Friday, August 5, 2011

Vintage Inspiration Friday#49 and Design Challenge #1 Heather's Dining Room

Are you confused yet? I know it's a lot to take in in one sitting, but I wanted to do the very first Design Challenge as part of Vintage Inspiration Friday just to spread the word. Next week back to normal...not sure what "normal" is around here but you get my drift.

There's a link for Vintage Inspiration Friday at the end of the photos, please link up there as usual, and besides, a good design challenge is great for inspiration, don't you think?

Today is the first Design Challenge here at Common Ground. If you've missed earlier introductory posts, the premise of this new weekly feature is to help out one of our own in Blogland with decorating challenges, by sharing ideas and inspiration. You don't have to be a professional decorator to weigh in with your own opinion. Actually, we all have some great ideas.  Even though they all can't be used, bits and pieces can be sifted for a more comprehensive and cohesive design strategy...OK, more easily said, don't be afraid to throw in your own 2 cents! And really, don't overthink this, say just what comes to mind.

So now let's get this show on the road...some thoughts from Heather and then photos. Please leave comments that are kind and constructive (I know you will). Also let's be realistic like not saying that a whole new room should be purchased. Keep cost and concept in mind to give some good honest decorating and design thoughts.

In Heather's own words.

Here is what I'm hoping to achieve with my dining room:
It is very traditional. With a beautiful formal cherry dining set lovingly passed down from my mom-in-law when she didn't have the space for it anymore. I was so excited to finally have a “formal” set. But, I feel like my dining room has become TOO formal and dark. I want to lighten the room up a little. Have it blend better with the Vintage Formal Farmhouse feel I’m going for.

This room has a connecting wall between my entry and the dining room. I am not opposed to painting it but would need to paint my entryway as well. I love pale yellow's, whites and soft robin egg's blue right now. Those colors would go with my new kitchen redesign. I have attached a picture of the fabric I purchase at a STEAL to recover my seat cushions with. This is what I'm hoping to design the dining room around. As you can see it needs a light fixture now, since I transferred and painted the chandelier over my kitchen table. Also, the hideous brass and glass sofa table has got to go.

I am open to painting any frames, mirrors, lamps. etc. I would love to reuse and recycle as much as possible but will make new purchases if necessary.

Here is the link to my pinterest board that has some of my inspiration links on it, for people to see what inspires me. :)

At The Picket Fence

Heather has shared some great photos that really capture her space.
Did you check out her Pinterest Board?

She's found some fabulous inspiration,
this is my favorite and I can just "see" this room
transformed using elements from this design.

OK, Your turn!!!

Link up your vintage inspiration,
then leave a comment here on this post for Heather.

thanks for participating,
and I'd love you to grab the new
 Design Challenge Button
 on the sidebar to help spread the word!



  1. Hi Heather, my fearless Girl!!

    I love this blue (or close shade) and think it could be used in the Dining Room even if you need to repaint the entry. It works with the creams and soft yellows and golds. Maybe just slipping the two end chairs would give this same effect. I love buffets and I think a smallish one painted out in white (you all know I'm into white furniture) with the mirror above would be gorgeous. I think this chandy is a bit over the top, but something a little "less" in this case could be "more".And oh yes, wainscotting and some crown molding would be the icing on the cake!
    Thanks so much, Girlfriend!
    love ya bunches, can't wait to see how this room comes together!

