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