My (tentative) Dining Room Plan

Current state of the dining room? Not awesome. I painted most of my house before we moved in. So in one hour I had to choose five room colors, and inevitably one of them will not be right. Case in point, my dining room:

(And no, I didn’t style it like that on purpose. Just a pic from a few weeks ago that happened to have an unattractive collection of bowls on the table.)

It’s not the worst green, in fact I actually like it, but it’s just not working for me. In this picture, it looks way more saturated (which would be ideal), but in person it’s more like this:


See? Fine, but not a sexy forest green or a bright kelly green, more in between green. I realized about two years ago that I’m not really an “in between” color girl. I love saturated colors. I love gray soooo much … for other people. I love taupe on other peoples walls, but I love bright white or dark navy or hot pink or kelly green or sunshine yellow for me.  

The reason why might be because the more contrast you have in a room, the more energy you get. And I like me some really high energy rooms. I love white, washed out, neutral, swedish rooms in magazines and on Pinterest, but not for me. I wear crazy clothes, I say crazy things, I want my rooms to look crazy.  

Poor Brian.

So the dining room is sad. Here she is again:

Dining table: I bought it four years ago on Craigslist and stripped it myself, so now it’s just raw wood. I don’t love it for me, but it is very practical because it can fit up to 12 people with the leaves. And it has integrity — just old pretty wood. But I’m over it and it’s now going to be our outdoor dining table, the one that you don’t care about if it gets more “aged” every summer and winter.

The chairs: I love these mid-century woven chairs. I got them at the Rose Bowl three years ago for $200 for all four. I think I’ll hoard them for a while, but these guys (below) came into my life recently, and after a jealous (and frankly flattering) battle over me, the navy blue/chrome ’70s chairs have won. 

The biggest regret in my life is that there aren’t six of these. When are they going to invent the furniture copying machine, eh? Somebody has to be on that. 

The built ins: Cute, but those knobs have to change. Right now, they are super cheap chrome knobs and I want it to be brushed brass, naturally.  

The floor: When we toured the house looking to RENT, this was the thing that I kinda put blinders on for. It’s bad. Really bad. I’m currently searching for inexpensive ways to update it. Again, it’s a rental and I don’t want to throw $2,000 into the flooring. So I’m thinking Ikea, Tundra flooring. I calculated it and it would cost around $300 for the kitchen and dining room, which seems totally reasonable to me for a two-year rental.  

I wish it was darker, but for now it might due. I’m also looking in to a simple solid linoleum that will be unoffensive. Could be cheaper …

So everything is going to change, basically. The walls are going a deep navy. You heard me, maybe just on top, but I want a navy dining room, always have. And the drapery? Kelly green …

Of course my first instinct was hot pink, hello.

I mean, that color palette is kinda my favorite. But I’m trying to branch out.

So then I thought, why not embrace the color of the season, persimmon:

The reason these two work so well together is that they are almost completely opposite on the color wheel — one is very cool (navy) and the other very warm (orange/persimmon) so therefore they want to be best friends. 

Opposites attract. Like Rachel and Michael:

Man. She can do no wrong in my book. I don’t know who this fool is. He could be Ed Hardy himself and I would still be like, “Oh Rachel, you are just wonderful.”

But then again, he’s not. He’s a really awesome … uh … somebody crazy important that I can’t seem to remember or care enough to Google. But don’t worry, Rach, I’m sure he’s awesome.  

But I don’t really love that orange color for me, so I had my friend Megs do a moodboard with my new ideas:

I’m trying to figure out what king chairs will look good with my four navy chairs, and for now I’m thinking these lucite guys. Maybe a pattern on the seat? Maybe that’s where I bring in hot pink? Dunno.

I found that table online and I’m sure it’s nine million dollars, but I would love a lucite based wood top dining table. I’m pretty sure I’m going to design it and have it made — and then reproduced once people freak out about it.  

I can’t tell if I’m over the metallic hides, but it seemed a bit more glam than a regular one, and I love a hide under a dining table since they are virtually indestructable.  

I’m still up in the air on a lot of it, but making the mood board helps for sure …


  1. Susan Jackson

    How about graphic navy/white stencil on lower 3/4 of walls, top with white trim and then white on the upper 1/4 of the walls. Hang a collection of china that has combinations of persimmon/navy/and white patterns.

  2. I am all kinds of yes yes yes on that metallic hyde action. Especially with a more rustic table top.

  3. Christa

    Navy paint = awesome, lamp is to die for, changing the knobs is required. I vote a big NO on the hyde, personally can't stand those things (it's like a crime scene chalk outlined of a dead animal to me, I can't help it) and metallic just makes it worse somehow. But that's my personal prejudice and I won't be coming over so you don't have to care.

    Those 70s chairs are fantastic but they seem a tiny bit big for that room, and like they would not be comfortable for eating – they're for playing cards and drinking. Maybe that's what you had in mind? It's fun to see how you put this together, and I am sure I will love the result.

  4. Kylie

    I am so, so with you. In fact, at this very moment I am spending the kid's naptime trying to figure out how to make turquoise work with the raspberry and espresso in my living room without it being a sh*tshow or having to replace everything. I love the kelly green in that last pic!

  5. Stuart

    Hello Emily.

    I was thinking that if you are looking for good vinyl, I can recommend a product. I am part owner of my family's flooring and lighting store and we are part of a co-op of flooring stores called Carpet One. There is a product called Earthscapes from a company called Balta. It comes 13'2" wide and is a soft back loose lay vinyl that comes in a wide variety of tile and wood patterns. I have a brother who has it running throughout his house and I myself am planning on putting it in my house.