  2. Hello, I am Richard from My Old Historic House. I feel your dining room is a little crowded. I would suggest taking out a couple of chairs and maybe using them in another room. I would also suggest taking out the china hutch.And maybe using it in the living room with nick nacks or in a bed room with books. I would replace the china cabinet with a long low buffet. If you wanted to ,it could be painted white, but I would like yellow or maybe red instead. Beadboard below a chair rail would give the room a more casual feeling. Slip covering the chairs with a white cotton duck with a tie back and a little skirt ruffle seat and maybe the two hostess chairs with full slip covers. If I was doing a dream make over, I would take both arm chairs out and do hostess chairs in armless slip covers, like a parsons chair of simi-wing chair with no arms. The beadboard and more casual look would blend in with the kitchen better than the dining room does not. Above the new buffet you could put your mirror with some pretty plates or sconces. On each side of the sideboard it would be nice to have some taller items, like candle lamps, topiary trees, or bigger vases. I WOULD SUGGEST USING THE TEA CART IN ANOTHER ROOM ALSO. Maybe in the family room or living room as a drinks bar. As far as the chandelier goes, maybe a lantern or painted French wire. I would not do a crown molding as it would be too formal. White cotton duck curtains at the window with a wood pole and wood rings would be a nice finishing touch. As far as the wall color goes, it should blend in with the hall and living room or any other room you can see from the dining room. If you are wanting to go more casual, I would do a soft off white with maybe a yellow or pale blue ceiling. And what ever color you chose paint the buffet to blend, a shade darker or lighter. As far as painting furniture white, I would do something more original. It is an easy solution, but has been done to death, and to me looks like a way out. I would think about a yellow buffet and lighter yellow ceiling and maybe yellow roman shades under the white curtains. The same could be done with blue or red. I just think that the furniture as it is now is very heavy and too much of it. Weed it out. As for the clock, how about the entrance hall??I can't see that it does much for that room, but clutter. I wish you would show pictures of your living room as well so we could get a more feel for what you like and where you are going. A good common theme with all the entertaining rooms makes a house flow and feel bigger. Good luck. I am anxious to see what every one else thinks. Richard

  3. Ok, I don't know much about decorating, but i have seen dining chairs just like yours painted in soft white, and they take your breath away they are so pretty... My friend who has an antique/vintage/shabby chic type shop did it, and those chairs sold so fast. After that a little fabric on the seats and they'd be gorgeous... I'd definitely copy the walls in your inspiration photo, with the blue on top and the white on the bottom, so far... not too much money spent and half way there. Sure would be nice to have a crystal chandy, you can get really pretty one's from Ebay for $99.00, i have one... and it's not an antique, but it's just fine. And, i just realized that maybe I shouldn't be commenting, and that the other designers were supposed to give opinions... That would be pretty embarrassing, but i had to comment on the chairs because i've seen them done...


  4. Hi Heather,
    My first thought is to move the hutch to where the brass console is. It becomes the focal point of the room and balances it out. You can put the grandfather clock between the windows (I did this in my own dining room).
    I like to break up dining sets with slipcovered parsons chairs as captains chairs. Ballard Designs has a nice selection. Then upholster your side chairs in your blue fabric. Maybe you can pick up a narrow wooden console to put on the wall where your hutch is now. Yes, a painted piece would be nice with a mirror above, as Debra suggested. I would also add sconces of some sort. Then you can flank your captains chairs to your dining set on either side of the console. Voila! All balanced out!
    The chandelier could be a painted one with crystals. I found an old brass and crystal one and just spray painted it white and destressed it. It looks fabulous. I would also layer a rug over the carpet so the dining set feels more grounded. Of course, wainscotting would be wonderful too. If you do that, you might as well install crown moulding.
    The drapes could be light and airy. World Market has some great ones right now. Hope this helps. Good luck and I'll be following your progress! ~Delores, Vignette Design

  5. Hi Heather,
    These are my thoughts:
    Paint the walls a lighter color, such as "Light French Gray" by Behr, it has a blue tone to it and is just beautiful. I would lighten up the dining set by painting the chairs and adding your inspiration fabric to the seat cushions. Or, the chairs would be beautiful with white slips over them like in the photo above.
    I would also paint the hutch, if your not opposed to the idea. I would add a vintage style buffet in place of the brass table, something with more of a farmhouse feel.
    Hope this helps. I can't wait to see what you do.

  6. Love your room Heather, it is fabulous. OK, my 2 cents worth. I would install crown molding and wainscoting like you love or at least a chair rail. I like the soft yellow color and if you don't want to repaint, then I would leave it. If you don't mind repainting, then a really soft grey/blue would be fabulous. Just paint all the trim, crown molding, chair-rail, or wainscoting and baseboards white. I would move the china cabinet to the end wall where the buffet is and move the two captains chairs to sit on either side. Then find a fabulous garage sale piece to use as a buffet, paint it white and move it and the mirror (also painted white) to the side wall where the china cabinet is now. I love the new chair cushion fabric and it has such pretty blue and yellow colors in it. If you want to try something different, then I would slipcover the 4 sidechairs in a beauttiful white fabric, (something with the look of linen, but much easier to wash and clean.) I found a tip to use when slipcovering chairs so the slipcovers look professional and fit well. The said to wrap 1" sheet foam across the front and back of the tops of the chairs and then slip the slipcover over and you don't have any of the wood poking through and looking really tacky. Makes them look like store-bought upholstered chairs. I would also use white drapes hung on rings and carefully folded into soft pleats. Some white shades for the lamps and a couple of white ginger jars as accessories. I like the teacart. It looks great in the corner, may just add a table square across the top. That's my first thoughts. Light and bright. Keeping everything in a soft color pallet of white, blue and yellow would tie it into the rest of the house. I think if you want a less formal look, I would go with a barrel shade chandy. Hugs, Marty

  7. I am sitting here with batted breath reading all of the ideas coming in and my brain is already swimming from all of the fabulous suggestions! Thank you! Keep them coming, keep them coming! I am reading each and everyone over and over!


