’s size is so intimate for special times with family and friends. I agree that a lighter color on the hutch would work. The blue is beautiful, but it reads too heavy in such a small space. I cannot wait to see the mural. I know you can do it!

  16. Marie

    I think a mural wall would be amazing. Your style would transfer so well to a mural. Using your blues and greens and other muted milk paint colors as highlights… you may find that blue hutch fits right in. Can’t wait to see the result if you do decide to “do your magic”!

  17. Sarah

    A spot for the blue cabinet downstairs? In the basement bedroom? Always wanted a cabinet like that in a bathroom….never room.
    The mural? Go for it! Soft and pretty.

  18. Patti

    I saw the swap of the hutch for the buffett and said “ahhh”. The scale and color just look so much more pleasing to my eye. I think painting the hutch and removing the doors is a great idea and would do wonders but you could probably do even better with another piece. Maybe it needs to be just a touch more formal because of the purpose of the room and the other furnishings? I love what you are doing, good luck with your hunt!

  19. Robin

    Sell the hutch- you won’t regret it. I love imagining the room withe the -subtle mural. Gorgeous!

  20. Van Sluytman Shannon

    I also thought the hutch would work better with at least the top doors off. I like the blue color but to me it comes down to what makes it work for you.

  21. Jami

    Your idea of a mural is wonderful. Would you paint that first before deciding on the color to paint the hutch? You have pretty blues throughout, and I saw that hutch in a pastel-muted dijon color. I can’t wait to see your mural idea!

  22. Jill

    The blue hutch may look better to you once you have the mural painted.

  23. Cheryl

    I like the idea of the mural, you would do a great job!!
    Also like where the blue hutch id now and would paint it white!!
    Love your room!!

  24. Kathryn Casey

    Something I love about your writing is how you show the real world of the designer/influencer/blogger. I’m sure it isn’t easy posting the work in process but it is a real gift for your readers. We saw your Pinterest perfect house and seeing you play with the space, show things that aren’t working, grounds the beauty of your photography and design in the world of what others can do. You have that quality in your book, Inspired You, and the other places where you’ve posted the edited and unedited photo side-by-side. I just love that about your work. Thank you for your honesty about the process.

  25. Jeannie

    Love the blue hutch. I get so attached to my stuff that I couldn’t get rid of it. I like it on that wall and agree that painted white minus doors might do the trick.

  26. Cindy in Oklahoma

    I see a Mora clock in that corner….or maybe a gallery corner of Marian Parsons’ paintings?

    Whatever you choose will look beautiful I’m sure because already the room feels so much more calm and peaceful. ….which surprises me because I also loved how you styled this blue hutch with all your ironstone, etc. Can’t wait to see how this room progresses….

  27. Cindy

    I have thought this since you introduced your whole house… the dining room table is too small for the space. It’s an unusual problem. We usually try to stuff too much into our space, but this room looks forlorn to me. Better with the buffet! Does the table have a leaf (or two)? The hutch seems to fit fine, but a lighter blue/gray might be better. The idea of painting the mural before deciding on the color makes sense to me since you can pick a color that will coordinate and lessen the impact of the hutch. The idea of taking doors off is good also!

    Love watching your home take shape!

  28. Susan Harter

    Hello Miss Mustard Seed!
    A client just mentioned seeing our work on your blog so I wandered over to check it out. So flattered that you want to copy one of my murals! Feel free to reach out to me for tips if you do decide to paint something similar.
    And, I’m going to weigh in on the blue hutch too. I think it’s kind of gorgeous, and the same shade of blue on the background trees of your mural might tie it right in.

  29. Patricia

    I have a similar hutch though shorter . It use to be my grandmothers and I would never part with it . I ended up putting it in our ‘boys room ‘ and putting my grown sons best toys in it . It’s precious.
    I’ve been surprised since you moved that a four person dining room table works for your family . Is there a leaf for it ? When friends and friends come over you don’t miss the dining room ?

  30. Joy in Alabama

    Since you can paint the hutch for a very low cost or free, I’d try that first. It might be good to take off the doors. Then if you still hate it, sell it. I think it would sell quickly if it were white, so it’s a win-win situation.

  31. Dee

    I think you ideas on spot on. I love the mural and mirror idea. I am looking for a very similar mirror for my dining room myself. I do like your blue hutch and I’m sure you will find a place for it

  32. Victoria

    The lines of that hutch are a classic and if it was painted white I think it would blend into that spot really well and still be a great piece for storage of practical things. As one commentor said you can always sell that later but I would certainly try painting it white first! Those type cabinets are not easy to come by? and I personally like the mixture of primitive and more fancy altogether… It’s a fabulous look!

  33. Ruth in Colorado

    As opposed to removing the doors to the hutch . . . why not replace the center panels with beveled glass. I have a friend who wanted to display authentic (rare and expensive) Navajo blankets. She had a vintage icebox, and I suggested she use glass panels on that piece, storing the folding blankets behind the glass.. She took the suggestion, and I have to tell you, it looks lovely. Added bonus . . . everything being the doors stays clean and dust free.

