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Emily Henderson

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by Orlando Soria
Oversized Pendants Dining Room
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The ongoing project of furnishing my parents’ house is continuing. We’ve already tackled the outdoor space, the kitchen (reveal coming here VERY soon), and guest bedrooms (this one and this one). The dining room is a perplexing space because it feels HUGE when you’re in there, but actually is pretty tight in terms of the layout. The ceiling is vaulted so that one side of the room is sixteen feet high, the other side is eight.

Here’s the main issue: The table that’s in it is way too wide for the space. To be honest, this has been one of the most frustrating things about designing a space with my parents. They basically took the furniture they had from the house I grew up in and tried to cram it into their new house. Which is fine, as I love furniture that has been collected over time, except for the fact that the size and configuration of their new house is completely different than their previous house.

I’m writing this part as a separate paragraph because I want to be emphatic about it. You can’t necessarily just take the furniture from your old house and smash it into your new house. The scale might not make sense. The style might be wrong. There might not be room for it. If you’re moving, you probably have to buy some new furniture. Getting my parents over this hump has been the most difficult part of helping them furnish their place.

Because this new room is more narrow than the previous dining space, the table my parents were married to was too wide. This meant that people had to squeeze around it in order to get to their seats. It made the whole room totally claustrophobic and stifling, there was literally no room to move. So when my mom hosted dinner, no one could get up to help themselves to anything because they couldn’t move. Another issue with it was that it was very wobbly and didn’t look good with the extra leaf in it because the leaf didn’t have the side detail that the rest of the table had. BUT, there’s a cute caveat with this whole thing. My parents bought it when my dad had just graduated from dental school and they didn’t have much money. It had survived 40 years of use, three kids, three grandkids, multiple family celebrations. It was more than just a table. It was a repository for a lifetime of memories.

Dining Room Refresh

My mom was getting tired of how anti-functional the old dining table was (above). She hated using it, hated how creaky it was and didn’t like how it was cracking down the middle. My dad, however, wanted to keep it. My compromise was to propose that we hire a woodworker to chop it down, build a new narrower top, and fix the leaf so that it had the same architectural detail/skirt that the rest of the table had. The only problem with this solution was that it was going to cost a few thousand dollars in labor and material. And one of orlanDAD’s identifying traits is his extreme frugality.

Imagine the fun of designing for one client that wants all new, fun stuff, and another client who wants everything to stay exactly the same and not spend a dime!

You guys know I love my parents to death, but they’re not always the easiest clients. Like many couples, they don’t always see eye to eye on what they want design-wise. Though to orlanDAD’s credit, he’s really been letting orMOMdo take the reigns on a lot of the design decisions, and I think he’s having fun enjoying the results of a cozier, more functional home as a result.

After literally five years of deliberating about this, my parents finally agreed to let me get them a new dining table (HASHTAG SPON). And that’s where this dining room refresh began. The dining room honestly didn’t look bad before. See below:

Dining Room Refresh

My mom had made her very own GIANT Orb-Lando, which provides a great focal point for the room. Soon after they moved in, my parents had replaced the previously carpeted flooring throughout the house with a solid maple wood flooring. It took me a bit by surprise because that’s a very Scandinavian vibe, but it really makes the whole house feel brighter and cheerier. Previously to them moving in, it looked like this (not the best quality photo…sorry):

Dining Room Refresh

The dining room was one of the only rooms that wasn’t carpeted, but the flooring didn’t match any other flooring in the house. They kept that chandelier for a while but I laughed such a hearty witch laugh when they finally took it down and put up that Orb-Lando. I hate that old chandelier and hope they started a fire with it when they took it down. For the good of all people.

Dining Room Refresh
image source

The first item I chose was the table, which is the Shaw table from Rejuvenation. The reason we chose this table was that it seemed simple and traditional enough to suit my dad’s more historic vibe, while also not being so contemporary that it freaked him out. Their home is a 1970s contemporary home that was flipped to look traditional/Spanish/suburban/WHAT-AM-I in 2012, so selecting furniture that feels at home isn’t always easy.

