‘House of the Year’ Dining Room Makeover

In case you are just showing up to the game (welcome, readers!) I’m documenting a house I designed with Country Living Magazine for the August issue. Click here to get up to speed on the overall concept, the bedroom makeover, the kitchen makeover, and the bathroom makeover. This week I’ll finish it out with the living room makeover and all the mistakes/behind the scenes stuff that you are just dying to see.

But for today … it’s the dining room, folks. And here we are when I first saw the house:


Welcome to the Dining Room ‘before,’ in the middle of winter in a house with no heat. The dining room used to be on the other side of the room because this space used to be a tiny bedroom. But we got rid of that bad boy and opened up the whole room.

country living house of the year

The whole space got reconfigured obviously, with the goal to keep it open, inviting, and able to provide more entertaining and hang out area. 1,000 square feet isn’t a ton to play with but it can feel big if it’s laid out the right way.

We loved the idea of using a banquet and we also wanted to continue a circle motif throughout the room so I was psyched when we found this vintage Saarinen dining table to use in the space. I actually just got a new one from DWR and I can’t believe how much I love it.  The proportions and lines of the base are just so classic and beautiful and the knockoffs just don’t do this guy justice.

country dining room

photography by Alec Hemer, styled by Cindy Diprima

The dining chairs are from our sponsor, Cost Plus, and they reminded me of a little more Asian-inspired Wishbone Chairs. The banquet is probably my favorite place to sit in the entire house because you have the view of the whole space which is just so open and happy, and you have the luxury of a dining height table but with the comfort of a sofa. I would work so hard here.

aqua dining room

photography by Alec Hemer, styled by Cindy Diprima

We used that vintage refrigerator to kinda divide the space between the living room and the dining room. It acts as an architectural piece but since it doesn’t have a ton of ‘visual weight’ (aka, since it has so much glass and we filled it with pretty glassware) it doesn’t bulk of the space too much.

Kinda dying to have some cronuts in this nook, although I promise to never mutter the word/trend ‘cronut’ again. So, what do y’all think?

country dining room

Resources: Settee $449.99 World Market. Mirror: $449.99 Crateandbarrel.com. Chairs $139.99 worldmarket.com (but we painted them Oasis blue by Benjamin Moore). Pendant light $79.99 Sololite lighting. Saarinen table. Canvas. Pillows ABC Carpet and Home. Vintage fridge. Glassware from a variety of vintage sources.

  1. Whoa, I’ve never been your first commenter, Emily! I LOVE the look, and I love a settee with a dining table. I wish we could pull that off in our space.

    The blue of the chairs is the exact same shade as the upper walls in the bedroom, right?

    • Emily

      Yes! the same color. At least i think. We toyed around with it being slightly different but I think we ended up painting it the same. :)

  2. Jo

    Absolutely lovely! I’m curious, how do you decide when to use a rug in the space or not?

    • S.

      Me too! There’s nothing under the Saarinen table in the Lorey’s house either.
      I’m guessing it’s just because of the contrast of the table on the floor? I feel really lucky to have scored a vintage (real!) Saarinen and I’m in the middle of getting my copy on with the Lorey’s as inspiration.
      But I’ll try this look when I get my beach house (ha!) someday!

      • Emily

        I’m mixed about rugs under dining tables. You don’t NEED them but often they just look so good. Since this was a shared space with the living room and there were two other rugs in the room we definitely didn’t need more. And also the shape of that space was tricky – it was more square than rectangular so finding an awesome square rug is tricky and we already had a round rug in there (see later this week). So i guess all that = not necessary :)

  3. AB

    Emily I love this entire home and I think the feature is great. Maybe it’s just me but this house screams “Charleston beach front house”. Not Queens home. I reallyyyyy wish the space reflected Queens/NYC more. Maybe that was out of your control and the editors wanted more of a beachy theme… I just wish it reflected some of the setting. It’s kinda like seeing those tudor style homes in Scottsdale, Arizona. Just looks a bit off! Either way, love the home!

    • Fiona

      As a New Yorker, I think it does reflect the setting. The Rockaways are where many people have beach cottages (although many live there year-round) and it’s a surfing destination. Besides, Queens is VERY diverse, and there wouldn’t be a “Queens” style. Forest Hills Gardens, for example, is very suburban.

      Regardless, beautiful work, Emily!

      • Emily

        Yep. I have to agree with Fiona. Its an east coast beach house and to me it totally refelcts it. Its literally a block from the beach, so while the perception of queens is a particular way, it is super diverse. For antiques we chose more east coast/european style antiques instead of something that you might find in California (like regency or palm springs style). But i’m glad you liked it regardless!

