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Dining Room update with a lot of questions


Wanna really dive into the brain of an insane lady today? GREAT! This post is for you. Some rooms come together easier than others. This one has been a big struggle for me and I’m not making any headway so far. My big disclaimer: balancing all the mom needs, with the kids needs, with the stylist’s desire and my husbands last minute opinions is EXTREMELY challenging… paralyzing even. Then add in the fact that I don’t want it to be totally traditional/country or mid-century modern. But mixing those two is hard is proving to be very hard.

More context …

When we moved in we brought over the Saarinen table from the office and the windsor chairs from Target. Like so:


It’s too small for the space and not the vibe that I wanted. What is the vibe I want? Good question. Warm, inviting, comfortable with a modern edge (could be in the table, chairs, lighting). I’ve been extremely attracted to primitive, shaker style furniture – the kind with no bells and whistles but maybe you see a nail or defined wood grain. Well when I was shopping I found a table that I fell IN LOVE with.

Emily Henderson_Home_Engish Tudor_Dining Room_Layout_Ask the Audience_2

It’s 100 years old and has tons of character/love but it is so simple. The sad  news is that I bought it for a different orientation of the room, and when it floats this way I fear that it’s too small. Here is a super distorted photo to show you where we are in the house.

Emily Henderson_Home_Engish Tudor_Dining Room_Layout_Ask the Audience_3

You see, all the doors will be open 7 months of the year, with the kitchen windows opening into the room, too. So for a while I thought maybe we should orient it this way:

Emily Henderson_Home_Engish Tudor_Dining Room_Layout_Ask the Audience_4

Then I’d get a bench for the front side and we’d still have room for dance parties in the middle of the dining room, which we do. Way too often. We sat in it this way for a while and kinda liked it (thus the weird lamp swagging over the table).

Ultimately it did feel like a big waste of space in the middle … ugh, except the fact that when you have two toddlers all they want is space to run, play, drag their toys around, or twirl until they get dizzy, fall over and cry as if it’s my fault.


They both kinda work, right? One is more breakfast nooky – think upholstered bench in front and two more substantial king chairs … and the other is more of a normal kitchen table in a dining room.

IF I were a normal person this would be good enough, but i’m a “designer” and this room will be featured in a magazine shoot that we have coming up of the new house so it does need to be perfect in scale, finish, style and of course function/comfort.

Here is my list of needs and wants:

1. Comfortable chairs, preferably with a cushion or upholstered. Not a generic upholstered chair.

2. If it’s upholstery it should be family friendly or slip covered. We have cushions on those chairs now and man they are disgusting from the kids spills and food.

3. Nothing too fussy or over designed. I like tufting but it has to be perfectly done to satisfy me, and I like carved legs a lot, but the finish has to be perfect and waxed or matte instead of shiny or faux aged.

4. Something that feels classic and timeless – six chairs will be an investment so I want something that I will love forever.

5. They have to look good with the windows and the rest of kitchen. I love these black windsor chairs, but with all the lines of the window frames/iron railing, beadboard and bentwood stools, they are just too busy. They would be way better in white (for the busy-ness) and I have considered for the time being selling these, buying the white so I can at least be 28% happier when I walk into this room, but that just seems so wasteful. The search goes on.

Emily Henderson_Home_Engish Tudor_Dining Room_Layout_Ask the Audience_7

So I started pinning chairs I liked, chairs that I thought could work or chairs that I want to sit in. I pinned A LOT. These are all over the place, mostly because until I know the table we are going to get, I have no idea what type of chair I want. Many of these are more shabby-chic (that could look great with an industrial table), or on the mid-century side which could look good with the right table.  Some of these are even pretty boring, but the fact that I pinned them means that I felt something about them when I saw them. So here we go.

Emily Henderson_Dining Room_What I Almost Bought_Ask the Audience_Dining Chairs_Resized_1

