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Monday, September 7, 2009

55 Cottage8: The Dining Room

This is the story of how our Dining Room went from THIS:




to THIS:




Six months ago, after we primed and painted the walls and installed the new flooring in our dining room, we proceeded to pull in all of the old dining room furniture and accessories from our previous home. The result was flat, lacked interest, and the old furniture was not at all cohesive in our new home. This was something I was not prepared for, and naturally, pangs of doubt began to set in.


As loyal reader of Layla’s blog, The Lettered Cottage, I always loved her sense of style and impeccable design taste. When she started offering design consultations, I knew my dining room was the perfect candidate, so I signed up immediately. For anyone that’s worked with Layla before, they will surely tell you she’s simply the best. Period.


I recently had the great pleasure of being interviewed over at The Lettered Cottage. You can read the full feature here.


Layla Profile


Layla noticed the fact that the kitchen had a lot of wall-balanced "visual weight" throughout the space, and to achieve better symmetry between the two rooms, she suggested a "wall of cabinetry" or a "built in hutch" type of unit across the back wall of the Dining Room. She also suggested running tall bead board all the way around the Dining Room, to really heighten the spaces charm factor. With our limited time frame and budget, we pulled together our resources and came up with a strategy.


The first thing we did was hire an extremely talented carpenter to build us three custom 8 foot long shelves, trimmed out with thick molding. {We originally had him build us 3 shelves, then realized there was really only room for 2 on our wall. The 3rd shelf is for sale! Use my contact form above if you want to purchase it. Local buyers only, please}.




Next, it was time to try to find a sideboard table that fit the space, underneath the shelves, the entire 11 foot span of the wall, which proved to be an impossible task. Our carpenter was away on another job, so I said to Adam why can’t we just build a sideboard table ourselves, and design it custom to our exact needs. Turns out some things are easier said than done.


Let’s just say building this sideboard table with my husband was one of the greatest tests of our marriage, and we’ve been married for 12 years. Adam can diagnose my computer issues over the phone from work, he can cook the most mouthwatering meals, he makes sure my car is properly serviced, he even watches Design Star with me every week. But the man did not know the first thing about building an 11 foot sideboard table. This project required every bit of strength, teamwork, knowledge and above all: patience. And don’t let that charming smile on Adam fool you, I think this was the only time he smiled during the three day sideboard table building ordeal. Some husbands are handy, some husbands can build you things, and some husbands just look at you like you’re out of you freaking mind.




This was quite a site to behold, below. We had just pulled the 11 foot sideboard table into the dining room, and it fit like a glove.




There is no better feeling than that of hard work and achievement. That and saving your marriage.



The next step was stain for the top, and we used Varathane premium gel stain in Dark Walnut, purchased at Home Depot. For the skirt and legs, I used Behr’s Seaside Sand and did a rubbing technique with a dark glaze I borrowed from my friend Rosemary.




I think accessorizing, by far, is always the very best part.




The chandelier was purchased at a yard sale, most all of the accessories on the shelves are old ironstone that I’ve collected over the years, the old silver as well. The green artichokes on the table, which I get lots of comments on, can be found here.




In my next post, I’ll discuss how I made my own chalkboard from start to finish.



In the meantime, if you have any questions please use the Contact Form above for the quickest reply.



  1. This really turned out lovely Jennifer. I like how you can still see painted wall above the beadboard and the shelves came out fantastic. I love the walnut stain ~ it looks perfect on your sideboard.

  2. It was such an honor working with you on this space Jennifer...it turned out just perfect!
    Way to go!


  3. It's just so pretty! Are you going to tell us what happened to the closet?
    Also, what were you using as a drop cloth in the photo of your dh? It looks awfully fancy for a drop cloth. I can't wait to see more of your behind the scenes.

  4. It is simply stunning...there is no other word for it!

    I could stare at that room for days!


  5. Truly lovely, Jen. Love your shelves and the whole dining room. You now where there's a will there is a way. And boy did you two do it! Love it!

  6. I know you've been blogging for a while, and I'm so bummed I'm just getting to know your site! It is so fabulous - and this detailed look on your dining room - just makes me drool even more!

    You're so talented!

    Love the interview on Layla's site, too.

    Happy Labor Day -

  7. It's funny because when Kelly and I were talking about your new space and oohing and ahhing over everything, we thought that the back wall had Layla's stamp on it. It looks great!


