The Chronicle of Our Dining Room Transformations

You are not going to believe it but we actually purchased our current house in one visit to the sales centre, yes folks, that included signing a purchase agreement. On a sunny and warm Saturday in December 2007, out of boredom hubs and I decided to go house hunting. Our last house was a 4-bedroom 2,000 sq ft in an established neighbourhood in Richmond Hill. We really didn’t need a bigger house, but we wanted one. Have you ever been to a house trapped in the 80’s decor style? Well, our old house was like that, and no matter how much work (with the limited design skills I had back then) we put into it, it still didn’t feel like the one.

To backtrack a little bit, that deal-sealing trip wasn’t our first house hunting effort. Before that, I was searching on (the now and various builder sites, but none jumped out. I guess we did reach that tipping point when I stepped into that sales centre. Upon a quick scan, none of the models caught my eye. It must be the holiday spirit or just our luck, the sales rep Louise was extremely nice and asked what we were looking for in a new house. My first thought was…not a cookie cutter. But that’s a tall order, isn’t it, cookie cutter sort of comes with the territory for any new construction these days. Louise paused, turned back to his office, and brought with him a floor plan that had me always gasp in joy! It had 90% of the features from my wish list, the reason why it was in the back office was because this builder only built this model as lottery grand prize show homes! I guess someone really wanted to wrap up a quick sale before Christmas, eh?

Well, one of the downside of buying from a floor plan is that all the locations and lengths of entryways and walls are approximate. Just lookie this odd wall opening between our living room and dining room in the picture below — I could never tell from a blueprint!

July 2009: we had a tough time with the odd layout of this supposedly dining room. If I put a long seating at the wall shown below, I wouldn’t have enough room for a 8-person dining table. If the sideboard went there, then the table and the chairs would have blocked the view. Anyhow, this was what we moved into, a pretty awkward dining space that doesn’t lead directly into kitchen.

Dec 2009: our dining set was delivered by Anne-Quinn Furniture just in time for the Christmas Eve dinner party. As you could tell, nothing much had been done in this room…thankfully the food and wine was good. 🙂
March 2010: I must have been in over my head that I took up a not-so-novice DIY half-wall wainscoting challenge. You can read more about how it came together here. We also painted the wall in Behr Stable Hay…I shouldn’t have known better from the name of the paint color that it was going to turn out very golden/yellow. Hated the wall color and must get rid of it. The 9-frame gallery wall was yet again a failed attempt to decorate that 2/3 wall.
April 2010: our sideboard arrived. Other than the wall color, it looked pretty good from this angle, IMO.
November 2010: I finally made time to re-paint the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter. It new color goes better with dark dining set, white wainscoting and blue silk drapes, don’t you think? And I am happy to report that so far I haven’t changed my mind yet on what we’ve done to the room.
You can read more about our dining room here or by clicking the Dining Room label.


All Set for Christmas!

Realizing how monochromatic my kitchen appears after the recent makeover, I am determined to introduce some color pops to create visual interests. And what better time to do so than Christmas, ‘tis the season to decorate with splashes and splashes of colors!

I fancy this Alessi Michael Graves Kettle with Small Bird-Shaped Whistle from Gabriel Ross for a while (or anything Alessi, I’ve been hooked on their designs since I did a MBA case study on them years ago), so I brought home this pretty lady online just in time for some high tea with girlfriends during holidays. I picked up the Paderno Pepper Mill in Blue from HomeSense by chance the other day, and since bought a Salt Mill in Yellow and another Pepper Mill in Red to complete the set. Paderno Canada web site has a great sale going on now where you can get these mills at 30% off. And how can I be all set for Christmas without the tree and lights?! This year I am also going for a chance: instead of one humongous 7-Ft tree I used to put up every year, I picked up two of these 5-Ft Prelit Potted Christmas Trees from Canadian Tire. I added some vintage balls (yes, they are from my mother-in-law and just as young as my husband) and voilà, I have them flank the entrance to the dining room to make my guests feel like VIPs.

We are adding exterior potlights before Christmas so that’s all we put up this year so far. That’s is for now.

It’s A Wrap!

After months’ of painstaking search for a piece of blue/green-color-tone artwork to neutralize our golden dining room walls, after bouncing among classic portrait/social scenes to chinoiserie prints to impressionism oil paintings, I finally settled for a modern abstract/representation piece by Georgia O’Keefe named “From the Lake No. 1“. She seemed to use a lot of blue and green color family in her artworks, and her abstract styles were not too radical or over-the-top.

This is a peek from the foyer into the dining room. I am not keen on the golden wall color (I thought it’d turn out more buttery than gold) but am too tired to change it now. I will live with it for a while, and decide if I want to repaint or wallpaper it. Note I also replaced the sliding mirror closet doors — you can’t have a mirror closet door at the entrance of a million-dollar home, right? 😀
This is Georgia O’Keefe’s From the Lake No. 1 (1924) art print in a dark wood frame with linen liner. Though it was initially done in oil, the lively flow and transition of the colors made it so fluid that it appeared watercolor. The painting on the wall “Paris Walk – Snow” was done by none other than yours truly.

Mine exhibited side-by-side to Georgia O’Keefe’s: it could only happen in my dreams and my home. 🙂

The lime color dupioni shade lamps are glowing in golden tone which make the walls even yellow-er. 😦

Michael Sideboard by Christine’s Custom Furniture

Our sideboard has finally arrived after eight month since we placed the order. Christine’s Custom Furniture has proven to us again that it was well worth the wait. Our sideboard, a.k.a. Michael Sideboard (interestingly Christine has decided to name it with a masculine version of “Michelle”, or it could just be a coincidence I wonder), is made of solid mahogany finished in a satin brown stain. This is the last piece of furniture to complete our dining room.

I replaced the antique brass ring pulls with larger ring pulls in satin nickle finish to create some contrast. The antique brass finish ones disappeared in the dark wood stain.
Michael Sideboard from a different angle. The wood grains are so sex-y!
The Michael Sideboard now has its own nook in our dining room. The idea is not to compete with a substantial piece like our double pedestal dining table. I keep changing my mind on what to put on the wall facing the foyer — so for now it’s best to just leave it blank.
This is a professional studio photo taken by Christine’s Custom Furniture. The antique brass ring pulls have been replaced.

Dining Room Makeover

It’s amazing how much can be accomplished from computers these days. I pretty much planned out our entire dining room makeover from my PC: from mapping out wainscoting/appliques from PowerPoint, to visualizing a gallery wall from Photoshop by plugging in different photos.
This was designed in PowerPoint for one of the walls in the dining room. It allowed us to plan well before we started cutting those chair rails. It also helped minimize wastes. Remember, measure twice, cut once.

And…ta da! This is what our dining room looks like after wainscoting, a fresh coat of paint and new blue-grey silk drapes! Wall color is Behr Stable Hay in satin finish. Wainscoting was painted in a custom shade of white in semi-gloss sheen. The drapery panels are from Fabricland. I added linings to pump up the volume. Stable Hay paint was too gold/warm for me so I added the grayish blue drapes to tone it down.

This was mapped out in Photoshop. I was able to move photos around to achieve visual balance before I put these frames on the wall.

Dining room from another angle. I received a lot of compliments from the new gallery wall. It certainly has become the new attention-grabber.