Home Renovations: The Dining Room

The very first piece of furniture we put into our new house in the suburbs was my parents’ wedding gift to us – a seven piece dining room set.  For most people, a dining table and matching chairs are foregone conclusions, but living in NYC, a dining set is my symbol of adulthood.  Most people I know in the city who have a proper dining table (and I mean one that is out all the time and not folded away when not in use) also have children.  Mr. S and I have spent the last four years eating off of TV trays from our sofa and finally having somewhere to put place settings and serve family style dinners will be a marked change when we move into our new home.  I really hope we make good use of the wedding gift and don’t fall back into our old bad habits of eating in front of the TV.

Unlike the majority of our new house, prior to our renovations, the dining room was perfectly fine as is.  I liked the character of the arched opening to the living room, the room got plenty of light from two windows, it could comfortably accommodate a dining set and china cabinet, and I had no qualms about keeping the brass candelabra chandelier.






The furniture and décor were dated, yes, but it wasn’t anything that a fresh coat of paint and some modern accessories couldn’t fix.  However, opening up the kitchen to the living area was the better choice and as a result, the dining room became part of the open concept layout as well.


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Way before we had solid plans of how to decorate the dining room, we purchased a cow hide rug from Home Goods (did you really think I was shopping anywhere else??).  When my uncle noticed our new floor covering, he mentioned that he had an old cow hide rug from Argentina somewhere in his attic that he would be happy to give to us.  Sure, why not.  When you’re trying to furnish a new house that is triple the size of your studio apartment with almost zero dollars, hand-me-down’s are like manna from heaven.  But when we got his cow hide rug, I sort of cringed.  The hide looked like it belonged to a cow that had…suffered…  I’m sure most of the damage is due to the rug’s age and not the condition of the cow during its lifetime, but it was balding in most places, the large brands were more obvious on the paler hide, and it was in an overall crumpled, disheveled state.  We graciously accepted the Argentinean hide anyway because “Don’t look a gift cow in the teeth,” or something like that right?

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Chunk enjoying the new cow hide rug when we first got it

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the far corners of my mind, I was dreaming up a sisal rug / cow hide combo for the living room. I researched sisal, jute, and sea grass area rugs like a madwoman.  Alas, I was alone in my quest because Mr. S was not convinced that the sisal would be comfortable on his back when watching TV or playing video games.  Um yeah, that’s why we have sofas, duh.  He got his way though because I couldn’t resist a Home Goods bargain find: a wool blend Nicole Miller area rug that is too perfect a match with our West Elm sofas*.


Again, our in-house area rug tester approves

Once we got our dining room set up with the tables and chairs, I set off to find another floor covering to define the space.  After fruitless trips to Home Goods, I started to wonder if perhaps my dream sisal / cow hide pair could go in the dining room.  Ehh..but then we’d still have to purchase said sisal rug and I really wasn’t keen on spending too much more money on floor coverings.  After all, our newly refinished hardwood flooring was something to admire!  And then!  AND THEN.  I remembered poor old Blondie cow.  Was she the perfect match to our younger, darker hide?  Was it now her time to shine?  I layered our newer, smaller, darker hide over the older, larger, lighter hide –  and voila – I am supremely satisfied.  Paired together they complement each other quite nicely, I think.  Brownie gives Blondie a fresher look, and Blondie gives Brownie a larger footprint and makes him more than just an accessory.  Yes, I named our dead, skinned, and branded cows.  I am a sick and twisted person.


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Our most recent addition to the dining room was the light fixture.  There was nothing wrong with the brass candelabra except that it didn’t match the CB2 glass globe pendant lights over our kitchen peninsula.  With the two rooms in a single sight line, the mismatch was obvious.  I thought about giving the brass fixture a coat of matte black to modernize it, but the candelabra is in otherwise perfect condition and I didn’t want to mess with it.

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We purchased an industrial style Edison light bulb fixture from Overstock.com (hint: wait for a sale/coupon from Overstock) that gives our dining room an uber-hipster feeling, especially with Blondie and Brownie underfoot.  Is suburban hipster an oxymoron?  Probably.  Whatever.  I love it.

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Side but unrelated note: I’ve got plans for that front door…

My only issue with the Edison bulbs is that they give off a very orange glow, which sort of turns our Requisite Gray walls into a mauve-y pink.  Barf.  I think it just takes some getting used to.  I’m just going to keep telling myself that because there is NO WAY IN HELL we are re-painting the dining room.  Otherwise I’m really happy with the whole look.

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The dining room is currently still a work in progress.  I’m waiting until we make the official move to NJ to assess what art work will go in here (we have a lot in our NYC studio and there are rolled up canvases all over my old bedroom at my parents’ house waiting to be framed).  We’ve also received another kind donation to our cause in the form of an old china cabinet from my aunt (that will hopefully be my next HGTV-esque drab-to-fab project).  Who needs the overpriced Brooklyn Flea when there’s free old vintage furniture coming right to your door?

* We already own the 79” apartment size Henry sofa from West Elm that will be making the move to NJ with us and a brand new matching 96” sofa is on its way as we speak.  Chunk is just beside himself with anticipation.

Yeah, I went there.

Yeah, I went there. #noshame #NSFW


  1. Anita says

    That one picture really shows that you mean about the light fixature making the room like mauve-y. Maybe different light bulbs would help with that? Otherwise, everything looks great! Love the dining room set.

    Side note: Chuck, contain yourself!! LOL

  2. Kathy says

    Oh hi there chunk, it’s um nice to see you too… (love the new Edison lights, but I agree… I would probably repaint, but I’m insane… Do they make really white Edison lights? Someone should!)

    • says

      White Edison lights probably exist somewhere, it’s just a matter of hunting them down. We haven’t moved in yet so I’m going to see if I get used to it after a while, or if I really can’t live with it before looking into white Edison lights. Even if I wanted to, re-painting’s not an option because then we’d have to re-paint the living room and hallway as well. Too big of a job…

  3. says

    Wow, I love that light fixture! It does seem a little jarring compared to the colder kitchen lights, but I wonder how it is in person. I generally do like warmer lights and find them more comforting. Our dining room lamp is pretty cool and it does not add to the warm, comfy ambiance in the room. It more makes me feel like I’m being interrogated sometimes. 😉

    • says

      Yeah, I hoping the difference isn’t as noticeable in person… Or maybe the lighting in the living room will make the difference not as obvious… I get what you’re saying about the cooler bulbs though, definitely not as cozy.

  4. says

    We have similar light bulbs over our dining room table (still waiting for Joel to make me my new table he promised over a year ago ahah). I feel you on their odd glow… they barely light the room. We don’t have any lights in our living room area, there just isn’t the right place to put one, so in the evening the dull light from the edison bulbs is a nice glow, but when you actually want to see, they are annoying.

    Also – that picture of Chunk, I felt like I had to shield my eyes!! haha What is it with male dogs? They seriously have no shame! Luckily for Nelson, he’s mostly covered up by all of his fur haha

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