Before and After: This Drab 2001 Dining Room Is Transformed by $550 DIY Built-Ins
Even when a space has everything going for it — great square footage, awesome light, solid finishes — it’s hard to make real use of it if it doesn’t actually fit the needs of the people who live there. Case in point: This dining room from DIYer Amanda Escoe’s 2001 home. When the family moved in, the dining room had a traditional look that didn’t quite vibe with their style, but the main issue was that it just wasn’t all that practical for the family.
“We loved this dining space because of the natural lighting the tall windows gave but we felt like we couldn’t utilize this space to our family needs,” Amanda says. “We wanted a dining space to not only eat our meals at but to have a space for crafting and working on school projects with our kids.”
One other issue? The low-hanging traditional chandelier, which actually made the spacious room look smaller than it was.
First up, Amanda and her husband John Sutkowski dealt with the chandelier. “Our first thought was to brighten the space with a modern light fixture that has more lighting,” Amanda says. Swapping in a West Elm globe chandelier instantly modernized the space, and since the fixture sits much closer to the ceiling, it made the room look more open, too.
A little nook on one side of the room seemed like the perfect place to install built-ins that could hold all the family’s essentials. Amanda and John planned out their shelving unit and built it using IKEA’s BILLY bookcase in the three-shelf size.
Two BILLY bookcases on either end of the nook served as the base for the built-ins. After securing them to the wall, Amanda and John added shelves in between. To give the doors on the BILLY bookcases a trendy reeded look, Amanda glued pole wrap to the door faces before painting everything white.
Above the bookcases and enclosed cabinets — which hold school and craft supplies, among other things — Amanda and John mounted a floating shelf, which shows off seasonal decor. Even though this project looks bespoke, they were able to keep the cost of the built-ins to just $550 (the chandelier cost another $600).
Now, the dining room feels more open and more inviting — and it gets lots more use than it would have otherwise. “What I love about this space now is that it’s fully functional for our family throughout the day,” Amanda says. “We can store all our things in the bottom cabinets of the built ins that we don’t want seen. The shelves of the built in are perfect for displaying decorations and holiday decor throughout each season.”
And on top of all that, she says, “Our new modern light fixture really elevates this room and makes it feel inviting and cozy and is perfect for entertaining.”
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