Before & After: Dining Room

Things to discuss today: Wish lists vs. reality, staying flexible with your plans, and a color exercise I hope will be helpful to y’all.

So you remember our dining room from Matchbook:IMG_1591 copy

Photo by Emily Anderson.



Our dining room is just to the right of the entry hall when you come in to our house. The dining room connects to the kitchen and the stairs are at the back of the house. In terms of a floor plan, I really like the layout because it forces you at least walk through every room in your daily travels.hr2924042-20 copy

Dining rooms, for some reason, never really excite me. I mean, there are exciting dining rooms- I really loved ours in Austin, but they always seem more like showrooms than living rooms and they aren’t my favorites to do.

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The dining room before was fine. The only tricky thing about it is that it is almost a perfect square, and has a lot of doorways and windows which made placing furniture tricky. The writing on the picture was my initial plan for the room. Only 2 of those 5 things ended up happening.

Same angle on the room after…photoOne of these days I am going to get a good camera so my shots of the space aren’t so terrible.

And here is a reminder of how our dining situation has transitioned from Chicago…193b3fc724c75faa7937f707b5b0b5f1

photo by Emily Anderson

Aww I love this room. It was just so “me” at the time.

Then in Austin…


photo by Paige Newton

Same buffet, dining table, and the newly recovered chairs. Here is the post I did on the room at the time with sources etc.

I really liked this dining room, and wasn’t thrilled about having to redo it.

The china cabinets obviously wouldn’t fit, even one of them on the wall where the monkey painting is now wouldn’t have really worked. We needed a round or square table because of the dimensions of the room, and that buffet is this random piece I used in college as my TV cabinet, but that has somehow weaseled its way into every dining room we have had since. The chandelier in Austin is incredible, but would have been way too huge for this new room. The curtains I figured we would leave in the house for resale, but I loved the chairs and knew we were sticking with those.

So now Houston again…The plan initially was “New green curtains, have china cabinet made, new ceiling fixture, new round dining table, new storage buffet”. And the only things we stuck to on that list was new dining table and ceiling fixture.


Our china cabinets from Austin wouldn’t fit as a pair, and one of them would have been too shrimpy and wouldn’t have given enough storage, so I was planning to have a big awesome pagoda style cabinet made for the wall where the monkey painting is now. We were going to do some crazy color for the cabinet, keep the walls white, and bring in new green curtains.

The monkey painting was going to go in the kitchen by the table- and was probably part of the decision to paint the kitchen dark green now that I think of it. But then we realized that where we were hanging it in the kitchen, it had a high probability of being damaged, and this was the only wall big enough in the rest of the house to accommodate it. Which changed the whole plan.

And here is a note on the color combo front. In Austin, and then with the beginning visions of this space I was drawing the colors out of the Cole & Sons fabric on the chairs. In Austin that meant the wall color was inspired by the light green/blue background. The yellow for the chairs and the pink for the inside of the china cabinets came from the birds. Then bringing in that giant paining- I figured we would have to completely change things up to make that work.

But in actuality- they work really well together!Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 8.51.34 AM

You can see here the pinks in the girls dress and in the bird are similar, they both have the same variation of greens, and actually really similar blues as well.

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Before…phooihto 2

After. We ended up keeping that tenacious buffet. I couldn’t find anything with the right dimensions, and even though I am happy using the piece for now, I think it will eventually get replaced. The painting above the buffet was above the fireplace in Chicago and Austin. The dining table is a reproduction that I had made, and has two leafs. IMG_1579 copy

photo by Emily Anderson

sources: tufted dining chairs, dining chairs, walls are fine paints of europe colonial rose, light fixture, dining table made through here.

For the shoot I did the table up because the room just didn’t feel finished.

That is because it isn’t finished. While I don’t normally favor having a rug in dining rooms, this one feels really cold without it, and I want to cover up those floors where I can. I am still on the search for the right thing, I am thinking something graphic and contemporary to freshen up all the traditional we have going on in here. Maybe in a dark purple? That might be too much saturated color- but we shall see.

We also still need curtains. We ended up taking the curtains out of our austin house to use here, but I still need to have them hemmed.

When we realized the monkey painting would have to go on the only big wall, we had to figure out a new plan for some china cabinets. I found this pair on 1st dibs. They were the perfect size, and already had the light blue painted inside, and they work so well.

So. In review. Coming up with the color combinations, this might be a useful exercise I will demonstrate using our dining room as an example.

Take a colorful fabric you love and make of list of all of the colors in it, even if they are just tiny accents in the fabric.

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Then, create a plan for the room with each place you need to make a color decision i.e. walls, rug, upholstery, curtains, painted furniture piece.dining roomNext, go through and plug in your list of colors from the fabric in each place you need to make a color decision for the room:

green walls dining

Using one of the colors in the fabric as the wall color (greens), another for the tufted chairs (lilac), the dining chairs (coral), and the china cabinet (sea foam). Then do it again trying the colors from the fabric in different applications.lilac walls dining

The same four colors, just used on different pieces.

Once you have a few versions, you can choose your favorite and start playing with the shade and tones of each color. Making the wall color lighter/darker, imagining the dining chair fabric as a pattern or texture.lilac walls dining spec sheet

Whether or not this is how you actually design the room, if you are nervous about color combinations or uninspired, I think this can really open your eyes to different ways color can work together.

I know some of you are looking at that and thinking…”Tha eff? How am I supposed to draw lovely room elevations and photoshop in all that junk, I don’t have those skills!”

