Mid-Century Dining room Makeover; a good old fashioned ‘before’ and ‘after’

(But first, if you haven’t stopped by in a couple days you might not have been properly bombarded by my campaign for Best Home Inspiration blog by Apartment Therapy; it’s called The Homies. I made it to the final round and need your new votes to make this possibly happen. Thank you everyone who has voted yesterday and if you haven’t yet, please know that your vote would mean the world to me. You can vote HERE).  

Having a design client with good taste is like casting Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington in your movie. Even if the set falls apart, the script gets butchered, and you’re forced to cast Ron Howard’s second cousin’s weird goth daughter as the love interest, you know it’s still somehow going to turn out to be pretty great and people will buy tickets. I mean, its Meryl. She’s great at peeing.

Sometimes I’m convinced that the biggest factor in being a good designer is having good clients, which is kinda bullshit, right? But if your clients like weird contemporary furniture and don’t want to spend any money on cool stuff, then its VERY difficult if not impossible to do something you are really proud of.

So these clients were awesome (as are most of ours actually) because they  already had that beautiful dining table and those chairs, Jonathan Adler rug, vintage credenza, mid-century lamps, and “For Like Ever” poster, which I’m starting to think is iconic of the 2000’s and will go down in time as a relic of that decade.

It just wasn’t pulled together. So here’s where we started:



The problems:

– mis-matched upholstered chairs

–  no lighting

–  un-styled accessories

The Jonathan Adler rug was simply too small for the living room. We tried layering it on top of sisal, which normally works, but it just wasn’t as awesome as it should be. PLUS the dining room clearly needed some color. So we tried the rug under the dining table and BOOM, we were in business.

vintage teak dining table

And there she is now. It’s not the most dramatic before and after, clearly, but sometimes you just need someone to come in and make decisions and simply place things the right way. Sometimes you just need someone to pull triggers. I’m very good at pulling other peoples triggers, no matter how disgusting that sounds.

We reupholstered the chairs in a neutral fabric — a charcoal gray wool. They were about $60 a piece to redo (I think), not including fabric, but we only needed one yard per chair.

vintage teak danish credenza

The mirror is vintage Ikea (probably five years old) and it’s VERY, VERY sad that they don’t sell it anymore. I actually bought it from my friend Jen who was selling it for $80, which is a total steal for a piece that big. Talk about more bang for your buck. It’s graphic, it brings so much light to that side of the room, and it’s exactly the right size for a credenza that big.


Almost everything in that shot is vintage, except that white lacquer box from West Elm and that chrome wishbone from Plantation.


Oh, you are very astute to recognize that succulent garden from my “How to arrange your own succulent garden” video.


The clients bought these vintage pendants from Mohawk General Store, but again everything else is vintage.

Don’t forget to check out their living room, too, with their VERY fun gifs that I made. Thanks to Lauren Pieri for all the pretty photos!

Thoughts? Feelings? Most inner sexual desires?

  1. beautiful indeed. Loving the blue planter and the circular miror!

  2. Stacey

    So is this the living room/dining room combo that you traded in exchange for your new blog design?

    • Emily

      Nope! this is just a living/dining last year that i just took photos of. Bri Emery of Designlove fest is the blog that i traded with and we are shooting it today!

  3. shuzluva

    I was wondering what you ended up doing with the Adler rug! It looks perfect under the table. Can we see both the living room and dining room in one shot? I know that’s asking a bit much, but I’d love to see how they work together.

    • Emily

      Sadly, no angle would have been a very pretty picture, but i wish i had one that made them both work together.

  4. Kelly

    You say it’s not a dramatic makeover, but I really think it is! It is always amazing to me how just rearranging a few things can make it feel completely different. I think I may be in their same situation – I have a lot of good doodads to work with, I just need to style them. Your styling took it from that to magazine-ready. Go girl. (P.S. That front door is aaaawesoooome.)

  5. Donna

    Love the vintage lamps with the modern shades and the rug looks great with the dining table. Beautiful!

  6. Kelly

    Eep, I scored those exact lamps on Ebay years ago…crazy good deal. They’re in my family room, and I’m feeling very stylish right about now.

  7. Julie

    Really love how it all came together! And you’ve proved that the right eye can bring any room to the next level with only tweaking a few things here and there! Love it!

  8. Looks gorgeous!!

    I think the link to the living room goes to the succulent garden demo. Is there a chance you could repost it? Thanks!!

  9. Sarah

    Love the rug under the table…and their dining furniture is beautiful! I love the way the credenza is styled too. I would have chosen something else for the light fixture though…

  10. Sarah

    For Like Ever = definitely an icon.

  11. LOVE that mirror but I am a sucker for a good round mirror especially one that adds a shadow box frane. I have one in my house that is a replica of the Loft 35 Mirror from Room and Board and I seriously would probably grab it off of my wall if God forbid there was a fire in my house. Because I’d never be able to find it again.

  12. Lauren

    Where are the lamps from? They are stunning!

  13. Ah! I just voted for you and you are behind. I like Jenny, but I love you. I watched every episode S of a S this summer while 8 mos. pregnant in a non- AC’d apartment when we just moved back to the States from Austria. HGTV…oh, I had missed it. And, your show is the BEST one. I like Genevieve too, but… Anyways, wishing you much luck and thanks for your fantastic blog that I know you spend tons of time on for us laypeople.

  14. Chris

    Gorgeous as always. I’m obsessed with the styling of the credenza.

  15. tami@trashtownvintage

    i love love love what you did with this room and i love what you said about for like ever being an icon for the 2000s. i’m sometimes torn between way too trendy and style icon. now that you’ve clarified that, i’m gonna run out and get one right away! voted for you, btw. good luck!!

  16. kj

    This is fantastic. I love that you worked with what you already had. I really hate when rooms are stripped of the homeowner’s personality in favor of different “stuff.” I have that exact credenza — I’ve never seen it anywhere else. The way it is styled is inspirational!

  17. Hi Emily! This dining room is fantastic! I LOVE the ligts and the chairs. The round mirror is awesome in the space and it looks like they have a spectacular wooden door.

  18. I’m loving this look – the JA rug with the wood tones and the ikea mirror really set it off. It’s amazing what a designers eye can do with existing pieces to pull it all together!

  19. Lily

    This looks amazing! Love that rug

    Can I ask what size this rug is? I’m debating right now about what size rug to put under my dining room table. I know conventionally it’s supposed to be big enough so the chairs can stay on the rug when they are pushed outward, but I can see in this picture that the chairs would be half on and half off. Is that an issue? I prefer this look and don’t want to get a huge rug because the dining room is quite small (condo) and also attached to the living room that already has another rug in it.

    Thanks! And I voted for you :)

  20. Coco

    Great transformation. And that door is to die for.

  21. Allison

    Link to Living Room is wrong. Goes to how to build a succulent garden…

  22. Mr Fox

    Hey Emily! your link for their living room takes me to your succulent garden how to (which I enjoyed watching and reading by the way). I know others have posted this but I totally want to see the living space as well! Was surprised that with just a few changes their room looked smashing.

  23. Bianca

    Fabulous! I have a piece that I am trying to refinish with a stain just like that credenza. Can you give any recommendation on what I should use? Color? And that finish that’s not shiny?

  24. Sam

    I seriously need you to come to Cape Town and pull my living room together! It is screaming out for the Emily Henderson touch. Really love your design style. This room looks great.

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