MOUNTAIN HOUSE REVEAL, #6.
Alright, I’m going to say this from the get-go: The dining room is less of an “after” because things are changing already and mistakes were made (but check out the living room and loft for two spaces with little changing). While most people would consider it “done,” there were some hiccups in the final install of the upholstery the week of the shoot that requires a redo. SUPER FUN. So this post will be walking you through this problem, process and potential solution. But we wanted to shoot it for the magazine so we pulled it together in time—more below.
But first, here is where we started.
The dining room is attached to the kitchen and opens to the family room. The layout is DREAMY and incredibly livable, especially for entertaining. While I love an open kitchen/family room, having some separation for conversation is just awesome. I can watch the kids while cooking and able to have grown up conversations (although we all know they are ALWAYS LISTENING).
The Goal of this Room:
I wanted a really comfortable inviting place to eat big meals with our friends and family, a place where people could sit for hours and talk. Also, I wanted it to feel like a sunroom, surrounded by windows.
You may or may not remember that when we first moved in in January, we had a dining room floating in the middle, like so:
But everyone wanted to sit at the end of the table near the windows, plus the table blocked the flow a bit as it jutted closer to the kitchen, so we figured, why not just do my dream built-in? So we removed a light, leaving just this one closest to the window and had a custom built-in made by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber—more on that later.
Here is how we shot it for House Beautiful:
I think it looks really pretty, for sure, but yes there were some hiccups and will have some changes. See this process post for even more back story of why we did this and how we ended up here.
Let’s break those down.
Mistake #1: The Back Cushion Size is Wrong.
These came in 2 inches too deep/wide, well, see for yourself:
How did this happen?
Well, first off, needing to make some fast design decisions led to us just choosing a standard rather boring taper back cushion style. Listen, it’s the most ergonomic and comfortable so we went with a safer more functional choice rather than doing something that would, frankly, look more interesting and stylish. The seats are deep so we knew that just a hanging cushion or whatever awesome trendy choice wouldn’t actually provide the back support anyone actually needs and might be too deep anyway. We were also working with someone we hadn’t used before (we needed to hire a local since it required templating and multiple job site visits) and didn’t know if they could execute something really complicated and custom. And frankly, due to all the crazy angles of the windows (that are not standard and each is different), we were fearful that it would turn out well, both design-wise and execution. We debated doing something hanging, or a horizontal channel tufted look.
See. She BULKY. Of course, it’s EXTREMELY comfortable, hits your back at the perfect place and even gives you an armrest on top, but it’s just so big, distracting and oversized. Yes, we had a drawing with very specific measurements and yes, our upholsterer made it bigger than our agreed-upon dimensions (2 inches deeper and higher—you can’t really see it in the photo but they hang over the bottom bench and also are slightly above the window) but honestly I’m not convinced that it would look good/interesting enough if they were smaller.
In terms of cost, we spent just over $1,500 on foam alone (but for both the bottom and back cushions), and another $700ish on the upholstery work (though that was a rush job, so it might’ve been cheaper if it didn’t have to get done so quickly). That’s a total of just under $2,300 WITHOUT the fabric (which was gifted, due to a partnership I have with Crypton). So not only did we waste the fabric but the labor time and foam expenses really added up. Cool! Next mistake?
Mistake #2: The Colorway Doesn’t Feel Right.
Regarding the fabric, we went with a charcoal black Crypton leather in a pretty matte finish to tie in with the kitchen island (paired with their “London” fabric in gray, well, technically “Atmosphere”). GREAT. We wanted leather because we knew that people would need to slide all the way around, but mostly for durability. We worked with Crypton because it’s a performance fabric that doesn’t allow for even oil stains. We’ll do a whole post on it and show you, but we tried it on the back of the cushion, rubbed it in and let it sit and it totally came out. I like black and I like gray, but together, they just don’t feel right in this room and the word “corporate” keeps coming out of my mouth. There is something too “board room” about it all, too cold. Not vintage-inspired. Not me. We went with two-tone because I like the style/look of it but also because that would be WAY too much black leather. And while I love this gray, the gray/black combo is just not happy enough for me.
I wanted green leather, Brian said absolutely not, saying that it would look to kitschy, dated and “diner” but I don’t think he had the vision. It would be a dark green, not a bright emerald vinyl but I couldn’t convince him. Then I wanted a slate blue leather but it wasn’t in stock to get in time for the shoot. So we settled on the black leather.
So for the shoot, we styled it with lots of pillows, which I think actually LOOK really cute, but, as most of you can presume, are VERY ANNOYING TO STYLE EVERY DAY. Our kids aren’t exactly mindful of their placement, and they fall down all the time.
We tried it with the back cushion AND pillows (below), hoping that the pillows would distract from the bulkiness.
It’s fine, and likely how we’d live with it for now, but nothing can hide those bulky generic cushions.
