Before & After: A Dark, Awkward Dining Nook Instantly Transformed with the Right Paint Color

published Apr 15, 2024
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Storage unit in apartment before renovation.

If you’ve lived in your house or apartment for a long time, it’s likely that a room or two has gotten a refresh — and then a refresh again maybe a couple of months or years later. In other words, rooms in your home will probably grow and change, style- and function-wise, the longer you live there. 

In Shenel and Hassan Shaikh’s ( home, the dining room in its first iteration was an empty, bay-windowed room with character that demanded it “become a centerpiece,” as Shenel puts it; the second iteration involved an added banquette and white walls, and the final iteration added dark paint. “This sun-soaked nook has lived MANY lives,” Shenel writes on Instagram.

A banquette maximized the small, awkward space.

The first big upgrade was adding banquette seating under the window. “The dining room is incredibly long and narrow, which created some challenges when it came to planning the layout and selecting furniture,” Shenel says. “We maximized the inherent character of the dining area by building a half-moon banquette.”

Shenel and Hassan designed and built the bench themselves and also created the upholstered cushioning. (The back cushions this time around got a navy nature-print fabric.)

Credit: Yesi Laver

The dining table is actually an upcycled conference table. 

The round fluted table is also a DIY job. “It was originally an office conference table!” Shenel says. She found the table on Facebook Marketplace and transformed it with wooden dowels around the base, acrylic paint, and a glaze. To achieve the marble-look finish, she “used a sea sponge to coat the whole piece in layers of earthy paints and glazes,” she says. 

Above the table, the Hassans swapped out their wavy light fixture for a pleated pendant from Crate & Barrel.

Credit: Yesi Laver

The paint color is a game-changer.

Perhaps the biggest difference in the latest version of the dining room is the paint. Shenel and Hassan used a deep brown (Benjamin Moore’s Toasted Brown) to make the space more enclosed. Shenel says the “rich, earthy tones of chocolate and caramel are accented by contrasting finishes found in the woven drapery and velvet upholstery.” The brown paint matches the charming brown trim of the fireplace, helping to tie the whole space together.

Credit: Yesi Laver

The fireplace and bar area were the final steps of the dining room transformation.

“The dining nook sits directly across from the bar and fireplace,” Shenel explains. “We refinished the fireplace, limewashed the tile surround, and installed a custom bar in the empty alcove using handmade shelves and an upcycled IKEA cabinet.” (Shenel and Hassan used an IKEA HAVSTA for their bar area, and it’s painted the same warm brown as the walls.)

“I love the rich, deep finish we achieved by staining the fireplace (and the vintage candle sconces flanking it!)” Shenel says. Now, she and Hassan are ready for a delicious, stylish meal and aperitif! To see more dining room and dreamy bar combos, check out this mid-century modern setup and this polished bar setup made from IKEA IVARs.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: See an Awkward Dining Nook Transformed with Rich Brown Paint (and More!)