  8. The room is absolutely stunning. I just love it all. It is so hard to believe it is the same room as the before picture. Gorgeous. Hugs, Marty

  9. Hi Jen,
    I love your dining room. You two did a great job on the sideboard too! I have had the pleasure of seeing it first hand, and it's a lovely dining room. Glad I could help with the glaze.
    I love your home, you did an amazing job. Congrats!!

  10. I love the whole look! Makes me think about adding beadboard on my kitchen walls - behind my stove....hmmm. The sideboard looks fabulous!

  11. Jennifer you and Adam did a fabulous job on that table. The colors of it are just perfect in that space. It certainly needed the walnut stain or else it would have just faded back into the background.
    Can't wait for the next instalment.

  12. came via Layla's site and love what you did!! looks magazine gorgeous!

  13. It is all just great! I love it!
    Hugs, Lisa

  14. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I think you guys have done an incredible job!


  15. I'm so glad you posted about this room. It was my favorite of your transformation. Except for the kitchen, oh, and except for the living room, oh, and....
    Anyway, I LOVE the custom built table. Love, love, love it! I love your accessories as well. Your blog is one of my absolute favorite and I am enjoying EVERY post!

  16. Beautiful! I love those shelves, oh that silly, I love everything about your home!! I just wish that I had a bigger screen to beable see better!!! Mary Ann

  17. Love everything about it! Makes me want to add beadboard and shelbing, which those shelves are amazing btw! bookmarked your site -can't wait to see more.

  18. Sigh. Such a lovely end result. Thanks once again for a tour of your awesome house transformation! I'm enjoying each installment very much!

  19. Your dining space is one of the most beautiful I have seen in a long time. LOVE it! Where did you get the lighting above your island? Thanks for sharing all these fab photos!

  20. Great job! I had to laugh about your umm marital difficulties. The mister and I have built 2 houses, completely rehabbed a house, remodeled and added a big family room, AND we did most of the work ourselves. Some of it was even fun. Some of it was a struggle. But when you're done, what a sense of accomplishment. We've been married 37 years last Jan. If we did it, anyone can. Mimi

  21. Jennifer, I am in love with that dining room! What a fantastic transformation! The white teapots on those gorgeous, gorgeous shelves...my goodness, awesome! I just might have to get hold of that pretty little Layla and have her help my poor distressed house go from an ugly duckling to a lovely swan! Great job hubs did, too! Love your blog...you are so sweet!


  22. I looked at your focal wall and said (out loud!), "That totally rocks!" I have NEVER said that phrase before about anything. Seriously - fabulous!!

  23. Your dining room is just perfect! I agree, the accessories are the best part, yours are beautiful in your space. You must be so, so proud of your hubby for his accomplishments! I hope he is patting himself on the back for a job well done. Thanks for sharing this gorgeous space with us.

  24. Wow Jennifer,
    It's beautiful. The sideboard table turned out great, and it looks perfect in it's place. Great job. You are truly an inspiration.

    ♥Ana~A Petite Cottage

  25. Everything you have done is wonderful... I have always been a huge fan of Shabby Chic, but have recently decided that I prefer a more French Country Chic... something you seem to have captured perfectly!

    Great job!

    God bless-

  26. Jennifer, I loved this post! Thank you so much for taking us through the process. My husband is just like Adam in that he is a computer genious, wonderful cook and will watch anything with me but does NOT like to do home improvement things! This summer, I wanted a beadboard backsplash and he did it for me. That too was a test for our marriage, lol! But he did a wonderful job and I love it. Adam and you did a wonderful job on that sideboard!!! My gosh, I love it and it is the perfect size!! Your accesorized the entire house so perfectly. I love that chalkboard also!!

  27. This is absolutely amazing! I cannot wait to keep reading your blog. Such a beautiful home.

    I need a kitchen remodel so badly and yours is so inspiring! I was just putting together some Ikea furniture this weekend myself, so I giggled at the animated instructions lol what a pain!

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, you have major talent :)

  28. Thanks for coming to Whipped and letting me know you had more here on your blog! Love looking at the photos. I may write for advice when I move in a few weeks to my new house that needs MAJOR makeover.

  29. Thanks for coming to Whipped and letting me know you had more here on your blog! Love looking at the photos. I may write for advice when I move in a few weeks to my new house that needs MAJOR makeover.

