From a garage to a bonus room to our dining room. This space has been through many changes, and we’re so excited to share how it came together! As you can see, this room didn’t quite scream bright, happy dining room when we first moved in, but oddly enough, it was one of the easiest rooms for us to envision what we wanted the end product to be. We outlined a few weeks ago the inspiration we pulled together to influence our design decisions for this space. We wanted a room that was multi-functional and could incorporate our piano and serve as a music space, and we wanted to bring in organic textures and tones with a bit of boldness.
First things first were the bones of the room. The paneling really didn’t fit with the style of our house and was clearly added on in the 70s or 80s. We have so many wood features in our home through flooring and original trim, and the paneling really seemed to detract from that. We knew right away that it wasn’t a feature we wanted to keep.
We played around with filling in the spaces between the paneling with drywall mud, but ultimately, the knots in the wood and groove pattern made dry-walling over the paneling the best option for a smooth, clean look. The day the drywall was installed was one of the most exciting days of the renovation! We painted the walls Distant Gray by Benjamin Moore, which is a very clean, bright white that we used in many other rooms of the house.
We also knew the flooring had to change, and tying in hardwood to match the rest of the house would create a nice flow and make this added on space feel more cohesive with the rest of the house. We were so thankful that we didn’t have the task of converting the space from a garage to an indoor living space. Luckily, that was a project tackled by a previous owner. However, because of the room’s original function, the floors were left with a lot slope and dips throughout. This made hardwood instillation especially tricky (not to mention that installation got pushed back an extra month because our air went out in a Tennessee summer right before the floors were to be installed, but that’s a story for another day). After several buckets of leveler and embracing that the slope of the floors wouldn’t be perfect, they were in, and made a huge difference.
We went with red oak flooring and used the same Minwax Golden Oak stain we used throughout the rest of the house. Although we went with a different size plank, the color and grain of the floors matched our original floors even better than we’d expected.
The room was equipped with wood beams, which tied in well with our living room. The ceiling between the beams was a thin board with several knots that made up the floor of the above attic. The ceiling was stained the same color as the beams and felt very heavy. After mudding a number of nooks and crannies, the ceiling was painted white to make the beams pop. Down the road, we plan to add more insulation above the ceiling, as it does get a bit drafty in the winter.
Lighting was a must unless we wanted to eat in the dark or by candlelight each night, which sounds romantic but likely isn’t very practical. So lights were added. We really didn’t have much of a debate about which lights to choose. We knew that we wanted large statement lighting, that it had to be lightweight given the restrictions of our ceiling, and that we didn’t want it to break the bank. Adam suggested these lights from Ikea, and we drove 3 hours to Atlanta to purchase them the next day. Deciding where to install the lights was a bit tricky. We didn’t have a dining room table and chairs at the time. So we pulled up a few of our favorite tables that were around the size we had in mind to give us an idea of how far from the window to place the lights to center them in the table. Our beams limited our options on how close/far the lights could be placed from one another. Our original plan had been to center each light between 2 beams but that was either too close or too far. So, we met in the middle. In terms of height, we used this information as a reference.
Now for the fun part- furniture and design accessories! My parents had already brought us the piano from their home. They’d purchased it from an estate sale many years ago when I was just starting piano lessons. It fit in perfectly with the style of our home, and I love the height of the window above it.
The next item we purchased was the oriental rug. We looked online at the offerings of a few local rug galleries and fell in love with a beautiful antique rug with a lot of soft blues and pink accents. We naively trotted off to the gallery photo in hand. Adam still makes fun of how quickly I walked away from the antique rug section to the more affordable side when I heard the price. I don’t think the dealer had even finished his sentence before I’d done a complete 180. Taking pity on us I suppose, the dealer fished out a rug similar to the photo we’d shown that he agreed to give to us for a tiny fraction of the price of the first rug. It has a few imperfections, which didn’t jump out to us especially since we knew it would be under a dining table. (We know rugs under dining tables are a controversial thing and not for everyone, but it works for us and really warms up the space.)
Happily, we brought the rug home to our empty dining room (priorities) and stared at it for the rest of the day. We even did a tiny dining table mock-up with our piano bench, which made us way more excited than it probably should have. Because of the size of our dining table, we later added in a natural fiber rug to help it feel more proportional and to bring in some texture.
Next up and what we were most excited about, the dining table. It was really important to us that the table have clear craftsmanship to it. There is something so special about the thought of a table that can stand the test of time and all of the memories that will take place around such a central piece of furniture. Since we’d added enough to my dad’s to-do list (he is a woodworker), we decided to look elsewhere. Adam came across Vermont Farm Table, and we fell in love immediately. The size and material are customizable, and they have many beautiful designs to choose from. We went with the Tapered Shaker in maple. The maple mirrored our open shelving in the kitchen and added a lighter wood-tone than the others in the room, helping brighten the space. I can’t say enough good things about their customer service and the quality of their work. Worth every penny!
For seating, we chose a Tapered Shaker bench in maple to open up the front of the dining table and to mirror the details in the table. The company was great about helping us decide on the exact size. We got these chairs on major sale from Restoration Hardware. They feel aged in good way and have a simple, sturdy, and casual feel that fit’s in nicely with the rest of the room and brings in the natural textures we were after.
After searching high and low we settled on this cabinet from Rejuvenation and purchased it as a joint gift on our 10 year dating anniversary (and Christmas gift and 4th of July and birthday…). It was the perfect size for its destined corner, and it is clearly well built. The doors slide so easily, and I love the built in drawers for linens. I also love that the white oak brought in a lighter tone wood but didn’t match perfectly with the dining table and bench.
In terms of styling, we wanted to keep it simple and let the main pieces speak for themselves. As with most of the storage in our home, the cabinet is mostly open to the eye, which always poses some challenges. We edited down the items we chose to display to a color palette of blues and neutral tones. This open space made it easier to bring in the organic textures through ceramics and some of our favorite serving pieces, and it’s always a good visual of what serving pieces are available. For curtains and rods we went with linen gray and classic bronze.
The windows and cabinet left little wall space for art. So we decided to go with a simple, impactful piece. Adam took this photo on a trip we took to Maine a few years ago, and we had it printed through Artifact Uprising because we trusted the quality of their products. We had it framed in a thin, maple frame, tying it in with the table. This photo sticks with our blue and neutral color palette and brings in such a serene vibe. The palm in front allows the photo to show through and adds and airy, sculptural element. While styling of this room is an evolving process, that’s how we intended it: solid, neutral bones that can age with us over time.
So there you have it, the story of our dining room from start to finish. Reflecting on it now, we’re pleased with how our vision for the space came to fruition. It feels special without being too fussy. The organic elements from the wood and textiles contrast well with the bolder elements in the pattern of the rug, lighting, and large-scale art. It’s a room that makes me happy to come home to each day and think of all of the dinners we’ll share there.