evolution of my house | part 2 | the dining room

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Dining Room, My House39 Comments

This is part two in a series that’s a more in-depth follow-up of my 2015 summer home tour.  Showing the entire house in one post made me realize what a change this home has undergone and I thought it would be encouraging to others if I share the slow process from “before” to “after”.  If you missed part one, the evolution of my living room, you can check it out HERE.

Now, onto the dining room,which sits adjacent to the living room through a large arch.  Because these rooms open to one another, I’ve always painted them the same color and treated the windows the same.  Here’s how the dining room looks today…

Here’s how this room started out.  You can see Jeff snapped a picture before he ripped up the carpeting.  You can also see that the room had the same shiny pine trim as the living room, dingy cream paint and a ceiling fan.  There was also a large shade tree outside of the window.  It was growing into the power lines, so the electric company chopped half of it off.  It looked so bad, so I asked if they would just take the rest of it down and they did.  It entirely changed the light in the room for the better.

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I don’t have a picture of our dining room when we first settled in the house.  Someone from my in-law’s Sunday school class was generous enough to give us a table and chairs.  They were sturdy and very nice and I was grateful for them, but I always knew I wanted to change them out when I could afford to.

We painted the room in Dove White with an accent wall in Bluestone, to coordinate with the living room.  I added some decorative painting above the arches in shades of blue acrylics.  My father-in-law rewired the $4.00 yard sale chandelier that I had stashed in a closet for three years and hung it in place of the ceiling fan.

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I had a yard sale and made just enough money to buy a French provincial dining set.  I found one on Craig’s List that I liked, but when Jeff and I drove to look at it in person, my heart sank.  It was described as a set in perfect condition.  Well, it wasn’t in perfect condition and it wasn’t a set.  I didn’t like the chairs in person at all, but I was new to buying on Craig’s List and felt pressured.  I offered to just buy the table and he agreed.  My heart sank a bit, though, knowing that it would be so hard to find chairs that would work with the table the way I had envisioned.

I went back to Craig’s List, hoping I would find some chairs and I kept coming up empty.  I was getting impatient and decided to search outside of PA, in regions close to my extended family.  Would you believe that I found a set of six chairs near my aunt in Richmond, VA, that not only would look great with the table, but they were an exact match.  How amazing is that?  So, my aunt picked them up for me and we later picked them up from her.

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I lived with the set as it was for a while, but it was a bit too orange for me, so I primed and painted the base (this was during the “latex years”) and refinished the top in a walnut stain and wipe-on poly.  (I know there is a drop cloth there, but I still can’t believe I was painting over that rug!)

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This room also had the same $5/yard botanical blue & white fabric valances as the living room before I swapped them out for the Waverly fabric curtains.  I bought that fabric for $10/yard on sale and used coupons, gift cards and birthday money to be able to afford all of the yardage I needed.  They were lined with $5 twin sheets from Wal-Mart.

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My aunt, who also picked up the chairs for me, gave me the corner cabinets, which fit perfectly in the room.  They really do look like built-in cabinets, which is fitting for a 1940’s dining room.  When we had our house on the market, I was going to let them convey if the person buying the home wanted them.  They seem to belong there.  Anyway, so this is how the room looked when I was “done” in 2010.

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Ha, you can see how far my photography has come, too!  These pictures are so yellow and out of focus.  Goodness.  I loved this dining set.  I made slipcovers for each chair out of drop cloths and painted them to look like grain sacks.  I even painted the initials of each family member on their chair.

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And then, I sold it.

Someone came to my house to buy a French settee I was selling and she asked if I would sell my dining set.  I cringed.  I never intended to sell it.

I had to have a little conversation with myself about it. We really could use the money, Marian.  

But, but…the hand painted initials and the providence of finding the matching chairs and tables in two different states!

It’s just a dining set.  Sell the darn thing.

The woman went to an ATM and came back with cash.  I couldn’t turn it down.  Jeff helped me wrap up each chair and load the set into her truck, along with the French settee.  As soon as the truck pulled away and I walked into the empty dining room, I cried.  That set was for us and now it was going to someone else’s home.

I think that was a huge turning point for me in regard to buying and selling furniture and antiques.  Stuff is just stuff and I’ll always find new stuff that I like.  At the time, it was a big payday for us and a good decision to sell it.  I kept $100 of the profits to shop for a new dining set.

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(I was getting ready for my third Lucketts Market and it was taking over my dining room.)

