Progress in My Dining Room–Open Shelving and Chevrons!

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Sneak peek of the “after”

I’ve been working on my dining room over the past few weeks.  It’s the first room you see when you enter our home, and it’s always been my least favorite.  I had two goals:  to make it more welcoming and casual.  Right now, we only use our dining room two or three times a year, and I’m convinced it’s because it’s such a formal room–and we’re not really formal people!

When we moved in, the walls were a deep chocolate brown and the trey ceiling was faux finished with a brown and gold treatment.  The window treatments were lovely, but made the room really dark, and the paint color sucked all the light out of the room.  I also wasn’t a fan of the chandelier.  Here’s a “before” picture I dug out from my house hunting pictures.

Last summer, I scored a Ballard Grande Claire chandelier on Craigslist for $100, and sold the old one on Craigslist for $100.  That worked out well, huh?  My sweet husband painted the walls while the kids and I were away (“Camouflage” by Benjamin Moore) and we lived with it like this for about a year, but it wasn’t exactly right:

The week of Halloween, I reached the point where I couldn’t take it anymore.  I sold the drapes on Craigslist (and they went FAST) and rolled up the antique hooked wool rug that our sweet rescue dog ripped last month.  He didn’t mean to, but he was chasing the cat and skidded out.  I think the room looks better without it, anyway.

I painted the walls “Fawn Brindle” by Sherwin Williams, but mixed at only half strength so it would be lighter.  We have that color in our living room/great room so I wanted there to be a slight contrast with the rest of the downstairs.  The painting went quickly because the bottom half of the walls is wainscoting and two walls are open to the living room.

Next, I decided to install open shelving over the buffet.  I used Amy’s idea from her kitchen, and built my shelves from stair treads and corbels (both from Home Depot).  At my store, they were in the same row.  Here are the corbels I used:

I spray painted the corbels and the stair treads and hung them.  In hindsight, I’d put them a little lower to make them more functional for storing dishes and serving pieces, but then I wouldn’t have had room to put the silver platter on the wall, and I really like it there.  Read about how to hang silver platters easily {here}.

The next thing I did was to add a little chevron shelf paper to the doors of the buffet.  I bought a couple of rolls when Amy found them at TJ Maxx and used them to redo her pantry and her butler’s pantry.  LOVE the chevrons, and I should be able to just peel the paper off if/when I change my mind.

I pulled these two prints off the wall (I bought them at a thrift store in Virginia when we lived there) and decided to turn the gorgeous frames into chalkboards.  Here’s the before:

And the after:

I hung the two frames on either side of the shelving–I’m a big fan of symmetry!  Oh, and chalkboard art is TOUGH–but I’m going to keep practicing. 🙂

I moved the guitars upstairs and had a free corner to the right of the buffet.  I decided to bring in a little antique metal stool that hasn’t really had a home in this house.  It was painted celery green but I gave it a coat of metallic silver to make it look a bit more industrial.  Here’s how it turned out:

Now we’re ready to have small visitors come to dinner!

Hobby Lobby is selling gray chevron fabric right now, so I bought enough to cover the piano bench:

Now, it’s not done yet.  The windows are bare, although my plan is to buy plain white panels from Ikea or Target and paint stripes on them.

Here’s where we are so far:

Vintage decanters on the buffet serve as my bar area:

My mom and dad’s wedding announcement always gets pride of place:

If you’re really observant you can tell that I continued to tweak the styling and things aren’t in the same place in all of the pictures.  Here’s a wide shot:

See Harley in the corner?  He’s really sorry about the rug!

I left the ceiling brown; I had debated painting it a deeper gray, but with the antique bronze/gold of the chandelier and the brown wood of the furniture, it worked to keep it the way it was.

Here’s the BIG question, though, and I need everyone’s advice.  I am seriously considering painting the table, chairs, and buffet.  The table was seriously damaged in our last move (thanks so much, Atlas Van Lines!) and I’m going to have to take it apart anyway to try to repair the pedestals.  The tabletop is damaged, too.  So, I’d love your feedback on whether or not to paint; if so, what color (white?  gray?), and also your opinions on different methods.  I’ve never used chalk paint and hear it’s the bomb.  Thanks in advance for your input, and thanks for stopping by!

Updates on this space are {here} and {here}.



  1. yes paint it white! or something very light 🙂

  2. If you paint the pieces, what color and type of fabric will you cover the chairs with? In my opinion that would be the determining factor….
    Personally, I wouldn’t paint….If you are seeking change, change your chair fabric to compliment your new drapes. A pop of color never hurts!

  3. Yes paint it. My friend just did it and it looks great. She followed instructions from a blog.

  4. Darker grey would be pretty!

  5. April Brandt says

    yes paint! I painted my formal dining room furniture a few months ago! I love it! It made such a change ! I did a off white.

  6. Susan Takeda says

    Don’t paint the furniture. I agree with Brenda, just change the chair fabric. I would put your dishes and serving pieces on the shelves. Functionality is always important. You can move the silver platter, maybe between the windows by the cute key? I love the way you are bringing the room together and making it work for your family.

  7. Room looks great – love the frames turned into chalk boards and your parents wedding announcement AND the HUG blocks – I know whatever you do to your furniture it will turn out magnificent.

    • Hey Dailah–There are actually five blocks and they spell out “LAUGH,” but I thought “HUG” would be a nice change. The kids change it to “UGH” when I’m not looking!

  8. Annie Sloan chalk paint ALLLLL the way!

  9. Check out the blog ‘inthefunlane’. She paints EVERYTHING white, or light grey and she has a very good tutorial on her website on the steps to take for the best results.

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