Welcome back, we meet again…this time in my dining room. This morning was the reveal of my living room, so head here if you somehow missed that but now it’s time to talk this little eating nook. Let’s get into it.
I knew immediately that a banquette in the dining “area” was the best use of space. I call it an “area” and not a “room” because it is 7’5″ x 7’7″, it has two doorways (living room and kitchen) and is the main walkthrough to the kitchen. My house is a circle so if you really wanted to, you could walk down the hall, through the master, through the laundry and come in the back of the kitchen but generally, that’s not how we get there, especially when carrying in groceries. Putting an L-shaped bench on the two walls that don’t have doorways would allow me to push the seating and table into the corner a bit, opening up more room to walk. My existing dining setup worked for the meantime but Tolix chairs, although slim and timeless, are also very uncomfortable.
Let’s talk about the green that I know a handful of you will be bummed that I nixed. In photos, even in these bad iPhone pics, the green is really striking and pretty to me, not to mention Daffy really shines in front of a dark wall. In real life, the color was striking in another way…like, we’re in this light and bright room (living room) and there was a dark pit in the corner. It was separating the space too much when the idea was to open it up as much as possible. I really like this green though so I kept it for over a year before finally putting on Busy Philipps’ This Will Only Hurt a Little and painting a million coats to cover it up.
Before I repainted though, I convinced my brother Jacob to help me build a banquette. Look. How. Freaking. Cute:
Ladies. He’s single. I KNOW. (also @Ryobi: let’s collab; I own every single one of your tools already!)
Basically, we (he) built two boxes with 2’x4’s and added high-quality plywood to the top and sides. If you want a tutorial, convince me to write it in the comments :). The side on the right was supposed to be storage but as we were putting it together, I was like OMG WHAT IF IT’S A CAT CAVE. He humored me. For the one Enneagram 6 reader who is concerned for the safety of the cats, the top can still fold up if the cats were stuck in there somehow.
Shop the Look: Round Pillow | Large Neutral Pillows | Rectangular Striped Pillow (no longer available) | Tray (painted, no longer available) | Incense Holder | Table (Craigslist) | Chairs (vintage) | Bench Fabric | Ribbon Art by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm | Chandelier | Roman Shade | Paint Color
The benches stayed in that unfinished condition for literally a year. I finally painted the space and the benches the same color (Polar Bear by Behr). A few weeks after that, I had the cushions made and of course, immediately thought WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR?? It’s crazy how nice it is to basically lay down while your husband eats a late dinner and rattles on about his newest horror short film idea. We use this space so much more now that it’s so comfortable. If you look closely, you will notice that there’s a stack of wooden dice; my husband and I regularly cozy up here with our Bulletproof coffee (what’s a post by me without a shameless call out to a brand I’m obsessed with) and play Yahtzee.
I used the same canvas as I did for the bench in my bedroom. Fun and cheap upholstery hack: upholstery fabrics can be expensive but canvas is relatively cheap (this one was $4.75/yd) and very durable. I discovered Pacific Blue Denims when sourcing for the tent fabric for the mountain house kids room and found them very easy to work with, they responded to emails and sent out samples quickly. I gave the upholsterer 10 yards and he gave me back leftovers. For reference: As I mentioned, the walls are 7’5″ and 7’7″ and the cushions are the length of the walls. The bench on the right is 19 inches deep and the back bench is 24.5 inches deep, the cushions are 3 inches thick. The upholsterer charged me $300 total for these cushions and recovering the bench in the bedroom. Honestly, I have zero money so is it weird to say it was worth it? You see how slow I move in my own space, so I’d still be sitting on plywood if I had put this on my list of things I needed to DIY.
Let’s get the vintage out of the way: The chairs are probably the coolest things I own. The best thing about them is that I bought them off our very good friends and we have so many amazing memories of games, parties and intimate dinners in them. The table is also vintage, got it for $100 off Craigslist from a Craftsman home where it apparently lived for almost 100 years. It’s on wheels and it came with three leaves that are tucked somewhere in my garage because I have hopes of owning a home one day where I can use them!
THAT. RIBBON. ART. I stole it. I’m half kidding. When sourcing art for the book shoot this year, Velinda and Erik somehow got this beaut from Angela Chrusciaki Blehm and when I saw it I was like “I NEED THAT IT’S MINE” (I didn’t, it wasn’t). But I guess I manifested that ish because when they wrapped shooting (they used it a bunch but you’re going to have to wait for that!), I “borrowed” it for my shoot and apparently here it will safely “live” until it’s needed for another project. Basically, I stole it.
After stealing art, my current (thrifted) light fixture just wasn’t working. The shape was too oblong and was blocking it so I couldn’t see it at all times. I wanted something that was going to complement it but not compete with it…easier said than done. When I saw the Isaac Chandelier by Schoolhouse, I felt like it was the light fixture that ribbon would have chosen for itself, slightly understated but definitely in a cool not try-hard way, so they could still be friends.
You may have noticed that the gorge linen “I’M AN ADULT NOW, RIGHT??” window treatments are very similar to the ones in my bedroom reveal. That’s because they are!! Barn and Willow sent these through at the same time. Window treatments are like the mascara of decor. I mean, sure, you can live without them but should you really go out in public without it? Coming from the person who does exactly that…very often. Same for window treatments I suppose. I cannot believe I lived without them, but I did—for YEARS. For the sake of privacy, for trying to sit on the couch and work anytime after 4 pm (sun blazing through the dining window specifically directly onto the couch), for trying to watch Survivor on a Sunday afternoon with the glare of the sun (and people’s eyes judging you). They’re also great for keeping this light and bright space cool on hotter days and also for giving the finished look to the room. They are beautiful and sturdy and very easy to install yourself. I got the flat style out here (relaxed in my bedroom) in Belgian Textured Linen Flax. There’s a handy-dandy measurement finder and have free shipping. I’ve been living with them for a few months now if you have more questions, head to the comment section!
Because who doesn’t love a little B&A (before and after), let’s take a look at the above side by side with what was happening prior to this:
I mean…it just feels so much more open, brighter, happier. The green was good, sure, but the white is better…in this space and for what both rooms needed.
I hope you enjoyed this journey. I’m done…for now, but you never know when I might pop back up with another treacherous story about my beloved money pit. See you in the comments!
***Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp, design and styling by Emily Bowser
Don’t miss other posts in this series:
Makeover Takeover: An Intro to Emily Bowser’s (Crumbling) Living & Dining Rooms | New Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Refreshed For Function Living Room | MOTO Intro: How EHD Stylist Emily Bowser Tackled Her Awkward Master Bedroom | MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Bedroom “After” is Unrecognizable from the “Before” | DIY How-To: A Step-by-Step for Making Emily B.’s Wrap-Around Velvet Headboard | MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s 32-Square-Foot Bathroom is Packed With Small-Space Hacks | What It Really Costs to Buy an Income Property in LA (& Why I Thought It Was a Good Idea Even After Financial Ruin)