Our Non-Cohesive Dining Room

March 3, 2010 at 4:28 am Leave a comment

Since I started this blog in my dining room, I’m going to stay there for a bit to look at the room as a whole.  As I’ve said before, it’s pretty much the least together room in our house, maybe only second to the “office” which is more of a storage space, but we can shut that room off, so it doesn’t really count.  The dining room is visible when you first enter through the front door.  It separates the living room and the kitchen, the two most used rooms in the house, and it has pained me to have it remain so completely unfinished.

When we first moved here we had a little Ikea dinette set, which was pathetically dwarfed by our large formal dining room.  I was obsessively checking Craigslist for a replacement when I came across this awesome Pottery Barn table listed for $850.  $850 is a lot of money to me and Eric.  However, I was in love with it, and similar tables sold for significantly more, and this really felt like a “forever” table–one that we’d be serving Thanksgiving dinners on for years to come.  Plus it came with two leaves for even more company.  And to seal the deal, when we went to check it out, the sellers offered–without us even asking, mind you–to bring the price down to $800 and to throw in free delivery!  Sold.  Well, I was sold; Eric needed some cajoling.  But I got my way in the end, and this beauty was delivered to our house:

If you look in the top left hand corner, you can see the Ikea rejects that we quickly sold on C-list, for more than I expected.  The feeling of victory could only last so long, though, because we needed some place to sit and enjoy the splendor of the new table.  And that’s how I came to realize that dining room chairs are, for me, the single most frustrating decor item to shop for.  First of all, they’re crazy expensive.  Many of the ones I liked were in the $200-300 range, which would be fine if we only needed one or two (okay, two would probably be out of our budget), but come on.  You need four dining chairs bare minimum, and ideally we’d like to have six or even eight.  Some of my requirements were making the purchase even more difficult. I didn’t want them to be wood, or at least, I didn’t want them to look like they were.  I find it incredibly difficult to match woods, and I’m too OCD to have a dining room where the chairs are all slightly off from the table.  Additionally, I wanted to avoid going too far in the traditional/country/farm house directions, which the table already lends itself to.  Nothing against those styles; they’re just not us.  I was convinced that we could pair our traditional/country/farm house table with something modern for balance.  I’ve seen this done successfully, so I know it can work.  We, however, were entirely unsuccessful.

The chairs are from CB2 (they’re no longer available), and we used a Crate and Barrel gift card we’d received from our wedding to cover some of the cost.  They were only $90 a pop, and I was so sure that they’d be perfect for the room.  Oops.  When my brother was visiting us before Christmas he was oohing and ahhing over the whole house, until we were sitting in the dining room one night and he asked, “So what are you going to do for chairs?”  I tried to explain my theory of mixing traditional and modern, blah blah blah, but at this point I already knew the chairs were wrong, so I probably wasn’t very convincing.  Tim just stared at me, eyebrows raised, until I finished, and said, “Uh, Cath, you need nicer chairs for this table.”  Even my 21 year-old brother, who could care less about furniture and decor, and who had lived for months with a couch that I-swear-to-God had mice nesting in it–even he knew that the chairs were not working.

I maintain that I do like the chairs; they’re just (really) wrong for the space.  I’m hoping that I can transfer them to the back porch if we can find the right sized patio table and “forever” dining chairs to replace them.  Don’t you think they’d look great outside?  But that brings me to the overarching beginner’s mistake of this post.

Rookie Mistake: Buying without a Plan

It’s easy to find decor pieces I like.  And, honestly, it’s not that hard to find decor pieces I like within our budget.  But now I know that it’s not enough.  Some people can buy what they love and then figure it out.  A lot of the home owners on Apartment Therapy’s House Tours even offer that as advice.  I’m now leaning in the opposite direction.  Personally, I need to have a plan for a room–not down to the micro-specifics–but an idea about the feel the room will have, its colors and styles.  Otherwise I’m too temped by all the things I like, which don’t necessarily come together for a cohesive look.

And the new plan for this room?  I’m thinking white, navy, and wood, with a tiny bit of gold as an accent.  I want the whites to be bright, not antique.  And I’m not worried about the navies matching perfectly.  Aside from the dining room table, the wood will come in the form of accents, so I’m not too concerned about it being a perfect match, but it should be in the same rich, darkish family (note to self: learn the names of wood stains so as to avoid sounding like a moron).  I’m hoping to find a pretty gray patterned rug for some softness.  And if we move, I’m hoping to paint the walls a really light silvery gray.

It sounds great right?  Now we just have to bring it to fruition, starting with new chairs.  So the hunt began again.  Cue the stream of “perfect” chairs that were way outside our budget.  Ugh!  Time to come back to reality.  Since we can’t afford the ones I wanted, and the stores we usually frequent aren’t doing anything for us, it looks like it’ll be another DIY project.  I think I could pull off something like this:

Image from Macy’s

They’re not my favorite of the inspiration chairs.  I’d kill for something similar to the Jonathan Adler ones, but alas, I think the chances of me finding a set of Chinese Chippendale dining chairs on Richmond’s Craigslist are somewhere between slim chance, fat chance, and never.  The Macy’s ones above are the closest to what I think might actually be a possibility–preferably without the fussy front legs.  Imagine them in a brighter white with a really cool graphic fabric, ‘cuz I could totally handle that level of upholstery.  Maybe something like this:

Image from Fabric.com

Don’t you think that would look awesome with the china cabinet’s blue interior? I’m thinking so.  Now I just need to find someone selling a good set of chairs at a good price.  Craigslist gods, make it happen!

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China Cabinet Snafus Happy Birthday Dad!

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