1. Slipcover Short Skirt Armchair | 2. Coppice Side Chair | 3. Julia Skirted Linen Side Chair | 4. Gaston Chair | 5. Fenton Dining Chair | 6. Jackson Armchair | 7. Comfort Upholstered Dining Chair | 8. Blue Striped Chairs Pair | 9. Keaton Side Chair | 10. Ladder Chair | 11. Octavia Side Chair | 12. Square Guest Chair | 13. Light Gray Slip Armchair | 14. Ward White Side Chairs Pair | 15. Piana Bea Dining Chair | 16. Newell Armchair | 17. Angel Dining Chair | 18. Slip Linen Slipcovered Dining Chair | 19. Low Belgian Track Arm Slipcovered Armchair | 20. Ladder Chair | 21. Pink Cushion Dining Chair | 22. Savoy Dining Side Chair | 23. Navy Elloree Side Chair Pair | 24. Afternoon Tea Chair | 25. Saddle Dining Chair | 26. Mid-Century Olive Chair Set | 27. Cameron Side Chair | 28. Brownstone Marcel Pewter Chair | 29. Grace Chair  | 30. French Victorian Tufted Arm Chair | 31. Lancaster Chair | 32. Folio Chair | 33. Dane Dining Chair | 34. Marvin Dining Arm Chair | 35. Framework Dining Chair | 36. Palecek Emery Arm Chair | 37. Isabelle Side Chair | 38. Grammercy Upholstered Tufted Chair | 39. Ray Dining Chair | 40. Alaina Slipcovered Dining Side Chair | 41. Lloyd Dining Chair | 42. Newell Armchair | 43. Vienna White Wood Dining Chair | 44. School House Chair | 45. Bowie Arm Chair | 46. Classic Cafe Dining Chair | 47. Emma Dining Chair | 48. Richmond Dining Chair | 49. Steel X Back Side Chair | 50. Dering Upholstered Dining Chair | 51. Bradley Dining Chair | 52. Whirl Swivel Grey Upholstered Dining Chair | 53. Lino Dining Chair | 54. Danish Arm Chair | 55. Sloan Dining Chair | 56. Finley Chair | 57. Brown Bistro Chair

My favorites up there are #12 (but that doesn’t look comfortable and they are a fortune), #14 (a great option and an absolute contender), #16 (great – classic, yet upholstered, and less slats than the vertical one so I’m less concerned about them being busy) and #24, although I’d love for all four feet to be turned – they are also expensive but I love the simple rounded shape, the pretty front legs, and they look super comfortable. I could get them upholstered in a color to make them more kid-friendly.

I don’t need both the table and the chairs to be standouts, but either the chair OR the table needs to be awesome. Ok, fine, preferably both. My ideal table is mine, but 6-10″ longer, and 6-10″ wider.

My requirements for the table are as follows:

  1. Beat-up-able. Nothing too precious for me or those spaghetti smashing monsters. This is why i’m leaning towards rustic or farm style, but every now and again I see a classic Paul McCobb and say, “yes, that’s my table”.
  2. Not huge or wide – We really shouldn’t go wider than 40″ to be able to easily access the doors, or longer than 84″ to keep flow at both ends.
  3. Wood, white, or black, and no marble since there is marble on the countertops.

So I pinned and pinned and pinned and I’m so sick of looking for this table. Oh and I’d really like for it to not be $4k but all of my favorites are around that price. We are going to the Round Top flea market at the end of March so I feel pretty confidant I will find it there (fingers crossed).

Until we find the perfect one, here are all the dining tables i’m toying with:

Emily Henderson_Dining Room_What I Almost Bought_Ask the Audience_Dining Tables_Resized_1

1. Baluster Round Table | 2. Vintage Wooden Table | 3. Walnut Oval Dining Table | 4. Reclaimed Lumber Table | 5. Oak Turned Table | 6. Dovetail Table | 7. Ball and Claw Table | 8. Shaker Style Table | 9. Rustic Pine Table | 10. Campbell Table | 11. Bendelle Table | 12. Beck Table | 13. Gazzda Table | 14. Ansel Black Table | 15. Phillippe Starck Table | 16. Sarreid Wood Table | 17. Zinc Top Table | 18. Paul McCobb Mid Century Table | 19. Zinnia Table | 20. Steel Top Table | 21. Vintage Heywood Table | 22. Gideon Table |  23. Madison Table | 24. Teak Oval Table | 25. Belgian Stripped Table | 26. Paul McCobb Table | 27. Oval Zinc Table | 28. Farm House Table | 29. Solid Walnut X-Base Table | 30. French Oblong Table | 31. Viyet Italian Table | 32. Teak Dining Table | 33. Harvester Table | 34. | 35. British Campaign Table | 36. French Urn Pedestal Table

So many options, and yet none feel quite right. My dream table (I think) is #3 because it’s a 1930’s burlwood oval pedestal table and would really ground the room without being too big. It’s a cool $14k. I love a lot of the more industrial tables (which pair really well with upholstered chairs) but then I think – I want it to be warm and happy and not cool and cold. Also the other side of the kitchen is light and bright so it can’t feel too heavy ….

I wish I had more news for you, but I can’t buy the chairs without the table. In a perfect world the table should be rustic/farm-style we kinda need to find it first to pull any chair triggers to make sure that wood tones work together. Meanwhile if you are in LA and interested in my current table I’ll be selling it for what I purchased it for, $1200 (which I know is a lot, but getting the modern country look with real antiques in a big city is always more expensive – you should be able to get this look WAY cheaper most other places, and the table is stunning).

Help. Any thoughts?

