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Dining room makeover

Even on a modest budget and a limited timeline you can update a dining room. This three-day makeover made use of existing architectural details to offer a more comfortable place for hosting dinner parties.

The original dining room was bland and lacked interest and was in need of a bold splash of colour as well as a few accessories to dress up the room. The colour cues for the room were taken from the existing area rug and the room was painted in a navy blue on the walls, ceiling and along the back panels of the built-ins.

Colour and Texture

The blue colour highlights the crisp white trim and lets the architecturally detailed cupboards and Mediterranean shutters become a feature that frames the newly upholstered. The blue used on the ceiling is taken from the same colour swatch and is  60 percent lighter than the wall colour to accentuate and allow visual height without darkening the room. Use a matt paint such as Prominent UltraMatt or Premium Matt for a rich, luxurious feel.

The original dining room lacked an overhead light fitting, so a new satin brass chandelier was added to provide just the right sculptural touch. The circular bulbs in the candelabra lend a more modern look, but you easily substitute with decorative CFL or LED bulbs.

The drop-leaf dining table was replaced with a secondhand buy that was painted and distressed in a matching colour. The distressing adds a weathered look that is an excellent fit for high-traffic homes with active kids or pets, as dings or dents acquired over the years will simply add to the overall effect.

Fabrics and Soft Furnishings

To add a personal touch to the space a mix of armchairs and plain dining chairs were incorporated. A pair of high back, regency-style armchairs were picked up at a flea market and upholstered in a striped print. The four dining chairs slipcovered in stone-washed linen offset the heaviness of the tall chairs. Slipcovers are user-friendly, and allow you to transform otherwise plain dining chairs to suit the occasion. Should dinner parties result in spills or stains, the slipcovers can simply be tossed into the washing machine.

The original rug in the room features a traditional pattern that is quite formal, but with the addition of a sisal rug underneath it takes on a more casual personality. Successful layering is achieved by selecting patterns ranging in scale.  A mix of nubby, coarse textures paired with sleek or refined textures offer up a complementary balance.

The seat between the built in cupboards was fitted with a thick piece of foam upholstered in the same fabric as the high back chairs - tying in the seating with the rest of the room.

To create a more casual look for the dining room, and rather than have formal pleats, the dining room curtains were sewn without pleats, making the fabric much more soft and loose.

The gold curtain rail and rings are sprayed in a satin gold that complements the metallic finish of both the new light fitting and handles on the cabinets.

You can achieve this look simply by spraying a pine or other curtain rod and metal or plastic rings with Rust-Oleum metallic spray paint.

The built in cupboards were given a fresh coat of white paint and new handles in a brushed brass finish. Brushed or satin brass has more versatile appeal than polished brass, which is best fit for more formal spaces. You will find a selection of cupboard handles and knobs at your local Builders, or try specialist stores such as


An easy way to update any space is to bring in fresh decor accessories. Consider using cabinets or shelves to display interesting objects with sentimental value and that add complementary or contrast colour to the setting.


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