In this post: This week’s reader design consultation focuses on ideas for lightening and brightening a small formal dining room for an updated look.⇒
Do you have this problem?
Every time I shop for a gift for someone, I wind up buying one for me too!
I guess it makes sense. After all, if I’m really putting the effort in to get something I love, of course I’m going to want it myself.
Well, I’m the same way with designing a space for someone. Half the things I pick out for them, you’ll likely see in my home some day. And it’s not because I already own them…
So of course, in working on today’s reader design consultation, I added several of these new faves to my future list.
But it’s not about me today; it’s about our reader. KP was feeling that her traditional dining room was very outdated. She knew she wanted to remove the wallpaper and lighten things up, but she wasn’t sure how to proceed. She was looking to replace the chandelier and table lamps, as well as the window treatments, but the bay window shape posed a challenge for her. She was open to advice on everything, from the paint color to the dining chairs, and everything in between. You can see her before photos below.
KP also had purchased a vintage round dining table to replace her existing table. It had more of a French country feel to it, which signaled the direction she was looking to go in. She mentioned she thought it needed to be painted, and considered painting her china cabinet too. Below is the table KP recently purchased.
When I first saw the table, I thought there was no need to paint it. It has lovely thin curved legs with a touch of pretty gilding, and already wears an antiqued finish. But once I got into the design of the space and started pulling things together, I realized it might benefit from a different toned patina. The yellow cast of the antiquing is not as up-to-date as it can be and the softer tones on the design board below look newer and fresher to me. Read on for my detailed recommendations.
1. My very first suggestion is one KP already planned to do, which was to remove the wallpaper and paint the space a lighter color. Given the direction the design took, I would select Benjamin Moore Tapestry Beige for the wall color with Simply White trim. (If you hear me recommend this color often, don’t be surprised. I used it in my kitchen and I’m thinking of extending it throughout my downstairs.)
2. The round table KP bought has wonderful lines and fits well in her room, which is on the smaller side. Since she was willing to paint it, I would love to see it in the distressed greige finish of the table on the board above.
(Note there are items on the board that are just placeholders for KP’s existing furniture, but I’ve still included them in the resource list below, because people have asked for that information in the past. So while KP doesn’t need to buy these pieces, some other readers might like to… ;-)).
3. For seating I picked a modern French dining chair with subtly curved legs. A cane back chair could work here, as well.
4. Perhaps the change that would make the most impact is a new chandelier. The crystal drops help lighten everything up, adding a touch of bling to offset all the patina. The silk hydrangea centerpiece looks wonderful with these colors, but is actually meant to stand in for KP’s existing centerpiece, which would be perfectly fine as is.
5. The other piece that needs some explaining is the china cabinet. Once again, KP had already thought about painting her existing hutch, and rather than get rid of the piece, I’d say absolutely go for it. If painted an off white, like the substitute piece on the board, I think the cabinet would look wonderful in the space. So, the china cabinet on the design board is just there as a place holder (although if she didn’t already own a hutch, I would certainly recommend this one.)
6. So with the china cabinet and table being painted from KP’s existing furniture, the only new furniture purchases would be the two inexpensive console tables. The rest would be done with new accessories. The first of these two tables is the white one on the bottom left side of the board. The rugged character and the light color both lend themselves well to the proposed new look. KP can use her existing silver tea set here, but I’m also suggesting a new, lighter feeling mirror, flanked by two wonderful candlestick lamps. These would be placed in the spot where her current mirror is hung.
7. The second smaller console table would be placed in front of the bay window. The lovely finish brings together all of the soft pale colors that lean a little blue-grey. The orchid and cherub seen above it are meant to represent accents that KP already owns and has displayed on a table in this location.
8. The final recommendation is the window treatments, for which I’m loving simple linen panels hung from ceiling to floor, between the angled sections of the bay window. I like to puddle these about two inches on the floor, to add to the relaxed feel of the room.
By implementing these ideas, KP can keep the elegant look of her formal dining room, while adding a much more updated and casual feel to the entire space. See below for resource information.
Formal Dining Room Source List – Click on the items below for direct links to the products. (This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
- Round dining table
- French dining chair
- Crystal chandelier
- Floral centerpiece
- White china cabinet
- Whitewashed console table
- Crystal candlestick table lamps
- Gilded mirror
- Silver tea set
- Steel grey side table
- Faux orchid
- Cherub statue
- Drapery panels
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