Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Un"formal Your Dining Room

When we purchased our house, I was thrilled that we had a formal dining room and formal living room.  I thought I was fancy.  I began decorating in the dining room first and I purchased "fancy" curtains, displayed formal china in elegant poses, featured our wedding photos in Mikasa frames, and had place settings with rolled cloth napkins in their napkin holders.  Did I mention that everything was either brown or beige?  Nothing about our personalities is brown or beige.  And on top of everything else, our furniture is not necessarily formal.  It was a design disaster.  The saddest part is that it took me four years to do something about it.  You want the rooms in your home to reflect your personality and your lives.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I have no before photos, so you can't see the disaster for yourself. The only change I want to make (as of right now) is to paint.  For now, here is how I "un formal-ed" our dining room.

The space itself is relatively small.  It opens to the foyer and has a doorway into our kitchen, with a bay window overlooking our front yard.  We purchased our dining room table and buffet from Ikea.  The rug I got from Home Goods for a steal.

I had been doing every kind of candle centerpiece you could imagine.  I needed something new.  I had some left over fabric from the chair in the corner that I covered (during a different project), so I folded it into a rectangle and displayed my grandmother's wedding china in the center.  The fabric is a modern blue and white, while the china is formal and unique, but it blends beautifully together.

The buffet is an asymmetrical conglomerate of odds and ends.  I kept our wedding photos, cake topper and bottle of sand from our wedding ceremony.  However, I added a bright red candle holder from Ikea that matches the red candle on the other side and bright white candle holders that I recently spray painted from ugly dark brown.  The decanter and wine glasses are the finishing touch.  

 It's okay to be asymmetrical.  Embrace the funkiness of it.   

This corner is my favorite part.  I recovered the chair originally for Madelynn's bedroom, but it has since been in several rooms.  This corner was bare and in need of some color.  The art above is framed scarves that belonged to my grandmother.  They are very meaningful to me, so I selected some of the most colorful ones, folded them neatly and framed them.  I wanted to keep the scarves in tact, so I didn't cut them to fit.  Almost anything can be framed as art.  They provide tons of color and sentiment for a tiny corner.  

Removing outdated taupe sheers and replacing them with white, flowing drapes made the biggest difference of all.  The drapes set the tone for the room.  The color and style are casual and provide privacy for the room, while letting in plenty of natural light.

The light fixture is from Ikea, as well as the light shades.  Again, it's a casual, informal touch and already existed in the space.  This was the one upgrade we made during the "formal days". 

Lastly, on the wall opposite the window, I purchased and framed an abstract poster from Ikea and framed two more of my grandmother's scarves.  This provides more pops of red (like the buffet and other art) and fills the small wall without overpowering it.

I hope this has inspired you to go against the flow and make a room that fits your family's personality.  Dining rooms don't have to be stuffy.  This room makeover cost less than $30 for the inexpensive white drapes, poster art, and red candle holder on the buffet.  Don't be afraid to mix match patterns and colors!  It helps to create a fun and relaxed environment if it's done properly.  Everything else in the room was pulled from other rooms in the house or created with existing materials.  I move items from room to room on a regular basis.  That's the best way to keep your home fresh and fun without spending any money.  What a great weekend project!

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