  34. Ruth in Colorado

    As opposed to removing the doors to the hutch . . . why not replace the center panels with beveled glass. I have a friend who wanted to display authentic (rare and expensive) Navajo blankets. She had a vintage icebox, and I suggested she use glass panels on that piece, storing the folded blankets behind the glass.. She took the suggestion, and I have to tell you, it looks lovely. Added bonus . . . everything being the doors stays clean and dust free.

  35. Patti

    Marian, I do like the sideboard! I have a pair of lamps on mine which I really enjoy. I look forward to seeing what you do to finish the room.

  36. Elizabeth St

    I see what you mean about the blue cupboard… It seems like it might loom over the diners… You can envision an alternative better than I.

    Mural=Brilliant. You know you can do it. Once that’s up, you may find you don’t need any other furniture besides the dining set and the sideboard. Or, it may conjure up a different furniture solution entirely.

  37. Elizabeth St

    Forgot to mention that your mirror idea would not only look great, it would provide good feng shui, reflecting and multiplying the bounty on the table.

  38. Bean

    Kitty corner that blue hutch…use the color elsewhere in the room….

  39. Janet in Kansas City

    The blue cabinet looks much better in the new location but I agree about softening the color. And I think your mural idea will look beautiful!

  40. Caroline

    The idea of you painting a mural there is terrific! Can’t wait to see it!

    I’m in Minnesota also, a newbie to craigslist, and I’ve found numerous old/vintage and gorgeous mirrors, so I think you will find what you want quickly. It will be so fun to watch you create this new look. I also wonder if you need a larger table, though. 🙂

  41. Amber T

    It is looking wonderful already!!!! I say go for the second option and paint that hutch white-it will be beautiful!

  42. MaryLisa

    I think the hutch is great just the way it is. If everything is so neutral without a splash of color it won’t pop. It fits in its new spot without covering any outlets or vents. It also has great storage possibilities. You could paint a scene on the upper doors. Please really think about it before you part with it!

  43. Cheryl

    I love the mural idea and think once you have some colors on the wall the hutch will tie right in, Can’t wait to see what you do!

  44. Kate

    I love the swap! I think you are correct, that the smaller buffet really does lighten and open up the space. Everything seems more fresh. I think I would move the blue cabinet, as it seems to cut into the walkway, and make the room seem more crowded. Could just a visual thing, since it is tall and towers over the room. Perhaps move a smaller scale, secretary desk type piece there?

  45. Kate

    P.S. I love the idea of the large mirror to reflect the space back. It will make your room seem so light and open.

  46. Lana

    I think the tall cabinet might spoil the continuity of your mural (which will be fabulous, I’m sure). I’d sell it and replace it with something more in keeping with your other pieces. The mirror will be lovely.
    Your beautiful home is an inspiration.

  47. Julie

    Does the top come off of the blue hutch? I had a similar dilemma and when I removed the top piece of my hutch the base was just perfect in my smaller dining room. Good luck! I enjoy following along.

  48. loretta

    Didn’t you start with murals? This may just be bringing your talents full circle!

  49. Marian Zimmerman

    Beautiful I agree,
    I can also see a huge oil painting of one of your pears see CGPRO for a wrapped canvas wholesale prices you could the sell your print in the large wrapped canvas then
    also see Julia Swartz Gallery she did a lovely mural in her dining room wall in a soft black

  50. Laurie

    That’s an improvement! The blue hutch was too narrow and too busy.

    I love the mural idea!! Very classic. You could do a mural on 2 or 3 adjoining walls which would leave some “breathing space.” The example you showed is perfect, nothing too bold, or contrasty or sharp-edged. It works as a good background.

    Some ideas:

    You could take the doors off the hutch, exposing the white ironstone.

    You could paint the hutch a lighter shade or blue (you already have plenty of white in this house) or a green that would go with the mural.

  51. Katy

    Checkout Rufus Porter on Pinterest. Also, the artist who did Marth Stewart’s mural did a video with her available on her website. Can’t wait to see it!!

  52. Susan

    I’ve been in the “less is more” camp when it comes to color for about ten years now and I love it. So peaceful, with nothing to jolt the eye. When I saw your IG post earlier today with your new lamps, I smiled at all the white and neutrals with just touches of blue in the grain sack pillows and quilt. Just love the simplicity. If you have a place for the hutch elsewhere, I’d either paint it white or strip it (assuming it’s pine), but think the mural should stand on its own with minimal furniture breaks. Just my two cents!

  53. Jane

    I think you will miss that beautiful blue piece. I agree with Jill who thinks you may be pleased with it when the mural is painted. Slow but sure changes usually work out best.

  54. Erin

    That oak buffet looks amazing there. Love the table, chairs, and buffet together.

  55. Kathy Harris

    If you paint a soft mural like the inspiration, I think the hutch seems out of place/heavy/interferes (even if repainted). It “reads” more primitive than the table and sideboard, even though I know it’s ok to mix it up. It’s just that with the mirror you want and the chandy, it doesn’t seem to fit (in my opinion). Goodness, you have parted with so many pieces before, so if you don’t have another spot for it, sell it! I like the suggestion of the Mora clock. Regardless of what you choose, you will make it all perfect!

