My Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

How I transformed my dining room: before and after…


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

My 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 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 vintage finds off of the local version of Craigslist and DIY’d.

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

My Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

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


And this is now…

My 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 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My 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 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 used. 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

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

My Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

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

My 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

The carpet is from CarpetVista… I love the pattern!

My 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 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

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

My 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 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 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My 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 Home Decor Makeover: Dining Room

My 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 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.

Avatar of Hilary Rowland

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 lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 164 Comments

  1. Avatar of Alina Simmons

    Alina Simmons

    These pictures are really very lovely. I just love this French home decor makeover. Thanks for sharing this post.

  2. Avatar of Amy Watson

    Amy Watson

    I wish I have a creative mind like yours…

  3. Avatar of Dianne Copeland

    Dianne Copeland

    I appreciate and I’m truly amazed with how you personalize your spaces

  4. Avatar of Shawna Henry

    Shawna Henry

    The dining room is a special place and deserves to be decorated and achieve that sophisticated look.

  5. Avatar of Melba Harrington

    Melba Harrington

    Luxurious and classy 🙂

  6. Avatar of Sheri Chapman

    Sheri Chapman

    Amazing! I love how you “re-designed” it. But is it budget friendly??

  7. Avatar of Lillian Arnold

    Lillian Arnold

    I consider my dining room as a multi-functional space, it’s where I eat, entertain family and friends and sometimes even work.

  8. Avatar of Brandy Warner

    Brandy Warner

    My dining room is in need of a little attention! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Avatar of Margaret Palmer

    Margaret Palmer

    WOW! If I can achieve a dining room like this, I’m pretty sure meals with my family and friends will be more enjoyable! I love it ?

  10. Avatar of Dixie Castro

    Dixie Castro

    Your article came at the perfect time! Just moved to a new place and I’m struggling 🙁

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