**UPDATE: Since finishing this post on Friday I shopped a ton online and found THE table on Etsy over the weekend. YAY! I’m trying to pull together an ask the audience for this week since I can narrow down the chair options now. Also I pinned a ton more chairs and tables over the weekend so you want to see even more of a selection of what I’m going for head on over to my pin board. 

Fin Mark


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No hesitation, I would get the #4 candelabra table with two or three of the #43 crate and barrel chairs with a modern clean lined bench, barely higher than the table, on the opposite side in a very washable fabric and on the ends, two of the #24 in a great fabric that you just love. I dont think that you should try adding in mid century modern or anything too elaborate like the tufted french chairs. It feels like there is too much going on with the chevron floor, shaker cabinets, retro lighting, spanish/tudor beams, etc. I would say, keep it simple.


If you want a cushion with kids, I would recommend something in leather or very wipeable. I had upholstered chairs in my kitchen and they were absolutely disgusting. I can’t count how many times yogurt or milk spilled in the seats and I didn’t know until way too much time had passed and it had soaked down into the cushion. I’m not the design goddess you are (who is?!?) but I’ve since replaced those chairs because I could stand it no longer!


I have to agree with the upholstered dining chair comment. My kids are roughly the same age as Emily’s and I have to wipe down my chairs every single day because there is always some food or liquid left behind. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with washable slipcovers!


Fabric in a dining area + toddlers (or even older kids)=deathwish. I’m in the wipe down every day boat as well. I cannot believe how messy we are at this stage of life!


Yes, that was my first thought. You want whatever you get to be wipeable and I wouldn’t even do a washable slipcover because its just too much with the kids and your busy schedule. You want to enjoy life and not groan every time they put their sweet, pudgy peanut butter hands on the chair. They don’t have to be forever chairs. Buy something pretty and wipeable and get something different when they’re grown which will be in a few days btw!!!


I agree with these ladies…. dining chairs with fabric and kids is a mess. I have Kids ages 3 and 4, and ours are disgusting. I need to replace ASAP.


Gonna have to agree with all these. I have removable covers on my upholstered chairs in the dining room and it’s gross. I’d have to clean on a weekly basis to even have them remain sorta clean. They just don’t look good and the material does withstand some wiping. So maybe have upholstered ones for the photo shoot and then put them away for 5+ years and then get them back out. 😛


Wipeable is a great idea, but maybe vinyl or something. Leather scratches and gets holes fairly easy with small children. It’s not intentional, but things happen. 🙂


yes, leather is great, but i’m also realizing that tiny children have sharp finger nails that scratch it and leave marks! Something i didn’t think about when i recently reupholstered some chairs for my living room.


Even with older kids upholstered chairs would be a nightmare in my mind! My 11 year old spills crap EVERYWHERE! …it’s part of his charm 😉


I’ve avoided upholstered seating all together for this phase of life with my 1 and 3 year old kids just for my own sanity. However, some of my friends have made it work with using upholstered captain chairs and then wipeable side chairs. The kids sit in the wipeable chairs and the parents in the upholstered. Good luck!

OH man. this is BUMMING me out. What if I used sunbrella? We are seriously considering some slipcovered chairs And they aren’t cheap. Stay tuned tomorrow, but man, this is terrible news. Perhaps we switch to feeding kids in smoothie form only?


I just had a bench cushion made from Loom Decor using a sunbrella parchment pattern in white… SUPER washable and beautiful/luxurious at the same time.


Why don’t you just put a couple of upholstered or slipcovered chairs on the ends of your existing table and call it a day. The black side chairs are perfect for the kids, they get lots of room to run around, you have lots of room for party’s and you can fill in some of the extra space for the photos with plants. It looks amazing the way it is, seriously. That table is so beautiful!


Yeah. Our upholstered chairs are disgusting. So sad. I had to replace a couple chairs with CB Windsor chairs and considering buying all 6 shorter Windsor from DWR or target! (I’m in Pasadena btw. So wants to go to see your Glendale house!). What do you think of the target chairs?? How have they held up?


Btw I have two kids as well (hence the gross upholstered chairs). Where did you get th cushions for the target windsors?


I have 4 kids aged 6 and under. I bought antique pub chairs for our dining room and reupholstered the seats in a gray tweed looking Crypton fabric. Cryptons used to be ugly (think healthcare seating), but they have some great options available now that are super affordable. The fabric is soft, and I wipe it down after meals and it looks great and cleans up great with soapy water. I also considered Sunbrella, which I think would work well too.


Get the chairs you want and have some faith in your kids. We have an old midcentury dining set that we’ve refinished a couple of times and changed the seat fabric once. We went with a commercial fabric (Unikia Vaev, I think) with a stain treatment maybe 5 or 6 years ago. They are still looking great and we hardly ever have to wipe them down. We eat every single meal and snack in the dining room on those chairs. While your kids are small they will still eat in their messy little high chair / kid chair. Then, set some expectations when they graduate to a real chair at the table. Having family meals with expectations (use of cutlery, no random popping up, use your napkin instead of the seat) also makes for good restaurant practice so that dining out is not a disaster! TIP: enlist them in the cleanup of said chairs, if and when necessary. We find that our kids were miraculously better at mess avoidance when they became responsible for cleaning. This kids-in-charge cleaning tip also works for better bathroom cleanliness (better aim, less toothpaste smudgery, etc.).