  56. Michele (Finch Rest)


    I think your primitive hutch is perfect there – I would just paint it, cuz, um, it’s what you do. : – )

    I bet a soft green would be lovely, too.

    Good luck with the mural painting- that is so amazing, your talents. I can’t even draw a stick figure worth looking at!

  57. Pat Godfrey McRee

    I would consider removing the doors from the piece and filling the shelves with the family’s favorite books. Perhaps you could incorporate scenes from favorite books in the mural? And be sure to add your family members into the scenes! I’m sure it will be special whatever you do.

  58. Sandra Haymart

    New piece is perfect. Painting the hutch white will kill the feel of the room. Perhaps tone down the blue to a softer blue. Room needs some color for warmth & a soft blue would do that. Mural would be beautiful.

  59. Sandi Graham Pastels

    Marian,once I was at a luncheon on Beacon Hill in Boston at a lovely historic home. In the dining room was a hand painted mural of historic scenes of Boston. Wouldn’t it be fun to, using your art skills, develop a historic style mural of your new town or your old home town ?
    I’ve painted a few Cape Cod Murals on walls and they are such fun to create . Check out Rufus Porter , he was a New England painter from 1800’s who painted many murals.
    A mural is a a huge project and planning is elementary but what’s fun is painting while using the room and when guests come they will be excited to watch the progression! Best of luck ! Talented girl!

  60. JC at the uncommon pearl

    Oh, your mural will be gorgeous. I can see it in my minds eye now. I recently sold my dining room hutch and bought a buffet and have never looked back. I see a Belgium inspired standing clock there in a dreamy light blue to pick up color in your mural. Just another thought to add to all the suggestions!

  61. Rene

    I love the new buffet on that wall and your plans for a mural. I totally agree that the blue hutch, as beautiful as it is doesn’t work in the room. I think it would be perfect in farmhouse white!

  62. Erin

    You could always paint the hutch with the same mural as the walls.

  63. Michelle

    Its time for the blue hutch to go. Its starting to look a little tired and just doesn’t seem to fit in anymore. Time to let someone else enjoy it.

  64. Colleen

    Crazy idea, but why not temporarily hang your Miss Mustard Seed mural you painted for Lucketts up to see if you like the idea. I do like the shorter sideboard and think it would look great with the mural above it. Too bad the area between the dining room and kitchen has built in pieces because that blue hutch would look really nice there. Maybe once you get a mural painted then decide if the hutch painted another color and possibly with the doors removed or replaced with glass. Or, can the top come off that hutch. I like the idea of the lower section by itself.

  65. Debi

    Please rethink the corner cabinet idea. There are lots of (antique and vintage too) corner cabinets that are not as deep along the sides as what you might be envisioning. I have one that measures 24 inches along the wall on each side—looks like you may have enough space. I think you need furniture height to balance out the floor furnishings and a corner cabinet would do that—and be a nice counterpoint to the landscape mirror. I recently finished a 2 wall mural. Only problem was, I kept wanting to add to it because I enjoyed painting it so much. Good luck with yours, you’ll have fun!

  66. Marcy

    When you started talking about murals, I immediately remembered that mural/backdrop piece you created for your booth at that vintage show a while back. Wondering if that would be something you could recycle and install on that diningroom wall–it was so charming.

  67. Brenda

    Are you ever satisfied with anything? I have been following you since you moved into this house, and you have done nothing but complain about and change something on a continual basis. I realize you are the owner of a business and obviously not poor, but isn’t your husband in the ministry, and shouldn’t you be a little more encouraging and patient and less critical and whiny about every little nook and cranny in the beautiful home that God has given you? I just can’t with you anymore. I am a Christian and love to decorate, but I certainly don’t blog about all the things I dislike about my house three times a week. Is there anything about that house that you do like?

    • Marian Parsons

      Brenda, I’m so sorry if it ever came across that I am ungrateful in any way. I love this house and that’s why we bought it! I just want to customize it to make it “our home”. I love decorating, so it’s fun for me to figure things out. This post isn’t complaining about the house at all, but sharing how I’m puzzling through making our things work best in this space.

      As a sister in Christ, I would ask for you to give me a little more grace than you extended in this comment.

  68. Bonnie Ludovico

    I vote for re-painting the hutch Aviary~ bought some the other day to try out. I moved into a home similar to yours, in fact our kitchens are near (were) identical. I have been slowly making changes to each room to make it more my own. I am amazed at how you took your builder beige, new home and transformed each space to reflect you. I often wonder if people laugh at me when they visit and I go through all my ideas for changing each space and wonder if I sound ungrateful to live in this magnificent home. I am not ungrateful but I am acutely aware of how my environment affects my mood and contentment factor. As a visual person who adores patina and color and repurposing anything so it does not end up in a landfill….I get you and I understand you are not whining. You are designing and creating your nest for your family that suits you. As we all do. The difference is yours is open to public viewing therefore open to misunderstanding and critique. Keep being you, Marian. We like you just the way you are.

    • Marian Parsons

      Very well put, Bonnie. 🙂

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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