I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a “super fun” and “easy” game is to pretend that you are selling your house and then spend weeks if not months making all the little changes you meant to for years then NOT MOVE, just so you’ll be happier living in your home. I think this is the premise to Love it Or List it, right? Not shockingly, this is Brian Henderson’s, least favorite game so it’s one I mostly play by myself (happily). Don’t be confused, we are still selling/moving, but I like some of these spaces SO MUCH MORE after I made a couple of changes to be more “sellable”. It took our realtor coming in to say, “hmm do you have a smaller entry table?” and “maybe add more color” for me to make some changes that I wish I had made years ago but just didn’t prioritize or had looked at it with the same eyes, therefore losing objectivity. The dining room is the subject of today’s styling to sell post. We actually only really made two major changes…
But first, this is likely my favorite room in the house. The two walls of vintage charming windows and french doors (all of which open) overlook the prettiest patio in the world (IMHO) and the backyard. So if you sit at the dining table (and say write a blog and drink coffee) you are flooded with soft light and you can literally hear birds chirping and see hummingbirds floating around. Obviously having it be open to the kitchen made life easy for our family and, I don’t know, it’s just light and airy and warm all at the same time. So I wasn’t unhappy with it at all, but by making a couple of changes I love it even more.
But first, let’s take a look back…
The photos of the kitchen are deceptively “big” (shot with a wide-angle lens), it was tiny, if not totally adorable.
When we shot it for Real Simple (the first reveal 3 years ago) we had those pretty upholstered dining chairs and a larger light fixture (no longer available). I liked it a lot, but couldn’t handle the fabric armed chairs with my double toddler situation, and then when I found my dream vintage Cherner chairs at the flea market I dropped those blue chairs off at my friend’s (she still has them) – I sit in them often and I’m jealous of how comfortable they are compared to mine.
A couple of years ago I got that Target glass cabinet that acted as a storage bar and held glassware and wine (and cocktail makings). I love it, but it always kinda bugged me that the grid on the face of the cabinet mimicked the grid of the windows on the left and right. It reflected the light nicely but I wished it had been either solid or at least a color so that it had more contrast. But the function and scale of it were perfect and as a piece it was great. Last year I was like, “I wish this room had more color” but I didn’t know where to bring it in. I thought about reupholstering the Cherner chairs in a colored fabric, but thought that long term these would simply be prettier and more timeless in a caramel leather that matched the wood of the chair (this is debatable, maybe a navy blue would have been equally awesome but I’m sticking with that story). We upholstered them in Crypton leather, Florence in Duomo from Cortina Leathers (doesn’t get oil stains, so pretty) and BuildLane reupholstered them. I do love them very very much, and no the chairs never stopped creaking. I actually had to put mittens on the bottom of the legs so they slid around easier because the legs were too narrow to nail in a little slider thing (and felt didn’t stay on). Putting $1 Amazon brown mittens on your important vintage Cherner chairs is both offensive and hilarious, but well, that’s what we did (sorry, not pictured).
This is where we are now and I love it the most. I got that light fixture for $350 (now $450) and it’s GREAT. I love that it’s minimal, feels antique-y but engages the length of the table.
Back to bringing in color. I thought about replacing the curtains in a color or pattern, but they were custom and expensive. I have to say they faded a lot. They were originally a green and cream pinstripe and now are just like a beige and cream pinstripe. Still pretty and they just recede which is good to show off the windows, but I didn’t notice till I was styling them that on the inner folds they are green and I had forgotten!!!
Art. Yes, that’s how you bring in color. So I found these two pieces by Angie Dickerson-Lee of Bonita Interiors at the Pasadena Antique Mall. I actually thought they were vintage, but they are contemporary (check out her work). I love them. I hung them vertically on the far wall and loved seeing them from the view from the living room through the arch.
So when Howard (our realtor) was like, “maybe more color?” I thought, “tree?” but that would take up space and we loved how open and big the dining room is and didn’t want to obstruct the view to the backyard. I had forgotten about this demilune that I bought on Craigslist years ago for $60 and painted it that pretty blue. So I plugged it in the corner, hung the paintings above it, and put the vintage Thonet mirror (thrifted from the mountains for $60 I think, maybe $80) on the other side.
Y’ALL. It’s so much better!!! Of course, I have less storage so maybe I would need to find a different solution for our wine and glassware had we actually lived like this but having that burst of blue over there in a lighter/leggier piece of furniture is just so happy and pretty. It makes the room bigger and really pulls you into the room.
I made us take this shot (that I love) to show how you can cook WHILE seeing the kids play in the backyard. You have full castle vision while souping!
HOT TIP: Pieces with more visual weight to them can actually make your room feel bigger because it draws your eye to the corner telling your brain “this is a BIG room”.
Those were the only major changes. The rest was just styling for the shoot and for walkthroughs with potential buyers. We employed my “footed bowl, open book” TM formula that works for photos (but less so for real-life unless you like to read the same page over and over and over).
I brought in a couple of potted plants, including what I sadly learned is called a “shrimp” plant (the red on the island) that is AWESOME but c’mon! Don’t call a plant a shrimp plant! It’s like how we used the paint color “elephant’s breath” or “dead salmon”. Branding, folks. Branding. I still love it, but will refer to it here on out as “wild orchid table bush”.
I will ALWAYS miss this room – the light from all sides, the openness to the backyard, patio, living room, and family room. It’s quintessential indoor/outdoor living in a really charming and sweet way. And the simple changes – adding in more saturated color and vintage pieces made it feel more modern, fresh, quirky, and just more “us”. I will hoard these photos forever, thank you Sara for indulging my obsession with this house before we leave it. xx
In case you missed any of the other reveals so far check them out: The Living Room | The Kid’s Shared Bedroom | The Basement Guestroom/Office | Basement Bathroom | Elliot’s Room | The Entry | The Front Yard
P.S. If you are interested or you know a serious buyer contact Howard Lorey at Nourmand & Associates, [email protected] DRE # 01263717.
**Photos by Sara Ligorria-Tramp