I totally agree! I also have upholstered dining room chairs with a toddler and I’m spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning and protecting them! They are a daily headache for me. I would suggest just getting wood ones for now and replacing them when the kids are older. I do love the look of upholstered dining chairs though-especially light ones.


Our dining room is also weird. My kids are older (10 & 14) and I have found that the open space with the dining table set aside is best for family and function. Maybe stage for the shoot and then adjust for life?


I agree. Stage for the shoot, then have the space your family needs. My kids are also older at 13 and 10 and you always need space, even as they age. Also, live in your house the way you live, sometimes thing are just for function and not for show. It’s cool. We’ll love it regardless. (well most of us haha)

Julie P

As a mother of a toddler I agree you need to leave lots of play space. Stage to shoot, put the table along the window to shoot. I mean you’re still using at least 1 high chair and at a booster for a year or more right? So it’s never going to be THAT gorgeous. I have a vintage round table that extends out into an oval and I see a similar thing in this space. As a bonus there are no sharp corners on this type of table for little heads to run into!


Great idea!


I didn’t read the post yet, but thought you would know that when I use my Chromebook computer, the lighting post from fri is still at the top, yet on my android phone, I see this post. (I’m not technically talented, so if this is my problem disregard. If it’s on your end, I figured you’d want to know. 🙂 I’m not complaining, just informing. )


That happens to me once in a while on Firefox too – I only see the day before’s post. Weird.

Weird. Hmm, i’ll look into it!


What I thought of immediately was a round table that has a couple leaves to extend it, then you can put it in the middle of the space and easily walk around it. We had a dining room in the center of our house, with doors/archway on 3 sides (plus nutso toddler twins) and nothing worked til I figured out the round extendable table. Then I found the perfect Danish one on Craigslist for $75. The house was a 1930s Tudor and Danish teak looked great in there.


Yes!! Exactly this comment.


1000% this. That’s been the best solution for us by far.

This was my immediate, first instinct and what I shopped for first. Then I found pretty quickly that almost all the pedestal round tables were at least 42″ wide as a circle, which means as an oval its even wayyyyy bigger. A skinny oval would be amazing, but hard to find in the style we want (rustic/farm/primitive). I did find an amazing one last night on a site but it was $4k. Ultimately the shape of the island is also kinda weird so now I think that having a rectangle is truly the best way to go. I think 🙂 But that was my first instinct too ….


Try the Amish furniture places where you customize your order.


Really?!? The island shape is “kinda weird”?? …. Nooooo! Too funny! 🙂


Ok, now I’ve read the post. Chair 2 is my standout. Also I can’t tell you how many times my children, who actually sit at the table without roughhousing, have managed to totally faceplant when simply trying to exit our one dining chair with arms. When it’s pushed in, it’s a pain for them to get out of. Fwiw.


I can’t wait to see the table you found. I’m crossing my fingers for a primitive shaker style like the first table, with linen slipcovered chairs… that’s probably too boring for a mag feature but I just feel like in this space you should let the beams, the floors, the windows, the kitchen, and a special pendant or chandelier* (??) take the stage. Bonus: going with your gut re: kid-friendly materials. *Extra bonus: a light fixture is more or less safe from toddlers, so that’s usually a good place to really BRING it. 🙂

HA. the table is like that and I think we are going slipcovered – except that apparently every mom in the world will think i’m nuts!!!! Are they right? Can I do it in outdoor fabric and then spot clean?? Ugh. KIDS.


Moms are always right! Lol But seriously. Even sunbrella and spot cleaning are a no go. Sorry.


Hi Emily
Kids and friends… how about the quintessentail Navy Chair/ We love’em. Three kids later and grandchildren now , as beautiful as the day I bought them. They are so good .


What about a rug? Will there be one? And, if so, maybe laying one down each way will help determine the orientation?
(Personally, I prefer the second layout)


I think a round table looks great in your space, #3 was my favorite too. I like #23, #45 & #51 for the chairs. Good luck Emily, I know your space will be incredible!


So, I really think those white bentwood stools at the island need to go. They will be competing with whatever table and chairs you put over there, because they are just SO white and tall in that space. I know you tried it before, but that island is begging for some natural wood, minimal stools.


I liked the same stools in the light natural wood color, which she had at one point.


I totally agree with this!


Or black I think, to tie in the light fixtures. (If you’re not doing anything black in the dining area).