Truthfully, I have pretty janky photoshop/drawing skills and Maddie had to draw this up and change out the colors for me. This is all meant to provide an illustration of what happens in my head that might be helpful to you. You could do this as a collage with cutouts, or with fabric samples placing them in various positions and switching it up.

Like how these two rooms have all of the same colors- and most of the same pieces, but totally different feels.Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 10.50.27 AM

Helpful? Even after this post I am getting a lot of emails and comments asking me to give more tips on color combinations, and I thought this might be useful. Was it?

Any questions/comments/concerns?

Talk to me.

Also…I would REALLY appreciate y’all voting for my sofa styling on Style Me Pretty.ProjectSofa_Pinterest

Today is the last day to enter, and we could both be winners!


  1. Abby February 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Awesome post, Bailey! I sometimes have a hard time using patterns / colors but this explains a lot perfectly! Thanks!

  2. Amy February 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Bailey I love it! The coral walls and furniture choices are lovely together. I like how you’ve primped the table, even if just for a shoot!

  3. katharine February 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Amazing…again :)
    Love the coral.
    Just about to wall paper our tiny livingroom in this as it’s always been a favourite, your colour inspirations are amazing, we have panels…maybe coral is the way forward, maybe not will experiment thanks!!

  4. Gabrielle | Savvy Ho February 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    That monkey painting is simply insane. I’m so in love with it. Who’s the artist?

  5. Anna February 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    your dining room is one of my favorite rooms you’ve done – and I just pinned some pictures of it to Pinterest for future inspiration ideas!

  6. Beth February 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    I think my biggest question is what is your timeline in all this? Like did you move into the house and realize that you needed to move the painting from the kitchen to the dining room and then change the wall colors from there or was this all planned before any furniture was even moved into the house?

  7. Heidi February 21, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Great post – your suggestion about listing the colours and then putting them on different parts of the room very helpful. Voted for your sofa styling too! Thanks.

  8. Emily February 21, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Holy moly you are amazing, love every room!!!

  9. April D. February 21, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    This is extremely informative! Thank you so much for taking the time to explain your design process. I’m sitting in my living room right now trying to incorporate all these valuable lessons into my design. Oh, I also voted for your couch. Best of luck!

  10. Anne February 21, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Just voted for you Bailey :) Thanks for your ideas about how to let color inspire a room…I’ve been doing this in my daughter’s room with a vintage headboard fabric, but I’m afraid I haven’t used enough variety in the shades of the colors, so it may be coming off too matchy and flat? Ah, to keep trying…

  11. Brittnay February 21, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    You are freakin’ awesome!!! I love how more recently you’ve posted the links to certain items in your home. Particularly the Camille tufted chair!! Question, Did Ballard’s do the upholstery? I don’t see any really fun colors like the golden yellow you have? I was looking for a neon pink or some other fun shade of pink. Any suggestions? Thanks, keep the design inspiration coming!

  12. Danielle February 21, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    This post is amaaaaaazing. Thank you for sharing! My mom is re-decorating her living room, and she keeps randomly sending me a million different pieces of furniture with a million different colors, and I keep telling her she needs to do something similar to this before she buys things! I’m going to send her this post! Thank you!

    Also, quick question. I recently moved to a studio apartment and had to get rid of a ton of furniture that didn’t fit. I donated some and sold other pieces on craigslist. Do you have any other resources to get rid of furniture that no longer fits into your space?

  13. Janelle February 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I am loving your before & after posts explaining your design process in your new home…thank you!! And please keep them coming! I would love to see what rug you come up with in the dining room as I am also working with a square dining room in my home. Thanks again!

  14. Shari February 21, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Great post and I voted for you! Hope you win!

  15. Ale February 22, 2013 at 6:36 am

    I have never posted a comment before, but had to just to say thank you. What an excellent, informative post! The content you have been putting out lately is stellar.

  16. Shelly Gregory February 22, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Each room, you have shared with us, has truly been amazing! And, I so appreciate your instructions on how to achieve the look. I can’t wait to see the finished dining room with drapery and a rug. Have an incredible weekend!

  17. ade February 22, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Sooooo, question on color in rooms: how much do you take into consideration the natural light/fabricated light (i.e. lamps/lighting fixtures) in a room when deciding on these colors? That’s where I get gun-shy…I want to do certain colors in rooms, but then I start obsessing over how it’s going to look in the daytime, with the natural light it gets, and how many lighting fixtures I’m going to need to put in there to make it look good. And then I freak out, back down and go with something totes neutral instead!! How do you address that aspect of designing a room…if you even consider it at all??

    LOVE the upholstered chairs in this dining room and obvi that monkey painting, it’s so legit. Good work, yet again!

  18. Jessica February 22, 2013 at 11:50 am

    This was the most helpful post for the way I visualize. I have been trying to figure out how to use my photoshop skills to transform a couple of rooms in my home and I think I need to step back and keep it simple! I have been checking back frequently lately for new updates – thanks for the great content the blog is certainly growing! Pick up a decent DSLR (may I recommend Cannon) with a wide angle and small aperture range and you will be golden.

  19. The Glam Pad February 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    I absolutely love, love, LOVE your dining room!!! I’m actually obsessed with pink dining rooms! Here is a round up I did on pink dining rooms last week for Valentine’s Day. I wish I had had yours to include, it is delicious!!!

    The Glam Pad

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