Before and After: A $650 Update Helps Modernize a Dining Room Stuck in Neutral
Moving into a blank slate home can be stressful! After all, you have to fill it. All of it. When Andrea Williams (@decoratingcents) and her husband found their own blank slate house in 2011, it was “builder basic, including the beige walls,” Andrea says. They needed a fix, so they painted all of the walls a dark tan “because we thought any color was better than what it was,” and they bought all new furniture “without really feeling out the spaces and knowing what we really liked.”
For the dining room, one of the first rooms that Andrea focused on, they bought a showroom floor set in dark espresso, and Andrea spray-painted the existing white chandelier black and put a cover on the chain. She also stenciled one wall with a trellis pattern. “I put up curtains and a rug and called it done,” she says.
Of course, the more you live in a space, the more you realize how you feel about its functionality and aesthetics. For Andrea, she quickly learned that what she had chosen as the dining room’s style just wasn’t for her.
But figuring out what does feel right for you doesn’t happen overnight—or sometimes even over several years! Andrea swapped that repainted chandelier for a nickel one and the match-y chairs for tufted ones because “at the time I felt it was more me. Wrong! I was heading in a more traditional direction and that wasn’t us.”
Andrea realized what she really wanted was something more modern with some color mixed in. So, over about a year and a half beginning in 2017, she gave the room yet another makeover.
She painted the formerly trellis-covered accent wall in Behr’s Starless Night, adding white board and batten with leftover materials from another project. “The wall was out of my comfort zone because I had never painted a color so bold, but I’m glad I went for it,” she says. “It really makes the room. We have an open concept home, and you can see this wall from just about every room downstairs. It is the focal point and draws your eye over.” Then she painted the other walls in Behr’s Silver Drop, which she already had on hand.
She also did another furniture and accessories swap, selling the tufted chairs and going for cleaner ones with mid-century vibes from Target, changing out the plain rug for a patterned but neutral one, and nabbing a modern light fixture from West Elm.
“I always sell my old items before buying something new,” she says. “This keeps my spending under control and my husband happy.” Even with all of those changes, she estimates that she only spent about $650 on the room’s newest iteration. “I never pay full price!” she says.
Now the room finally feels more like Andrea. If you’re on a similar style discovery journey, Andrea’s advice is to remember that paint can always be changed, and to give yourself some time to figure everything out: “It took me several tries before landing on this design,” she says. “My style has definitely evolved over the years.”
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