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The Curbly Family Dining Room Makeover

Today is the second part of our Curbly family home makeover. In case you missed the background of the whole collaboration and the living room makeover, check it out HERE folks. Its one of my most favorite ever.

And now we have moved on to the dining room. Here she was after they renovated,  but before we got involved (see here for the before befores). Not a bad start, I agree. But the table was too small, the chairs weren’t really ‘them’ and obviously there just wasn’t any color, life, gusto, pizzazz and all those other words that make you want to do unnecessary jazz hands that then make you want to hide yourself in a closet out of shame.

dining room before

Just the fact that it gets good light, its big with pretty flooring and pretty moldings meant that we were nine steps ahead of the game. So when Orlando and I got involved it didn’t take too long to turn it into this:

Emily Henderson + Curbly_diningroom01

Oh, hey there happy dining room. The wall color is Sherwin-Williams Aloof Gray SW 6197 and she is VERY pretty and soothing, not aloof at all. It should probably be called ‘inviting gray’ or ‘hey, come hang out, read the new Domino and relax’ gray because there is nothing aloof about it.

For the family photo wall we ordered all those prints from Costco for like $100 (maybe less) online and picked them up in 1 hour. Genius. We got them printed as 5×7’s, 8×10’s, 11×14’s, and 16×20’s. And then we bought the Ikea Ribba frames in all different sizes to deck that hall. But here’s the deal with those – their mattes are yellow and not awesome. The frames are bright white and great, but then the mattes are off white and it just looks dirty. So instead of getting fresh mattes cut like we have before we bought some of their ugly art that comes in mattes the same size as the frames and then just disposed of the ugly art – and used the mattes. These were around $7 – $15 depending on size, which is WAY cheaper than buying new mattes or having new matte board cut – which we would have done. So next time you are there check out their weird art (like of Audrey Hepburn and vintage scenes of paris) because those mattes are good and bright white, yet totally inexpensive.

As far as what photos we chose we basically asked the family to choose a ton that were sentimental to them, then we chose our favorites to be the largest. This was chosen not on what person we liked the most, but what photos we thought were the best despite who was in it. The idea is that they would stand alone as interesting photos regardless of whether you knew the family or not – either it was capturing a moment in the child’s day or the background was really beautiful. It just needed to grab us in a certain way beyond just a posed family photo in order to have the importance of being framed on the wall. We made sure we had some that were really close up (look at those baby feet!!) and some that were more pulled back – again, playing with scale. Then we tried to do a cohesive color story and of course kept them balanced on the wall, color-wise as well (aka, not all the blue ones on one side and all the black and white ones on the other side).

family photo wall

Then Orlando and I decided to arrange the photos in what i’m calling an ‘organic grid’ – where the outside of the collection is a strict square, but inside it houses a collection of different sizes and orientations of frames. This took around 3 hours to hang and by the end i wanted to take some of that hanging wire and cut off my own circulation – unconsciousness sounded way better than moving 1 of those photos again. (Yes, we did it on the floor first, took a photo and transferred but it still took FOREVER).

But when its done it feels sooooo good. It feels collected, but way more modern than a normal gallery wall. I LOVE how it turned out. It just looks so clean and yet homey. Now for my own children, please. Thank you.

mid-century dining room

That chandelier which is a MUCH better scale and style for the room, (its the Sonneman Tempo Wide Rubbed Bronze Chandelier from Lamps Plusand it normally comes with shades, but we liked the more modern look of the globe lights so we left them off. The color of that rug is ridiculous (Anzio Denim from Loloi Rugs) – it’s the best color of indigo. Its just perfect for a solid because it has so much color variation – it looks way more expensive than it is (because it looks hand dyed) yet it’s not trying to look expensive. That what you want, folks – things that naturally look high-end without trying to look high-end. Think Meryl Streep not Joan Rivers.  Sometimes classic, simple, natural and understated is just wildly more successful than brash and loud. Not sure why i’m all of a sudden hating on JR – she’s actually totally funny …  but elegant and refined, she is not.

mid-century dining room

That beautiful painting is called Mountains of Things by Mo Negm from Saatchi Online. All the furniture in the room is vintage EXCEPT the captains chairs which are from Overstock. The key to mixing captains chairs with other dining chairs is to make sure that they are larger in scale and feel more important. You wouldn’t want to reverse these or it would look off-balance and off-kilter – like me, this morning, 8 months pregnant when i’m trying to just simply stand up in the morning.

Emily Henderson + Curbly_diningroom10

All in all a totally successful transformation. I’ll give it to you one more time because it’s just so fun to see. From this:

dining room before

To this:

family photo wall

Thoughts, feelings, questions? How hard would you relax in that dining room? Answer: VERY hard. Don’t forget to check out the Living room transformation and stay tuned for the master bedroom and the sunroom/playroom. Now i’d like to go back and play in the fall leaves of St. Paul, please.

Here are all the resources for your shopping/dining pleasure:

Resources: Wall Color: Sherwin-Williams Aloof Gray SW 6197 |Table: Conant Ball Norsemates (Craigslist, $380 | Slat Wood Chairs: Arthur Umanoff (Craigslist, $175) | Captains Chairs: Forza Taupe Twill Mid-Century Style Accent Chairs at Overstock | Rug: Anzio Denim from Loloi Rugs | Painting is Mountains of Things: Mo Negm at Saatchi Online | “Long Legs” and “To The Night” by Claire Elaesser (wall not shown)| Chandelier: Sonneman Tempo Wide Rubbed Bronze Chandelier from | Blinds: Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Casualle Milk from | Credenza: Lane (Craigslist, $260) | Gallery Wall: Family photos printed at Costco, IKEA frames | Credenza Lamps: Nate Berkus Crosshatch Lamp with Threshold Hexagon Lamp Shade from Target | Candle Holder: Tri Taper Candle Holder from CB2 | Binoculars: Vintage | Black and White Tray: Nate Berkus Marble Print Decorative Tray from Target | Gold Boxy sculptures: Three Piece Brass Wire Cube Set from CB2 | Black Dish: Vintage (Hunt & Gather)

This post was in partnership with Sherwin-Williams but all design choices, words, thoughts and secrets are mine.

All photographs styled by me, shot by the very lovely Melissa Oholendt for 

For more of the Curbly’s Traditional Craftsman: The Sunroom | The BedroomThe Living Room

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