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Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!

Modern traditional dining room decor - reveal!!

For people like me who love updating our homes, no space is every truly 100% "done." I will keep making little tweaks seasonally and as function and style changes for our family forever, I'm sure! But, in this fixer upper house, I need to start with a strong, beautiful foundation and so far the only room that I've "finished" to that point so far has been our bedroom.

Until now!! Our dining room is DONE and I am so proud of it!


Modern traditional dining room


Come on in!! I'll show you the "before," my inspirations, the trickiest pieces to figure out, the DIYs, and more!

The "Before"


First, a look back at where we started. Here's the room on closing day (see all our before photos HERE). It's hard to tell but that's actually two different shades of aqua paint, over wallpaper. Original light fixture, but zip-tied up to make the chain shorter.

Here's the other wall. Note those chunky plastic switch plates and dirty curtains.

I made this room over in phases, as so often happens when you move into a home. Before we moved in, we painted the walls and ceilings white (Alabaster by Sherwin Williams--flatter for the ceiling but same color as the walls). (First we removed all the curtains and curtain rods throughout the house, and dusted cowebs and cleaned window sills as much as we could.)

The room is 12' by 12', though it feels like a rectangle longways between the doorways. We use it that way, too, with the table running that direction and paths on either side.

Inspirations


I should also explain I've been thinking about decorating this dining room for over a year and a half. We first walked through this house more than a year before we bought it, because it was a for-sale-by-owner and he wasn't ready to sell as soon as we thought he would be. So not long after we sold our last house (and our dining furniture), I was decorating this dining room in my head after having only walked through it once!

The house was much more traditional than the house we were coming from, but I still wanted it to be fresh and unfussy. I really liked the look of a farmhouse-type table with black Windsor chairs. These two rooms in particular stuck with me. Note the antique-ey looking table, simple window coverings, bit of stripe in each, simple-lined black or gold light fixture.
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And I've really stuck with that vision since!

I looked for farmhouse dining tables with extensions at first, but in our budget I couldn't find one that got larger than 72" when extended so I ended up buying THIS fixed one, 72" and seats 8 if you squish a little. I got THESE solid wood Windsor chairs and I love them! And for the stripe, the rug I found adds that perfect sort-of Shaker simplicity and is real wool.

Okay, now I'm getting into the design...

Progress


I ordered chairs, dining table, and rug pretty quickly after we moved in. Because that window faces the street and really needs coverings for privacy, I literally tape-rolled sheets of white tissue paper up to the windows. It covered all but the bottom 8" or so--you can see if you squint in this photo! In this pic from my one-month progress update the chairs had arrived but nothing else.

Then for a while I put the chairs/table/rug together, threw some art on the wall (picture railing makes it easy to do that quickly and temporarily), and we used it like this (seen here). I really wish I'd clipped that zip tie to make the light fixture hang lower!! Face palm. FREE update that I didn't do until a few weeks before we swapped out the light fixture anyway!

Finished!


There were THREE key things that I needed to get in check to finish this room. First, the light fixture. I shared some options in that last post... but nothing felt right. Then I saw THIS chandelier in a couple different homes on Instagram, actually, and fell in love!! It's SO modern and yet the antique brass makes it totally warm and comfortable. It still has just the right edginess to pair with our traditional table and chairs. I mean, that table doesn't look "farmhouse" at all here, right? And a black fixture would have added too much black with the chairs and dark frames.

IN LOVE with this chandelier (it's by Kichler). It's a rectangle, see?! I love that it adds to the linear feel of the room and it looks different at different angles.

It was out of stock when I first found the exact one it was. I reached out to Kichler about it and they provided it to me to review here! I absolutely love it and found this similar round one if you want a round shape.

I did have to buy the bulbs separately. They're dimmable, LED, and the perfect tubular shape with Edison filaments.

The second big question mark was the art to fill that 12' long blank wall. I love BIG art, but I also like to mix things up room to room... we have some big chunky pieces in the living room (huge framed photo, TV, and fireplace) and I didn't want another big rectangle in the same view. I liked the look of a gallery wall and realized I had six of these cool black/white pencil drawings Jason's grandpa did and has given to us over the past few years. (I've used them in our last dining room and entry at this house, we love them!) I just had to get six matching frames, and I could make a big, unique gallery wall!

