Welcome back to Day 3 of Arlyn Takes Over the Blog With Her MOTO. Last day, promise. You can have Emily back right after I’m done parading my dining room around your eyeballs. Thanks for hanging in there, but I left the best for last. For anyone just joining, there’s been an intro post and a living room reveal so far, and today is my dining room, a.k.a. my favorite room in my whole home.
You got a sneak peek yesterday of the above, but now it’s time to turn the corner and show you the rest…
But first, let’s acknowledge the “before”:
Cute, but the furniture was too small and the whole thing fell a little flat. Sure, there wasn’t much in here (this was right after we moved in), and I could have jazzed up what I already had, but I had other plans…
As I mentioned in the intro post, this room went through quite the design transformation. My moodboards started out as one thing (light walls, dark furniture) and then I flipped everything. After I went with a white color in my living room, I knew I wanted this to be the drama moment in the front of the apartment. So often people say their powder room is the “jewel box” of the home, but well, I don’t have a powder room, so this is my jewel box.
The wall color—Inchyra Blue by Farrow & Ball—absolutely makes this room IMHO. I wasn’t sure if my landlord would go for it, but I had already mentally built the space around it, so I sent off an email with a hope and a prayer (and a promise to paint it back) and all went well. Phew. It reads a little more teal in these photos because of the light, but it’s so wonderfully chalky and this very happy place between blue and green. It has a certain je ne sais quoi. The decision to paint the ceiling was a no-brainer. The curve of the cove ceiling would have made for an awkward transition if I left the top white/beige, so I went all in and boy am I happy I did. It feels like the room is hugging you. It’s good for the soul, the chicken soup of rooms.
With regards to the furniture, my approach was “design a living space, then make sure there’s a table and chairs” so I started with the dining bench first and foremost because every living space needs a sofa(ish) piece. (FYI, the idea to design it like a living space came from knowing I would do far more than just dine in here…I sit in here and work sometimes, I perch on the banquette and chat with Charles if he’s in the kitchen or vice versa…I really wanted this to be the “salon” of the apartment, if that makes sense.)
I honestly can’t remember how I found this, but it’s a new piece designed by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm for Chairish. Maybe it was Instagram, maybe it was an email, maybe it was directly on the retailer’s site, but either way, it was one of those moments where things clicked. I know it’s not for everyone, but the whimsical ribbon pattern was just wild enough to break up the seriousness of what this room could have been. The color is white and slate-y blue (sometimes the light makes it feel a little more cobalt), which felt like a good place between the wall color and the sofa in the living room. Emily called it “editorial” and yeah…let’s go with it!
To balance the dark, moody paint color, I opted for a light and subtle table and chairs and Article had just released their new Ventu line that fit exactly the length I needed. It also comes as an 8-seater, but 6 was just right in here. While I don’t typically go for the whole matching dining set thing, there was enough going on in here that the tone-on-tone of the light leather chairs and blonde oak worked to break things up a bit.
As for why I chose to put nothing above the banquette, well…maybe I’ll fill that wall one day, maybe I won’t. I like to leave things open so I can grow into a space because design is never really finished, is it? If every single nook and spot is taken up, where will all my future treasures go? Besides, with the gallery wall on one end and windows on the other, I wanted a place to really just see the paint. Negative space is just as powerful as filling a space.
Because I didn’t really need any more pattern or color, I kept the rug (from Lulu and Georgia) simple but textural. The weaving alternates between white and gray, so the eye still registers it as “interesting” without being overwhelming. And because it’s made of wool, it’s pretty stain resistant naturally (just needs a little blotting and good as new).
Okay, let’s discuss one of my biggest headaches in this room: the light fixtures. I said this Tuesday, but this room is tricky because the lighting is centered on the room’s footprint, while everything else is a bit askew, centered to the wall between the kitchen opening and hallway door. That meant I needed to either be okay with a pendant/chandelier falling SUPER to the left of the table or find another solution. About a week or two before this shoot, as I entered straight-up panic mode, I was on Schoolhouse’s website and found this beauty. It was a God send, no joke. If I connected one canopy to the current junction box, and installed the other to the ceiling, it would miraculously be centered on the table. I have to imagine this is why they make these types of light fixtures. To help desperate people like me who can’t/dont want to move junction boxes. THANK YOU SCHOOLHOUSE FOR COMING TO THE RESCUE. It’s made of ceramic “bells”, brass plates and pretty white oak connecting pieces. This fixture is insanely special in person, and I’m very much in love with it.
