Posts tagged "dining room"

I was looking through some old pictures a few days back that really got me thinking about how much some of the spaces in our house have changed in the last few years … and I thought it would be fun to take a quick trip down memory lane and look at some “then” and “now” pictures for a few of the most-transformed areas in our house.  So, here goes.  I decided to start with the dining room since it is probably my favorite room in the house, both then and now.

So, here are our “then” pictures, taken the day we moved in (as evidenced by our belongings spread out all over the room) back in 2007.


That’s teal floral wallpaper, with matching fabric, pillows, and even a bunny in a matching dress (remember when those were so popular?) on the window seat.


The wallpaper in here wasn’t really our cup of tea, but it did coordinate really well with everything else (i.e., matching wallpaper, paint, and curtains, flooring) on the main floor of the house and it had been really stylish at one point.  It was just time for the next round of updates.


Even with all of the teal and flowers, I loved this room from the beginning.  I loved the moldings, all the windows, the window seat, the chandelier … it was (and is) the kind of room that makes me love old houses.  I knew there was so much potential in this space and I was super excited to make a few changes that would freshen it up and help it shine again.

We’ve been working on the dining room on and off since the summer of 2009 and I still wouldn’t say we’re done, but I sometimes forget everything that we have done since then.  So, here’s the list.

We …

And, after all of that, here’s what the dining room looks like now:






In a lot of ways, the room is really the same as it was when we moved in.  We’ve just made some updates to the walls and flooring, but I think the difference is huge … and I love our dining room even more now than I did when we first saw it.

There are still some things I’d like to do in this room.  For one, I’d love to add a china hutch.  We have some really pretty old china that I’d love to display and I also think that adding a tall piece of wood furniture in a corner opposite the window wall would help to add some height to that side of the room and balance things out nicely.

A rug is also on my “to do” list for this room.  I was mixed on whether or not I wanted one right after the hardwood floors were finished, so we put felt pads on the table and chairs and moved them back in without one.  The room feels a little echoey now, though, and I think a rug would add some interest and help to warm the space up a little – so it’s on the “someday” list for the dining room.

I’m also thinking we’ll add some shades under the valances that were just installed.  We’d most likely pick  something that completely hides under the valances when they’re up, but we’d like the option to close them after dark or when it’s super sunny, so that’s also on our “someday” list.

And then, of course, there’s the matter of actually decorating (you know – centerpiece on the table, pictures on the walls).  That’s clearly still on the list too – I’ll get there someday.

All in all, though, I’d definitely call the remaining items “finishing touches” and, while I’m looking forward to them, I really think the biggest part of the transformation has already happened.  Here’s one last set of pictures:

Then (this time just after we moved in):


And Now:


It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve come a long way from where we started, wouldn’t you agree?

And, in case anyone is concerned about the fate of our matching teal bunny, worry not – we still have her.  :)


I’m not exaggerating when I say that the chandelier in our dining room was nasty dirty and desperately needed some love.  It’s really no mystery how it got that way – we’ve lived here for almost 7 years and I think I briefly attempted to clean it once before realizing how much the job sucked and deciding I could live with it a little dirty.  And since my last attempt to clean it, we have had the plaster in the dining room skim coated (i.e., TONS of plaster dust EVERYWHERE) and the floors refinished (i.e., bunches of airborne sawdust).  Just for kicks, check out this old picture from when the plaster work was done back in 2009 – yep, it’s been that long since the chandelier’s been shined up … and look at the dust!

For some reason, though, the filth on the chandelier never really bothered me until we moved the furniture back into the dining room after the floors were refinished and the new window treatments were installed.  I’m thinking maybe it was just because there were other, more obnoxious things (like the teal green fabric on the window seat) that I focused on instead.  Regardless, the lack of glittery-ness on our chandelier was really bugging me and I decided it was time to finally do something about it.  See the film on all the crystals.  Yuck.



The problem was that I wasn’t sure exactly how to clean the chandelier.  It’s original with the house and I’d definitely put it in the category of delicate, so while it seemed like I would get the best results by taking the individual crystals off of the chandelier and washing each of them by hand, I was hesitant to do so.  It seemed like the little wire hooks would suffer a bunch of casualties if I tried bending them a little to unhook each crystal and then again when the crystals were hung back up.  Plus, that just sounds like a lot of work.  So, I ruled out that option.  I also considered trying again the approach I’d attempted before, which was to spray down the chandelier with Windex (which I’ve since read is a really BAD idea since it can darken all of the metal on the chandelier) and then try to individually wipe down each crystal … but the last time I tried that, the little hooks for the crystals kept getting snagged in the cloth I was using to wipe the Windex off, which was a major pain.  So, I did what any girl would do … I Google’d it.

