Before & After: This Dining Room Now Has Major “Hang Out Here” Vibes

updated Feb 6, 2020
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Dining rooms may be coming back into style, but it can still be hard to make frequent use of a too-formal space. Lindsey Mahoney, for example, didn’t actually hate the old dining room in her home, but says the proper style didn’t quite fit with her family’s needs. “The room had great bones but I wanted to modernize the space and encourage more use of the area rather than primarily formal occasions,” Lindsey says.

Luckily, the room already had a lot going for it: pretty wood floors, classic picture frame wainscoting, substantial crown molding, and a giant window in front.

What wasn’t working as well? The traditional-looking wallpaper and lighting, the latter of which was installed in the center of the room but looked off-center when viewed from the entrance.

Lindsey had also just wrapped her kitchen renovation, which took space previously allocated for the kitchen table and incorporated a larger island instead — so she wanted the dining room to have more of an “everyday” feel. “I wanted this dining room to feel more casual and encourage people to utilize the space for more than just formal occasions a few times a year,” she says.

Five weeks later, and the dining room is totally transformed. Lindsey took down the wallpaper herself, hiring outside help to patch up any damaged drywall that remained. Then, she painted the wall above the wainscoting charcoal gray custom-blended to match the color of the kitchen cabinets in the next room. Using the same color in both spaces helps them feel more cohesive.

A pro came in to move the light fixture from the center of the room to a slightly off-center position that made it, ironically, look more centered. The new 10-light chandelier, purchased on Amazon, looks super expensive — but cost less than $200!

Lindsey DIYed a stained-wood ledge to display artwork and family photos, then added in a dining table from Arhaus — the room’s big splurge — and barrel-back dining chairs from Target.

For extra storage, Lindsey thrifted a wood buffet. A new black finish gave it a fresh look; she also shined up the original hardware using Brasso. Lindsey loves how the finished room turned out. “When designing a room, you don’t have to buy the most expensive pieces to make it look like a million bucks,” she says. “I like to include more quality, usually more expensive, pieces that will get a lot of wear and tear and mix it in with less expensive pieces.” The high/low mix makes the space a standout — and way more inviting for casual meals as a family.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: This New Dining Room Has Major “Hang Out Here” Vibes