I’m a fan of dining room rugs, but my parents are adamantly opposed to them. They’ve never had one in their house and I’m pretty sure they never will. I didn’t fight them too much on this one even though I knew it would make for prettier photos because they do have three grandkids that are constantly over there doing their very best to throw food as far away from their mouths as possible. I think if you like rugs under dining tables and have no kids, go for it. If you do have kids and are scared of the mess, either deal with the fact that you’re going to have to schlep that thing to a cleaner every six months of just go without one until they go to college.

Another thing my parents aren’t fans of, which I’ve thankfully swayed them on, is window treatments. They didn’t really think they needed any in here because they are never in the street-facing rooms of their house during the evening hours when people could be seeing in and the rear of their home faces a secluded wall of redwood trees that give them ultimate privacy. And they didn’t really see the point in having them if they didn’t plan on using them.

Here’s my two cents on this. Sometimes, it’s nice to have window treatments (drapery, Roman shades, etc.) even if you don’t plan on using them. Here’s why: They add another texture, another material, and quite possibly another pattern to the space. So even if you NEVER close your Romans, they are still there being like “HEY GIRL I’M FABRIC DON’T U LOVE ME GIRL?”

And you’re like “YES GIRL I’M GLAD WE’RE SISTERS!”

I set up my parents with Roman shades from The Shade Store, who come to your house and basically do everything for you so you don’t have to even think about numbers or measuring or anything else that makes your eyes glaze over when you start thinking about it. For the living room and dining room, I’m gonna do something simple/solid but I’m doing something CRAZY BEAUTIFUL in their kitchen/family room.

1. Roman Shade | 2. Orb Lantern DIY | 3. Painting by Jane Culp | 4. Dining Chair | 5. Dining Table | 6. Vintage Curio Cabinet (similar) | 7. Linen Placemats | 8. Linen Tablecloth | 9. Mexican Dinner Plate (similar) | 10. Hey Sosi Print | 11. Display Ledge  

This is a pretty simple update and it’s a pretty tight space in general. So in addition to swapping out the dining table and chairs, this is really mostly a re-styling situation. One issue, which we can discuss when I show you the final product, is that there’s too much furniture in here and figuring out where to put it is a challenge. orMOMdo bought a console she stores a lot of dishes in, orlanDAD inherited a huge antique American buffet after my grandfather died, and they already had a curio cabinet in here that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house.

Will we be able to cram all this furniture into this small dining room? Will the table look as EXTREMELY GLAMOROUS as it does online? Will my parents EVER use the freshly-installed Roman shades I got for them? Stay tuned to find out how I solve all these dining room conundrums!

Check back soon (like…really soon) for the reveal!

More Posts From Orlando:

  1. 1. i love the way orlando writes. sigh. reminds me of an old friend i’ve lost touch with.
    2. love the dining table he picked out. it’s GORGEOUS.
    3. i got super excited by the lead image of this post because i just found 4 of those arm chairs vintage and i’m still over the moon about it!
    4. the old dining table is beautiful.

  2. I love your voice Orlando! Cant wait to see what you do. Everytime you reveal a room, its neat to see your parents collection of art and artifacts from Japan.

  3. Just a little constructive criticism – I really like Orlando and his style but it’s a little annoying to see more posts about his parents house when we still haven’t seen anything about the kitchen (which was introed well over a year ago). Every time I see another intro post I wonder how long it’ll be before we see a reveal, or even an update, and it makes me reluctant to even try to follow along.

    1. Seriously, Stacy?

      1. Copy that Karla

      2. I mean…yeah, seriously. I feel like I said that in the nicest way possible, but yes, SERIOUSLY, what is the point of talking about renovations if you don’t actually show them? Isn’t that what blogs like this are for?

        Also feel like the point of a comment section is for feedback, and I was just trying to provide some. All praise all the time isn’t exactly realistic.

      3. @Karla, this comment makes me wish there was a “like” function.

      4. HAHA! “Seriously, Stacy?” is the new “Bye Felicia”

    2. I on the other hand, have no problem with the non-sequential nature of the posts because, good heavens, have you ever renovated a kitchen? Its the worst and takes far longer than you think. The lack of a reveal actually follows exactly the same timeline my house reno/gut kitchen job is taking. You for realzzz Orlando and I’m always happy to see your name here!!!