  30. Love seeing all these details. Your home is such a visual delight! Thank you for sharing this experience with each of us. Look forward to more. ~ Sarah

  31. Your home is so gorgeous I just want to look at it forever! I love your blog. I was looking at the beautiful remodeling you're doing at my mother-in-laws house and I said, "Is it terrible that I feel sooo jealous at how awesome this is?" Well I think it's fabulous and a wonderful inspiration for all of us trying to make our homes something we can love and cherish as well:)

  32. Your blog is sooooo much fun! I felt like I was looking at photos of a home my husband & I owned at one point early in our marriage! Thanks for the tour, I will visit often ! : ) kelley @ The Polished Pebble

  33. You have such a lovely home. The dining room is fantastic!! A lot of hard work, I am sure - but totally worth it.

  34. Love what you have done with the house. I wish I had more talent for decorating...you have a nack for it.

  35. I am still just in awe with what you've accomplished. I would also love to know more about the glazing technique you used.
    Your ironstone collection is incredible!! I've just started collecting it myself.

  36. Your dining space is so lovely. Your beadboard wall with the detailed shelves and sideboard are the highlight of the space! Love it!

  37. I just found you through Lettered Cottage. Your house looks amazing!

  38. Thanks for stopping by my blog today, Jennifer. Really love what you've done with your home. :)

    {Brooke} www.thenewdorothy.com

  39. It's great to see the full set of pictures. Everything is gorgeous!

  40. Wow! You should enter that into Country Living's makeover contest! It is gorgeous!

  41. Soooo amazing!!! You are so good at accessorizing. That is where I really struggle so, you are inspiring! Have you done any other part of the house yet? I really need some master bedroom inspiration! :)

  42. Thank you so much for showing us all of the details that went into each room. I'm eating it up!

    As a long time reader of both your blog & Layla's, I have to say that your styles blended perfectly! Love it!

  43. Simply stunning! I'd like to move in!

  44. A true "Cinderella Story"-- I have fallen head over heels in love with your beautiful home! I can't wait to see the rest...

    Where oh where did you get all the lovely living room furniture? It's exquisite!

  45. I never thought of the fact that your old furnishings may not go into your new home. You have truly made this home your own with all your insight, Jennifer. I love that you're showing us step by step and sharing the process you and Adam went through along the way. The sideboard is beautiful and I'm with you on the accessorizing - one of the best fun little things to do!

  46. Great Job!!!! It looks like something out of a magizine! I am totally jealous :-)

  47. I can not believe you vision. that before of your dining room was so depressing. You rocked it!

  48. Jennifer and Layla, what a beautiful job! Beautiful, beautiful room!

  49. The dining room before is "yikes!" What you have done is absolutely wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  50. can't WAIT to hear about that darling chalkboard...i want one!

  51. I first saw your beautiful makeover through your feature on design*sponge, so imagine my utter delight when I saw a little comment from you waiting for me under one of my posts on my very own blog :) I was ecstatic!

    Thank you for visiting my page and I am excited to be able to visit yours now (as you've been added as a blog I follow) Your design and style aesthetic is just so stunning and chic.


    P.S. I can't wait for the chalkboard post - I've been wanting one for what seems like forever now!

  52. This is so pretty. You did such an excellent job building that side table. I love how you put those potted plants on the ends, it gives it such a french feel.

    I have been weeding out the shabby chic in my cottage and bringing in the french country...the whites and dark browns are a fav. of mine too. We will be putting in dark wood floors as soon as we can afford to. Thank you for letting us know the color of that dark wood stain on the top of that white dresser. We have been trying out stains from Home Depot to redue our farmtable and I this is the color we have been wanting. I really really love the look of your new home.

  53. Your house looks absolutely fabulous, Jen. You have done a sensational job.

    It's comforting for un-designer-ish people like me to know that even someone as skilled as you sought outside design help.

    I could look at your photos all day long. They are WONDERFUL.


  54. I really like your Island and have been considering one.
    I moved to a new home and sadly found many things do not work here like they had previously. So, I began looking and found your site. Love it! I am so excited to have some new inspiration!

  55. I am a new reader, I was blog hopping from one crafty blog to the next and eventually came to yours. I LOVED your comment about how "there are some husbands that are handy and then there are some that just look at you like you are out of your freaking mind!" Yeah, that would be my husband. He likes to refer to himself as "Mr. Break-it!" I, however, LOVE to make things and love power tools...crazy I know. My friend, who fully acknowledges that she is a girl from the 50's trapped in the modern world, calls me "a man in a woman's body" because she can't fathom a girl wanting to use power tools and killing spiders and hunting down nasty smells coming form the attic (Yeah I did that too). Anyways, maybe that is why I love all these blogs and too know that I am not alone. Plus I can get all sorts of awesome ideas from so many people that I have never met, so thank you for your blog and all your great ideas.


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