And I actually found what turned out to be a really great solution:  Brilliante Crystal Chandelier Cleaner.  It had a bunch of glowing reviews and using it sounded super easy – just spray down the chandelier and let it drip itself clean.  What’s not to like, right?  So I decided to give it a try and ordered a bottle from Amazon.  At about $20 a bottle, it’s probably the most expensive cleaner I’ve ever bought, but I figured it would be totally worth it if it worked … and it did!


I started by making sure all of the light bulbs in the fixture were completely tight (so that the cleaner couldn’t get anywhere it didn’t belong).  I then put out towels and old sheets all over the dining room table and surrounding area on the floor since I’d read that overspray could be a problem.


I’m really glad I took the time to cover up more than just the area immediately below the chandelier since it took a bit of practice with the spray bottle to figure out how to get the majority of the cleaner on the chandelier and not flying through the crystals to land on the wall/floor on the opposite side of the room.  In my case, I got the best results when I adjusted the sprayer nozzle to more of a wide angle and then sprayed slightly down onto the chandelier rather than directly at it.

I fully coated the chandelier (with the light off) and let it drip dry for about 20 minutes.  I was really glad I’d placed several towels over the dining room table – it dripped a lot and my towels got pretty soaked.  After the 20 minutes were up, I thought the chandelier looked pretty good, but the instructions on the bottle mentioned a second cleaning might be needed if the chandelier started out really dirty and I figured if mine hadn’t qualified as really dirty, I didn’t know what would.  So, I sprayed the chandelier down again and let it dry completely.  It’s hard to make out in the photo, but, at this point, it was raining all over the towels on the table.


I would say it took longer than to 20 minutes mentioned on the bottle for the chandelier to completely dry – there were still some drips hanging off the bottom of our crystals after that amount of time (although it wasn’t really dripping onto the towels on the table any longer).  After about an hour, though, the chandelier looked pretty dry.  I was still a little nervous about turning the light on, though, in case any of the cleaner had gotten into the light bulb sockets or something, so I waited until this morning to turn the light on for the first time.  And all I can say is wow!


I knew the chandelier was dirty, but I had no idea what we were missing out on.  The light is so much brighter now … and so glittery.  I am amazed at the difference.



As a side note, while I was waiting for the chandelier to drip itself clean, I also decided I should clean the little crystals hanging off of our matching wall sconces.  They weren’t nearly as dirty as the chandelier – I’ve cleaned them more recently, I think – but I didn’t want to spray them directly since I figured there’d be no way I’d avoid soaking the wall, floor, etc.  So, for those, I just sprayed the cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wiped down the crystals individually.


Although the cleaner worked fine this way (sprayed on a cloth), I honestly feel like the chandelier feels cleaner and shinier after dripping dry as compared to the sconces, which I wiped down by hand.  I really can’t figure that one out.

Regardless, though, I’m super happy with the results.  In less than an hour and with just a little prep work (to lay out towels and sheets), the chandelier and sconces in the dining room are sparkling clean.  It just doesn’t get much better than that!



I still have a little more than half a bottle of cleaner left and I’m debating giving it a go with the flush mount crystal light hanging in our foyer as well as the chandelier hanging over the stairs … I’m concerned that the drip dry part may be a gigantic mess in either of those locations, though, so I’m still planning my attack.

Overall, I just feel like this is a really neat product and I’m super thrilled with the results.  While I really hope we’re done with plaster dust and saw dust for a long while, I certainly won’t procrastinate cleaning up the light next time around!

To say this post is overdue is an understatement.  We had the original hardwood floors in our 1915 home refinished in November … it’s now almost March.  But it was such a huge change in the house (probably one of the more impactive of the projects we’ve done besides the entry way addition), so I thought it was worth going into a little more detail and (of course) sharing some photos.

Here’s a sneak peak at the results – pretty, right?

Refinished Hardwood Floors in the Dining Room

Refinished Hardwood Floors in the Dining Room

So, let’s start with some background.  From the time we moved into the house (6 years ago), we’d talked about tearing up some (or all?) of the carpet on the main floor and refinishing the hardwoods we assumed were underneath.  We’d never seen them, so we had no idea what condition they might be in.  It was time to replace the rather worn out carpet anyway, though, so we figured we’d start under the assumption that the floors were in good enough shape to be refinished and, if they turned out not to be, we’d just lay new carpet over the top, which would still be an improvement over where we started.