Before moving over to the gallery wall, here is the IKEA Besta unit I teased about. I worked with Semihandmade and Park Studio to give this baby the makeover of her life. For anyone who doesn’t know, Semihandmade makes fantastic custom cabinet doors to retrofit onto IKEA furniture and kitchen cabinets, and here, I went with the beaded front in desert gray from Sarah Sherman Samuel’s line with the brand paired with the Mackinaw handles in large from Park Studio. Man do these elevate a big box piece into something very special. I’d love to add a custom-cut wood top one day, but I’m happy with it as-is.
This holds all our board games, some books, some tools, serving pieces like platters and cheeseboards, and all my small appliances. It used to be my media console, but it works so well in here to keep everything within reach when I need it.
A few other talking points because it’s impossible to get me to stop: those lamps…I found them almost nine years ago when I first moved to South Florida from Orlando (my home town). I was out to brunch with new friends/coworkers and we decided to stroll through an antique market happening on Lincoln Road in South Beach. I spotted these, fought about them with a friend who claimed to see them first (she didn’t), I won, ran to an ATM to take money out of my savings (don’t do this, very irresponsible), and then…they sat in random corners of several apartments before they made it onto this console. They finally have their time to shine. The circa 1960s Murano glass and bulbous shape is modernized with a black shade (hot tip, for you…black shades freshen up older silhouettes).
The silver pineapple—an ice bucket!—is another vintage piece from the ’60s. I found it on a work trip to Belgium a few years back when I was researching a story about antique shopping in Europe (oh, just some work dreams come to life). I was enjoying a cherry tart in an antique dealer’s ridiculously charming kitchen complete with roaring wood-burning fireplace when I spotted it and bought it on the spot. I left behind a pair of pants to make sure it fit in my carry-on. Sacrifices. Worth it.
Gallery wall time! Hats off to Jess who came over the night before my shoot and stayed up with me until almost 2 am to hang everything (I gave my neighbors the heads up after profusely apologizing in advance for the banging). I did not ask her to stay that late, she’s just a literal angel (who also has mad gallery wall skills…her living room proves it). Going top to bottom and left to right really visually enlarges this room and makes the ceilings feel SO tall. Anything that draws the eyes up will do this.
My favorite piece on this whole wall happens to be my favorite person in the whole world. Up there in the top right corner is a photo I took of my Charles (husband) that I had Framebridge print and frame. You can’t see it here, but in the opposite corner is a photo he took of me, so our images are hugging this wall of art. The line drawings are from Wit & Delight’s shop and such a fun graphic punch. I love so much of the art on their site, but I only have so much wall space.
The big black and white piece to the right of the sconce is a macro photo of pencil shavings Charles and I took and had printed years ago; it speaks to both our passions: writing for me, sketching (and photography) for him. Right underneath that is a piece that consists of little compliment notes from all my amazing coworkers. It’s a tradition we started in the office for birthdays, and it makes me very, very happy. Oh, and the stickman drawing is Orlando’s! My first weekend in LA after moving was his book signing at West Elm (where little did I know Grace was at, and I met Michael before we ever dreamed of him working here). He gave out these to the first 200 people; this is #170, Grace evidently has #49…typical Grace. 😉
Okay, so that black and white elephant photo. I have wanted that for the better part of a decade but never pulled the trigger. It’s SO special to me, so I’m insanely grateful that I was able to work with Getty Images Gallery to get that happy fella into my home. It’s titled “Hungry Elephant” by Fox Photos, Courtesy of the Getty Images Gallery, and is just one of their amazing curated archive collection. They sell prints (this is a silver gelatin print retouched by hand from vintage negatives that came with a certificate of authenticity) and also offer framing services. I absolutely plan on sourcing art from them again as I have my eye on a few other things spotted on their Instagram.
That’s me in the left-hand corner—a snapshot Charles took on a Christmas trip to Quebec from a few years back. Magical trip, magical photo made even better with a simple yet awesome frame job from Framebridge. They also did the elephant and the “slow down” tea towel by my front door in the living room. I’ve never had anything professionally framed before, and man…it’s some nice stuff (paper backing, hanging wires and hardware, felt pads…the works).
The swimming photo, I got from Minted (I thought the green would be cool against the wall). When it arrived, Charles said “who’s that lady and why should we care enough about her to have her on our walls?” Oh Charles…BECAUSE IT LOOKS COOL, OKAY? He’s a bit of a “make everything yourself” purist when it comes to art. A very “architect” quality of his. The abstract above it as well as the funny “roast chicken” print—which reminded me of Julia Child for some reason—are also from Minted.
By now, maybe you’re wondering about these sconces. This is not what I initially picked out for the space. In fact, all the lighting in here was a “take 2” moment. I sourced these beautiful brass and milk glass articulating arm sconces from Hudson Valley Lighting, but silly me didn’t realize they’d stick out from the wall quite a bit. That was fine over the banquette, but on the other wall, it quickly became a nuisance. So back they went, unfortunately. A little hunting on Etsy led me here and they’re so fun (and super affordable).
