Before & After: A Totally Fine Living Room Becomes a Stunning Dining Room

updated Jan 22, 2020
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Sometimes the best renovation path is the one of least resistance, choosing small tweaks and tiny upgrades to make the most of a space. But sometimes you just want to tear up the previous owners’ layout and transform the living room into a dining room.

That’s exactly what Vicky Ainsworth and her partner, Mike, did in their recently purchased UK home, deciding that the garden-facing room with an original working fireplace and space for a large table was the perfect place to have meals together. “On our first viewing, the room had oversized sofas and a playhouse,” says Vicki. “It was very neutral, with old beige carpets and pale walls that needed a new lease on life.”

Before the couple even moved into the house, they ripped up the carpet in the room and found usable floorboards — a massive bonus! They hired a local company to sand and varnish to make the most of the existing floors. Vicky and Mike saved money on furniture by grabbing dining chairs at Homesense — a discount furniture and home goods retailer — and commissioning a local craftsman to make that gorgeous seven-foot wood-topped dining table “for a third of the price of other tables I’d seen,” Vicki says.

Because they’re giving their whole house a makeover, they worked on the room in spurts, spending about a month in total on it and about  £1,100, or less than $1,500 in U.S currency. (They already owned the cabinets, which helped keep total costs down.) They still have plans to fit a new ceiling light and install bar shelves.

Oh, and let’s talk about those walls, which they painted in a deep and rich green (Farrow & Ball’s Studio Green). When it comes to the paint color, “one thing I’d do differently is definitely go with my gut,” says Vicki. “I changed our paint color once the dining room was finished. There’s quite a bit of inverted snobbery around Farrow & Ball. I was told to ‘save money’ and that ‘I’d regret using such a dark color.’ So I tried to save by using a slightly cheaper paint, but I hated the finish and the color, and it marked really easily. So we had to repaint and it ended up costing us more.”

The renovation (and life) lesson: You do you!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Just-OK Living Room Becomes a Stunning Dining Room