We also decided (after much debate) that we were only going to have the floors in the dining room and foyer refinished, leaving the existing laminate floor in the kitchen and carpet in the living room.  The decision to leave the existing flooring in the kitchen was largely because we expected the hardwood floors in there to be in worse shape (i.e., not refinishable), so we figured we’d choose some other type of flooring for that space (maybe tile or linoleum) when we do a full remodel down the road a bit.  And we decided to leave carpet in the living room since we wanted that space to feel cozier and we felt like the size/shape of the room in combination with our furniture layout would make it hard to add rugs without making the room feel like a rug store.

We also chose to hire someone who knows a whole lot more about refinishing floors than us to do this job.  In theory, refinishing floors sounds like a totally DIY-friendly project, but we just weren’t sure what we would run into and wanted someone who knew what they were doing.  In the end, I have no doubts that we made the right decision for us – the refinisher that we hired did an excellent job and, considering the number of hours he had in the project (which would have probably been at least doubled for us), it actually seemed pretty reasonable cost-wise.

Anyway, here are some “before” pictures of the dining room and foyer with the old carpet still in place:

IMG_3320 (1)

The Dining Room

The Foyer

The view from the living room

The view from the living room

We moved all of our furniture out over a weekend, with the hardwood floor refinisher set to start on Monday.  They were going to start the week by tearing out the old carpet and evaluating the floors underneath, but we were curious about what the floors might look like, so we pulled up a couple corners of the dining room carpet just to take a peak.


Peaking at the Hardwood Floors in Dining Room

We found unfinished oak floors under the carpet – the unfinished part really surprised us, but we thought it would be a good thing since it would be less to sand off.  The floor  also looked (to our untrained eyes) like it was in pretty good shape, although there were a few water marks around the perimeter of the room, which we assumed were probably from when the carpet had been cleaned.  As a side note, the carpet pad was also a little unusual – it was really thick and faced in plastic on both the top and the bottom.  We’d always assumed that the carpet was pretty high quality since it felt so plush, but the carpet guys that came to fix the seam between the living room & foyer said it was super cheap carpet, so it must have been the pad that felt so nice.  Note to self – get a good pad when we replace the rest of the carpet!

When the refinisher showed up on Monday and pulled out the rest of the carpet, we found that the areas we’d peaked at were pretty indicative of the rest of the floor.  There were a few areas that would need patching, but it was basically in good shape.


Unfinished Oak Floors in the Dining Room


The Entry Way

With the carpet up, everything looked good for continuing with refinishing the floors.  (That discolored spot on the entry way floor looked like someone must have dropped a bucket of stain from the staircase at some point.  It looked icky, but the refinisher was confident it would sand out with no problems.)  The fact that the flooring was unfinished, though, did make him nervous since that meant it had been unprotected under the carpet for a lot of years and he wasn’t sure what might “show up” if we decided to stain the floor.  So, at that point, we decided to go forward with removing the tackless strips from the carpet, making the few repairs to the floors, and sanding.  The only unknown was whether or not we would be able to stain the floors – we had really wanted a medium brown color, but there was a chance that the stain could react with something in the wood and not color the floor evenly (making it so we’d have to start all over with the sanding process), so leaving them natural would be a safer option.

So, work started on the repairs, which included replacing a few boards where there were holes from old radiators or where previous patches hadn’t been made in a way that would refinish well.  It’s funny how a project like this can show so much of a home’s history.  We learned that there used to be a bell under the dining room table for ringing servants that it was time for the next course of the meal, that there likely used to be french doors hanging between the foyer and the dining room, that there used to be a swinging door between the kitchen and the dining room, and that the house likely had two generations of radiators (probably first steam, replaced later on by a more efficient hot water system).  None of those things would be all that practical for how we live in the house today, but it really makes us wish we could have seen the house (or at least pictures of it) the way it was built.


An old patch in the center of the dining room floor where there would have been a bell to ring the servants.

Another old patch in the doorway between the dining room and the living room.  We think this was likely from some french doors that used to hang in that doorway.

Another old patch in the doorway between the dining room and the living room. We think this was likely from some french doors that used to hang in that doorway.

The entire floor was unfinished except for the areas around the old radiators, which were stained a reddish-brown color.  We think the room must have been carpeted except for these small areas.

The entire floor was unfinished except for the areas around the old radiators, which were stained a reddish-brown color. We think the room must have previously been carpeted except for these small areas.

For the rest of that first week (and a full second week), work continued on repairing the floor and then sanding it.  While sanding the floor, it became obvious that it was a lot wavier than it seemed when the carpet first came up.  It needed to be cross sanded and then sanded with some extra coarse sand paper to help even things out before proceeding with the rest of the process to prepare the floors for stain/polyurethane.  After looking a little more closely at some of the boards that were replaced with the repairs (and the subfloor in the basement), it really looks like the floors were saturated with water at some point.  There’s no other indication of water damage in the house, but we think there must have been a pretty sizable leak somewhere that caused the floors to warp.  This was probably also the reason why they were left unfinished under the carpet – we think they were sanded down to try to even them out again after everything dried and then they were covered up with carpet.  We’ll probably never know what happened, but that sure would be an interesting story to hear!

