Design Prescription: Faith’s Arlington Dining Room

updated Jun 4, 2019
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\Mom, (Image credit: Tara Bellucci)

Name: Faith
Location: Arlington, VA
Room: Dining Room
Size: about 140 square feet
Own or Rent: Own

This is an update from the #MakeoverAmerica road trip! We’re traveling across the United States to tell people about
Complete + Happy Home, and while we’re at it, we’re saving the country, one room at a time! Design Prescriptions are hour-long visits where Maxwell offers advice on what readers can do to improve their homes. Though we don’t have “after” photos, we do encourage the homeowners to share their updates with all of us when they make them!

In Arlington, we visited with Faith, who as a mother of two young children, spends a lot of the day in her dining room. And there’s just something a bit off about it…

Faith and her husband, Bobby, moved their family to Arlington from Brooklyn, New York last year. “Our old brownstone had an inherent beauty that didn’t need dressing up,” Faith explains. “This house was built in 1950. So while it’s a very nice house, we had to bring in most of the charm!” And while the rest of Faith’s home is definitely charming, the dining room does feel like something is missing.

The couple is planning major renovations a few years down the line where they’ll be opening up the kitchen to the dining room, so what they need is a temporary fix until those changes can happen.

(Image credit: Tara Bellucci)

The Problem:

“I like the color and I like the shape and symmetry of the room, but something just feels off,” says Faith.

On a gray day, the first problem is immediately apparent. Even with every light on—the three-bulb pendant over the table, the corner floor lamp, a table lamp on the sideboard, and an accent lamp on a small table— it’s a dark room. Faith’s not sold on the curtains, and though we like the addition of pattern to the space, they’re not quite right for the room.

With the help of Maxwell, the original Apartment Therapist, Faith discovers that while the bones and the breath—the structure and the flow— of the room are good, what’s missing is heart and head—decor and personal touches—the things that are spot on everywhere else in her home.

The Prescription:

This framed fabric is the brightly colored bit of Faith’s style that shines through in this dining room, and from that happy place comes the plan for room, where color and pattern pop.

While the paint color is absolutely lovely, it’s sucking up all of the natural light and making the room feel very dark. Maxwell suggests a warm neutral on the lower half of the chair rail, and a patterned wallpaper above. Since this is a high-traffic room frequented by small children and food, lots of layered decor won’t do, and the wallpaper will add personality without additional stuff all over the place.

Because the walls will pack in the pattern, Faith can swap out the curtains for neutral ones that will let in more light. And though messy eaters and rugs don’t always mix, Maxwell suggests an indoor/outdoor one that can hold up to the kids, while adding pattern, color, and space definition to the room.

The wattage of the pendant’s bulbs are quite low, so Maxwell suggests installing brighter bulbs and putting the pendant on a dimmer. Since it’s annoying to go around turning on so many lights, he also suggests a smart home solution like Philips Hue or Belkin WeMo so they’re controllable from a phone.

→ 5 Smart Home Gadgets You’re Not Using (But Should Be!)

(Image credit: Tara Bellucci)

We left Faith with a copy of Complete + Happy Home so she can continue her refresh. Thanks for letting us into your home!

Stay tuned for our next design prescription with Lauren in New Orleans!