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My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

How I transformed my dining room: before and after…

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This is part of my series about how
I’m decorating my apartment in France.
You can check out the other rooms here.

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

I’ve always loved the look of old-timey smoking lounges. You know the style: tartan everywhere, dark green walls, floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with antique books, wood panelled walls and ceilings, brass tables, and leather chairs. Although I’d never buy anything made of animal leather, I am seriously in love with everything tartan. This is my inspiration:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

I would LIVE inside Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar, if I could!

The room I had to work with wasn’t a perfect fit for this style of decorating, since its wood panels and ceiling were already painted white (and I wasn’t about to strip and stain them — not in a rental, anyway!) so I did the best I could with what I had. While the light fixtures, drapery, rugs, and some of the furniture was gifted for these articles, I nabbed several great finds off of France’s version of Craigslist (called LeBonCoin) and DIY’d.

This was before we moved in (that’s the previous tenant’s furniture):

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The previous tenant, Lisa, and Mike looking at the view.

 

And this is now…

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

This brownish-green velvet sofa is Flamant’s Sofia Sofa. I put a herringbone throw blanket over the top to give it a more casual look, and to protect the velvet:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

I got these gorgeous, soft, tartan curtains from Curtains2Go, made for my apartments’ extra-tall ceilings. I was very pleasantly surprised by how high-quality they are. They feel and look like a wool-cashmere mix, but they’re vegan (and won’t attract moths into your home!)

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

Here’s the sofa I bought for €50 before I painted the wood gold (using a semi-transparent gold paint that shows the wood underneath). I plan on reupholstering the seat cushions using tartan fabric matching the drapes, and making several throw pillows from the same fabric. I’ll update this article once I’m done!

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

And here it is after I painted the wood gold. I got all the furniture you see in this shot on LeBonCoin. It’s all vintage. The globe opens up into a bar (I scored it for €40) and the chairs are antiques (for only €25 each!) #TotalSteal!

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

And, of course, a gratuitous kitty photo (if you want to see more, follow our kitties on Instagram):

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The candles are electric and I love this stag head candle holder:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

This gorgeous aged iron pendant chandelier is from the Fredrick Ramond Collection at Hinkley Lighting. I love the antiqued glass and the vintage look of it:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The carpet is from CarpetVista… I love the pattern!

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The red bookshelf is from Grange. They let me choose the colors and finishes, so it matched perfectly with the look I was going for. Inside are decorative tins from my favorite tea brand, remote-controlled electric candles (since real ones are a hazard when you have cats), and I found the horse sculpture in the gift shop of the lesser-known castle that inspired Versailles.

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

Bookshelf by Grange

The dining table is from French Heritage. It’s the only piece of furniture we brought with us when we left NYC for our year in France (we donated everything else!) I picked it up at ABC Home in NYC and I absolutely love it. It’s made from reclaimed wood. The green chairs are from Flamant and the brown ones are vintage — I picked them up on LeBonCoin for €8 each, then painted the ribbon detail on them gold.

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

Mike inherited this sculptural wall art from his grandmother, and the rest we bought on eBay or LeBonCoin for about €15 to €40 each:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

I painted the gold on the stag head, and although it was quick to do, it really made the sculpture pop:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The monkey lamp is by Zara Home (I painted it, and I plan on re-doing the shade with tartan fabric), and can you believe I found this horse statue thrown out with the trash on the street??

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

This was an old (dark brown) and empty grandfather clock that someone was throwing out, so I nabbed it. With Manon’s help, we painted it red, then used black wax on the edges to give it an antiqued finish. The back panel has paper (featuring vintage European travel ads) decoupaged onto it. Decoupage (which is basically using a special glue to affix decorative paper onto a surface and make it water-resistant) is a great way to quickly change the look of furniture for very little effort or cost. To turn the empty clock into a lamp, I bought these rope lights and some Edison-style (but eco-friendly) bulbs for the inside.

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

We distressed, sanded, re-stained and added dark wax accents to the coffee table so that it would match the dining table, and then I stocked the bottom shelf with board games. We bought the table (for –yup, you guessed it– €20) from a woman who had the most beautiful cat I’d ever seen — a rescue. Mike and I carried it across the city to get it home, but it was worth it, because it turned out beautifully:

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The woman who sold us this vintage brass bar cart (for €15) delivered it to us and we had a nice chat about the best villages in France. I love buying used because it’s eco-friendly, because a penny saved is a penny donated when we die (since we’re not having kids, 100% of what we die with is going to charities like Mercy for Animals), but also because I get to meet so many nice people!

My French Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

In the end, I got close to the look I was going for, but not exactly… Since my dining room has a white ceiling, white doors, and white wainscoting, so I’m hesitant to paint the walls dark, since the contrast might look too intense, and the room still too light. But I’m very happy with how it turned out, and if you have any suggestions about things to change, or any DIY tips, please let me know below, in the comments discussion.

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 95 Comments

  1. Sasha Smith

    The French might be the world’s most stylish denizens. From their perfectly tied scarves to their impossibly delicate desserts, it’s as if les français gave sophistication its name. Naturally, French style extends to interiors, and, well, we believe we’ve cracked the code. With their impeccably undone appeal and nonchalant aesthetic, the French carry an air of sophistication without looking like they even tried. It’s incredibly appealing and totally desirable.

  2. I should try this to my home. These are so lovely. planning to have the same like this https://www.build.com/hinkley-lighting-4525/s1100491?source=infl_urbanette11

    #startnewhome

  3. May Baker

    I see you also have a cat. I love cats. I remember a saying once,
    “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”― Jean Cocteau

  4. Genie Mackenzie

    My family and I practice minimalism. it means that we only put things that we think are necessary. Your dining area looks great by the way, but if I will tweak it my way, I won’t put any frames on the wall and chairs would be just four for all of us and just small cabinet for the utensils and maybe the sofa will be moved to the living area. ^_^

  5. April Henry

    Oh, Hilary, your cats are beautiful! I have Charlie, a Persian cat and he is too adorable too. Having cats are really amazing, right?

    • Eloise Ferris

      My husband bought a cat since we do not have a baby yet and she is the best. I mean, she is very clingy and when we decorate or redecorate any part of our home, she always has her own space.

  6. Gloria Lili

    The wall with frames is super creative. I mean, hanging frames is not difficult and it gives heart to the area. Especially when you put frames that have significance in your family. I just love the idea. Great job Hilary!

  7. Anouska Leigh

    I do love the random frames you have on your dining wall. It doesn’t look messy at all and it adds style to the whole area. I do have my own wall in the living area with different picture frames and it looks like scenery to me.

  8. Emma Blackwood

    I like everything in your dining area, Hilary. But if I were to choose my favorite piece it is the globe oh and the carpet. The pattern is an absolute beauty. My dining area has a fancy pattern carpet too. Very nice simple and classic style.

  9. Patricia Tucker

    I have ordered some curtains from Curtain2Go in the past and was never disappointed. The fabrics used are really high quality because it can really last long and worth the price.

  10. Francis Vest

    The sofa for 50Euro is already a steal. And you made it prettier when you painted it gold. Wow, that was brilliant! Even with the current cushion, it looks already good but maybe when you change it into a tartan fabric it will be better since it will match the tartan curtain you already got there. You did an amazing job in redecorating your dining area. If you will change something again in the future. Please keep us posted.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I think the tartan cushions and pillows will really tie the red sofa into the whole room, since the sofa is a bit fancier than everything else.

    • Maria Rapier

      Yes please, Hilary! Keep us posted everytime you will come up with some decorating tips and ideas that we can easily follow or get inspirations from.

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