Before and After: A Blank-Canvas Dining Room Goes Seriously Bold with Paint and Wallpaper

published Nov 11, 2022
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White kitchen with wooden dining table

It’s Color Month at Apartment Therapy, so you’re bound to see some bold wall colors and murals on the site. In this dining room redo by Katherine Thewlis (@hausmatter), you’ll find both.

Katherine took a “box with short ceilings,” aka her eat-in dining space attached to her kitchen, and transformed it into a more formal dining setup thanks to the power of moody paint (Sherwin-Williams’ Rookwood Dark Red), a mural wallpaper from Hygge and West, and a show-stopping chandelier — plus some other glam accessories and furniture.

Katherine and her husband, Andy, painted the walls of the dining room red, leaving a blank spot inside picture frame moulding (which Andy had previously installed) for a mural. Katherine wrote on her blog that her main takeaway from the dark red painting process is that she’ll hire professional painters the next time she uses such a dark color. The deep plum color she chose took five coats for an even finish! But even with the added time and effort, she loves the way it turned out.

“I love the white contrast of the ceiling and drapes next to this rich color,” Katherine says on her blog. “I think there is a misconception that dark walls equal a dark room. That can be true, but in a room with a lot of light, like this one, it still is very sunny in here. I was very careful to add back in plenty of pops of white.” (In addition to their new wall paint, Katherine and her husband gave the floors and ceilings a fresh coat of white; they also scraped the popcorn texture off the ceilings for a more modern finish.)

For the wallpaper mural step, Katherine and Andy ordered a reduced-size, to-scale sample from Hygge and West first so they could see what the wallpaper would look like within their moulding. They ended up ordering two rolls of the avian-themed mural “to ensure [they] didn’t cut a heron’s head off,” Katherine says on her site. Even though the papering was the last step in decorating the walls, the mural Katherine chose was actually the inspiration for the whole room — a pretty good result for an impulse buy!

“I made that decision in less than five minutes, and then figured the rest of the room out from there,” Katherine explains on her blog. “I suppose this is how I usually approach my designs. I need to have that moment of reckless abandon in order to really enjoy the rest of the process.”

Once the rolls came in, the couple laid the wallpaper on a flat surface, measured the amount they needed (leaving an extra inch on top and bottom) and cut with scissors, using a metal yardstick to ensure their line was straight and at the right angle. Katherine and Andy rolled water on the back using a paint roller to activate the adhesive, and began applying and smoothing it. Once everything was placed and smoothed to their liking, they cut off the excess with a craft knife.

Katherine says wallpapering a flat surface, especially one with such clear dimensions where you’re not having to work around corners or curves, is easier than it seems and is a doable DIY project.

The dramatic wallpaper helps tie the rest of the details in the space together, like the acrylic chandelier, which Katherine had waiting in storage and was waiting for the perfect project to use; the leather chairs, which she found on clearance in charcoal and stained black to up the drama; and the rounded tulip table, which she chose specifically for its curved shape that creates conversation and coziness.

“All of this romanticism really needed some modern, graphic punches, so I selected a white tulip table,” Katherine says. “This was a real risky move, because I have a 5-year-old.” Katherine’s solution for parents who wish to own beautiful white dining tables? She had a sheet of plexiglass cut to match the round top’s dimensions so she doesn’t have to worry about scratches.

Her dining room now, she says, is “a great spot to relax, sip a cocktail, and work on puzzles” — the best kind of space! If you want to see the rest of Katherine’s cool, pattern- and color-filled house, you can check it out here.

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A White-Walled Dining Room Goes Seriously Bold with Paint and Wallpaper