It has been a bit since I refreshed or redesigned the dining room in our cottage. I have long had different ideas and ideas and things I wanted to try in this space but truth be told – it is a room I have struggled with. Why? Because it is an open dining room- meaning it is a combo room with the living room. And actually, it also originally served as the entry.
Open Living / Dining Room
Old vacation cottages didn’t necessarily always have dedicated rooms like a dining room. And so, we have a dining room area in the living room. Which is totally fine -though it does throw the balance off a bit as the living room has a center fireplace. (Usually there would be a fireplace at one end of the room and the dining room at the other- so more half and half so to speak. )
I am someone who craves rooms that are designated. I love a formal dining room, formal sitting room, formal entry, etc. If you are like me and trying to find what works for a shared space that is somewhat off the usual layout. I have heard from several folks about revisiting some of the Before & After and design ideas posts this year and so, today we are tossing it back and talking about a few ways I have decorated this space over the years. Maybe it will help give you some ideas for what to do in your own space.
Here is a look at the BEFORE when we moved into the house. See that wall heater wall- that is the wall behind the dining room table for an idea.
That wall with the fireplace and window is where one of the French doors at the end of the dining room table is now. You can see more of this room BEFORE HERE. With an armoire or cupboard it can feel a tad crowded on that side of the table. Usually, it isn’t a problem. It is just my husband and I in the house since the kids are all grown up. But we do have family dinners each week and special occasions and so we need to move the table & chairs towards the sofa to get some breathing space.
Over the Years
Over the years, I have explored options for this room and for creating a more dedicated dining room area. Some set ups definitely worked better than others. Let’s take a look back at some of the ideas and what we have done in this space.
The first look from back in the day when I wanted something different- a huge oversized chalkboard on the wall. It gave me the breathing room on the side of the table and filled the space visually. You might remember this if you have been in the FCC community for awhile. It was a popular look and was actually the one that caught a magazine editors eye and led to my first magazine feature.
Canvas Wall Mural
The chalkboard came down and a wall mural went up. I love wallpapers and pretty patterns or texture as backdrops- and this one was perfect. It gave me the old world charm and look I adore- and did not take up much space. Because we have old knotty pine wood walls behind- we didn’t paste to hang the papers. We just merely tacked the panels in place to enjoy.
For a quick change in the space – I did a shuffle and moved the dining room in front of the fireplace. The sofas were off to the side and in the old dining room space. But it was just for fun and not a solution that would last unless doing some other changes in the rest of the living room.
Antique French Cupboard
Maybe one of my absolute favorite looks that filled the dining room with oodles of French charm and patina: A tall and stately antique cupboard that nestled in behind the table.
Those shelves filled with pretty were perfection as a backdrop- and even when the doors were closed- the carvings spoke loudly to me and brought charm.
This piece is absolutely stunning and gave me the antiquecharacter that I love. The caveat- it is chunky and it did push the dining room back a bit given that it is a big cupboard- so the table was a tad off where the chandeliers were above. I didn’t care as much because I loved the cupboard so much. I knew it would always be a favorite wherever I placed it & I did have a vision for it it another room since the quest for that perfect look behind the table hadn’t really totally gone away.
I have long imagined cupboards full of pretty things behind the table. But given the length of the room along with wanting anything on that wall to be narrow- cupboards in the right depth, scale and an extra extra long length are not the most common of things to find. So, I thought about building custom and even found a large cupboard about 6 years ago that I could tinker with to customize. But nothing was a perfect fit so I decided to move along.
I have considered a large mirror behind the table to open the wall up and reflect the chandeliers and light. A pretty and practical solution for sure.
I have also thought about a delightful English scenery type wallpaper or mural similar to the smaller one that was here before. All along the entire wall -it would fill the space and create a charming backdrop. And I even thought about adding a vintage mantel in the center of the wall for a faux fireplace with cupboards on both sides to create a more formal dining room look. (kind of similar to the cupboard look- but with a mantel)
So that brings me back to the perfect design. I think when designing a space- the feeling and look is really so personal. It really needs to work for you- and that may not work for everyone. I have long said that if you walk into a room and it makes you happy- then it is absolutely perfect. If you dance when you see it come together? It is Perfection. And do you see me dancing over here? And singing? And shaking my head and saying oh.my.gosh. every.time.I.walk. in this room?
You see, this room doesn’t look like the room above any longer. It got a bit of a refresh with something that gave me that sweaty palms, made my heart race, tripping over people to get the prize kind of weak in the knees feeling. The look definitely passed the ‘triple love’ rule and test and I am excited to share the story ( it is interesting!) and the new look with you very soon!
Honestly, so perfect it is like it was made for the space. Here is a peek of part of it- you can see more of when we first brought it home in this post HERE
Which of these quick changes were your favorite looks for the dining room? I hope that this post gives you some ideas for taking one space in your home and making simple changes to completely change the look of the room.
Happy Tuesday everyone.