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And, that very night, I found a new set for $100 on the nose.  It was another French provincial dining set with six caned-back chairs.  I painted the chairs and base of the table, as I did the other set and I stripped and refinished the top in a satin wipe-on poly.  I made drop cloth slipcovers again, but this time didn’t monogram the set.  I had learned my lesson.

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Shortly after I finished that set, I repainted the walls Aria Ivory to match the living room and took the plunge and painted the corner cabinets.  (Aw, there’s my youngest riding his little scooter around the house.  He used to sneak in my pictures a lot.)

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I sold that set two years later at Lucketts.  Again, it was about the money.  I could make a good profit on it and I had already bought another dining set to work on, so I didn’t have a problem with letting it go.  That may be one of my favorite sets, though, and I’ve never seen another one like it.  The legs on the table and the inlay were so pretty.  (The woman who bought it was so sweet and sent me e-mails with updates on it for a couple of years following the sale.)

Enter French provincial dining set #3 AND the bamboo tattoo mat that became a signature of my dining room…

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I bought the bamboo mat wholesale to use in my booth at the Lucketts Market, but I had to buy them in sets of two.  So, one was reserved for the market and I thought I would try the other one out in the dining room.  I had no idea it would end up being such a perfect design choice for the space.  At the time, it was very unique and just the right finishing touch.

Of course, in what was becoming an annual tradition, I sold the third dining set.  I didn’t have a table at all at that point, but I ended up with an extra table after the Lucketts sale, so I took it home and used it as a “place holder” as I looked for another table.

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And that’s when Eulalie, the cow painting, moved from over my family room fireplace to above the dining room buffet.  We knocked out the fireplace and replaced it with a buffet and a flat-screen TV, so Eulalie was displaced.  She looked perfect in the dining room, though.  It was another one of those things that was just meant to be.

I realized, after having so many different chair sets, that the style I really wanted was oval-backed cane chairs with tapered fluted legs.  The hunt was on.  And it went on and on and on and I finally decided I would have to buy new.  I saved and saved and had enough to splurge on a set of six Restoration Hardware chairs in the exact style I wanted.  It would’ve been my biggest furniture purchase ever.

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I waited for a sale and, as soon as one hit, I put them in my cart and was ready to press the “buy” button.  Let me look at Craig’s List one more time.  I knew I had looked and looked, but you never know with Craig’s List.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  I found a set of four chairs that were exactly what I wanted and they were only $300.  I was about ready to spend $200 per chair!  Yes, they were maroon and needed to be stripped and repainted and slipcovered, but I could handle that!

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Then, I thought I nailed it.  My aunt was selling a pine farmhouse table and six balloon backed chairs.  Her table and chairs had been my inspiration and I was giddy at the thought of having them in my house.  We ended up making a trade and I got her set.

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I put the pine table in the room, mixed with the newly stripped Craig’s List chairs and some x-back chairs I bought from TJ Maxx.  I tried convince myself that I loved it.  This was definitely a case of loving something in someone else’s home and not loving it in my specific space.  It just looked out of place with the corner cabinets, drapes and chandelier.    Bummer.

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So, I sold that table and the six chairs and brought up the “stand-in”, the Lucketts-leftover that had been sent to the basement, back up.  I realized then, that the perfect table had been under my nose all along.  I painted the base in Ironstone white MMSMP and it was just what I wanted.  A unique, antique, farmhouse-style table.

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I painted the Craig’s List chairs in Ironstone as well and made skirted slipcovers out of grain sacks and hemp sheets.  (You can see how much my slipcover skills improved over the years!)

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And then I removed the curtains.  I wanted the room to feel lighter and brighter and removing the drapery panels was a free way to do that.

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As I did in the living room, I also changed the wall color from Aria Ivory to Pearly White.  It was a subtle change, but the new color was a lot cooler and cleaner looking.  You can see the difference best in the picture below…  (Pearly White is on the left and Aria Ivory is on the right.)

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We sanded the dark floors, that had some issues with peeling polyurethane, down to the raw oak.  I left it like that for a while, but finally added a jute rug for some texture and softness.

I found an amazing pair of French chairs (actually, they found me) for $50 that were the perfect scale to use as arm chairs for the ends of  the table.

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I reupholstered them in grain sacks and $1.50/yard woven checked fabric.  They sit a little low, so we’ll probably bring in different chairs for family dinners.  We eat at the family room table 99% of the time, so I thought it was okay to favor form over function in this case.

