When we arrived, the room was painted dark olive green below the chair rail and a lighter shade above. The white doors in the far corner of the above photo go to a charming built-in deep china cabinet. It's like the 1930s builders knew I was coming. This is the listing photo.
The large light fixture featured smoky glass and about 10 small light bulbs, which, when paired together, left a less inviting feel to the room after dark. And, regardless of time of day, the smoky glass made it nearly impossible to tell what various color palettes might look like in the room.
Our first impulse was wallpaper. We found beautiful papers, which would truly have been elegant. Ultimately, the wallpaper shop I was working with was having a difficult time processing orders, and I grew concerned that the eventual process of removing the wallpaper would leave me wishing I'd never put it up.
|I really liked this wallpaper|
To accomplish this look, every non-floor surface was painted. We hired a great contractor who painted the ceiling, trim, and lower wall all the same color--Behr's Decorator White. (Aside: Interior designers rarely use Behr, because it's less expensive, and because it's sold at Home Depot. But me? I'm a Behr girl for life. Consumer Reports ranks them strongly and the paints have always performed well for me. And, fyi, you can have colors from the more expensive brands mixed in Behr paint.) The choice of Decorator White endured a painfully drawn-out back and forth with my father, who just insists it isn't really white. It was a whole thing.
For the rug, I knew I wanted a pattern that would harmonize with the rugs in the adjacent living room and give the room elegance. And, I love a damask but knew I wasn't putting it on the walls. Additionally, this particular rug needed to have a short nap, as it's a dining room and will get food in it, and needed to be relatively inexpensive given the near certainty my children will destroy it eventually. I got a great deal on this hand-tufted wool rug.
Above the chair rail then. That's not wallpaper (click on the picture to see it larger). Nope. I stenciled that. I stenciled that. Only a very few people knew what I was up to and their response was universally, "Have you lost your mind?" Maybe. But I'd do it again. Why? No one ever has to remove wallpaper. I got to customize my color selections. And my favorite part? The whole thing cost $77. The beige background color (Behr: Sandy Clay)) was $31. The stencil was $48. The brush I applied it with was $8. Done.
I'd never stenciled, and welcomed the chance to learn. Well, sort of. Ok fine, I called a local artist who does some related work and asked if she could do this. She wasn't available, and encouraged me to try it myself. I was hesitant. I'd had a friend nearly lose her mind handing wallpaper a year prior. I accepted the challenge anyway. I figured, I'm crafty. How hard could it be?
At first it was slow going. This took at least 2 hours, maybe more. And those first diamonds, over the door, are the worst in the whole room. But I kept at it. I have "in progress" photos taken after I stopped each night, showing how far I'd gotten. I listened a lot of The Moth, This American Life, Serial Season 2, and iTunes. I enjoyed my evenings with podcasts and visible progress on a project. I came to find it rewarding.
The windows are treated in layers: a layer of cool white sheers, and one panel on each window in inky navy silk, on a pullback. My Mom was my hero here. I needed a between-size length, so I ordered up and she shortened them for me. She's sewn all kinds of stuff for my kids' rooms, too, and I truly cannot thank her enough.
And finally, that chandelier. A huge thank you to Cleveland Lighting on this one. The sales associate was so patient with me while I went through book after book of fixtures, looked at the ones in their showroom about 4 times, and asked questions about how finishes looked in person. I ended up very pleased with this Feiss fixture, up close below. I love how the shape complements the wall pattern, and how the crystal helps to lighten up the room.
I truly enjoyed this process, as I'm enjoying working on the other rooms in our house. I promise to share a bit more in the future.
In other news, I've been running! I think I'm ready to start writing about that again, too. I may or may not be running a half-marathon this weekend....