    3. Renovating a kitchen is very different from redesigning bedrooms, though. It’s a hefty time-suck of a project, and from what we’ve seen, there have been bumps in the road of things being delivered and installed. It sucks to have to wait, but I imagine it’s all for very real-life reasons that aren’t always so bloggable.

    4. Reminder: this is FREE CONTENT. Really unnecessary “criticism” about the order in which you are not receiving your free content from Orlando. I’m sorry, but the demands of some blog readers in the blog world have gotten out of hand and this is a perfect example.

      Orlando and EHD team–thank you for all you provide to us readers.

    5. Hi! Just wanted to chime in and say the kitchen reveal is coming STRAIGHT HERE TO EM’S SITE very soon. Full disclosure, it was a sponsored project and the sponsoring company’s PR company wanted time to pitch it to print and online press before I shared the photos (also, the project ended up taking a full year because of contractor delays). I honestly can’t believe how long it’s been since I did the intro post on here BUT the reveal is coming and the kitchen looks SO CUTE! It can be frustrating to sit on photos for so long, so I can only imagine how annoying it is to watch from afar. Thanks for following along and for your patience!

      1. In your defense, you DID post a peek of the kitchen in your Insta stories, so maybe those who are upset should follow you there, too! 🙂

    6. Orlando has posted a lot of content on his blog & social media about the kitchen, and it was featured last week on Domino. There were endless delays in the kitchen reno due to issues with the contractors and subs. He’s talked a lot about it in his Instagram stories. Turns out “celebrity” designers aren’t immune to the same frustrating delays and mistakes that we all experience. Stars, they’re just like us! 😉

      1. Thanks for the polite response! I meant no disrespect, just that for someone who doesn’t follow him specifically it seemed weird that we’ve seen so many other posts about this house with complete silence about the kitchen. I don’t in any way envy these designers who have to deal with the stress of renovations AND creating online content.

  4. Just wanted to comment that “I laughed such a hearty witch laugh” is my favorite sentence I’ve read on the internet in a while. Gave me some genuine lols. Thanks, Orlando!

  5. i actually like the before. the table legs are gorgeous!

    1. I like it too. It’s very much my style. However, since it’s cracking and creaking and taking up too much space, I look forward to seeing the beautiful new table. I’m actually wondering how the existing chairs would look with the new table. I prefer the existing chairs to the proposed white chairs.

  6. I just went through dining table agita over everything being too wide for my extremely narrow row-home space! The narrowest I could find was around 36″ because I wanted something very long (6′ at least, preferably 8′-10′–I have a big extended family). My furniture-whisperer dad suggested Pompanoosuc Mills–they had a non-custom option for a 30″ by 96″ shaker table in whatever wood you wanted; we got ash (which was the cheapest and the blondest) and it is LOVELY against our oak floors (no rug for us either; kids would destroy it). Paired it with some cane-and-chrome Cesca chairs and we are in love.

    Wanted to put in a plug for Pompanoosuc for anyone looking for long, narrow tables without going custom.

  7. Oh I can’t wait for the full reveal – I love the new table but also have major heart eyes for the legs on that old one!

  8. AH. My dad is making a me a new dining table (thanks, Dad!) and that table was the one I showed him as design inspiration! I feel so validated right now.

    Love this plan and love Orlando and you guys have been KILLING IT over at EHD lately!

  9. Please oh please tell me more about the lead image of this post! I have a similar table and would love to transform my space into this look…. the rug? the wall color? the pendants? the chairs? Any info would be appreciated!! TIA!

    1. Hi Lauren! That image is from Rejuvenation (so I believe everything you see there can be sourced from them). If you click the gold “image source” link right under the image, it’ll take you straight to the page that sells the chairs, and from there, you’ll likely be able to find the rest of it. Hope that helps!

  10. Or-Lawn-Do, you beautiful magical creature. I LOVE reading about your work with your parents. Now, next time you’re in the Bay Area PLEASE come save my parents from themselves and their TV/unstyleable floating shelves that surround them. I can’t reason with them!