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And this brings us to how the dining room looks today…

I’ll be sharing more “room evolutions” this week…

If you missed the other room tours, here they are…

Part 1 | Living Room

Part 3 | Home Office

Part 4 | Kitchen

Part 5 | Family Room

Part 6 | Master Bedroom

Part 7 | Bathrooms

evolution of my house | part 2 | the dining room

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39 Comments on “evolution of my house | part 2 | the dining room”

  1. Marian,

    I LOVED your summer home tour, and I am enjoying this series so much! Because the art of decorating seems to be a knack I lack, I am so inspired by seeing how your style evolved. Thanks so much for sharing all the pictures and information. I’m sure these posts have taken a lot of time to put together, and I want you to know how much I appreciate it! 🙂

  2. I love your honesty in sharing how long it’s taken to get right…certainly an ongoing process. It’s all beautiful, and you are so talented! x

  3. Have you thought about putting the arm chairs on casters? There are some awesome vintage styles available and they could raise the chairs a little.

  4. Your post made me smile because it was just like me! My husband used to think when the room was done it was done. I finally convinced him, it was only done, till the next time! I loved seeing your transformations. Do fun!

  5. These type posts are some of my favorites. I love seeing how a room comes together over time. Thanks for sharing!

  6. These post are so encouraging! Thank you for sharing. I adore your style and have been so inspired it, and by you!

  7. This series is the best thing in blogland! It’s is so awesome to see your decorating evolution, especially since every picture seems so gorgeous, but then the next one is more beautiful still! And even though I have been a fan all along, I am adoring your house now…. it’s so light and crisp, but still with a very chic collected feel. Thanks so much for this!

  8. Marian, inspirational as always. I forget how long I’ve been following you!!
    Please what is the brand of your buffet used to house your TV components. I’ve been looking forever for a similar one on Craigslist. Also, would you mind sharing some Craigslist search tips?
    Thank you and your God given talent.

  9. I have a question…how do you deal with those white metal baseboard heaters? Are they electric or hydronic? And HOW did you get your two “built-in” hutches to sit so far back on the wall?? Are they notched out at the base?

    1. Ah, yes, I hate those baseboard heaters! They are hydronic, so putting furniture and curtains right on them is not an issue. Now, the heat they put out is amazing, but all furniture has to sit 2-3 inches out from the wall, which is annoying when it comes to decorating! The cabinets aren’t notched out at the base, but they seem to nestle in okay and don’t look awkward, even though they are actually sitting out from the walls. The curtains masked that a bit more, but it looks fine without them, too.

  10. Thank you for showing how your dining room has developed into such an appealing space. It is encouraging and educational to be assured that a room can be flexible and get better with time:) it is just beautiful,

  11. Wow! So interesting, how it all evolves. I’m curious what the time frame was from when you moved in to the current decor. I seem to remember you saying somewhere that you had moved to this house nine years ago. So how many transitions (dining tables!) is that over the years?? I tend to get one grouping or collection of furniture and style of decor–or what I call “un-decore”–and keep it for years on end. I really need to quit doing that because right now I can hardly stand the looks of my rooms! But, this summer, I am spending all my time, weather and energy permitting, in my yard. But that doesn’t mean I”m not cogitating on the changes I’m planning to make in the house! The time will come.

    I’m finding it fun to see the evolution of your rooms, Marian. What a good idea to share them with us. Thanks for thinking of it!

    1. Yes, it’s almost nine years. I don’t rotate all of my furniture THAT often, though. The dining room just happened that way as I was “trading up.” Once I settle on something I love, I keep it for a long time.

  12. That was so fun!!! I loved that second set of chairs to absolute death, and when you were going to sell them, i died that i couldn’t get them! It’s so fascinating to see how it all just gets better and better. Each time the room looks so cute, and then when you think it couldn’t look any more adorable it does! I love how it is now, all light and fresh and bright. …and your little slipcovers really do make the whole thing!

    Cindy

  13. “I made drop cloth slipcovers again, but this time didn’t monogram the set. I had learned my lesson.” This made my eyes tear up a bit – I thought it was so sad. On a lighter note, I love this series. So interesting and inspiring!

  14. I love to hear how you “just happen to” find the perfect things at just the right time. To me that’s God working things behind the scenes. Thanks for opening your home so the rest of us can see what we too can do over time! (P.S. I’m moving soon from Sweden, the land of Mora clocks, to Richmond VA and would like to be adopted by your aunt!)

