Designers will say that a good room may have 1 or 2 moments and that the rest of the design takes a backseat. Well, the dining room has like 8 moments. 🙂 Restraint isn’t exactly my forte but this room is FUN. I want to spend time in it just to be in it.
Let’s start with the trim. It makes the room. I’m so happy with how it turned out! It looks better than I ever imagined. I spent so long researching to try to figure out exactly what I wanted and I have to say – I think I nailed it. Pun fully intended.
So after I did a ton of research and figured out what I wanted I went ahead and mapped out some of my pieces and then I started to tally up the cost of the supplies…and uh oh. I started to do the math and things were not looking good. At this point, I was committed to following through so we went for it anyway. I lost track of how much we paid for all of the supplies for this room (we went at least 4x to get more trim) but it’s somewhere in the $500-$800 range. Yes, that is just the price of all the trim. Are you surprised? I know I was. I figured I would pay a couple hundred bucks. Now, that does include baseboard and crown and if you already have those in your room that would be a big cost savings since those are the most expensive moldings that I used.
I feel like it’s important to be upfront about the cost of this project because it definitely wasn’t a drop in the bucket. If I had known how expensive it was going to be, I probably would have decided against doing this so in some ways I’m glad I didn’t know because I LOVE it so much.
Alright, let’s go back in time. Here’s our dining room on moving day. We saved money by opting for a pendant instead of a chandelier (which we knew we’d eventually replace). This is before we got the carpet removed.
Womp womp. Let’s go way back in time – oh my gosh, Flynn was so tiny…
And here’s the dining room for the first 2 years in the house. The table and chair set we bought cheap at Haynes when we bought our first house. This was back when espresso stain was all the rage. Shortly after this photo I sold the set on facebook marketplace. The rug was a hand me down and was the rug we used in our family room in our first home.
Do you see that floor lamp in the back though? That’s an antique victorian stye gas lamp converted to electric. We inherited it from Eric’s grandma and it is a showstopper. Her home was full of amazing antiques, tall ceilings and ornate moldings and it fit right in – in our house it looked out of place but I knew one day we could give it the room it deserved. That was my starting point for this room and it really helped me along the way with every decision because I could always go back to the lamp and say what makes more sense for it? Other than that my vision for the room was a cool Parisian restaurant. I never want a room to feel “theme-y” but it definitely helps to have an idea of what I want because otherwise I have such a hard time making decisions.
Alright, first step was taking out that sad 3.25″ baseboard and replacing it with the same 5.25″ baseboard we installed in the mudroom.
We also installed a chair rail at 34.5 inches from the floor (to the top of the rail). There was some indecision about how to install the chair rail near door/window trim. Real deal chair rail typically has a return cut as you really should never have an exposed end of a trim BUT for the sake of time (and my sanity) we butted them right into the trim instead. We figured once it was all painted to match it wouldn’t be noticeable enough to matter. And ok, it does still bother me slightly but I have seen tons of rooms since that did exactly what we did and I feel pretty good about that. Oh and we may have installed the chair rail upside down… Common consensus from google was that the more protruding area of the chair rail is the top buttttt it wasn’t really that clear cut as apparently no one knows which way is up and we accidentally installed the longest piece upside down (with glue!) and after about a minute of pondering I thought ehhhh…no big deal. I think I like the way we installed it better and I’m sticking with that!
Let’s talk spacing. I used a cut piece of chair rail which is exactly 3 inches wide and was about 2 feet long. I took my piece of chair rail and butted it right up to my trim and ran my pencil along. That way I had the outline for my picture frames. It was GENIUS. I didn’t really plan it but stumbled upon it and dang, it worked like a charm.
We used our nail gun for all horizontal trim. Vertical trim was more complicated although for the most part there was usually a stud close enough that I could get a few nails to catch it. I used liquid nails for all vertical pieces to give it the extra support it needed. Only a few pieces relied on the glue only so those got taped up for a few hours until the glue held. Smaller boxes, especially the lowers got glue on all pieces b/c they usually only caught one stud.
The placing of the picture frames was intuitive on the window wall as well as the wall with the cased opening but the other two walls were more open-ended. I split the picture frames into 4 equal sizes and combined the 2 middle boxes on top. I did the same thing on both walls but because of the doorway on the one wall they do appear to be different although similar in proportion. I really think this depends on the room itself but I do think the proportions we chose work really nicely and I’ll keep that in mind if I do this in the future.
