06/19/2012 05:24 EDT | Updated 08/19/2012 05:12 EDT

A De-Cluttered and Re-Coloured Dining Room Transformation


It's a well known parenting principle that if you give an inch, the kids will take a room. Okay, so maybe that's not an exact quote, but it certainly sums up the situation in Ruth's dining room! This space was a true diamond in the rough. Although it boasted some wonderful architectural features such as crown moulding, wall panels, decorative niches and leaded glass windows, all its redeeming qualities were lost in what Ruth called "three shades of blah."

The room's murky, putty-coloured walls combined with skimpy drapes and low lighting to create a dim space that Ruth avoided at all costs! Enter the kids... they took over the rejected room and set up their very own homework headquarters. The room also became a dumping ground for their most prized possessions, like skateboards along with other teenage gear.

Ruth was determined to take back her dining room. She dreamed of hosting intimate dinner parties in a bright, colourful space that packed an elegant punch. So the kids were banished along with the blahs, and I came up with a plan to energize Ruth's dining room with drama, elegance and lots of sparkle!


The first thing we did was apply a rich, chocolate brown colour to the walls. A dark bronze glaze was applied over the paint to give the walls metallic highlights, adding a subtle shimmer that will look amazing during those candlelight dinner parties! Next, we installed recessed lighting to make key areas in the room really pop. We accented the decorative niches and other strong focal points with recessed lights, and replaced the old lighting fixture with a grand chandelier that really enhances the room's elegant new feeling.

I designed a fantastic new drapery treatment using fabrics that pick up the room's bronze glow. The draperies, which give the illusion of two layers of fabric but are actually made from only one layer, are finished with rich beaded trim and ruffled edging.

The niches, formally used as storage nooks for a variety of kid paraphernalia, were painted an ivory colour and accented with recessed lights. I placed tall glass vases in each niche and filled them with fresh flowers, but the vases can be filled with virtually anything to set the theme for any celebration.

One of my brightest ideas for this room was to decorate one wall with mirrored panels to reflect light and give the illusion of depth and space. We created a pattern with different-sized pieces of mirror and installed decorative rosettes to mark where the panels intersected. Instantly, the room got a big burst of brightness as the mirrors threw back the light from the chandelier, recessed lights and windows.

Ruth liked her dining room table and chairs, but she admitted that the old upholstery had to go. So I recovered each chair with three different fabrics that pick up the colours from the drapery treatment and the room's soft bronze walls. I used one fabric on the seats, another on the backrests and yet another on the backside of the chairs. When you look at them from different angles, the unique fabrics work together to pull in all the colours from the room.

Now that Ruth's dining room was wrapped in dramatic elegance and sparkle, we just needed a few finishing touches. I tracked down a gorgeous new buffet and a Chinese cabinet that fit the bill as a bar. I flanked the liquor cabinet with two cinnamon coloured chairs that look stunning against the dark bronze walls. Gilt-framed artwork stands out against the dark walls, with a large portrait taking center stage as it "floats" in the middle of the mirrored wall. The floor is covered in an antiqued Persian carpet and we set the table with elegant new china so it was ready for Ruth's inaugural dinner party.

This space was one backpack and a skateboard away from becoming a teenage wasteland. But with some subtle paint techniques, soft lighting and lush draperies, we transformed Ruth's dining room into a haven that adults are sure to find very appetizing!


A Dining Room Transformation