  8. Wow, lots of ideas and here's my 2 cents, Heather! : ) Just like any advice, you take what you can use and leave the rest. First is moving some furniture around, I would move the large hutch to where you have the mirror and small table, move the grandfather clock to the wall where you have the tea cart and the tea cart to where the clock is now. Put the clock and the tea cart on an angle in those corners.

    Love the fabric and I'm thinking {from your inspiration boards on Pinterest} you go with a light robins egg blue on the walls, leave the table as some of those pictures show and paint the chairs. Old white would work well and give you good coverage without having to sand or prime. I think you should consider the wainscotting {like the high one you have on Pinterest} since you seem to be drawn to that. I know there are lots of "cheat" ways to achieve the look without spending a lot.

    You could spray the brass on the glass table with Oil Rubbed Bronze and put that and the mirror on the wall where the hutch presently is. Finally, check out Overstock for some chandeliers. I found some great ones that were inexpensive on their when I was browsing this past week.

  9. Hi Heather, Wow! Lots of great ideas already. I can't add much but I agree with Marty that some crown molding and wainscoting would be great. Or, at least some crown molding. I have picture molding which allows me to hang pictures from the molding with special hooks rather than putting holes in my walls. I also like the idea of painting the ceiling the same color as the walls (when you have molding) rather than a plain white. it really shows off the details. You can see (hopefully) what I'm talking about in this post of my new bathroom.
    Wow! Debra certainly had a great idea on this type of party! Good luck.

  10. Debra,
    This design challenge is fabulous! Heather, the suggestions are wonderful. Love the inspiration photo. The light blue and the fabric for the cushions are perfect with the cherry furniture. I didn't get to visit Pinterest and view anything else it was down. I love the dark furniture with the light blue and white, it can also lend itself to a British Colonial look which is stunning.
    Thanks for having us Debra!

  11. Hi Heather! What a beautiful set you have inherited. I love your inspiration photo shown above. I personally think that your room just has a bit too much furniture in it. Maybe you should empty the room, paint the walls a nice soft romantic color, maybe a pale blue-grey, and slowly add your furniture back in. I am huge on having a painted piece mixed in so that everything is not so matchy matchy. Maybe the chairs or your hutch?? Recover the chair seats in the gorgeous fabric you have choosen, get rid of the sofa table altogether. Then maybe place the tea cart in another room. Sometimes less is better and your beautiful new set would really stand out. Can't wait to see what you decide. It is easy to see that you have excellent taste and it is going to be gorgeous!

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  13. Heather your dining room set is beautiful! I would move the hutch to the wall you have your mirror on so it can be the focal point. Love the fabric you chose for the chairs but if your looking to lighten things up slipcovers would look great too, something like the ones in your inspiration photo. I like Delores's idea of moving your grandfather clock between the two windows. Now I love painted furniture so I would love to see you add a piece in their. Looking forward to following your progress! Martina

  14. Heather, I so agree with Delores. I was going to say move the hutch to the end wall and move the grandfather clock either out completely or between the windows. I know you want board and batten and I say add it. It will make you happy. Love the chair fabric. Get a floral or striped fabric for the drapes that has the blue and yellows in it that you like. Hang the drapes high and add woven wood blinds or white slatted blinds on the windows. Get an old chest or dresser for the wall where the hutch is now and paint it in a color that will stand out. Hang a mirror or nice art above it. As far as a chandy that's hard. You need to go with what you automatically look at and say to yourself I love that! I want a new chandy, too and am really drawn to the lantern style. If you don't like the mirrors in the back of the hutch I am sure there is a way to cover that up with fabric or paper. Good luck and can't wait to see what you do.