  11. Ugh I’d kill to get that old dining table from you.

  12. I have similar ‘antique family heirloom table with lots of history but also with leaves that don’t match the side of regular table’ angst. You forgot to mention that if the person sitting in that middle chair stands up wrong and catches the corner of that side trim piece in the quadricep, it is agonizingly painful.

    but, my table is a really good size for my space and i can’t find a good replacement! so if anyone has a lead on an oval, 74″-ish table with a pedestal base that expands up to 90″, hook a girl up!

  13. It will be nice to see how older, incohesive furniture pieces can still be worked into a beautiful design.
    Just a thought, this is something I’d like to see on the blog more often. Personally, I can’t buy all new furniture/lighting/accessories, or source vintage overnight. So, more practical advice on how to slowly transition a room’s design using some of what is there and some new items would prove invaluable!

    1. I don’t mind this as much because it’s not about old or new, as much as it is about arranging specific shapes and colors. So you can still reuse your old table, but perhaps need to find better chairs for it. But I think that sometimes they switch out client’s furniture like a sofa for no good reason. If the scale and shape seem fine and the color is neutral anyway then I’d prefer to see that old sofa. I think in some cases it’s about what appeals to a designer rather than client. But it’s rare. On mist occasions it does make sense to replace old furniture. Anything built between 1960s and 2000s was oversize, too massive or clunky. These days it’s easier to buy better shaped furniture on the cheap than ever before. Also thanks to internet we have better options

  14. Orlando! Always love seeing your posts.

    I love the old dining room table — probably because it’s similar to the old antique one my older sister got super-duper cheap back in the 70s in Venice (when Venice was still Venice and not gentrified to hell and back). She passed it on to us, and it fits our eclectic, mostly vintage vibe. However, we don’t have any leaves (and no room for them to be used anyway), so it’s fine for our townhouse. But the new one you’ve chosen totally suits the vibe of this house. And if I stand for one thing it’s going with the vibe your house already has. It can be tweaked, but go too far and it’ll look like a clown house (like trying to force a Craftsman into an MCM style, por ejemplo). I also love that vintage curio cabinet. Wish I’d been able to find one like that at a good price when I was looking for one. We had to settle for one that our gc had built for us. Nice, but no patina — although after 15 years it’s starting to develop one.

    Can’t wait for the reveal! And the kitchen reveal!

  15. Hi! Wondering who the glass orb pendants are by? I’ve been on the hunt for similar ones!

  16. “hope they started a fire with it when they took it down” – LOL!!

    I’m looking forward to the final reveal.

  17. Can’t wait to see the results! Always a pleasure to hear from you Orlando!

  18. I, too have a very similar table as the ‘before’ table, and for years my husband tried to do a switcheroo for a lovely Caligaris table. However, mine was my great-grandfather’s grandmother’s table and my family would shun me if I were to get rid of it. Or I would have to give it to a cousin whose children would probably destroy it. So it holds a place of honor in our dining area. Mine is in pretty good shape since my family has cared for it so well, though it is scheduled for refinishing soon, because the topcoat is getting a little shabby. Yes, I have experienced the pain of standing up under the leaves, as well. Since the leaves stay inside the table when it is closed, I don’t know how to fix the problem of the uneven sides. We only open it when hosting guests.

    Orlando, it’s good to see your post again and am looking forward to more!

  19. Regarding rugs under dining room tables, with kids: I’ve had luck with Flor tiles. Just choose a forgiving pattern. I also have a leather mat underneath baby’s high chair which catches most of the flung food, is super easy to clean, and looks nice too.

  20. very good. Thank you for sharing!
    ………………………………………………..

  21. Oh my…I had the exact same dining table! No, really. EXACT. It was a holdover from my husband’s ex and I hated that thing with a passion. Creaky, unstable, and ugly. But the kids were raised with the thing. I think several desiccated carrots and peas fell out when it was moved.

    Anywho. It burned up! Along with the rest of my house and belongings, but still…

    I like where you’re going with this. And having recently replaced my pile of ashes with another house that needs doing, I’ll be following along.

  22. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to see how the renovation turns out.
    https://www.websta.one/

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