So what are we going to do? I don’t know. I kinda just want to get the slate blue leather that I originally wanted and wait for it to come back in stock, now that we don’t have a deadline. Then I think we do need to attach something more slim to the wall for the back cushion, so basically redesign it make it happier, more stylish and cooler. And then for comfort, we might need some custom cushions made in a kid-friendly fabric to break it up and for back support. It’s a whole thing, guys. I like the gray and can’t really go any lighter, but we might just choose one fabric and not two.
Mistake #3: The Light Fixture is Too Big and Yet Too Small.
Let me explain. As you saw earlier in the post, the table was originally planned for the middle of the room and thus we had two of these fixtures from The Urban Electric Co. They are stunning and feel modern while having a bent towards traditional, though perhaps too traditional for the rest of the house. We took away the one that was floating in the middle of the room, but lucky for us the junction box was about right for the nook so we left it. Scale-wise, it’s wrong. Essentially, it’s too narrow—not taking up enough of the horizontal space, while also being too large vertically. What I didn’t really account for is that these kinds of massive fixtures really need high ceilings.
Luckily for my friends, we have a place for these two pendants in a future project—a grand English Tudor with a big kitchen island and high ceilings. They were up last weekend and LOVE the fixture and since I’m helping them with their house and obviously don’t want to waste it, we’ll use them in that project. Meanwhile, I’m still searching for the perfect fixture that is both linear without competing with the Katy Skelton island pendant, minimal so it doesn’t black the window view too much while providing good light, and more horizontal without feeling huge. It’s hard.
There’s Good News, Though:
Our custom table is beautiful.
Every single person who walks into this house LOVES it so much. We commissioned Ross Alan (they did all the woodwork throughout the house) to make it and chose the same beech wood as the floor and base of the built-in. It was extremely tricky to figure out the size of it with all the angles of the bench, making sure that each person is close enough to it to eat in comfort, overlapping around 1 inch.
They even put these beautiful butterfly joints in 3-4 appropriate places. LOOK AT THAT GRAIN. It’s just so beautiful. There is even a live edge quality to the perimeter, not all the way around but on the front. There were no live edge oval tables out there, and definitely not in our specific size.
The table was originally fabricated with a big crack in it, intentionally, because we didn’t want it to feel too perfect or mass-manufactured, but the crack was bigger than any of us predicted and a bottle of wine certainly could have toppled over if set down near it. The solution (which admittedly I was nervous about) was to fill it with acrylic. It looks SO good and adds some depth seeing that darker tone, while being flat (you can see it on the table on the left side of the above photo).
More Good News:
The Marvin windows and the new interior window are beautiful.
Obviously, the white oak windows are stunning, and when you open them in the morning while drinking coffee, it’s so dreamy. We ended up putting an interior window where the pony wall was, which was YOUR idea, so thank you so much.
The chairs (from Industry West) are also awesome, so heavy, sturdy and the wood works so well with ours. They aren’t visually too heavy due to the open back, but they are so comfortable with the cushion and the arms. We also love that the shape of the arms works so well with the shape of the table.
How Do We Live In It Now?
Well, you know all the changes that we are going to make, but for now, we are going to live with the gray back cushions with some throw pillows to break it up. All those pillows you saw, by the way, we either already had OR they are from Target‘s new fall collection which I got my hands on early. They’ll be available August 25th.
Many of you were concerned about the size of the table/banquette and the people in the back being trapped. So far, since it’s summer, we eat almost all of our meals outside except breakfast which is just a small group of us. When it’s just the four of us, we use the chairs and sit at the edge of the built-in which is admittedly a little awkward. But I’m hoping that during the winter when we have a big Christmas dinner, it will be amazing to be able to seat so many people comfortably and I’ve already volunteered to be one of the interior trapped people. Passing food is admittedly hilarious and awkward—both people have to stand up to be able to reach across to pass something. We joke around about a lazy Susan when this happens. But it had to be this big to work with the space and shape of the windows/walls. I suppose I can give you an update next winter if the size of it and the “trappiness” of the back seats will bother us a lot or just be worth it.
One more peek at it before we go with some side by side before and afters.
I’d love to know ANY suggestions AGAIN regarding the back cushions. One more thought: if I didn’t have kids, I think a white back cushion would look best, but even if it’s Crypton, you have to wipe away marinara paw prints so we’d have to use leather and the notion of white leather is terrifying to me but maybe there is a pretty matte white leather out there? And then do horizontal channel tufting with a pretty wood frame around it?
Let the debate/advice begin, please. 🙂
Art & Decor:
Round Blue Vase by Rejuvenation (no longer available) | White Pearl Bowl by Lost and Found | Norr Tray by Skagerak | Glassware by CB2 | Flatware from Target | Bowls by Sheldon Ceramics | Plates by Sheldon Ceramics | Throw Pillows (mostly from Target, coming soon)
Check out the rest of The Mountain House reveals here: The Kitchen | The Kitchen Organization | The Kitchen Appliances | The Powder Bath | The Living Room | The Downstairs Guest Suite | The Loft | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Kids’ Room | The Family Room