Before and After: This No-Demo Dining Room Has a Gallery Wall Trick You’ll Want to Steal

published May 10, 2021
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Dining Room
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
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Step one of any great room revamp isn’t priming or sanding or demoing — it’s research. Making an itemized list of furniture you want to buy for an upgrade (with prices included) can help you stay within your budget, can help a big project feel more manageable, and can help you envision what the “after” will look like before moving a single piece of furniture.

When homeowner Tracy Bennett moved into her 1977 home, she loved its build and bones, but she was ready to start fresh with all new furniture. “We wanted to immediately make it our own with style, the feeling of home, mid-century modern furniture, color, and plants.”

In the dining room, Tracy wanted to incorporate mid-century modern furniture with splashes of color. She and her husband wanted a large table that would seat more guests because the one from the realtor staging felt too small for the space. “My husband Andy wanted a walnut table and one that was made well and preferably in the US,” Tracy says. “We turned to Room & Board and found this gorgeous 10-person table with a removable leaf — it was more than perfect! The craftsmanship was gorgeous, and it has not disappointed.”

Tracy also knew she wanted to include peacock blue, the same color as her living room sofa, a shade she planned to incorporate throughout the whole house. Her teal end chairs from Wayfair balanced with the more neutral taupe ones from West Elm and add the perfect pop of color without becoming overwhelming.

When it came to the sideboard, Tracy had to compromise, as her initial picks were pricey but not well-crafted. “Narrow down your choices with your spouse or partner, and agree to compromise on those pieces one or the other may not want,” Tracy advises.

Plus, agreeing on what you want beforehand can save headaches down the road. “Make sure all the furniture and accessories fit your lifestyle; I cannot stress this enough,” she advises. “We had a rug that we returned because the pile was too high, and you couldn’t pull the chairs out without lifting them up. Also, it was made of viscose, which is not kid-friendly or spill-proof. Research your materials and where the products are made.”

A gallery wall that spans a corner of the dining room makes the little wall space this room has extra impactful.

Lastly, Tracy wanted to replace the light fixture in the room, as she thought the candlestick one was proportionally too small. Because you can see this dining space right when you walk in the house, Tracy wanted something that would wow. Her final choice, a Serena & Lily honeycomb chandelier, does just that. “There was absolutely no space for a light like this in our former home, so I bookmarked it for ‘one day,’” Tracy says. Well, our ‘one day’ came, and I knew EXACTLY where this light would go.”

The new light fixture makes the space especially dreamy by drawing the eye upward. And it’s not even Tracy’s favorite part of the space! “I am most proud of all my plants,” Tracy says. She says she’s particularly proud of the way that they have become living décor in the space because the before had “no life in general.”

“I killed any and all plants in our former home,” Tracy says. Luckily, her new house has an abundance of natural light thanks to the large living room and main floor windows. Tracy started researching plants — which windows they’d do best in, which ones can grow in lower light, which ones need lots of light, and more.

Sensing a theme here? That’s right: Plan, plan, plan — and research! “My words of advice are to make a list of which pieces you want and why,” Tracy says. Adding “the why” here is important and can help you prioritize your purchases. Adding the cost is important, too, and makes it easy to do cost comparison. This helped Tracy maximize her $6,500 budget.

“Research your materials and where the products are made,” Tracy adds. By starting with a plan and a budgeted list, you’ll be one step closer to creating the room (and home!) you envision.