Back in December, I introduced my parents’ dining room refresh, a project that started as a bonding/healing experience for my parents and I. When my brother passed away last August it was devastating, so working on a home project together felt like an uplifting distraction. I think we all know how an inviting, beautiful home can do wonders for your soul and mental health so I wanted to help my parents achieve that in their home starting with their walk-through dining room.
While this is still joint project between my parents and I, my parents deserve most (if not all) of the credit so far. I’ve learned that when you are designing a space that you aren’t living in (me) you might drag your feet with design decisions. That might make your “clients” (my parents) go ahead and make decisions without you and ask forgiveness later. I can’t blame them and to be fair, this makeover is coming along much faster than my living and dining room which took almost two years to complete. My parents are nothing if not decisive, so as a team our design process mostly looks like this: 1. my mom and I look for furniture options 2. I take too long to find something I really like 3. she finds something she likes and shows it to my dad 4. if he likes it she texts it to me 5. I tell her my opinion 6. sometimes she listens to me sometimes she doesn’t. It never surprises me when they go ahead and make a decision but more than a few times I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how good it’s all turning out. But I am getting too ahead of myself. Let’s circle back to the very beginning.
How It Started
The last time we chatted, I shared our plans to give this space a good old fashion refresh, non-renovation style. My parents want a modern farmhouse-style dining room so my dad started by building a barn house door that separates the walk-through dining room from the family room. Once the barn door was up it put the rest of design in motion. The design plan was simple: replace the dated furniture, the light fixture and style with fresh decor and art.
I knew we needed a jumping-off point so we focused on getting a new dining table first.
This is one of those instances where I wasn’t making decisions fast enough so my mom went ahead and bought the Etsy farmhouse table. I wasn’t sure if it was the right wood tone or shape for the space but we were going to just see how it went and go from there. But as fate would have it, the table never shipped so after a couple of months my mom got a refund and looked at more options. Again, she and I looked for a table and she found this one on sale. She ordered it (she loves a good deal) and before I knew it the table arrived. Once we saw it in the space we loved it and it was clear that black dining chairs would be a perfect contrast to the light wood tone.
Many of you commented on the last post that we shouldn’t buy new chairs and instead should simply paint the existing chairs black. I admit I was skeptical and honestly wanted to skip this idea and go straight to purchasing brand new spindle back chairs. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this project so far, it’s that you might as well try the DIY first. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. But if it DOES then you are likely saving money and being more sustainable. As a lot of you predicted, a little black spray paint really turned these chairs around.
They are solid chairs and it’s amazing what paint can do. The black color made them instantly more modern and the cross-back design aligns with the modern farmhouse style we are going for. So thank all of you literal geniuses for telling us to do this. Where would we be without you?? (probably $1000 poorer).
We did the same for the bar stools and they look brand new. You can purchase stools that look exactly like this for $110 each, and this easy DIY probably cost a total of $50 in spray paint. I just love it when a DIY actually pulls off.
The next DIY came out of nowhere but ended up turning out better than any of us could have expected.
My dad has had this desk in his garage for as long as I can remember. It was his dad’s desk and we don’t know how old it is or even what era it’s from, but our guess is it’s at least 100 years old. A few weeks ago my parents were going to sell it and had an interested buyer who told them she was planning on painting it and using it as a credenza. She never showed up to pick it up, so it gave us the idea to try and refinish it for the dining room.
It was originally about the same height as the table so to give it more height, my dad added two bun feet to each leg (one square and one round) which also gave the legs a more interesting shape. He then attached a piece of wood under the drawers to create a shelf and finally sanded and spray painted. Voila. This thing actually looks brand-new in person. It’s stunning.
It truly turned into a SUCH a cool piece that I am so glad we salvaged. It has a unique shape and the matte charcoal color made it feel more industrial and modern. Our only challenge now is how to style it. It’s pretty wide (about 1.5 feet) so there’s a lot of space to play with but too much decor could make it feel cluttered fast. But that’s a problem for future Ryann.
How It’s going
Here is what it looks like currently. It’s not styled out perfectly but we all LOVE how it’s turning out so far. The light wood table ended up being PERFECT and all of the black and wood finishes are complementing each other so well.
It actually looks like a brand new room which a few months ago did not feel possible at all. Now that the large furniture pieces are here, we have a solid base and just need to add color and texture with decor.
The new light fixture is from Etsy and really pulls in elements from the barn door making the space feel more cohesive. It’s industrial (which is what my parents wanted) but sometimes I wonder if it should be all black so it doesn’t match the barn door so much. But on the other hand, all black could be too heavy and darken the space. What do you think?
On the opposite side, we replaced two old fixtures with these farmhouse pendant lights. They are also industrial and dark, so to keep the space feeling bright and airy decor the plan is to keep the decor light and simple.
I am still advocating for a rug here despite some protests. Even though the floor tile is looking better than ever and fits the aesthetic and color palette, a rug would help ground the space and bring in texture and color. While a rug in the dining room can be cumbersome and messy I think it’ll look too good to pass up. Here are a few options I am eyeing:
If it isn’t obvious, the main color I want to insert here is a blue. I love a soft almost gray-blue so I am very attracted to all of these options. Which one would you go with?
What to do with the space above the credenza has already proved difficult to figure out. We played around with a gallery wall because the original plan was to use this space to commemorate my brother and his military achievements, but we ultimately decided this isn’t the right space for that. A gallery wall with family photos is another option but that can be tricky to execute in a modern and fresh way (but it’s definitely possible). The last option is to hang a large painting or ornate mirror which is what I am leaning most towards. Since this is already a busy corner a single piece might be the best idea to keep the space feeling as light and airy as possible.
Although we aren’t done yet, a little side-by-side is in order because the progress is already looking 1000x better than the before.
So that’s where we are now and I am practically giddy with excitement because it’s turning out better than I expected. Huge kudos to my parents (Cheryl and Kevin) for getting the job done and making decisions faster than me. Now be sure to sound off in the comments about whether we should get a rug and what you think we should do above the credenza. I’d love to hear your thoughts. xx
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