I completely agree! I would paint them black and go with neutral color dining chairs. This would tie in the lights above the sink and the mesh in the upper cabinets. The kitchen needs more black accents and the stools would be enough to do it. There’s a lot of wood in the space already.


I agree. Every time I see them, they seem out of place in the space.

OMG, this always shocks me. I honestly don’t agree, but I LOVE this debate – stoolgate!! I know its really hard til you are actually living in the space but dark stools would make that super small space feel so much smaller. I just can’t. I would LOVE vintage darker wood thonet stools, but they didn’t really make counter height (just bar and dining ) and I don’t love the light finish of the wood version. Have I considered other stools since then? Yep, but none that I feel works as well. I honestly really think that these look good in here and you know I wouldn’t say that If I didn’t think so (I just wouldn’t respond to the comment :)) Obviously so many people think this so yes, I am questioning it, but remember that we live in a sun-filled bright california house and I really do want to keep it that way. EEK.


I LOVE the white- I think black would make it look so dark and cold. Keep the white! 🙂


The white looks cheap!

Maybe white chairs with different lines? Those curved tops are making me harken back to some kitchen chairs my mom had in the late 80’s/early 90’s so that’s what’s throwing me. But I totally love you being like, “I like ’em, and I’m the one who lives here!”


So stain the wooden ones so the grain still shows through – a black stain that is sort of transparent.


LOVE the white. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise 😉 They are perfection!


Totally agree. The white bar stools seem so out of place. I live in LA too and understand California light but sometimes white can just be TOO white. Wicker, rattan, light wood or something else similar may seem less stark. I just don’t think it works at all. Wait till August when the sun pores in with such intensity – your chairs may end up having a yellow tint.


This was my first thought as well. The white stools have never worked to my eye. (I trust you, Emily! They probably look better in person, but whenever I see them on the web, it just looks…I dunno. Cheap? Wrong? Kind of late-90’s-coffee-shop-with-ivy-wallpaper-like. Eek! I don’t mean to sound catty.)

But the problem here is that they compete with everything in the dining room. It might be interesting to stage the room without them and post a photo that way. I personally LOVE the black Shaker chairs you have there now – the way it picks up on the touches of black in the the kitchen lighting is great – not overwhelming, just a nice “bookend”. And I think they would look FABOOSH around that big round table. I do not, however, think that black stools at the bar are necessarily the answer. (I should mention that I am not a big fan of kitchen bars and bar height stools, ever, not just in your kitchen.)

Kim B.

This was much commented on when you first revealed the room! Someone on that first post included a link to some black stools which had better lines for the space and tied in with the otherwise out-there black sconces. . . . I am sorry to say it and I know that overall your taste is so much better than mine, but the white bentwood stools just seem to me to be too same-y.


I love that the kid-friendly is a design component you are considering, because there are so many pretty pictures on the internet that aren’t practical for daily life. Also, I am excited to see you pinned table 7 because that is exactly the table I have, only my grandpa pulled it out of an abandoned farm house for free!


We’ve got that table too ~ our’s was pulled from a Minnesota barn 🙂


At least a couple of chair 16 and I like tables 8, 10, and 21.

So this is kind off the wall but when I saw the photos what came to mind was, “To be really EMILY, something needs to be brass, or brass colored.” Weird, huh? So all I have is an odd image of chairs with brass colored legs.

But, hey, a nice brass bowl on the table would work too.;)


I actually love those windsor chairs! I wanted the black before they sold out. Can’t wait to see the table you found!

xo, K


I have never been a commenter before, but since I have been experiencing similar dining table/chairs and space constriction situation, I couldn’t resist commenting today.
Prior to reading through to the end of your post where you say you found the perfect table on etsy, my suggestions were as follows:
1. thinner top rectangular light natural wood table, straight lines with NO APRON functional, plain farmhouse table/ lighter visual weight. (or #3 which has such incredible presence)
2. Curvy white/light tone wood chairs, curvy since they’re almost side by side with your island stools.
My humble suggestions from a fellow person in “the business”.

Ah thank you. Yes I do agree with you – and the table we found doesn’t have an apron!!


Chair #18, Table #8 and go more industrial with chandelier. My two cents. 🙂


Tables : 5,11,23
Chairs: 5,8,15,47,48 maybe 53

***new bar stools- to marry them all together.


I have slip covered dining chairs (Williams Sonoma Home Belvedere in linen) and just wanted to mention that everyone LOVES the 20.75″ seat height. The chair is very comfortable, but the higher seat makes them awesome!


