Before and After: $1,500 Takes an “Empty and Cold” Dining Room to Warm and Layered Perfection
Perhaps the most important, practical thing to keep in mind when you’re decorating your space is that in order for homes to look cozy, layered, and lived-in, they have to be just that: actually lived in for a bit of time. That time allows books to amass, collections to grow, layouts to evolve — and even for hinges to squeak and spills to happen. Not to mention, it takes time to save for your splurge items and cosmetic upgrades.
Case in point: Krishna Shah’s (@homebykrishna) dining room, which sat empty for a year after she moved in as she was making up her mind about how to fill the space.
“After a year and half, we finally bought a dining table, chairs and a rug,” she says. “However, it still didn’t feel like ‘home’ or a place we could entertain our family and friends. We were not using that space at all mostly because it didn’t feel cozy or inviting.”
Krishna wanted to make her dream hosting space a reality, so she decided to enter the One Room Challenge and made several smart but simple upgrades totaling $1,500 to take her space from “empty and cold” to her new favorite room in the house.
“We started with changing the lighting,” she says; she and her husband kept the recessed ceiling lighting but added a large metallic pendant to help give the room a focal point and a little more personality.
Next, they changed the blinds by replacing all of the roller shades in the room to Roman shades on the big window and pleated curtains on the sliding door, adding warmer tones and a bit of texture to the space. “I also trimmed out all the windows and painted all the trim Accessible Beige by Sherwin-Williams,” Krishna says, proving window treatments should not be overlooked when it comes to changing the overall look and feel of a space.
To add even more texture, Krishna attached vertical wood paneling to the back wall using a nail gun. She cut it using a jigsaw and said on her Instagram that the shiplap boards are fairly easy to cut. “The only thing that takes time is cutting out any notches or or areas for the outlets to go,” she shared on an Instagram story.
For a professional look, Krishna caulked the vertical paneling before painting it a creamy off-white shade (Shoji White by Sherwin-Williams). “It adds the right amount of layers to the dining room without overpowering it or making the space feel tiny,” Krishna says of the new feature wall, which also includes floating shelves that she made using 2x12s and gallery rails. Another bonus: The vertically installed boards help give the illusion of a taller ceiling.
“Lastly, I styled the dining area with thrifted and new home decor pieces and art,” Krishna says. One of the biggest setbacks in her eight-week redo was a supply chain issue.
“The original display cabinet I wanted was out of stock with no restock date in sight,” she says. She spent days thinking of an alternative that fit within her under-$500 budget, and she even considered upcyling an IKEA piece, but the space was small, and the dimensions had to be just right.
“After days of searching online, I finally found the display cabinet that I have now at Target,” Krishna says. “It was such a random find and not something that I had seen all over the internet. It fits perfectly into the tiny space, and I’m frankly glad I didn’t purchase the original cabinet.”
The lesson here (again): Waiting, even if you don’t plan on it, can pay off.
Krishna’s biggest advice for refreshing a space is to make a mood before beginning. “It’s easier to make tweaks on the mood board versus after you’ve already done the work,” she says. “The room turned out exactly how I envisioned it (first time ever),” she says.
The best part? Her warm, cozy, and high-end vision came to life without a high price tag — a true win.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.