  15. This second installment of the summer tour illustrates how you learned some very valuable life lessons…and I’m glad you’re transparent enough to pass them along to us. You showed us that “letting go” can be a good thing instead of holding onto “things” as you put it. Each time you let go you grew in your creativity by working with what you had and then got blessed through the experience. When you mentioned the emotion you felt in letting go of the “perfect dining set” but that you folks really needed the cash at that time you demonstrated wisdom and courage. Thank you for being so real. And look how you’ve evolved: entrepreneur, your own line of paint, photo shoots, stylist, magazines, HGTV, etc. Reminds me of “little is much when God is in it.” Your life is the proverbial mustard seed!

  16. LOVE the evolution of your home !!!!!!!!!!!!! Every picture just keep getting better…..clean, bright, classic, beautiful……also your home looks so much larger……….thanks for sharing, you can’t even imagine how inspiring these post’s are !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Amazing to see all the sets you went through. I’m also on my 5th or 6th dining set and couldn’t be happier. Each fitted my needs at the time or the room dimensions. I now have a cottage with no formal dining room but my remodel is making the perfect dining area. Thanks for sharing and making me feel justified in the changes I have made over the years.

  18. Well, I enjoyed this tour and when I saw it was the dining room, I started looking for my dining room set. I love that you loved it because I adore it. I’ll have to send photos in its new home. I get such a charge seeing it on your blog and have also spotted it on Decor Steals when you show the bamboo rug for sale. It’s fun. Thanks.

  19. Love this series! I have a matching table/chairs just like the your dining set #2. I started out with six chairs, but then I randomly found a set of six that EXACTLY matched for $250, of course on craiglist. Now I use the 12 chairs in my super long dining room, and the table in my eat-in kitchen. The chairs need stripped/recovered, but they’re all in great condition. I live and die by craigslist! Any tips on refinishing the set would be appreciated!

  20. Marian,

    I just wanted to say thank you for selling those x-back chairs!!! We too went through a series of chairs and never could settle on something the fit but those chairs, well they are a dream! In fact I am sitting in one of them right now as I type this. I had to chuckle when I noticed you were doing a preserved boxwood purge as I did the same thing earlier this summer, some will leave our home permanently but the rest has gone to live in decor trunk, ready to come out this winter.

    Thank you for sharing the progression of your dining room and living room. It truly is an inspiration to see how your style has evolved!

  21. This is one of my favorite posts that you have ever written along with the living room version. Your dining room is what brought me to your site almost two years ago and I have been following along since. i knew you had changed it but I had no idea what kind of evolution it really went through! I love everything you do but I think I will always be partial to the version of your dining room that I originally pinned on Pinterest with a previous table setting, table and those waverly curtains. Those curtains were what got me over here! I like really bold color and pattern in my decorating and I adored those. Nice job Marian. I love that your style keeps evolving as you grow and change too.

  22. Marian, I loved reading this post! We are still in phases one and two in our relatively new to us home. I am totally a creature of habit who avoids change like the plague, and so I so needed this example of how change can be a great thing! I like how you’ve minded me that nothing is final, and that risk taking often ends in a great thing! Thanks for letting us peek into your home.

  23. Marian, I can’t wait to see what you do with the outside of your home. Your exterior does not do justice to what you have done inside! I am one that encouraged you to paint your brick. I am an Interior Designer and I work with realtors to get homes ready for the market. both interior staging and exterior spruce-up. Please, please paint your brick but at the very least, change that wrought iron to some chunky wood posts. You will not believe how much it will improve your curb appeal!!!

  24. I am loving this series..so much fun to watch the transformation. Helped me a lot and I made some changes now to my dining area. I think my Mom has one of your old tables and this post gave me a new appreciation for it!

  25. I’m really glad I read this post. I thought it was just me who had the struggles of letting go of certain pieces- or thinking that something was going to be perfect for a room, and then only to find out its was wrong!
    One of the best learning lessons about finding out “who you really are” when it comes to your home, is being forced to have to sell! Lol! I never would’ve guessed that though!
    Thanks for reminding me that this “stuff” is just that- stuff! I truly needed to be reminded that in time, my house will evolve into the home I’ve always dreamed of:)

  26. Hello, I love your style so much! And your attitude about it all. 🙂 I am curious about 2 things:

    1) What color did you paint your corner cabinets in? I have searched around and can’t seem to find that information anywhere.

    2) Where did you get the jute rug in your dining room? I love that, too and can’t find the source!

    Thank you!

  27. I love it! Do you know where those tall skinny casters came from on your table? We have an old farm table that is a little low & those would be perfect for it! Thanks!

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