  6. I love the plan, especially the navy/kelly green color combo! Can't wait to see the finished product.

  7. The existing floor looks like graph paper! Too funny.

    You have completely converted me to a crisp white/navy/warm woods kind-of-gal. That's what I'm aiming for when sprucing up our bedroom. If I ever get to it.

    And you are correct — Rachel can do no wrong.

  8. Abby

    I totally agree with you Emily! Saturated colors the best way to go (except I do have a strange obsession with gray clothing). I love the way it looks in the picture, very rich. Don't you hate it when paint doesn't turn out the way you imagined it? It's like ordering bowl of ice cream and being served frozen yogurt, you can still eat it, it's just not as satisfying!

  9. I love your eclectic style! I would add a little more pattern. Look what I whipped up for you! Here's the link……


  10. sue

    me likey, but something is missing… maybe a bit more pattern? maybe a zingy colour like your pink?

  11. Cindy

    Loving the textile on the table in your before pic!

  12. So embarassing to say this to a designer but do you have a lumber liquidator nearby? I just opened a little home boutique outside of houston tx and we had a similar flooring mess as your dining room ha! So we found this "linoleum" but it looks like wood, and it's really ashy so it look like rustic old farm wood and ppl ask us about it all the time… I want to be like well it's pretty much a huge sticker haha! But hello it was .79 a sq ft! We love it!


  13. Lesley

    I vote for solid Marmoleum in a color that goes with your overall scheme. I think it's nicer than the Ikea wood. As for the vinyl suggestion, I would not want any future baby crawling around on vinyl while it is off-gassing.

  14. Lauren

    That lucite/wood table is ridiculous! That and the light – I hope you bought that light! I can't wait to see the finished room. We're working on our dining room right now too. Teal, textured peacock wallpaper is going up tomorrow and I'm so excited. :)

  15. Sarah

    Those blue chairs KILL me. Seriously, if you were one of my girlfriends I would have started a bribery campaign to make them mine. I just saw this vintage wallpaper also, and it made me think of your dining room:

  16. Mmm kelly green and navy will be delicious. Those are two colors I've been dreaming of for my future when-I-have-one dining room. So glad you are going with that fabulous light. That table is funky in the best of ways.

    You're much less cheap than I am. I hate dumping any money into a rental that I can't take with me, even $300. Dying to get out of this one and into my own house and go nuts. Still working on saving up that gosh darn down payment.

  17. I love the table idea. I also want to know the story behind those chairs. I'm with you the Details cover shot is amazing. I have a hard time looking away from it. Good luck with the dining room. The Nashville Flea market had the metallic hydes last weekend.

  18. Good gracious, those green curtains make my heart SING. We have a kelly green entryway, but we're finally painting over it – after almost 5 happy years of living with it. We just need some change, but seeing that mood board is giving me second thoughts! (We were going to go over it with chalkboard paint.)

  19. Jo

    Man, that dining table you have looks pretty spectacular. It makes me a little sad to imagine it getting all beat up outdoors :(

  20. Julia Reiersgord

    re: the floor, I vote a solid lino, with an inlay-style border in a different color a la 1930's gorgeousness. if you're thinking navy for the walls, a subtle terra cotta color would be nice for the floors, with perhaps the inlay color a few shades off from the main field color. could be more bold and do a darker floor (also navy? black? with a white or yellow inlay). sexy! or two shades of green– light and dark dark dark. or two shades of brown. you get the idea… . :)

  21. Sara

    Can't wait to see what you do!!! Haven't read the other comments, so I'm sorry if my thoughts echo what someone else has already said!

    I love your ideas…super cool. One question I had was if you're going to do a chair rail or divider of some sort, like on the mood board? With white on the bottom and navy on top? I LOVE the navy wall idea (I'm going to paint my master bedroom navy blue as soon I as get around to it!), but if all the walls are all navy then you won't get that awesome contrast you love with the navy chairs. (Which I do, too, by the way. I totally agree that all those all white/gray pics everywhere are pretty photos but it would drive me insane and depress me if it was actually in my house! Color, color, all the way ;)!)

    I like the small pops of pink or coral for a bright, warm contrast. Maybe also think of knobs that have some brass and some crystal/lucite for some extra glam?

    Totally loving these posts about your new house and the lake house you are working on. Can't wait for your show to be back on, though, too! I have to watch online b/c of our non-existent cable, but I'm dying for a fix :).

  22. Megan D

    Emily! I am pretty sure I found the same chairs! I can help you! Email me asap & I can help.

  23. Megan

    Sorry, only pop info to add, but Rach's man is also the father of Kate Beckinsales daughter. Dude's got skills apparently. And I love the navy!

  24. Lindsay

    Well now you've got me thinking about navy and persimmon….

    Where are those great dishes from (I notice the oddest details….)

  25. Actually, my favorite blog site on kitchen matters is the one I have put together with my partner. We are professional cabinetmakers who call it like we see it. We have written about kitchens and bathrooms, both on design and on the many products one can purchase for remodeling projects.

  26. Bruce Kent

    Well done so far on the renovations. The flooring material looks like a steal for $300, even if you didn't get the shade of color you wanted.

    floating floor installation

  27. Yep, I have four of those chairs in a raspberry velvet. If you want them they are yours.