  15. I can see light ivory walls and wood floors with a light colored wool area rug under the table ( to coordinate with the fabic). Love the fabric for the chairs. Add soft colors to match the fabric you have. An airy crystal chandelier would be beautiful. The room seems just a wee bit busy. That's my 2 cents worth!

  16. I agree with everyone on editing the furniture and moving it around. I think the fabric that you chose for the chairs will work perfectly once you paint them off white. Then I would add silk blue and cream striped draperies puddling to the floor. I would add a cottage looking sideboard painted in a robin's egg blue and destressed to the max. I would also add a crystal chandelier.

    Good luck with your project.


  17. Hi Heather,
    Well, I guess I need to put in my 2 cents also. Such wonderful ideas you have received have so far. I really think that the room needs crown moulding. It just gives a beautifully finished look to any style. And while your at it either a chair rail or some type of wainscot or beaded board. I would move the china closet to the far wall where you have the grandfather clock.....wonderful focal point. Don't forget that you dress down with china closet with informal dinnerware or some type of collection instead of the formal china. You can also add fabric to the back to hide the mirrors. For the chairs, I would paint just them them white and add two lovely upholstered chairs on both ends. As for the wall color, unless you want to paint the foyer I would stick to a very pale yellow or cream color..paint the ceiling a soft blue. This will look beautiful with the crown moulding! I love the Grandfather clock between the two windows. Maybe while out flea marketing you can find a nice console or narrow piece to put there the hutch is. I would probably use that as my painted piece. Every girl need a little bling so I'm thinking a nice sparkly chandelier for over the table. You can find them at second hand stores, ebay, flea markets. For the windows I would say to go with bamboo shades, they look great in any space. I like Kim's idea of the floral or stripe panel hung high to the the room more hight. And one last thing, I would not paint the hutch and table since white is trending right now and you don't want to ruin your good pieces. Good luck and can't wait to see what you decide to do!

  18. Hi Heather-

    Ok. Here goes... (this is fun!)

    I am a great fan of traditional design, and it does not have to be stuffy or dated.

    It is all about the accessories and the removal of dated accessories from the room.

    The inspiration photo above is my favorite from your pinterest boards.I love your fabric!

    I would paint the dining room the soft robin's egg blue or the color I just used in my study
    (Reflection by Sherwin Williams).

    I would move the china cabinet to the end wall where the brass console is.

    I would not use the china cabinet to house china.That is an example of matching a dated traditional use with a traditional piece of furniture.

    I like to mix things up.

    Let the mirrors show in your cabinet show.

    They will look lovely against a soft blue wall.

    If anything, I would fill the china cabinet with selected crystal vases that sparkle and catch the light.

    I would hang white sheers at the windows and not worry about privacy.

    White crown moulding and some sort of chair rail in white would look wonderful.

    I would move the bar cart and the grandfather clock elsewhere ( perhaps the clock could be in your entry?)and then I would emphasize a metal color in the room- brass or silver.

    You might be surprised how lovely that brass console might look against a soft blue wall
    between your windows or on the wall where you have your bar cart.

    I wouldn't angle it.

    You could paint those candlestick lamps to give them more importance-

    or find a blue and white ginger jar lamp with a pretty white shade.

    My rule is-
    low table taller, bigger lamp
    high table or buffet, pairs of lamps.

    I would get white slipcovers for 4 of your dining table chairs,
    and I would keep two uncovered to flank the china cabinet.

    In an endless budget world , which I have never experienced, I would bring in a soft upholstered chair for a corner near your kitchen. What a great place to talk on the phone.

    That is important to me-
    a room has a foundational purpose, but it is also used for other things.

    Who knows - you may want to someday flank the kitchen doorway with floor to ceiling bookcases in white, thereby creating a library effect in your dining room.

    I would get a light fixture from a thrift store and paint it white and I would also add more modern looking prism shapes to create sparkle.

    A collection of blue and white porcelain would look amazing in your china cabinet too.Place some on top of the cabinet as well.

    Finally, I would hang a large mirror on the wall across from your windows to catch the light.

    I wouldn't use a rectangle shape because there are enough rectangles in the room.

    I hope this all makes sense.

    I am so excited for you!

    White Spray Paint

  19. May I suggest Sherwin Williams "Rainwashed" as a paint color? It is close to that color in the inspiration room and works with the fabric. Also is wonderful with white trim.