We also have an older Tudor-style home with a 14 month old. Last summer I recovered a vintage set of dining chairs in Perennials Indoor/Outdoor velvet and couldn’t be happier with the decision. My son sits in a bumbo seat strapped to a chair and has spilled every type of food and even thrown up a couple of times (yay GI bugs) on the fabric and it looks as good as new. Vacuums up easily. You can also use pretty much every type of cleaner on the fabric including bleach. I’m not sure if you’ve used Perennials before but it’s the upscale version of Sunbrella. It’s amazing stuff. Not cheap, even at wholesale prices but totally worth it. Unless you’re able to find a commercially available chair that can be upholstered in sunbrella or Perennials I would stick to leather or find a vintage set and have it re-done in Perennials. Also maybe consider adding a beautiful Tabriz or Heriz rug to the space to liven things up? In regards to mixing traditional country decor with mid-century, if anyone can do it ,it’s you but I agree that’s tough. We’ve had better luck with mixing new-traditional (see Laurel Bern’s excellent… Read more »

Elisa F.

We have some stuff from Shaker Workshops that we got 20 years ago; the chairs still look new, even after two toddlers. Authentic, historical designs, not Shaker-ish. Made to order, so well crafted.

Oh wow. I’ve never seen that site. thank you!!


I was saving up for a $2000+ pedestal table from that site that I could expand but I happened to find the perfect 100+ y/o tabled on Craigslist for $300. It is ideal for our family of three, but can extend to seat 12. Like you, our “dining room” is open to our kitchen, so I wanted something cozy for every day that would still be good for hosting large crowds.


In my humble opinion, your floor is competing with the wood of your table. I would put a rug down to define the space (which I am sure you are going to do). I would make sure I brought the color of the island over to that space as well. Preferably in a rug color or curtain. The island chairs are also competing with the dining space as well. The kitchen seems modern and colorful while the dining room seems rustic and antique. The spaces are supposed to blend and they are competing. I love your style and think you are very talented and I hope you I am not offending you.

Ha. I don’t disagree with you. Thus is the challenge … Our curtains are a tiny green stripe and I think you are forgetting the pendant over the marble island is antique – it certainly doesn’t feel modern and colorful in there, it feels old but bright. but yes, its a challenge! Never offended 🙂


I just got those same 4 Windsor dining chairs from Target in white and wish I got black. Lemme know if you want to trade! I’m nearby in Studio City. Love love that table that you are selling. Wish I could buy it but alas, we need one with a leaf.

Do you want to trade? I’m not kidding. Whatever chairs we order we probably won’t get them for a while and i’d rather try white for now. Wanna do a switch?? email [email protected] and Jess can arrange. fun!!!

My fave tables are trestle for the warm rustic vibe. Relaxed slipcovered highbacks for that sweet country vibe at the heads of the table. Bench on one side. Then #56 or #45 for the other side chairs. Great choices overall! Let me know if I can help with a rug!


So much inspiration! Wow! I really like chair #4 but I realize the the canning wouldn’t be so good with spaghetti hands. I like the idea of having leather upholstered chairs, and I absolutely adore the current table but understand the necessity to update it. Can’t wait for the reveal!

dream table nr 9 🙂 and please hear me. As a mother of 3 I KNOW you will cry everyday if you buy chairs with any kind of fabric on it, even if it is washable. Go with leather or just wood and be happy everyday 🙂

what about perennial or sunbrella??? I don’t want you to cry!!! but that room needs the softness …. oh dear …


And to further smash your dreams, I’ve got 2 teenagers who are just as gross as my 7 year old. It never enddddsss.
I honestly think the upholstered chairs could be a huge mistake but it’s your house!! If you want them go for it!


I have to agree teenagers are just as bad as toddlers. And they wear metal studs and zips and wreck wood and ply chairs too … 🙂


I had the same concerns you did about kids and food and markers and chewing gum, etc. but i really wanted upholstered dining chairs, figured sunbrella was the answer. It cleans up fairly well with a little work, but requires more than a simple wipe. I had to do it every day. every. single. day. regret. lasted six months.


You’ve probably already heard this but my toddler has DESTROYED our (scotch-guarded) upholstered dining chairs with milk, more milk and worst, red jello. WHY did I let her eat red jello? I already bought new fabric and I’ll just wait until she’s about 18 to redo the chairs (again).


The round RH table #1!! But really, think any ROUND shape is the way to go. Chairs good- I like #14 and #24. The house looks great!


A round table with the weird kitchen island…what is this? Abstract city??

emily jane

Hi Em. I love the idea of using both layouts. : )
For day-to-day, orient the dining table to allow for the ‘open dance space’ (an absolute necessity in my book!).
For entertaining and/or magazine shoots, find a table similar to the lovely-but-too-small one you’re now selling -but one with extendable leaves!- which would then utilize the alternate layout beautifully.
(I have no helpful ideas whatsoever as far as chairs go but I have faith you will make it work with panache.)
Also, I appreciated the ‘distorted’ image as I had not truly understood how all the rooms in your beautiful new home related to each other until now…


I’m late to the party and I see that you’ve already bought a table but chair #24 is THE CHAIR for your house. I’d love to see it with a straight legged farm table – like the one you already have. However, a round table would really clear up a lot of your issues. Regardless that is your chair.