It's huge, right!? Very slightly wider than the buffet, which is 56" wide. On a 12' wide wall, that is about perfect!!

I did a post all about how I hung the gallery wall/the affordable custom frames HERE (the art is standard size but I wanted extra big mats, so I went custom!).

As soon as we hung the art, before we even had the buffet under it, catching a glance at this wall made me so happy. I love this treatment here!

Speaking of the buffet--the third and final BIG, harder piece to figure out in this room was the buffet. I was inspired by these two images and wanted a looong, sort of antique-ey looking, not-quite-Shaker painted wood buffet. (We have so much wood in this room and house already, I wanted to break it up with another chunk of solid color.) I was totally prepared to DIY, as I didn't want to keep checking HomeGoods and spend $400 if they ever had something that was mostly right.

I stalked Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for several months, searching "credenza," "buffet," "sideboard," etc. for a long, low cabinet for this wall. I found this piece, cherry wood stained and with a dented corner, for $20. Yes, $20. Twenty dollars. Not missing any zeros. I picked it up the same day!! (Here's my blog post about how I repaired and painted it.) It is actually a media cabinet so it's a little deeper than I was hoping, and it has a power strip inside so you can keep all your DVD player cords contained... but it totally works for extra storage in here, and we still have plenty of room for walking by it.

I think it really makes the room interesting!! It's a unique piece and it almost fills the space under the art perfectly. (I actually might move the frames closer together someday, which would make the whole gallery wall narrower than the credenza.)

I will definitely play around with styling the top of it, but for now I kept it simple. I crave clutter-free surfaces!

Once I had those three big question marks figured out, I had to focus on the details.

My favorite detail in here are the antique brass switch plates and outlet covers. I shared about those HERE, and why switching out the white plastic ones made such a difference in this room!! See that switch plate there? Such an easy update, and SO MUCH BETTER than the old chunky white one!

There you can see one of the outlet covers, which unfortunately brings me to my least (also sort of most?) favorite part of the room... the desk.

I spend a LOT of time sitting at this desk. I don't have a laptop so I work on our desktop computer with big black tower. I also record the podcast right here so I usually have some recording equipment set up here, too. It's a pretty good corner for a desk, functionally--right in between the kitchen and living room, perfect width for a simple desk. And I can even just grab one of the dining chairs when I'm using it so I don't need an extra desk chair (those aren't often cute). But, it's still a big dark spot of electronics in this otherwise lovely room.

Until we switch our bedrooms around and move upstairs, or I get a laptop, this will be a necessary part of this room! So, I made it as pretty as I could. This was a blank wall begging for some art, so I grabbed this print which is so perfect with the other colors in the room. I also needed light over this desk--even in the daytime, it's blocked from the window light, so I wanted a sconce or something and tried out a picture light instead. I love it!! Someday if I put bigger art here I may attach the light to the art rather than the wall, but for now I'm just using the picture moulding for the art and I did screw the light into the wall behind it.

Okay, the curtains. At one point I thought of doing a patterned curtain, something I'd sew myself like I've done before--white liner, pleats at the top. It would be nice, but I couldn't find exactly what I wanted so I did my old standby: two sets of IKEA Ritva curtains sewed together longways to make two super wide panels. I have this awesome curtain rod and clips in this room and the living room for those wide windows. It works!! (Check out my IKEA curtains story highlight on my Instagram to see how I do this.)

That's the room! I love how it came together!

I'm also working on updates to our living room, and just got THIS fabulous vintage-look rug (also available HERE). The arched opening between the rooms is nice and wide and you can see a lot of each room from the other. I love how the terra cotta and blue colors in the living room look with the blue in the dining room.

See the other posts about this room, including the DIYs and little updates you can make to your space, too!

A big thank-you to the companies who provided products for my review in this room:

Shop almost everything in this room (and similar items) here:

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