Before and After: Smart DIYs Gave This “Cold” Dining Room a Welcoming (and Functional) New Life
It seems like in every home, there’s one problem area or awkward space that’s just a bit harder to complete than the rest. Maybe it’s a too-narrow hallway, or a closet with too many awkward angles, or a bedroom with an inconveniently placed window — whatever the limits of the space, it’s sure to be a real head-scratcher.
In Lindsey Boehmke’s (@hilltown_house) home, that awkward room was the dining area just off the kitchen. “As great as this room was, with its natural light and beautiful views of the surrounding trees, it always felt cold and disconnected from the rest of the first floor,” Lindsey says. “It’s a relatively narrow space… one big obstacle to troubleshoot was the breakfast bar/pony wall that divides this space from the kitchen.”
Besides its initial paint job and trim, the room hadn’t had much attention since Lindsey moved in, and she wanted to give it a redo packed with style and practicality. “I took on this room for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, which takes place over eight weeks,” she says. “Besides hiring professionals to install the new set of French doors and the new set of chandeliers, the rest of the room was entirely DIY’d by myself.”
Lindsey’s DIYs include: rebuilding the breakfast bar, adding wallpaper, adding thin brick tile, building and installing a floor to ceiling bookcase, revamping the ceiling with shiplap, and and sewing and hanging new curtains.
Lindsey tackled the room one wall at a time, starting with the breakfast bar, the number one culprit for dysfunction. She took off the granite countertop, evened out the ledge with MDF, and painted it with a black glossy stain to match the counters in the kitchen. “While it crossed my mind to splurge on a really nice piece of pretty stone, the reality is that one day I’d eventually like to replace all of my kitchen counters and it makes much more sense to save my money and do that all at once,” Lindsey said on her blog.
Lindsey painted the underside of the counter a gray-green (Sherwin-Williams’s Retreat). On the wall above and surrounding the countertop, she added ticking stripe wallpaper from Magnolia Home.
Afterward, Lindsey turned her attention to the wall opposite the counter and began her brick tiling project, which was much more difficult than anticipated. She used thin brick sheets and a pre-mixed grout to complete the job. “For anyone considering adding thin-brick like mine to a space, just know that it is a physically demanding and messy DIY,” Lindsey says. “Both the tile installation and the grouting take a very large amount of labor-intensive hours.”
Even so, Lindsey is pleased with the way the brick turned out. “My original plan was to paint the brick white, but this slightly off-white color felt so warm and paired so nicely with the colors of the living room I decided to leave it as-is,” she says.
At the same time Lindsey was working on the brick walls, she started on her built-in shelves surrounding the professionally installed French doors. “I still am amazed that the giant bookcase I installed around the new french doors came together,” she says. “I knew exactly what I wanted, but also knew it would be a big project that needed a lot of attention to detail. It’s one of my proudest projects to date in my home and the room would not have turned out the same without it.”
Now, Lindsey has completely custom storage that uses every inch of the wall and offers a spot to store glassware, cookbooks, recipe cards, her LEGO collection, and more.
Lindsey already owned her large dining room table, but her finishing touches in the space include installing the shiplap ceiling (painted in the same white as the built-ins, Sherwin-Williams’s Extra White), the new pendant lights, green velvet curtains that Lindsey sewed herself, and framed artwork on the brick wall. (Lindsey recommends cutting paper or fabric squares and rectangles in the same dimensions as your artwork before hanging so you can get the positioning just right.) All those DIYs helped the entire project total just $7,500 — including the professional door installation.
Lindsey is proud of executing her vision. “I honestly wouldn’t do anything differently,” she says. “This room came out exactly as I pictured, and I’d say the overall vibe is even better than I hoped.”
This project was completed for the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.