Renovation Reality - Volume 5: The Dining Room

Our blog post this week tackles the formal dining room of our client’s English Tudor home. Like the living room that we blogged about last week, the original intention of the dining room was to be one of the homes more formal entertaining spaces. In the 1920’s, guests entered the home, socialized in the formal living room, and then sat for dinner in the formal dining room. The kitchen was used to prepare the meals that guests were served, and by no means were guests allowed to assist with clean up!

Fast forward to the 21st century where formal dinner parties have evolved into pizza parties, and our formal dining rooms do double duty as homework stations, craft rooms, and home offices. While our homeowners often entertain, it was important to them that the room was functional and practical for their young family, plus do it all on a budget.

When the home was purchased, the formal dining room was the sole gathering place for meals. The small kitchen, just off the dining room, did not have an eat-in area (until recently when we tackled that project...but that’s another story!) leaving the homeowners to use this dining room for everything from kid-friendly pancake breakfasts, to adult-only filet mignon dinners. Thus, it was important that we created a plan for this room appropriate for a multitude of needs.

The original dining room, complete with orange grass cloth wallpaper, was certainly a throwback to another era (much like the rest of the home when we started the project). If you can look past the orange wallpaper, you’ll notice the room has crown molding, as well as chair rail molding, hardwood floors, and three good sized windows.

As part of the home’s entire project, the original hardwood floors were refinished and stained to a dark chestnut color. We selected two coordinating warm beige colors to paint this room, in order to enhance the molding and chair rail trim. The lighter beige color, which is the same color we used in the home’s entryway and foyer, was painted on the walls above the chair rail. A darker beige, the same color we used on the living room walls, was painted below the chair rail.


We replaced the dated brass chandelier with a more transitional iron fixture, complete with chandelier shades. Putting this fixture on a dimmer helps to change the mood of the room. The velvet drapes are the same as those used in the living room, helping to unify these rooms and give the home a more cohesive feel. The drapes were hung just a few inches below the crown molding to elevate the height of the room. The traditional wool area rug in porcelain blue helps to ground the space, and coordinates with the colors used in the living room.

The furniture we selected for the room has a decorative feel, while still being practical. To give the room more interest, we chose to use two styles of chairs. The two host/hostess chairs, are upholstered in a whimsical brown and black fabric that has a touch of fringe along the stripes. The six tufted side chairs are upholstered in a durable microfiber, making them very easy to clean. Plus, the nail head detail along the backs of these chairs make them more interesting to look at from behind.


As you can see, the dining table is a simple styled, solid wood that extends to seat 12 guests. A large china cabinet stores more formal serving wear and displays the homeowner’s collection of china and crystal. A smaller buffet provides additional storage as well as a serving station. When topped with a pair of buffet lamps, another layer of light is added to the room, and reflected through the antique mirror.

This once dated dining room has been updated to feel warm, inviting, and decorative, while still being practical enough for a Cheerio eating toddler!

Next week we’ll detail the kitchen renovation. Stay tuned for the dramatic before and after photos, as well as tips on how to complete a project like this on a very limited budget.

For more information about our firm, please visit us at

Filed under: dining, home, improvement, remodel, renovation, room, updates
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