Dining Room Before & Afters

Making Nice in the Midwest

Phil had just returned from a day in Columbus, cheering on our Ohio State Buckeyes as the snow piled up around him and countless other fans who braved the weather for the sake of their sport. I, however, was cozied up at home, braving an altogether different task- painting the walls and baseboards in both our living and dining rooms with a hyper toddler afoot. It’s a difficult task, without ending up with baby foot prints tracked around our home with fresh paint. But I did it! And when Phil returned, I was still on my home makeover high, so I convinced him to tackle our ugly fireplace for a fun date night activity. What can I say? The man loves me. Now that the fireplace facade is gone, I’m feeling the momentum to finish up the plans I’ve long had for this space. Poor Phil. If he’d only known, he probably would have never known that helping me with the fireplace would get him more than just a trip to Funkytown, but also a trip to Ikea, CB2, and the antique mall.

Well, since I’m obviously excited about the changed we’ve been making in our home, I thought I’d share the progress we’ve made in our dining room, and then share my plans for the near future! Check out the before and during photos of the fireplace below, and see how it originally looked in the first photo I took of this home before we ever purchased it.

brass fireplace surround removal

When we initially had the home inspected, we learned that one of our two fireplaces (the one in the dining room) needed a lot of expensive work done to the cap, flue, and lining. Since money is something we have very little of, unlike patience, we just ignored it until that one fateful day this winter when I just couldn’t take it any more. Our plans are to have a professional install a set of gas logs which will look nice and also put out heat in the space. There’s a gas line in place (the pipes will need replaced, though), and we can just block off the flue instead of repairing it.

The fireplace facade was easier to remove than I thought it would be, though Phil did all of the muscle work. The initial surround was bolted on from the inside, and we used a crow bar to pull it off the wall after everything was unscrewed. There are still holes where it had been bolted on, but I can live with that for now until I learn how to weld, and then I’ll make a new, minimalistic surround to cover up the holes. It looks much better now, though I can’t wait until the day when we can use gas logs and a new surround, designed by yours truly.

brass fireplace surround removal- after

When we moved into the home, it was all painted in an awful sea foam green- a color I left in our bathrooms where it looks nice, but promptly covered up in the rest of the rooms. In my haste to have the dining room and living room painted while I was pregnant and escaping the fumes at my parents’ home, I made the mistake of choosing a color I really ended up hating and living with anyway for two years. You can read all about it and see these photos below in color right here.

Dining Room Before Picture

Dining Room Before Picture

For Christmas this year, my mother-in-law gave me these pretty yellow curtains that I had found on Amazon (right here), which so nicely replaced the makeshift sheers that have been hanging on our windows for far too long. Since the photos above were taken, I also replaced the busy kilim rug with a 7-year-old West Elm rug I had in storage, added some plants from our patio, and replaced the chairs I had been so giddy about finding last year with our old Ikea ones we’ve had since we were first married almost 7 years ago. Why did I do that? Well, because I’m selling them on Craigslist so I can put the money towards a set of dream chairs! The problem is, I just can’t decide which chairs are my dream chairs. Because I like them all. Ahhhh! 

dining room during photos

bar china cabinet

vintage crewel art and Milton Avery canvas

To complete the room, I’d like to get new dining room chairs, a new light with more of a presence (we’ll move this one into the kitchen, close to the ceiling), and a new hutch (this is one I thrifted years ago as a placeholder). I’ve been really drooling over this globe chandelier at CB2, and I think that it would match the curtains I have up. I can get a little color crazy, but I’m trying to keep it simpler in the dining room. As far as a hutch goes, I’d love to get something primitive looking (like this one), and paint it a bold black, or a crisp white. I found a huge one I loved at a local antique mall last year, but it was $500, and not in my budget.

As far as chairs goes, I was so close to buying option A below, but then it occurred to me that if I get new chairs, they should be ones I’ll keep for a very long time- like maybe a lifetime- and according to the reviews, though the price is unbeatable ($113 for a pair), the quality is not. So, I thought maybe I should just spring for my forever love- the tulip chair (option C below). I could get a set of two from Amazon here for $239. Not too bad! Especially for a new set. I can’t even find used ones for that price. But if I’m being realistic, $478 for four chairs is still a lot of money for my little family. So I’m beginning to think that this wire Bertoia style chair (option B below) might be the ticket. It’s a beautiful chair that I lived with at my brother’s house for two years, and though not the most comfortable  chair in the world, they’ll last forever, and are classic pieces that I think are just beautiful. Plus, I can get 4 chairs for $389, which is really affordable for a design classic like this. I sound like I’m talking myself into making the purchase, don’t I? Maybe it’s true love after all.

modern dining room chairs

dining room with houseplants and yellow curtainsmark rothko poster in dining room

  • Framed poster above fireplace: Art.com
  • Crewel art right of curtain: vintage
  • Beach Painting right of curtain: Encore Editions
  • Bird drawing left of curtain: vintage

So that’s all for now, folks! I’m working on making some plants stands in the near future to spruce things up even more, and you better believe I’ll be back to share all of my progress as time goes on!

