Dissecting a Traditional Dining Room
A few weeks ago, after completing our fireplace mantel project we finished this traditional dining room in Freehold, New Jersey. As we discussed design ideas with our clients it became clear that there were 3 major challenges that needed to be addressed in order to create a cohesive beautiful space.
Challenge 1: Even though the walls were white, the space felt dark. We needed to lighten up the space and set a friendly, inviting ambiance for the room.
Challenge 2: The dining room lacked warmth and personality. There was no color, and it felt cold and sterile. It definitely wasn’t a place where anyone was choosing to spend time.
Challenge 3: Large ornate furniture made the room feel small, and the clients weren’t interested in purchasing any new pieces.
All of these challenges had to be addressed and all without buying new furniture. I knew we were going to have to get creative to make this space work.
If you’re facing some of the same issues, here are 4 changes you can make that will have a major impact.
Change 1: If ya can’t beat’em, join’em! Take a look at your space. See what’s already there and identify the good things your space offers. In our case, the general shape of the room was small but simple which we liked. We wanted to give the room some life and since the furniture was staying we started by addressing the overall ambiance of the room.
The clients’ style was decidedly traditional so we further enhanced the aesthetic by adding wainscoting and a chair rail throughout the entire space. Wainscoting is an easy way to break up large expanses of wall while adding an architectural detail that looks great. We took an aspect of the dining room and decided to highlight what was already going on instead of trying minimize it. These wainscoting kits were found at Lowes . Like we said, if ya can’t beat’em, join ’em!
Change 2: Paint! Want the most bang for your buck? Paint! Initially, the dining room walls were plain and there were sheer window treatments that almost covered the entire back wall (go ahead and scroll back to the before pic…lol ). These did not improve the ambiance of the space at all. We warmed up the walls by painting the top two thirds in Behr’s Khaki Shade; a neutral beige that has a slight green undertone. We further emphasized the greenish hue by using sage green window treatments and green accents on the table. We also added instant warmth with the orange toned centerpiece.
Change 3: Flexibility is key! Be open to moving things around or removing them totally if need be! The clients were clear that the dining set was a recent purchase they were planning to keep so we knew we were working within those parameters. At first, the furniture was too big for the space. Not only was the furniture very large, there was also a lot of it including an oversized buffet and eight chairs. All of these pieces dwarfed the space.
To remedy the overcrowding issue we moved the large buffet and two of the dining chairs out of the dining room and incorporated them into the living room design. Not only did this open up space in the dining room, it also created a natural link to the living room.
Change 4: It’s all relative! If pieces are oversized, pair them down but keep them consistent in size and scale. Although you wouldn’t think that adding larger scale pieces in a small space would make any sense, in this case, it did. Adding large scale singular pieces like the oversized mirror and large drum chandelier offer one element to focus on at a time. This was key in making the dining space feel cool, calm, and connected (see what I did there?!)!
There you have it! Four simple changes that lead to a massive transformation all without buying new furniture.
Create. Innovate. Decorate!
More tips to offer? Please comment below!