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Renovation: The Dining Room and Office

Welcome to my latest home renovation project! We purchased this house in September, 2021, and began renovation immediately. Our goal was to make it livable by Thanksgiving of that year. We didn't make that goal, but thankfully, we were in before Christmas. Not that it was DONE by Christmas, but it was livable.

The dining room was our very first project. Because of our urgency to move in as soon as possible, I started planning from the moment we had a signed contract. Then we started renovating on the day of closing! A lot of thought went into how I wanted to design this room, which is one of the first things to be seen after entering the front door.

Dark red dining room walls were once very popular, and this room was probably decorated around that time. Although the paint looks dark red in these photos, the walls had a textured finish on them that mixed an orange color behind a darker red. In the middle of the day, the effect was orangey-red. The exquisite, formal chandelier was original to the house. There was wallpaper in each of the wainscoting squares and matching shades and draperies hung on the windows. The door at the back opened into the kitchen. The beige carpet was in pretty rough shape.

In the photo below, the texturized paint is a little more apparent. The previous owners had some ornate furniture in this room that matched the style very well.

A large, cased opening with double doors opens to the wide entry hall. Beyond that is the living room. Lovely crown molding was already in every room of the house and even the closets.

At the time we purchased this home, the effects of the Covid lockdown were in full swing. It was very difficult to get on the schedule of most reputable service providers, so I'd been working for months before closing to arrange everything I possibly could. We closed on a Saturday and the company we hired to refinish the hardwood floors was scheduled to lay a new white oak floor in this room on Monday. We had to remove the wallpaper, repaint the walls, and tear out the carpet in two days. As most people who know me in real life can attest, I tend to under-estimate the amount of time and energy a project will take. I mean, who needs to eat or rest, right? (The room was done by the end of the third day, which worked out fine because the flooring company was so busy they pushed the project back a week or so.)

The kids were so excited about their new house that they were eager to help. So, I put them to work! They were excellent at taking off the wallpaper on the wainscoting. Well, the older two were. The little one basically just got into everything. But he really wanted to help and kept joyfully shouting, "New house!"

After much debate, I decided to do a neutral color on the walls. It's Benjamin Moore, Elephant Tusk, from the Historic Collection. That's the same color as most of the trim in the house.

I figured if I went really neutral in this space, I could bring in a lot of color through design. Also, it isn't that big of a deal to repaint the walls a different shade if I decide later that there's not enough contrast. I'm still debating this paint color, but until I have the space completely designed, I'm not ready to change anything.

I love how many windows this house has and how symmetrical the layout is. These two large windows were partially blocked by overgrown landscaping, but we took care of that too. They look out on a church with similar architecture that's right across the street.

During construction, it was very hard to keep the footprints off the new floor! But we were really happy to have the new flooring in. Our flooring guy suggested white oak to go best with the 60-year-old red oak floors in the rest of the house because the color changes over time. There are three different types of wood flooring in the house, so I choose a dark, matte finish to provide continuity to all of them.

Although I thought the original chandelier was beautiful, it was more ornate than the clean design I wanted. Instead, I chose this asymmetrical 3-light, amber-colored glass and gold pendant light. I also had so much fun picking out this custom, handmade table from, then I found these navy, leather chairs at (I'm still looking for the perfect, coordinating end chairs.) I finished off the basics with these blue ombre curtains from Amazon. We put protective paper on the floor until the majority of the work was done. As I mentioned in the post about our kitchen project, we considered opening up this wall or making a larger, cased opening to match the other side. The decision came down to logistics. The open floor plan and large windows didn't allow for much space for cabinets in the kitchen, so after trying many different designs, we chose to keep the structure as it was in here.

We decided to put our bookcases in this room for the time-being. (We don't know where else to put them because nearly every room in this house has built-in bookcases. We also don't have any other furniture for this room yet, so there's space.) The rug is from a local furniture store.

One of my goals for this house is to fill it with beautiful and meaningful art work that I LOVE. These walls are just waiting for me to find and/or create just the right things. Eventually, I'd also like to add a buffet table.

We put my antique secretary between the windows. It was the first thing Rick and I bought together because it reminded me of the secretary my grandparents had when I was a child. Seeing it, I remember telling my mom that I'd love to have a house full of antiques one day. She thought a house full of new furniture would be much better. I've decided that it's nice to have a little bit of both.

Now, on to the office, which is on the other side of the dining room! This photos below show the hallway that separates the dining room and office. We seriously considered taking out this hallway entirely to make the office larger, but there were structural issues that made it a much bigger project than we wanted to take on at this time. It was painted chocolate brown, like the den. We painted it "Silver Shadow" to flow into the surrounding space. I also hung some fun family photos on the right side.

From the hall, you enter the office. With the original wood paneling, it was also very dark. The built in cabinets and bookcases are beautiful cherry wood and original to the house, and I wanted to preserve that look if at all possible, but I'm not a fan of the paneling.

The original carpet was beige and we replaced it with a neutral gray/beige/white carpet to match nearly any décor. It's also really, really soft and feels wonderful on bare feet.

The previous owners left a few things that had been in the house when they bought it. This poster of George Washington was one of those things. The house was also full of early American details like cabinet handles in the shape of eagles.

Covering up this faux wood paneling required a separate primer, and we had to paint the seams first to cover it all.

The book shelves came out easily and are able to be repositioned.

Since this is my office, I decided to make it as feminine as possible to contrast the dark wood details. The walls are light pink and the bookshelf walls are a coordinating lighter pink. Both colors are also from the Benjamin Moore Historic Collection. After looking at this photo, I've decided to raise this curtain rod about four inches, but I need to wait until my husband is in a good mood to get that done. Ha! I chose to do a gray

I had so much fun organizing all my books in here and adding decorative accents.

I asked for the Tricia Robinson glicee (the painting with the teal background in the photo below) for my birthday a few years ago. It shows Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Mary - the four women the Bible mentions in the lineage of Jesus. We have a faith that doesn't whitewash the hard things in life. God claimed those who have been discarded and mistreated and emboldened by poverty and fear. He used the ones who sinned and the ones who society deemed unsuitable to bring His son into the world. In His mighty hands, God creates a new story of redemption and grace, forgiveness and mercy, and uses it to change the world. This piece of art reminds me every time I look at it that it doesn't matter how small and insignificant we might be. God never really used anyone who was already a big deal to do anything for The Kingdom. (I could go on and on about this subject, but since this is a home renovation blog, I'll stop for now.)

I have some more art to hang on this wall, but I've been so busy with everything else that I haven't gotten it up yet. It is three gold arrows that represent the trials we face in life. Only when we are stretched the way a bow string is stretched can we fly through the air to hit our mark. The further the bow is stretched, the higher the arrows fly. The three arrows also represent the third copy of the 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome. We take the challenges that come with our son's diagnosis of Down syndrome and we turn them into flying arrows of gold. (I should really get those arrows up...)

What do you think of these transformations? If you like them, please take a moment to click that little red heart at the bottom right of this page. You can also save the Pin below to Pinterest and share this post on your social media pages. Don't forget to subscribe to the blog to be notified of upcoming posts. We have several more rooms to go before we're all done with this renovation.

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