30 Responses

  1. This looks like the same color I have in my living /dining room!
    And I have a similar table and chairs and hutch too that I have collected over the years! I’m in the middle of rearranging and remixing everything as well! Your changes look GREAT!

  2. liz says:

    mandi, it looks gorgeous!!
    well done you guys.

  3. giedre says:

    Is having the fire place open like that a problem with a toddler around, though? Or is there glass that I’m just not seeing?

    Looks adorable either way!!

    • Mandi says:

      Those logs are just decorative, we’re not burning anything because the fireplace needs repaired. We wondered if Lucy would mess with the logs, but after noticing them and touching them gingerly once, she hasn’t really found them interesting, thankfully!

  4. Ashlee says:

    I didn’t hate the gray color before, but your makeover really does look amazing. Everything looks so fresh and I’m loving the pops of color. I’m all for option 1 or 2 as far as chairs go!

  5. Renee says:

    You crack me up! Kindred spirits we must be… I JUST talked my hubby into repainting our downstairs this past weekend (a lovely shade of white, thank heavens) because I too had rushed and panicked myself into a color choice two years ago. And my love affair with chairs has landed us with a set of four metal chairs from Target that Im already not too thrilled with (but Im convincing myself will come in handy when we have guests over, etc) and a set of the white chairs with eiffel legs (with the arm rests) from Amazon which were a Christmas gift this year. To go with a hopefully new table and a hopefully new rug! Hopefully!!! What is it with Ohio winter doldrums and wanting to redecorate?! I say go with the third chair (because you really do love them so) and because in the end, you’ll still want them anyhow, if you’re anything like me that is. ;)

  6. Kieran says:

    It’s looking great! Considering that there is less than $100 between option c and option b, why not just spring for option c if it’s what you really want and option b will always be second best? Option b is beautiful, but do you really want to buy a beautiful, uncomfortable chair to keep forever, when you could have a beautiful, comfortable chair? Just my thoughts!

    • Mandi says:

      Oooooh… you are swaying me! Especially since Phil said he doesn’t particularly love the comfort level in option 2. Now I’m just concerned that option three would not be great, because it might be difficult to move easily. Hmmm…. decisions! But I am trying to think practically, since I want to keep these forever.

  7. Nicole L says:

    Love this space! seems very bright. Could you tell me where you got the fishing art? It’s super cute!

  8. Lisa says:

    Oh, SO much better! I didn’t hate the grey or anything – it was a very stylish colour – but it made everything look quite sensible and sober and a little dull. The white is much better and I think it’s more ‘you’. And those yellow curtains are divine.

  9. Rachel says:

    Where did you get your dining room table? I’m on the hunt for something similar.

    • Mandi says:

      I actually made it the summer I was married. My dad and I worked on it together with some old oak barn siding from a friend’s property. The barn had been disassembled and the previous owners were using it for firewood!!! We used dowel construction fitted with jigs between the planks so that it will last forever. I will definitely have the table for the rest of my life, and hopefully it will become a family heirloom. :)

  10. bianca says:

    Where is the art piece above the fireplace from, please:).

    Great space!!

  11. Heather says:

    See I am totally IN LOVE with your old rug! We have several Persian rugs in our home and I love the geometric patterns. Not to mention yours had a lovely shade of lavender it looks like (shades of purple are my favorite colors). I think option B for chairs would be a good choice because if you decide to put a cushion for your bottom on them you can change the color and/or design of them easily by tying them onto the chairs. I also love your current hutch. Why not paint that and replace the knobs/ pulls to change up the look? I love the addition of your house plants. We have a ton in my house and I think they add just the right touch to a room to bring life, elegance, and color in. As far as the holes in your brick you could temporarily cover them up with a little caulk to fill the hole a bit then patch with the same color of grout. That should take care of it until you can build your beautiful surround and it won’t cost a lot of money to do. Have you thought about other styles for your light? I think these are cute options too.

    Philips Forecast Lighting Organic Modern Fisher Island Drum Pendant Shade

    Kartell FL/Y Suspension Lamp

    Sputnik Chandelier

    Sorry just thought I’d share some ideas! Oh and I am still working on my site so if you click on the link it won’t come up yet. Just thought I’d mention that so you or anyone else didn’t think it was an empty link. Love you blog and I can’t wait to read more!