  20. I just love the blue inspiration room picked. I like how the walls are both blue and white. The chairs you could mix up by using some slipcovered chairs and some with the upholstered chairs in the new fabric. I definately think the brass table should go and be replaced by a buffet or a dresser used as one. How about painting the china cabinet. I think Miss Mustard Seed used both white and blue on one of her dressers that I think would look beautiful with the look. I think dinning rooms should have bling, as in beautiful crystal chandelier. As for covering your thermostat, question is it used during the summer and winter because you do not want to put something that will alter the temp. I hate to say it but I hung a hat on mine half of the year. Oh and I have been known to paint them. Good luck I think this will be a fun project and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

  21. Hi Heather! My suggestion is to move the china cabinet to the wall where the mirror is now. I would add white slip covers to the two end chairs to break up some of the wood. A small buffet painted white would look nice. I love the blue fabric and I would paint the walls a similar blue. If the budget allows crown molding and wainscoting would look wonderful. I would like to see some type of pattern in the room, possibly in the drapes. Your furniture is beautiful and I would not paint it. Best of luck and most importantly do what YOU love.

  22. The diningroom set is beautiful and I'd slipcover the chairs, looks like you have alot of wood so this would help! I love the paint color and I think it would go well with your kitchen and entryway, I'd also go with a piece of furniture that was white to tie in with the kitchen! I see a crystal chandy above your table, it would go so well with the type of furniture you have:)

  23. Love the fabric and I'm thinking you go with a light robins egg blue on the walls! Love these fab ideas!

    San Diego Mobile Notary

  24. It will be fun to see what suggestions are made for this redo. Lots of good far.

    Thanks for hosting, Debra.

    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage

  25. That furniture is fabulous! Maybe add a pretty vintage crystal chandelier and light accessories--right now they are all dark colors. Perhaps delicate white or ivory sheers for the windows and bring the color to the walls. I also love a colored ceiling--if you're brave to put the blue there and keep the walls white or ivory. Slipcovers are a great idea--you get the light and ruffles without committing to change mom's furniture forever. Good luck!

  26. Thanks for joining me at Home Sweet Home!:)

  27. Hello Ladies! I haven't read the above. But my two cents says paint whatever furniture you feel comfortable doing in a light shade, and keep furniture to a minimum. I have lightened up my dining room using pretty solid neutral table coverings. BUT I LOVE LINENS! Best to you!

  28. The inspiration pic at the beginning of the post was my favorite from your pininterest file. White woodwork can be be formal but would lighten the look. The wide board wainscoting that you featured on pininterest would be beautiful while taking the formality down a bit.
    I liked Marty's furniture placement. That is what I was thinking before I started reading.
    I really love the pale blues better than the yellow, more calming. If you use the blue, you seemed to be tired of the brass, you could paint or silver leaf the picture and mirror frames. The drum chandy would look awesome. There are some with the silver colored framework and a few sparkles that are truly breathtaking.
    I liked the thermostat cover on your Pin file. I am sure you can execute that easily.
    Start with the paint, moulding and wainscoting first then furniture placement. The fabric is perfect. Is there enough for simple valances as well? If not a gauze type fabric in a pale yellow or white could look good. To keep things light just valances might work for now. So often it takes a while for permanent decisions to firm up.
    Well, that's my two cents. It is worth everything you paid for it, nothing. Good luck sweet lady.

  29. Hi Heather,
    This is Jann from "Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson". Your dining set is very lovely. I totally understand why you want to keep that heirloom. As for me, I am not at all a formal person, so I would have to dress it down. Definately a chair cover or maybe just a linen ruffled or pleated skirt would look lovely. I don't know if the grandfather's clock is a piece that has sentimental meaning and you don't want to mess with it. If not, I think it would be darling painted the robins egg blue. Then pop some of those colors in your hutch. Painted beadboard on the ceiling would totally give the room a new look also. Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be beautiful. Best of luck!

  30. Hi Heather, I looked at your pintrest and noticed all the things you like will be easy to achieve in that room. Even without painting that gorgeous set! Each room you pinned was light and airy but did have finished wood furniture. I think 2 completely slipped chairs at the heads, and the remainder just seats upholstered in the fabric you chose would be sweet. Or slip them all and use the fabric for new drapes. The blue walls, the white wainscoting, white crown molding, A white painted buffet or thin console, under the mirror painted white, would make the room lighter. Maybe the whole console and mirror moved to the china cabinet wall, the china cabinet where the console is now, Can the table be turned, like in the blue inspiration shot? There may not be enough room to get by, but it looks to be that way in the blue room shot as well. I would move the grandfather clock to the entry or another room, if at all possible. The tea cart seems to fit well in that spot. I love you pinned idea for the heat register.

