Earlier this year, we embarked on a makeover journey, focusing on the three main common areas of our home: the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. Because these rooms are all visible from each other, maintaining a cohesive design was important. We’ve made great strides in the living room so far, and now we’re excited to turn our attention to the dining room.
Join us as we transform this dark, cramped space into a lighter, brighter, more inviting English Country style dining room with a few exciting elements, including wallpaper!
The Dining Room: Before
Our dining room is a good size, with two lovely windows looking over the backyard. The centerpiece of the room is a vintage chandelier that came with the house – a fixture that we’ve grown so fond of that it will likely move with us whenever we move.
The abundance of dark-stained wood in this space is overbearing. The chunky farmhouse table is too big for the room and the large hutch holds a big presence as well.
My inspiration for this makeover was the style of an English country dining room, with its antique furniture, calming colors, and feeling of closeness to the outdoors. We want to include these elements in our dining room to create the same feeling.
Our Remodel Goals:
#1 Light, Bright and Inviting
The major goals for our dining room makeover were simple: lighten and brighten the space to make it feel larger and more inviting. Our plan was to swap out the existing furniture for pieces that were better suited to the room’s size, helping it feel less cramped and more spacious.
One of the first steps was to reduce the visible woodwork. The dark wooden hutch, table, chairs, and wainscotting made the room feel heavy, so painting the wainscotting was at the top of our to-do list. We also planned to use smaller furniture pieces to further lighten the space.
#2 Adding a Cheery Pattern with Wallpaper
What better way to add the English countryside vibe than to choose a classic wallpaper created by a British designer, Laura Ashley? I’m incredibly excited about adding a fresh, nature-themed wallpaper to the top portion of the wall. Not only would this add a delightful pattern to the space, but it would also visually open up the room. I’m looking for a wallpaper that has touches of nature such as flowers, leaves and birds in a soft blue and green muted color palette.
Preparing the Walls and Choosing the Paint
After moving the furniture out of the room, it was time to prep the walls for paint and wallpaper. Smoothing out a heavily textured wall was a multi-step, messy process, but one that was necessary for a polished finish. We decided to paint the wainscotting before the wallpaper was hung to prevent any accidental paint splatter on the new paper. This meant all the woodwork had to be sanded and wiped down. Nothing like good, old-fashioned elbow grease!
For our color paint, we chose Universal Khaki by Sherwin Williams. This muted neutral color was a good choice for several reasons. First, it has worked well in other areas of our home, and I know I love it. Second, it is in our home color palette and maintain a sense of continuity from room to room. Having a consistent color palette throughout the home and especially in the common living spaces has been an important consideration in our remodel. We want the house to feel cohesive and using similar colors throughout is one way to accomplish this.
Perfect English Country Style Dining Room Wallpaper
Choosing the wallpaper was a big decision. There are many factors that go into choosing one wallpaper option among the hundreds that are available. We considered scale, pattern, and feeling. We also decided if we wanted the paper to stand out in the room or fade into the background.
Lastly, we chose a pattern that would create the feeling of an English garden countryside and we settled on a classic Laura Ashley design called Elderwood in natural. It is simply gorgeous and has the blooms, berries, and birds I was hoping for. The green leaves also perfectly matched the pesto paste green paint from our home palette.
We decided to have the wallpaper professionally hung. We hung the paper in our bedroom remodel but felt that we wanted a pro to do it in a more visible room like the dining room.
Details and Finishing Touches
Often it is the small details that give the room the look you are going for.
One of the first finishing touches we addressed was the socket covers. The existing cream-colored socket covers seemed a bit stark against our new color scheme, drawing more attention than we wanted. We decided to replace them with a paintable cover with a dressier edge which we painted to match the wainscotting.
Next, we turned our attention to the floor grate. Over the years, the grate rusted and stood out next to the freshly painted walls. We replaced it with a new, clean grate.
One unexpected detail that came to light after the wallpaper was hung was the ivory windowsill. Against the new wallpaper, it stood out more prominently than we liked. To make it blend better with the room’s new color scheme, we decided to paint it to match the wainscotting as well.
We learned a valuable lesson during this process: using the right tape is crucial. We used a type of tape that ended up peeling off a bit of the wallpaper when we removed it, so be sure to use gentle, easily removable tape for similar jobs.
One of our favorite finishing touches was the addition of bamboo blinds. These blinds not only added a lovely natural texture to the room but also provided just the right amount of light filtering. Not quite room-darkening but enough to create a cozy, intimate atmosphere when needed.
We’ve used these woven wood blinds in three other rooms in our home, and their durability and aesthetic appeal have made us repeat customers. What’s more, the company that makes these blinds provides excellent customer service – on one occasion, they replaced a crooked blind at no cost to us.
By paying attention to these details and putting in the time and effort to make them right, we were able to transform our dining room into a space that feels truly “us.” These changes might seem small in the grand scheme of a full room makeover, but they played a key role in pulling together the overall look and feel of our new dining room.
Furniture Swap and Final Details
Other than replacing the seat covers to go with our color palette, these chairs were perfect! Plus I had $150 left over to add to my remodel splurge stash…
Between the trunk, the back seat, and my lap we managed to get all six chairs home in the car!
I was still keeping an eye out for an antique table with carved legs when I realized we already had the perfect dining table – a charming piece from the 1930s that was handed down to us from Matt’s grandfather. The table was a perfect match!
In the midst of this project a long-time friend of mine, Robin, who is an interior designer, suggested we replace the massive dark hutch with our matching buffet, also from Matt’s grandfather, which fit the room perfectly and was a better fit for the dining room. The buffet says “dining room” and looks so much more intentional. At first I was hesitant, but now the suggestion seems obvious. It’s always a good idea to get fresh eyes on your things to see them being used in different ways.
Our dining room makeover journey has transformed the space into an inviting, bright room, perfect for sharing meals and creating memories. With thoughtful changes like wallpaper, paint, and more suitable furniture choices, we achieved our goal of an English countryside dining room, right in our own home. We hope this journey inspires you to undertake your own transformations, creating spaces that not only look good but feel like home to you! Thank you so much for following along with us! We hope you have been inspired and encouraged to tackle projects in your home.