Hi Emily, I have a similar english tudor, so I feel for what you’re going through! Like others said, there are possibly too many competing elements… I think the space cries out for an antique rug and different barstools. Maybe the backless version of the Thonet Era stools in natural wood? Then, I think, you could go for whatever you want in terms of table and chairs. Something like the Prague/Hoffman armchair might look nice. They seem to blend with any style. Most importantly, do what works for you and your family rather than the photoshoot!


This is fun! I’m excited to see the table you found. My caution would be around the practicality of the chairs you choose – as others have mentioned, if you’d like to keep these chairs in good condition for the long haul, I’d recommend either leather upholstery or no upholstery at all. Especially given your dining table will be open to the kitchen, I imagine your kids will sit there every day. Not only will they spill food, but they’ll want to do crafts, paint, color…and eventually they’ll find any Sharpie marker you have in the house. Maybe a very durable slipcover in a darker color would work? Or possibly a pattern, like a stripe, to hide any stains? Good luck!


I read your update and I know you found a table already. I hope it’s round or oval, because I feel like the rectangular table is undesirably highlighting the different dimensions and different shape of your kitchen/island.

It’s not! But I don’t really agree with you either. It seems like since the island is weird it might be nice to have something really easy for the eye to read, next to it. But hell. I am having some serious regret right now. Maybe I should have waited to order the table til after I read all your comments! But I LOVE the one I found and so does brian. xx


If it was included I couldn’t find it….what is the size of the table your going to sell? Thanks.

I think its 62 x 34 … somewhere every closet to there!


Oh my gosh I am so overwhelmed now too! I feel for you. With a young family and having to be camera ready and unique and inspiring, this so so so much pressure. Thrilled that you found a table and can’t wait to see your next post. Fear not. This was not a waste of a post. I am trying to make my dining area more casual so we use it everyday (second biggest room in our house). This post is going to help my A LOT.


oh and one more thing..if you get linen slipcovers, just order an extra set. your will be thankful when you pull the others for washing that you can throw the second pair on. Plus if you want new ones made after they are shot, you can send one set as the pattern to the upholsterer. And you can eat red sauce and wine without worry.

Jennifer Hart

That open space is a chance to put down an amazing original carpet, just the right size, that blows the space beyond. It’s not a liability, it’s a great opportunity to put more of your personality in the house! I love the table and the house, but the room is slightly boring without more color. It’s like someone is trying to avoid mistakes, leaving the room a little barren and without personality. I see an antique colorful rug with a pad for the kids to play on. Let’s see more Emily in the room! Thanks again for all of your hard work and great posts.

Wait. Why didn’t i have the rehang the doors to open out?? Oh man. Maybe we will!!

Priscilla Lynch

Oilcloth on the chairs, have the doors rehung to open out.


Yup! 4 yrs ago i upholstered my dining chairs with the sides of a really fun reusable shopping bag I found (99 cents for two chair covers!). It’s finally falling apart and oilcloth is my next plan! So much better than the nasty crusty foods on the microfiber I had before!!

Emily K

Yes to covering the chairs in vintage oil cloth or a hand painted coated canvas like the floor cloths they used to make in olden times!!


I really think upholstered chairs for everyday use in the kitchen/dr is a big gamble {i.e. mistake :)}

paint, markers, chalk, crayon, glue, spaghetti sauce, milk, etc. I’m a huge a huge believer in making messes with my kids and don’t want the worry of being careful. yes, leather is a nice option, it’s the perfect solution in my home.

Why can’t dance parties be in the large living room you have? scooch a chair over and it’s disco bonanza baby!!

Best of luck in these most difficult decisions! It’s so hard. And, thought: why not let Brian choose the chairs, you choose the table? eliminate his “last minute” wishes by moving them upfront. it’s his place to and he needs to park his butt and like it. 🙂


Ahh – I see from the update that you no longer need a table, but for anyone else looking – we got our beat-up-able table here years ago and love it:


I’m not sure if the scale of the table is the issue right now. The room just lacks many pieces of furniture. I would have a vertical peice – credenza, bookshelf, etc. where you have the small legged cabinet. Or I would buy a low sideboard/console table or long low coffee table height piece to go under the window. Either option would add some darkness or wood tone at that end of the room, push the circulation path toward the center of the room, and by the time you have an offset for the rug, then the chairs, then the table, I believe a 6 person table would end up near the center of the room. Plants, artwork, ceramics, or some of your other amazing finds would look great on a low console table in front of the window. Just a thought…

Regardless of whatever pieces you have planned for this room, the table currently looks lonely because there is no rug, drapery or other furniture to balance it.