  31. I love all the inspiration photos in your pinterest folder. The fabric chosen to recover the seats in the chairs is not that much different than what is already on the chairs and I don't think its going to provide you much change at all. To get the sort of look you want...I think you need to definitely do white or cream slip covers over the entire chairs or bring in white chairs or paint the chairs white. I'm guessing you don't want to paint them. But to get the look you are after....I really think the china cabinet must be painted white and either paint the chairs or do full slip covers.

    I love the chandelier that you have pinned. I've always loved that one just be sure to look everywhere before buying because I've seen it for a lot of money and I've seen it for not very much money. So shop wisely.

    But you can always do a thrifted chandelier painted white too. I'd paint the grandfather clock. Paint the mirror frame. And yes a sideboard would be good.

    Blue walls would be lovely...and will give you the look you are wanting. But I'm kind of with you ...I'd like to paint the walls blue in my dining room but it would mean repainting all adjoining rooms too and I don't want the other rooms blue.

    I actually don't hate the brass and least the shape of it, I like. I'd spray paint it with Krylon Dover white and then it would get you by until you found the perfect sideboard.

    Can't wait to see how it turns out!

  32. Heather~

    How fun! What a great room to redo. I don't think you should let the fact that it is your family's furniture stop you from painting it. Be creative! I think if you keep the china cabinet in the room it would be wonderful painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and distressed. We recently did this to a large armoire that I inherited from my great aunt----it is stunning and brings so much character and personality to our home. {Much more so than keeping it the original wood finish. And, yes, it was solid cherry without a scratch!}

    The chairs would be stunning with the Annie Sloan paint as well. It is wonderful paint to work with....

    I think leaving the tea cart as is would add great texture to the room if you decide to paint the hutch and chairs. {I'd paint the table, as well. Maybe just the bottom edge and legs and leave the top as is????}

    I like many of the already suggested ideas----wainscoting, crown molding, wall colors. The chair fabric that you like would really pop with painted chairs.

    We cover our thermostats with artwork---just make sure it has a deep enough space in the back to go over the thermostat. You can purchase the wrapped canvases at Michael's that are deep enough to cover a thermostat. Then, have fun creating an original piece of artwork of your own.

    Have fun with your project---can't wait to see it!

  33. What fun I had reading all this good advice you got Heather

    I want these ladies to help me next to rearrange my kitchen


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  35. Wow are you brave!!
    I love Pintrest pictures. I'm lovin that blue!
    I wish I could come over and we could move things around!

    I would move the clock into your entry way if you can.
    Definitely, wainscoting, even crown molding. Move the hutch to the far wall, move the tea table somewhere else. I think the blue and white walls will look great with the furniture color!!
    I can't wait to see what you do!! This is fun!!

  36. I'm loving my "good" furniture that I recently painted white. It's more in keeping with where my design taste is headed, and that's toward a French-Scandinavian look for my Living Room. If I regret it in 5 years, I'll deal with it then, but until that time, if it comes, I'm enjoying immensely a look that I love. I say go with your heart in decor, you won't be disappointed.

  37. Oh Heather are your eyes crossed yet? Lots to digest. I'll make my suggestion short and sweet! I'm going straight to the fabric. I don't know how much of your inspiration fabric you have...but you can get white, nice, inexpensive window panels at IKEA. It's easy to customize them and give them a rich look. Add a topper or bands along the middle edges with your fabric. Super simple. If you go with the slipcovers, you can add little lumbar pillows made out of your fabric to the chairs. This ties the window panels in so they make sense. has vintage-looking toweling. A table runner would be wonderful and soften the wood. I have a traditional mahogany dining room set as well. I cannot paint it ever. My husband would have a cow. Someday I plan to add 2 slip-covered chairs for the ends. IKEA has them for under $100 including the white slip cover. Best of luck with all of this. You are a gutsy chick to be the first make over!

  38. Hi Debra
    Hi Heather
    Your dining room is lovely. So many wonderful comments, I really don't have too much to add other than, I would not paint my families heirloom furniture. I know it is popular right now to paint, but this furniture does not warrant painting. Some furniture looks good painted and I am the first to paint but You can get around the wood with casual slipcovers and such. The fabric you chose is also very formal. Maybe you could make pillows in the living room with it. I also think the room could use some editing as there is a lot of furniture in that space, I love the blue in your inspiration picture and I think beadboard would give it a more casual look rather than crown molding. Have fun with it, it is your house!!!
    Good luck!

