Monday, November 27, 2017

My Dining Room: Two Years Later


I've lived in the ranch house for two years, and I've just now started working on the dining room. In my old age, it takes me forever to pull the trigger. I'm less willing to start over with new furniture, mainly because of the memories associated with certain pieces. Yet the fallow interim can seem like a big, fat stall. We all know that stalling can lead to self doubt, and self doubt can make you question every idea.
Despite the caveats, I'm glad I waited.

First, a little background. When we bought the house, the space had been used as a chic home office, with built-in bookcases and heavy custom-made draperies. 



At some point in the house's long history, the space had been used as a dining room. The cues were a ceiling dome, centered chandelier, and an 80s-era wet bar (on another wall). 

 My office would be in the basement, so I began to tinker with my dining room-to-be. First, I removed the wet bar (to add more space to the tiny laundry/pantry room). Next, I added cabinet doors to the shelves. The odd, dark wooden rectangle (in the above photo) was abolished when we refinished the floor.
How would I decorate this room?
I suppose Pinterest had influenced me, because I began to see my old dining table as dated. Everywhere I looked I saw reclaimed wood tables. I myself have one in the breakfast room, and I adore it. I like how it adds a modern feel, and at the same time, it embraces tradition. It can be dressed up or down. 

And I must admit--the older I get, the more I like a less formal home. I loved an X-leg table at Restoration Hardware, and when I saw a similar piece on The White Queen miniseries (it was Margaret Beaufort's table--in her third marriage), I could really see it in my dining room. I had no doubt that I would love it. 
But each time I started to order it, something stopped me. The old table was impervious to everything, including my husband, who creates epic messes in seconds. But I was always guarding the reclaimed table in the breakfast room--it was much less forgiving to spills. (I knew I could seal it, but I was afraid the products would kick off an asthma attack.)

So I waited. I hated to change the draperies, but they felt a bit wrong. Nevertheless, I lived with them, hoping that one day, I'd see their charm. Maybe the problem wasn't the draperies. Maybe it was my table. My husband nearly fainted when I mentioned painting it, so I started small and painted one Chippendale chair, but I couldn't make myself paint the others. Each time, I chickened out. Many a time, we sat down to dinner with that lone, white chair mixed in with the others, and barely anyone noticed. 

I borrowed ladder back chairs from the porch, and they stayed in the room a good, long time.  I waffled about hanging a large painting, but once again, something stopped me.

Last Christmas, I hung a formal mirror over an old, scarred Chippendale sofa table. I'd had both pieces for 38 years, and it felt as if kinfolk were visiting the room. Yet the room remained unfinished.

This year, I ordered pre-made curtains from Ballard Designs. Though I'd had my doubts, the moment I hung them, I knew they were an improvement. The fabric resonated with my blue and white china. The whole room felt bright and new. And I fell in love with my old table and chairs.

Inspired by the curtains, I plowed ahead. As an experiment, I borrowed the kitchen chairs to see how upholstered pieces looked with the old Chippendale chairs. It was an instant update. I'll be looking for host/hostess chairs at Home Goods and elsewhere.
 
I also plan to buy fabric at Joann's and cover the chair cushions.
Ballards has a blue and white rug, too, but that may be too much for this small room. Perhaps a sisal or sea grass rug will work better. But I'm not in a rush. 

When it comes to design, waiting isn't the same thing as procrastinating. I'd forgotten this little secret. Sometimes I'd walk by the room and wince. Almost immediately, I'd fuss at myself for stalling. What was I waiting for? Perfection?


The more I castigated myself, the more I forgot to trust my heart. To be patient and let the room tell me what it needs, no matter how long it takes.
I hope I can hold onto this insight, because the rest of the house is waiting. 


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24 comments:

  1. Just beautiful and I am in love with the table. Blue and white is becoming my favorite color combination.
    Nonie

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    1. I love that combination, too. It's peaceful and really acts like a neutral, working with the seasons. I love blue and orange in Autumn.

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  2. Well done, ML! I'm so glad you had the patience and didn't do what I - most - do and impulse buy only to have remorse. Sounds like you have done exactly what you needed to do to make that space amazing.

    GREAT idea about removing the wet bar for more space on other side, and those doors on the shelves - brilliant! : -)

    My mother loved blue and white. Myself, I am a green and brown girl - but sure love SEEING it. And VISITING it. It is a classic combination of colors. ♥

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  3. Your waiting paid off....the room is divine! Love the new drapes. I was waiting for you to get rid of the old ones...too bulky and dark. Now it's lovely and light and oh so right!!

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  4. The room looks beautiful! I think we are very similar in the way we decorate rooms. Sometimes I think I am procrastinating but I really need to get a feel for a room...even though it may take awhile. By the way, I am reading your book, Consuming Passions right now and I think I am become obsessed with seasoning my cast iron pan...lol. I am really enjoying the book! Have a great week!
    Shelley

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    1. So glad you're enjoying the book! I've been seasoning skillets, myself.

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  5. ohmigoodness I luv those curtains. And that mirror is just gorgeous. You are on your way to another beautiful transformation.

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    1. Thanks! At least I have a solid plan, and that's an improvement.

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  6. Oh it is so pretty, I am glad you waited. I love the table and chairs and the pretty blue drapes are fabulous. That mirror and console stole my heart for sure. Gorgeous room.

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  7. I think it's wonderful with the blue and white curtains! I have inherited some cherry furniture that my dad made, and it's really not my taste at all, but I have slowly been able to incorporate some of it into my house by using white curtains (from Ikea, it was low commitment), more modern fabric on the seats, my funky (cheap) treasures... it's such a relief when you get that harmony between old and new, isn't it?

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    1. That's so wise--to incorporate family items with modern touches. Love that Idea. I found some pretty, inexpensive white curtains at HG for the breakfast room. Bandwidth and I will install the rods when the bay window "elbows" arrive. Can't wait.

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  8. Your room is turning into a beautiful place to be (or just look at). Those drapes from Ballard really make the room.

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  9. Your Grandmother was a very wise woman!!!....i always say, just follow your heart and instinct and everything will fall into place....I have a "darker wood" dining room set that was a surprise Anniversary gift from my hubby years and years ago....I updated the look by adding upholstered chairs...it truly updated the look...but I was going for adding more texture to a room filled with "stained wood".... you have exquisite taste and I know you will be successful in creating the beautiful dining room that you so envision.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Shirley! I agree--two new chairs will be a wonderful update.

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  10. I like how the dining room has turned out and I’m so glad you didn’t paint all the chairs. I do love the blue and white accents and those new curtains couldn’t be more perfect! You are such a natural at decorating and I love that you think in terms of “let the room tell you what it needs”.

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    1. Like childbirth, I always forget the pain (of decorating). LOL

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  11. You make such a beautiful home. I love the direction you've decided to go in the dining room.

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  12. Michael Lee when I saw your dining room on Instagram it was immediate love! I am so glad you have been patient, I am kind of right there with you!

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