Making the Most of a Small Dining Room

Sometimes you just wake up and realize that you can’t live anymore with a decorating decision you made in your past.  That’s what happened with my sister and her formal dining room.

She didn’t hate the green walls, but she didn’t love them anymore either.  Ten years was long enough.  The green had to go.

Although she had no gray anywhere else in her house, that’s what she wanted in her dining room. Instead of spending time testing grays, she went with the color our older sister Jan used in her house–Modern Gray by Sherwin Williams.  It’s soft and light and doesn’t have weird undertones like so many other shades of this color.

At only ten by twelve feet, this is a tiny dining room.  However, with super tall ceilings and big corner windows (I LOVE a room with corner windows), it feels big enough.  The scale of the furniture really helps with making the room feel more spacious.

The Duncan Phyfe buffet, which is probably from the 1940’s, is on the small side.  Robyn bought it for $135 in 2005, the year she moved into her house, from a Salvation Army thrift store.  Her original plan was to refinish the dark cherry wood of the buffet, but she ended up painting the bottom with Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray (a soft blue-green color), sanding the top, and using a clear sealer on it.

The dining table is a smaller scale also, especially compared to some of the giant new pieces you see in furniture stores today.  She bought it in 1991 with the money she made from selling her wedding dress.  At the time she lived in an apartment, had no room to store her wedding dress, and needed a table and chairs.

She covered the dark wood of the table with Martha Stewart’s Pip, the same color she used in her sitting room. The slipcovers on the chairs are from Surefit.  If she had left the table dark, used the leaf that came with it plus all six chairs with no slipcovers, the room would feel much too crowded.

Once she moved the piano out of the dining room and into her her master bedroom, she had room for her baker’s rack that she bought at Canton Trade Days for under $100.  Robyn likes the display space it provides and that it’s open and not clunky.  She’s a big fan of its peeling white paint, too.  Previously the baker’s rack lived in her sun room, but it works perfectly angled in the corner of her now neutral dining room and expertly styled with neutral accessories.

The Victorian crumb catcher is a recent purchase.  I have a very similar one in my own dining room,  a gift from Robyn a few years ago. 

The chandelier over the table was once shiny brass, but my sister slapped some cream paint on it shortly after moving into her house and then added the shades.  The iron scrolls over the windows, which remind me of the shorthand I learned in high school, were purchased here in Waco.

Robyn changes around her accessories around frequently on both the buffet and table.

The silver goblets came from an antique mall in Mansfield, Texas, and cost $11.  The typed poem tucked into the mirror is from our mother as are the handwritten recipes on the old clipboards.  The locker basket that holds the clipboards came from DeKalb High School, where our daddy was principal for forty years and our mother was a teacher.

Robyn found the long, crusty bench at Green’s Produce in Arlington and waited until the price dropped before she snatched it up.

Although I had seen online photos of Robyn’s house before she bought it, I was surprised to see how small the rooms were when I showed up on a brutally hot day in June of 2005 to help her move in. Small or not, the rooms all have a great flow between them and have been decorated to make the most of them.

Well done, Sister.


10 thoughts on “Making the Most of a Small Dining Room

  1. Jilly, I love your blog and your style and I am enjoying all your makeovers. You and your sister both have beautiful homes. Thank you for sharing.

  2. It all looks very pretty. I know Jan will be happy that you referred to her as your “older sister.” Hee hee

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