    • Mandi says:

      I’m considering moving the rug back into the dining room at some point, but for now it’s in my living room. :) As far as lights go, there are a ton I like more than this one, but my budget is really tiny, and if rather get started on our kitchen renos instead of getting a pricier light. I like the simplicity, elegance, and color of the one I linked to at CB2.

      I keep going over pros and cons for all of the chair choices, and now I’m thinking I might not get any of these three! I’ll probably go more into detail on that later in our dining room progress.

      Unfortunately, the holes were actually drilled into the brick, not the mortar, so I was super bummed about that! I haven’t decided if I want to even bother with covering them just yet, because they don’t bother me much, and I’m too busy working on other projects, so, for now they will probably just be sitting there. I wish I had a team of people here to help me! Haha

  12. Goody says:

    Speaking from experience, there is no such thing as a forever chair when you have children. You know what IS forever? Sharpie ink. And torn upholstery. Until the teenage years when they start taking their meals in the car, or their room, I’d go with something you can slipcover. And buy a second set because you’ll be replacing the first set.

    That said, the tulip chair is lovely. I guess you could cover it in plastic, that would be time period authentic.

  13. Meredith says:

    Love the fireplace as it is now!
    I also love that you use Boodles gin. I’m so tickled by the name. :)

  14. I keep coming back to this post and falling in love all over again with your design choices. Such an inspiration for me to brainstorm for our home we’ll be moving into in the Spring. I am jealous of all the natural light your dining room gets!

  15. Courtney says:

    Go for the tulip chair. You know it’s the best, you won’t regret it :)

  16. Nicole says:

    Good job. It’s great when you get a project under the belt. Just had one of those weekends myself…feeling kind of stiff actually, clearly I’m not used DIY enough! Haha.

  17. Sara M. says:

    I have the a. chairs above (only the shell ones, with the arms). I’ve had them for 7 years now, and I just love them. They’re not originals, and the quality is wonderful. One even came with a damaged base, and they very promply sent a new one, no questions asked. I can send you a pic if’ you’d like, along with the online store that I ordered them from.


  18. Jennifer Benc says:

    Hi there…just wanted to say I discovered your blog a couple of months ago and really enjoy it. The other thing I want to say is…if you are planning on keeping the chairs forever, buy the comfy ones. My husband and I host all the family gatherings and we had settled for second-best. We were never overly happy with them so after a few years of searching (and saving) we found a table that will seat 10 comfortably and chairs that are so comfy we stay at the table for hours, talking, laughing, sharing stories and memories. I found out this Christmas that doing so is one of my 10 y/o daughters’ favourite things. Hearing that was worth the wait and the price. On a side note, the quality of the table and chairs is amazing and the style is timeless so we will never replace them. For us, they were worth the 4 bazillion dollars they cost. :)

  19. Sarah says:

    We have those exact cheap-o eiffel chairs. Here’s my review: if you’re only using them as dining chairs, ie, not heavy use, they are totally fine. There are some more expensive models out there, but for the look and the amount of use ours will likely see (as dining chairs only), these have suited us pretty well! I only wish they made them in pastel pink. As they don’t, I have my eye on one that costs 3x what this pair does!

  20. I absolutely love the style of your home! Especially the crisp white walls paired with the wood furniture and green plants. We live in a small 1960’s ranch with very little natural light. Four years ago when I painted I thought white was a no-no, so the majority of my walls are currently a muddy yellow color that I would love to get rid of. I just know it would open up the whole place. Do you have any tips on how to select the right white? (You know…like any white paint cardinal sins or anything?)

    • Mandi says:

      Thank you so much! My suggestion is to consider the color palette of your home. I have a lot of warmer colors, like yellows and oranges, and I’m planning on keeping them in the mix, so I thought a neutral white instead of a warmer white would be better. I didn’t want it to look too antiquey and warm white. However, when I went to the paint store, figuring out which neutral white was tricky! I used the backs of the paint cards as my “true-white” control color, comparing all other shades of white to them. I stuck with the lightest shades of white that had ever so slightly a tint to them. I took all of the white cards I could find, comparing each one to the white control card, and then to eachother. I tossed anything that looked purply, bluish, or warm. And then I thought the color I chose (Benjamin Moore’s “Pure White”) was the perfect super light gray/almost white color. When I got the paint home, my mom swore it was a cool white. It can look like a cool white when it’s next to other colors, but it really is neutral. So- my advice is to consider the context. If you choose a cool white but have warm tones in your home, the contrast will make that cool white appear almost blue. If you have cool colors and choose a warm white, the contrast will make it look almost like a buttery yellow. So those are my tips that I can think of right off! Maybe I’ll write a post about it, eh? Then I can go into more detail and talk about considering colors in the context of their neighboring colors. :) It’ll be like a design-school 101 recap! :)

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