HA. ok thanks! Yes, we have a lot still to come in. In fact since then we have added a hutch which i love. man. i’m hoping our new kitchen table works!!!


What sort of seats do your kids use now? We had a Tripp Trapp from Stokke which grows with your kids and comes in many colors. I can understand wanting to have a uniform look but it might also be nicer for them to have comfortable seats with a place for their feet. I think a couple of tripp trapps with adult chairs would look fine since it’s a real home. Pull them away for shoots or include them to show life with kids. As for adult chairs, we liked our Modernica Eames shell chairs. They are really comfortable since they flex and the clean up is very easy. I know they aren’t on your list, probably since they are overdone, but they can work in lots of different settings like our 1853 New England farmhouse. And finally I like your placement of the table along the window. Extra floor space is great for the kids.


Totally agree with the Stokke chair – also available in fun colors and incredibly durable. My daughter is now finally outgrowing it at 8.


I third the Stokke Tripp Trapp recommendation! They come in cool colors (or you could always paint) and I think they look cool mixed and matched, like so:

I have a similar dining room doubling as a thru-way to the living room issue. The previous house owners used a small table and I think it looked awkward- like the room can’t make up it’s mind if it’s a hallway or a dining room. We now have a table that’s not huge but fills the room and it looks much better, but there is still space to maneuver around.

My best decision with this set up was to get chairs with relatively low backs, that are only a few inches higher than the table height. When we first moved I was using high back chairs from another set, and they really blocked the view- switching out the chairs was a HUGE improvement.


I also second Stokke. It looks nice and lean, easy to clean, grows with the child and also ensures the kiddos sit in an anatomically correct position, no slouching (to me this was super important as my daughter tends to slouch terribly in regular chairs).
Actually even I sit on it occasionally, no complaint from the chair 🙂

I love the herringbone floors!



#35, 52 look amazing and comfy. I have #11 in a golden yellow and although it’s beautiful, it’s not comfy for sitting long at a time.
I’ve had several types of dining chairs and yet to find one I’m in love with.

Cf Betcher

Hold on! I like the table! The table is great! It’s nice to have something in dark and old in the middle of all that newness! I would go for either #32 or #54 for chairs. Either relates to the kitchen stools without matching them and is nice next to the table.

Rearrange for the shoot, but then return the furniture to where it works for your family.


The orientation with the dining table parallel with the island looks weird(er) because you automatically compare the height to the island height, and the dining table and chairs look like kids’ furniture because they are so much shorter. The perpendicular to the island orientation looks SO much better because your eye is not automatically comparing the size/height to the island. I think it will be much easier to have the room come together if you go with the perpendicular orientation.

Also, I think the black dining chairs + wood table + painted island + white chairs + stone counter = too many finishes, making the space feel a lot busier than it is. Maybe if either the dining table or chairs were the same color as the stools, that would help it feel more cohesive. An idea would be white dining chairs and keep the existing stools, or if you stick with black dining chairs, then swap out the stools for black or wood stools (assuming the table you found is wood!).

Whatever chairs you pick, make sure that your toddlers cannot easily make them tip them over backwards, I remember a vacation home my in-laws used to have and the dining chairs tipped very easily.


I really think the chairs need to have some curve to them. the really straight ones , to me, don’t work with the Thonet’s at the island. Lot of beautiful tables and I would keep to some curvaliniare lines also. My 6 cents. It’s not easy for sure.


Have you heard of Gat Creek Furniture? Everything they make is by hand and will last a lifetime–beautiful stuff!


I think the dining room light needs to be replaced – something with color, character, and large! White table, rattan chairs, and cushions that can be added in fabric of your choice (and for easy cleaning!).

Ha. its a temporary $7 ikea fixture. Don’t worry!!


I have the #52 swivel chairs from Crate & Barrel. They look great in person, but the legs – which are my favorite aesthetic feature – drive me crazy. Because the seat swivels, the orientation of the legs turns every time you pull the chair in/out. We have a table with four legs (versus a pedestal), so the chair legs are constantly getting caught on or slamming into our table legs. It’s one of those things I didn’t even think to test when I was in the store and now it makes me so frustrated every time i get up from the table. If the chair seat didn’t actually swivel it would be totally fine.

Rita Conway Seymour

I have raised three kids and I’m lazy.
For the chairs, with two little kids, I would go with #8. Simple clean lines, no froufrou for crumbs to collect in. I would have them slipcovered in an indoor/outdoor fabric for easy cleanup. The table you have is fabulous. I would consider having a removable top made with more length that you could use when you felt the need to fill the room (winter) and take off when you wanted more dancing room. And/or, I would consider an patterned rug for under the table and chairs. A sturdy rug that you can take out the door and hose off when catastrophe strikes.
No matter what you do, it will be terrific. You have great style and taste.

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