The patches in the dining room floor.

The patches in the dining room floor.

The dining room - in the middle of sanding.

The dining room – in the middle of sanding.

Sanding the dining room floor.

The entry way – in the middle of sanding.

By the end of the second week, sanding was just about complete and we needed to make a decision between staining them or leaving them natural.  By this point, we felt like we could get used to the idea of a natural oak finish/coloring, but we were really hoping to be able to add at least a light stain that would help them feel a little more brown and a little less yellow/orange.  So, the refinisher brought out several colors he thought might work well (without going too dark and finding any “gremlins” hiding in the floors) and stained a few samples in the dining room.

Stain Samples

Stain Samples

I don’t remember what all of the specific stain colors are now, but #2 is a natural finish (just polyurethane) and #4 is the one we wound up going with – Gunstock by Varathane.  At the time, we were between numbers 2, 3, and 4.  We both liked #4 the best, but I was leaning a little more toward #3 because I felt like it was a safer bet since it was a bit of a lighter color.  In the end, though, we decided to go with the one we liked best, knowing that we might have to start all over with the sanding process if any nasty splotches showed up with the darker stain.

Staining the dining room floor.

Staining the dining room floor.

The entry way - stained, with no polyurethane.

The entry way – stained, with no polyurethane.

The dining room - stained, with no polyurethane.

The dining room – stained, with no polyurethane.

It turned out that we were super lucky – the stain went down really evenly and there were no nasty gremlins hiding in the floor.  The color does show off a lot of the variation in the grain between the boards, which we really like.  It adds so much interest to the floor.  It was also pretty hard to tell from the small sample how well the floor would match (or contrast) with the stained doors, etc. in the entry way.  We expected that it would be a little lighter and not quite as red, but once the whole floor was stained (and sealed), it really looks like it matches pretty well.  All in all, we’re really happy with the color choice – it’s not too light, not too dark, and matches really nicely with everything else in our house.

With the stain completed, the next few days were spent putting on 3 coats of polyurethane (Duraseal oil-based polyurethane in a satin finish) and installing new quarter round to finish off the gap between the floors and the baseboard.  It must have been at about this time when I started loosing enthusiasm for taking photos, maybe because the floor didn’t look too different day-to-day, because I just don’t have that many photos of the polyurethane going down.  Here are the few I do have – these are of the first two coats of polyurethane:

Looking down the stairs.

Looking down the stairs.

The dining room.

The dining room.

The foyer.

The foyer.

The entire project took a little over 3 weeks to finish (wrapping up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving) – and by the time the work was done, we were REALLY READY for the work to be done, but we were also so happy with the results.  For those wondering, the dust from the sanding process was very minimal – between the drop cloths hung in the doorways and stairway and the dust collection systems on the sanders, we didn’t notice an overwhelming amount of dust in the air or anywhere else (it was more like I just hadn’t dusted for 2 or 3 weeks – definitely no where near like when we had plaster work done).  The smell was also tolerable – I think staying out of the house for the first 4 or so hours after each coat was really key, though, since it seemed to smell the worst during that time.  We definitely had no troubles sleeping upstairs throughout the entire project, but being elsewhere during the days was necessary.  And although it took a little longer than we expected and was pretty inconvenient, in the end, we are so happy with the way the floors turned out.

Here are some “after” photos:

The dining room

The dining room

The wood floors contrast against the molding so nicely in the dining room.

The contrast between the floors and dining room molding is so much greater than with the old carpet.

The dining room, foyer, & stairs.

The dining room, foyer, & stairs.

The view from the living room.

The view from the living room.

Looking toward the living room

The transition to carpet in the living room.

The view from the entry way.

The view from the entry way.

The spot where stain was spilled from the staircase.  It sanded right out!

The spot where stain was spilled from the staircase. It sanded right out!

I just love how the wood floors make other details (like these vents) pop!

I just love how the wood floors make other details (like these vents) pop!

So that pretty much brings us up to date.  We still need to caulk and paint the new quarter-round (it’s just primed white now), which should really make the trim feel crisp and clean against the new floors.  We’re also thinking we might like an area rug under the dining room table (the idea of chairs sliding across the freshly refinished floors really makes us nervous, although probably for no reason).

Just for fun, here are some pictures of these two spaces from shortly after we moved in:

The entry way ... shortly after we moved in in 2007.

The entry way … shortly after we moved in in 2007.

The dining room ... shortly after we moved in in 2007.

The dining room … shortly after we moved in in 2007.

Big difference, right?

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