  4. Emily

    Hi! Love this. What is the wall color? We are painting our house Gray Owl (thanks to your Ryan blog post and I am thinking about Robin’s nest for our 1 year old daughters room (which has a yellow rug and pink bedding), is the paint in this room Robin’s Nest by Ben Moore?

    • Per the earlier kitchen post, looks like this is Spring Mint by Benjamin Moore.

      • Emily

        Why thank you Lashley! I keep forgetting to say that every time. So thank you :)

  5. I love this! I’m now considering painting the chairs Oasis in my breakfast nook too (I have a somewhat similar color palette). I would love to put a banquette in there but we are on an almost nonexistant budget =p. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Emily

      the color is awesome. its dark and intense and i love it.

  6. I’m also curious about the color palette. I don’t necessarily think of it as super southern looking, like another commenter mentioned, but it is maybe a little surprising for you and for the location. Was that all your decision or was there collaboration/direction from the magazine or home owner?

    • Emily

      It was a collaboration, for sure. I will say that in the photos its more saturated than in person – aka, the color of the walls is actually way more washed out that that – which you can kinda see more in the photo of the details – it just looks softer than in the main photos. We made a choice to have color on the walls instead of the furniture to make it feel as happy as possible.

  7. Maria

    I love it all. As always, perfect mix of old and modern. Did you have to insert the glass panels into that vintage fridge, or did you purchase it that way? It’s dreamy.

  8. Ann Frederick

    I love it! As always, I love your style. It’s so bright and airy! On another note, I went to the Pasadena Flea Market for the first time yesterday (after reading about your findings on this blog) and it was so much fun! (And I came home with some fabulous things!) I can’t wait to go back next month! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Emily

      Oh good! I was there from 6AM – 12. It was awesome but a very long day. I got like 15 pieces of furniture = VERY succesful. Glad you liked it!

      • Ann Frederick

        15 things! Awesome! I came home with a beautiful coffee table and dog head ;) We were there from 6-10:30, I could have spent the whole day there though! (I was there with our mutual friend Sage) I thought we might run into you! My living room is slowly coming together and most of the inspiration is all you! Next up, project is my hallway picture hall. Busy spray painting frames and hoping I get the lay out down perfect. Any advice on picture walls? Was going to spray paint all the frames gold and now thinking of doing a few pops of color with white frames mixed in. How do you feel about the colors? Thanks!

  9. margaret fraser (MARA CERAMICS)

    love the display unit!

  10. Barb

    This house reno came out great I actually got the September issue of Country Living and have been looking at the spread for days now! Just curious – do you think the color palette chosen will feel fresh and new in a few years? These blues/turquoises/greens are certainly in now and offer that ‘happy’ feeling everyone is craving…but I wonder if the house will feel dated sooner for having chosen this color palette. Would love you feedback as a designer. It’s always tricky to know how ‘trendy’ to go when re-decorating, re-desigining one’s space, etc….unless of course, money is no object…but for most of us, that’s not the case. Thanks!!

    • Emily

      Nope. I’m not worried about it. Its a beach out, its a light blue/green color so a. how can that be dated? and b. its just paint. Thats the beauty about paint is that you can just repaint and while of course you don’t want to do it every year, doing it every 5-10 years is not a bad idea anyway.

  11. Such a beautiful mix, Emily! I am loving this home. It’s fun to see you step outside of your box a bit, but still have hints that say “Emily Henderson was here.” That cabinet is killer too.

  12. shandy

    Love it! Have been thinking of an upholstered bench/couch in the dining area of our house. It looks fabulous here. P.S.

  13. Bee

    I love this dining room. That settee is perfect, the chairs look both fashionable and comfortable, and the table is classic. I would sit here all day too! I must say that I am astonished that the mirror and the settee cost the same amount. Is that a typo?

    • Emily

      Ha. nope, not a typo. I know. The mirror is kinda expensive and the settee is well, really inexpensive. So there you go. :)

      • Bee

        Go figure! It all balances out in the end. Very nice room.

  14. melissa

    Love the space… And love checking in to see your latest spaces. What’s a quahaug?

  15. Love it all. I dig the circle motif with the pendant light and mirror too. And I have a crush on a good settee.

  16. Susan M.

    Emily, I am loving this space. Such lovely colors-so happy! I was wondering where you got the window coverings? I really need some and those look perfect.

  17. Ina

    I love this room! especially the pendant light! i was wondering where you got it? itll be perfect in my dining area!

  18. Robin

    Which settee from World Market is that one? I’ve been looking for one like that for my dining room, and I don’t see it on the site. Would love to have that one!

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