Dining Room Makeover – Before & After

before and after, Colour, Decorating, DIY, House Renovation, Interior Design, interiors, Makeover, Upcycling

Colour Changes & Furniture Makeover

My dining room is a multi-tasking space and so it is also a crafting room, office, homework spot and sewing space.  So it has to work hard, yet be ready to switch back to a dining room in a second.  Here it is in its current incarnation:

It has very tall ceilings, 3 meters, so the curtains on the french windows are always a challenge.  The existing ones are goblet headed and were made to measure.  The main wall colours are a pale stone colour with paler toned woodwork and wooden floorboards.  The furniture is a mixture of antique woods and painted pieces.  That huge dresser has to stay as it is the only wall clear in the house for its monumental proportions. I have already updated the fireplace with a paint effect, changing it from brown pine to make it look like slate.

English Home - 09

Then after a while I got bored with the fireplace wall and painted it a deep olive which I liked as my convex mirrors looked lovely against it.

Anyhow, after a couple of years I have decided that I am bored with the same room.  Who else gets that?!  As I am in the room so much, I wanted to look up and see something else.  I also could not be bothered to redecorate the whole room, mainly as there is so much furniture and stuff to get out to clear the room that it becomes a major operation.


As mentioned in my last post, I found some chairs that I thought I could do a good makeover on, and they would replace the incredibly formal Georgian chairs that I inherited from my grandparents.  In my mind they would go from dark wood to Jonathan Adler inspired pieces:

After washing them down with sugar soap, I started to paint them by hand and used a satin finish water based wood paint instead of the usual chalk paint.  Wow, nightmare!  I would have been painting them up until Christmas as they were very fiddly and they would have needed 4-5 coats by hand.  So I then hunted around for a paint spraying company, and found a couple within 50 miles, but that then meant hiring a van to get the chairs to them and back, plus extra costs.  There had to be another way…. and then I found this beauty…

This is the most wonderful thing, a Wagner paint sprayer.  I braved it, as I have never used one before, and purchased one.

It is really simple to use, you just dilute the paint, (about 10% water to my water-based satin wood paint), pop it in the white container and off you go.  I built a very basic spray booth in the garden, (stepladders with dust sheets one them), and sprayed 6 chairs in an afternoon.  It was a sunny but very windy day, so the paint dried in an hour between coats.  The wind meant I looked like I was covered in fine snow from paint blow-back, and even the cats looked a bit whiter at the end of the day.  I also learnt not to get too close on the first coat as sometimes drips appeared and ‘less is more’. But the result was amazing:

Any drip marks were sanded out after the first coat, and then the chairs sprayed again.  Job done.  This is a great machine, and no doubt many more things will get sprayed soon, including passing cats.


The chairs came with foam cushions already covered, and I thought about recovering them with something fabulous like a House of Hackney fabric, but I needed a LOT of fabric which would have run into hundreds of pounds.  Then I spotted these large fantastic, feather filled cut velvet cushions by Scatter Box and Paolotti:

I could not make up my mind out of the two, so I got a mixture of both for the chairs, and they were on sale at 50% off, so it worked out way cheaper than buying fabric and sewing.  I sort of sew as a last resort, and did not want to attempt piping at all, so that was also a plus…

Walls & Room Colour

As mentioned, I did not want a full redecoration, just a refresh.  So the chimney breast seemed the best place to start.  I have a mirror that I previously upcycled that I think would look great with the new chairs.


It needs something intense behind it to make it ping, so I ummed and ahhed about a graphic wallpaper in orange to tie in with the new cushions.  However, I think this restricts any more pattern in the room, so instead I went with the trusty dark side, and painted the wall a very dark grey called Night Fever by Crown.  It has brown rather than blue tones so works with the other walls in the room.  Once it was going onto the wall, I fell in love with it, and was really tempted to just keep going around the whole room, but I may save that one for a rainy day now.  It makes the mirror and accessories on the mantle piece really ping.


I also updated the dining room table whilst the paints were out, which already had the legs and base painted in distressed taupe chalk paint.  A lick of white satin paint made it work much better with the new chairs.



Next up was to being some more white and orange accents into the room.  I had a pair of Ikea plain white cotton thin curtains in the airing cupboard, still in the packet.  I don’t even remember buying them?  They are 3m long like my ceilings and French windows.  I edged them with orange velvet puffed ribbon on the internal edges using iron on webbing tape, and found some zingy orange tiebacks on trusty ebay to finish them off.

Straight away the room felt crisper and cleaner with the white, and the orange scattered throughout is really nice for little pops of colour.


Literally… That night I dreamt of dark grey ceilings and a much darker room.  I am leaning towards the darkness!  I woke up inspired and whilst still in my pyjamas,  I attacked the ceiling with more of the grey paint, running it down the top section of the wall to the top picture rail.  Here is a bit of a rough photo after I had started, think my hands may have been shaking thinking ‘OMG, WHAT HAVE I STARTED!!!!!?’


However, I carried on boldly….  When the ceiling was dry I then painted the lower parts of the wall below the dado chair rail down to the skirting in more dark grey, this time in ‘Railings’ by Farrow & Ball so I had a slightly different tone.


The middle section of the wall is left the same stone colour, which works well with the grey and the other elements of stone colours around the room.  What had started out as a lazy refresh was now becoming a full on redecoration, so I did all of the woodwork a fresh white whilst I was at it, heck why not!?  I also painted the back of the dresser dark grey to make the white china pop more.  My family members kindly wandered in with cups of coffee as sustenance while I worked, and worked, and worked some more!  Now the children want a party immediately in my gothic cave, and my husband did not even notice any changes until they were pointed out to him.    Bless him!  That might seem awful to some, but I get complete freedom doing the houses so I am very happy!

img_3822I am thinking of investing in a monster-size sparkly chandelier to replace the current light.  The room now actually looks bigger than it did before, I suppose as the corners recede into darkness and you cannot clearly see the boundaries of the room anymore.


When everything was dry I had lots of fun re-arranging (and dusting) my china and bits and pieces, and popping in little bits of grey and orange around the room.  I am now hunting for the right rug, maybe a trellis design or something geometric in either white, grey or orange, to go under the table and chairs as a finishing touch.


So here it is (drum roll please…..), the before and after..







So… it’s moody, it’s pretty dark and I am thrilled with the results.  It was a very organic process, and I just kept going until it felt ‘right’ without strict planning at the start.  But sometimes that is the most fun way, (and I get to shop for a new rug and light)!



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