My method for each box was the same. I first took good measurements of each piece needed based on the pencil on the wall. I then went and made the cuts w/ my miter saw, erring on the side of too long. I then would bring in all 4 pieces and dry fit them. If a piece was good I kept it in the room and made marks on the pieces that needed another cut. I repeated this until I felt good with all 4 pieces. I then installed the bottom piece of the picture frame resting it on the 3 inch chair rail that I used to mark out everything. I nailed the piece in to studs (or if only 1 stud was available and applied liquid nails). I then installed the vertical strips, using some liquid nails. Lastly I capped it off with the top piece and nailed that in. Occasionally if things weren’t staying put I used some painter’s tape to help it dry the way I wanted it to but that was rare. Here’s a video of me installing a picture frame and yes, I do wear my pajamas when I do DIY b/c why not.
Most nights after the kids went to bed I would install one or two picture frames before bed. It was not a quick process, but it was easy and I definitely got better as I went. The last few picture frames I cut nearly perfect on the first round.
Choosing a height for the top of our picture frames was complicated. Most inspiration pictures I saw they used the height of the windows/door frames. Our room has windows, a large cased opening and a smaller cased opening for the breezeway and they are ALL different heights. So which of the 3 heights should we choose? We decided to pick the height of the large cased opening since it was the middle of the 3. That left us with the decision of how to approach the crown molding. We needed to either go minimal and add a faux picture rail in between the picture frames and crown or we could go huge with the crown. We opted for the picture rail. And I think we chose the right thing because it looks intentional but also forgettable in the best way.
After installing everything including the crown, I added wood filler to all the nail holes and caulked every single seam. 5 tubes of caulk later and a whole lot of sanding and we were ready to paint.
At this point, my table had come and we installed the light fixture. I had hoped choosing a paint color would be easy but of course it wasn’t. All along I wanted a sagey grey-green. But after picking a bunch of samples in that range I was worried it would look like a grey jail cell. I know that’s silly but that’s all I could think of when I saw them. Then some of the colors read “cat puke” and once you see that you can’t go back.
On a whim, in addition to all my grey greens at Sherwin Williams I picked up a sample of Riverway. It’s that lovely dark teal in the middle. Next to all of the greys it was a breath of fresh air and an immediate favorite. But for about a week I tried to fall in love with something else because I was afraid of how dark it would be. But after a while it became pretty clear that I needed to give it a try or I would never get it out of my head.
The plan was to paint the rest of the room white to keep it from getting too dark. And so that’s what I did… this is SW Greek Villa and it’s a creamy white that has some yellow tones.
Shoutout to the MCM I bought. I got it off Facebook marketplace for $125. They were practically giving it away! That’s what I told my husband anyway…
So the white paint looks quite pretty in these photos but it looked much more boring in person. Also, it felt strange to break up the molding with different paint colors. The other problem was that the blue reflected onto the white and gave it a greeny hue that wasn’t pleasant. And I’m not sure if there would be a white we could choose that wouldn’t do that. So I decided to take the plunge into full on Riverway.
Here’s the truth…it is dark. Ok, I said it.
Butttt… It’s a dining room and it’s ok to be a little moody and dark and to have some romantic ambience. Andddd that light is really bright in a great way. Not like blinding bright but it has a lot of globes which equals a lot of light bulbs. So at night, it’s not dark in there because there’s a nice bright light.
But I would be lying if I said I’m 100% sure I picked the right color. I still wonder what the room would look like lighter but I also know that paint is not permanent. And with $100 and a weekend I could have a completely different room. And that’s kind of exciting to me too. But for now, Riverway it is.
The best part about Riverway is that it’s one of those crazy chameleon paint colors. There are moments it looks blue with no hint of green. And then some times it looks like this beautiful dark teal. In the picture above you can see how in some places where there’s heavy natural light it loses it’s green. So at night, it plays a completely different color and gets super moody.
Ok, now that we’ve talked all things Riverway let me go back to one little issue and that’s light switches and outlets. I definitely want to talk about this b/c it’s one thing that I had a really hard time researching. You will find some people that attach trim and frame out the outlet or some people will return the trim before the outlet but I really felt like both of those solutions brought even more attention to the awkwardness of it so I kind of made up my own solution. I kept the outlet covers on and measured my picture frame molding right up to the cover. I then cut the trim on a 31.5 deg. angle making the height of the cover the lowest point. Fortunately all of the outlets that were a problem lined up with the picture frame molding EXCEPT ONE. It was off my 1/4 inch. So I decided to skew all of the picture frames on that side over to be equal to the outlet, hoping that it wouldn’t be noticeable that the spacing was different in this area and I think we’re ok. It’s not noticeable AND a curtain also sits there so you definitely don’t notice it. I have thought about painting the outlets themselves but they don’t really bother me so I think I’ll leave them alone at this point.
This weekend I put the finishing touches on the dining room by installing paint-matched quarter round. I’m so happy with how it’s turned out! I’m still finishing up the wallpaper in the entryway so I’m holding off on doing some more photos until then and then I’ll make a nice juicy post with lots of pictures of both!
Wall Color: SW Riverway