  39. I agree with Richard in that your dining room feels a little crowded. I think that the tea cart and clock should be moved to other areas, the china cabinet should go on the wall where the brass table is, and a (painted) buffet should go where the china cabinet is with a mirror over to reflect more light into the room from the windows. After looking at your Pinterest photos, it is obvious that you love white board & batten or beadboard, so go for it! I think that the blue shown in the photo above would be a lovely choice. Another thing I noticed is that you love light chairs with a dark table. Maybe you could either paint or slipcover your dining chairs which would loosen up the look. My vote for a chandelier would be for a clean-lined fixture, not a fussy one (i.e., no crystals or frou-frou.

  40. This is my 2 cents, for what it's worth. I think you should paint the walls the lovely aqua from your pinterest inspiration, and use the chair fabric for window treatments in the kitchen, since it's mostly aqua, and paint the kitchen walls either red or gold. I'm not a fan of the tea cart in there (could you use it on a porch), and think there seems to be too much of the same wood in the room, so I would remove a piece or too, and try to find something different with character (like a piece of furniture Ms. Mustard Seed might re-do to sell), so it's not so matchy-matchy. Would also consider painting that brass piece either oil rubbed bronze or black, or even white (if you're following the inspiration). I think the candlesticks seem a little too tall, but I like the wrought iron feel. Maybe some architectural salvage or wrought iron might look good over the pass-through or, if you have a handy husband, maybe make it into an arch-shaped pass-through. Would also try to coordinate the artwork to match whatever theme you choose. Pottery Barn comes to mind for some good lighting inspiration. Good luck with it. Sounds like a fun project, to me! Hope you'll show the end results!

  41. Just my quick two cents worth. You have received sooo many wonderful ideas, I bet your head is spinning. My first thought was the table. When I look at it, it appears very long, which is great to entertaining. How about removing the leaf and turning the table around? Not sure if anyone suggested that as I did not read them all. Such a beautiful set! I did see someone suggest the clock go in between the window, I love that idea and it seems like the perfect spot. Moving the hutch to the opposite wall is also a great suggestion.

  42. P.S. Personally I would NOT paint the furniture. I would keep it the same, that table top is gorgeous, just gorgeous as are all the pieces. Once you change fabric, wall paint, and draperies, you can certainly change the whole look of the room.

  43. I'm no designer...heck I'm not even a McDecorator, but I am a woman and being so makes me want to join in the fun.
    If it were me, I'd think more in lines of provencal to tie in your farmhouse ideas. Slipcovering the chairs and a to-the-floor tablecloth would remove the urge to paint that gorgeous set.
    As far as lighting, again if it were me, I'd look for an oversized, rustic iron chandalier to hang over that big table. Perhaps even going so far as to hang three similar, but not exactly alike, smaller chandaliers in staggered lengths, but as a group over it. I think anything smaller would get lost with a table that size.
    As far as paint colors go...I'm no help there although I do think a french grey with a hint of blue would be beautiful.
    I'd be tempted to go with indoor shutters (or screens maybe with arched tops) on the windows instead of curtains perhaps with simple bamboo-stick shades.
    You've got great bones in this room to work with. Good luck.

  44. I know people are still offering suggestions...keep em' coming! lol but I wanted to say again, "thank you SO much!" for all of these fabulous ideas. I am truly reading and re-reading each one and absorbing it all in and taking lots of notes. I've even started moving furniture around I love the common threads that run through as well as all of the unique suggestions and ideas, things I NEVER would have thought of. I promise to post updates on my blog! Maybe Debra can post a final reveal photo for you all here as well! This has been so much fun, thank you again for taking the time to comment!


  45. Here are my suggestions:

    Start by taking everything out of the room, and opening your mind to some new possibilities. Based on the photos, the bones of a fabulous dining room are already here!

    The blue inspiration dining room is supremely symentrical, and your dining room is unbalanced because the china cabinet is beside the table. Anchor the rear wall (where the mirror is) with the china cabinet. You can place a dining chair on each side of the cabinet, if there's space. This gives a spot above each chair for a piece of artwork.