I talked about this server a little in the intro on Tuesday, but as a refresher, I found it for like $50 at ReStore in Florida (where I used to live…have I said that enough yet?). Once upon a time, when I was very into painting all thrifted furniture, this was going to be black, but because it’s not in my DNA to finish a single DIY project, I never got around to it (thank goodness). I love its rich wood color, its original hardware and casters. I never put the drop leaves up, but it’s cool that they’re there, I guess. The two drawers are actually just one big drawer with dividers, what I imagine is for proper “silver” and “serving utensils.” Ha, if I opened this, you’d see a bunch of random votive candles, napkins, Canadian coins from a past trip, mail I’m not dealing with. Anyway, let’s just pretend it has “serving ware” in it. I’m very fancy, obviously.
I will give credit where credit’s due: this is Sara’s tree that she brought in specifically for this shoot. I have mourned it since she took it back because honestly, it belongs in here. GIVE IT BACK SARA. I will now move on in this post-borrowed-tree life, trying to find my own tree that will likely never live up to this one, forever haunted by these beautiful photos.
Because doing “moody and glam” can get very serious, very fast, I added in this cheeky little art print from Minted. You might have to squint to see it, but it just says Hahahahaha over and over again. I joke that I thought I ordered it in a much larger size (I didn’t, I was wrong), so when it came, it was laughably small. Pretty appropriate.
This also happens to be mine and Sara’s favorite photo of the whole bunch. I think of it as a “moment” like…”oh I just left this pretty drink here, casually on a napkin, while I stepped away for a sec.” In reality, it’s just a little prop Sara thought to add and whatever, even if it’s not real, it’s pretty, okay? I got the brass jigger, glasses and tray at West Elm. The black bowl is actually a piece specifically made for marinated onions I bought from Teri of No Crumbs Left (one of my favorite food blogs, FYI). When I’m not marinating onions, it’s a great citrus holder.
The mirror was a $25 find from a thrift store in Delray Beach, Florida. I had wanted a gilded mirror for a while but never wanted to pay top dollar for one. I found this one by accident one day looking for nightstands and loved it even more because part of the wood frame was broken. Character, people…and super glue. Anyway, I love it, and putting it off-center to the buffet loosened up the vignette a little, too.
I can’t believe that’s it. I’m done talking now. If you made it to the end of this post (and yesterday’s and Tuesdays), you now know my whole life story and we’re basically BFFs. Wanna come over for dinner? THANK YOU for following along, and look, if you just scrolled to the bottom, I get it. It’s a lot to take in. Thanks for (sort of) looking. Not to sound cheesy or dramatic (two things that are inherently part of my personality), but I’m pretty honored that I got to design these rooms and share them here. Thank you Emily for letting me blab for three days straight, thank you readers for reading three days straight, thank you friends and coworkers who helped me to get everything camera ready, thank you husband for dealing with my straight-up insanity and procrastination that somehow was your fault in my last-minute lunacy. This was so, so fun, and I can’t wait to work on some other rooms in my home to share with you again.
For all the shopping bits and baubles, we put together a Get the Look, and please let me know what you think/if you have questions. If you couldn’t tell, I have no issues with sharing. Brevity, yes; blabbing, no! See ya next time, everyone.
1. Black and Brass Sconce via Illuminate Vintage | 2. Centerpiece Candleholder | 3. Inchyra Blue via Farrow & Ball | 4. Regent Chandelier via Schoolhouse | 5. Kissa Chair via Article | 6. Ventu Table in Light Oak via Article | 7. Skirted Settee in Navy Ribbon by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm via Chairish | 8. Sanela Curtains | 9. Gilah Rug via Lulu and Georgia | 10. Pillow Fabric | 11. Drapery Rod | 12. Cabinet Handle via Park Studio LA | 13. White TV Unit | 14. Cabinet Door via Semihandmade | 15. Cabinet Legs | 16. Flock of Sheep Planter | 17. Curved Vase | 18. Magnifying Glass | 19. Roast Chicken Print via Minted | 20. Cascade Blues Print via Minted | 21. Head and Hand Print via Wit & Delight | 22. Abstract Portrait via Wit & Delight | 23. Abstract No. 9 Print via Minted | 24. Pool Illumination Print via Minted | 25. Ha-ha-ha-ha Print via Minted | 26. Frame via Framebridge | 27. Hungry Elephant Photo via Getty Images Gallery | 28. Mirror Tray | 29. Plant Pot | 30. Angled Jigger | 31. Glassware
***photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD
FOLLOW ALONG THE SERIES: Introducing…Arlyn’s Living & Dining Room Makeover Takeover | Arlyn’s Light & Bright Living Room Reveal