Before & After: Alice & Josh's Dining Room Renovation

Before & After: Alice & Josh's Dining Room Renovation

Bethany Seawright
Feb 11, 2011

When my friends Alice and Josh bought their house in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, they knew they had their work cut out for them. For starters, there was seventy-four years worth of paint and wallpaper to deal with…

The house was built in 1931. When we bought it in 2005, we were only the third owners. The previous owners had lived here for 54 years and had not updated the decor in several decades. Every wall and ceiling in the house had been wallpapered when the house was built, and this paper was painted over some time during the previous owners' tenure.

To restore the house and update the interiors, we needed to strip off the paint and paper and address the significant cracks in the plaster. This multi-step process included scraping followed by steaming, a chemical scrub, professional plaster repair, and sanding before the walls could be primed and painted.

In this room, we used an oil-based primer to seal in any remaining residue from the wallpaper, then a tinted latex primer as a base coat for the dark wall paint. We chose the colors for the room to coordinate with the large piece of art, which we already owned. We wanted the dark wall paint to be lightened by the gold ceiling color. The trim was originally a very dingy white. To complement the tone of the room, we chose a dark cherry-brown paint for the trim. Before painting, the trim was either stripped entirely with a heat gun or sanded to smoothness, depending on its original condition. The trim was primed with a dark tinted latex primer and then painted.

Our priorities for the furniture were the overall look of the table and the comfort of the chairs. We tried out countless leather chairs before custom ordering these based on leather color and seat depth. We removed the valances and wood blinds to lighten the windows and add height, and we chose gold-colored drapery to pick up the color of the ceiling and lighten the room. The sconces and wiring were professionally installed and the original chandelier replaced.

Time: 100 hours (not including shopping, paint samples, etc. -- labor only)
Plaster repair: $800
Electrical: $500

Lighting: $650 Hampton Bay
Table: $700 Storehouse Furniture
Chairs: 8 x $200
Teak Wine Box: $500, Dovetail Furniture, Culver City, CA
Art: $4000 (I can't find the artist's name! We had to have the painting repaired, and the restoration place covered up the back of the canvas, where the name was written)
Drapes: 4 x $175 (Fabric: Madison Pineapple)
Sheers: 4 x $59 Pottery Barn sheer linen drapes in ivory
Hardware: $350 Pottery Barn
Paint: Walls Pratt & Lambert Manchester Red; Ceiling Pratt & Lambert Sunlit Mesa; Trim: Ralph Lauren Mahogany

Whew, that's a lot of work! Thanks for sharing, guys. Nicely done!

Images: Alice Dailey

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