    You can draw the eye away from the thermostat by moving the clock to that wall, centered between the doorway and the corner, ignoring the thermostat completely. The clock would also look good between the windows. If you want to keep the tea cart, move it to the other side of the doorway. Try the mirror on the wall opposite the windows, and ditch the sofa table.

    With your inspiration fabric, I would lean toward a sunny yellow to provide contrast. This way, you can use coordinating blues elsewhere.

    Most of the accessories in this room now are too small and fussy. If you want to reuse them, group things together so it comes together as a bold feature instead of clutter.

    When I run a makeover, I always work with a good space plan ... this is easiest to do when you start with what MUST be done, and make decisions along the way. This is a dining room, and the table and chairs are the star. Bring items into the room one by one, and step back each time and ask yourself, "What's next?" Sometimes the best designs are ones that evolve ... even if they evolve over the course of only a few days.

  46. Hi Heather! I think this is such a great idea and you've already got so many fabulous suggestions. I have a similar situation in my dining room, in that we have dark traditional buffet & table/chairs, but I'd love to tone down the formality of the room with that farmhouse feel we all love. I like the idea of blending light blue into your space, and your chair fabric is fabulous.
    Maybe you could also introduce some chippy painted wood architectural pieces (like a shelf or buffet to replace your glass one). I just put a rustic shelf on my formal buffet, along with a grain sack & basket and it made a big difference (see recent post).
    And perhaps put something rustic (like a bucket of flowers and tea towel) on your inherited tea table to tone down its' formality as well.
    Best of luck to you! I will definitely watch for your transformation to be inspired. :)
    - Susan

  47. Disagree with the person that said your dining room is crowded. Actually, the first thing that came to mind was to get rid of the carpeting. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but I know from experience that it's a booger to keep clean in a dining area.

    I'd also add some lighter wood and some rustic / less fussy elements.

    I'm sure it will turn out just gorgeous, you have some great ideas!!!

    Big hugs,

  48. The inspiration photo is wonderful and I'm not usually a fan of traditional furniture.( sorry) maybe I shouldn't say that?
    Covering the chairs with white instead of the blue. Maybe using the blue fabric on the windows but not to cover them too much. The room seemed rather dark.
    I like the chandelier but maybe one with a shade around it like the one in your previous post.
    Removing the carpet and hopefully there is hardwood underneath.


    ps do we get to see the after?

  49. Hi Heather~
    How do you decide what to do with all of these great ideas?! I'm just going to say "ditto" because I can't think of anything else to add. I do like crown moulding, however. It's very elegant!

  50. Hi Debra!! I am so sorry I am late to commenting on this post!! Playing catch-up!! I love the inspiration photo with the blue and the pretty chandelier-the moulding and wainscot are perfect too~ it looks like there are already quite a few fantastic ideas for Heather!!! Thanks so much for sharing at my party and for hosting! :)

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  52. You might not want to paint any of the furniture since they were family gifts, however, I painted and distressed an old cherry coffee table a creamy white with layers of country linen and the cherry finish itself exposed and it opened up the room significantly. I love the fabric! Also you might want to consider moving out the large hutch or refinishing it for a more open and country feel. The table settings should be light. Think iron stone if you're wanted a vintage rustic feel. You could paint the walls the yellow of the fabric or even a creamy white. No fancy molding. Simple trim or maybe a shaker peg rail. Then you could paint one color on top and another on the bottom. Maybe even beadboard? That has a big impact for little expense... Then paint the ceiling your blue. It'll draw the eye up to a lovely new chandelier. Keep that simple with a garden themed design painted white. Definitely loose the sofa table. Paint the mirror's frame and then place a more open table underneath. (You know, they type that's popular for desks now?) And of course keep that darling tea cart! Perhaps repurpose it as a side table in the living room or a bedroom though to help expand the room? I'm not sure what the budget is, but a wood floor always brings in a chic vintage look. To keep the wood from looking too heavy paint it in a vintage checkerboard pattern of your blue and an off white that's almost yellow. It'll be country and reflect the pattern on your chairs. Before sealing the floors make them appear aged with a brown glaze. And as for the thermastat I suggest a shelf underneath it. You can sit objects in front of it that can easily be moved for access. Then decorate with nature, light flowy curtains, personal artwork, ladders, shutters, and other things country. Maybe even a chalkboard or a vintage sign that inspires the love of food! Hope you like my ideas! All in all a beautiful room and great pieces!


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