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Design

How To Make Your Dining Room Look Better + Ryann’s Parent’s Dining Room Refresh Intro

My mom is always asking me “How do I make this room look better?” and I get it. It’s hard! This is why blogs and websites like ours exist. The sinister truth is you can have the best taste in the world but that doesn’t mean it will result in a well styled home.

Every home is different and every person brings in their own style and personality but there are some guidelines you can follow to make the design process easier. After studying many dining rooms in preparation for my newest project (more on that down below) I noticed some simple but effective Do’s and Don’ts that absolutely make a dining room look better. I am at my core a giver, so I am gonna share those tips before we get to my real life project. Sound fair?? Alright, let’s talk dining rooms.

Don’t Overcrowd with Too Many Chairs

photo by sara ligorria-tramp

A dining room can feel cluttered or visually heavy if you try to squeeze in too many chairs. No one wants to be bumping elbows at dinner and too many chairs will actually make the room feel too bottom heavy.

Here is a seat guideline for rectangle tables:

  • 48″long table: seats 4
  • 60″-72″ table: seats 6
  • 80″-87″ table: seats 8
  • 92″-108″ table: seats 10
  • 120″ table: seats 12

And for round tables:

  • 42″-48″ diameter table seats 4
  • 60″ diameter table seats 6-8

DO HANG ART

We don’t talk about hanging art in the dining room enough. Displaying art in every room instantly adds charm and brings life to your walls. As a general rule of thumb, the art, whether it’s one piece or a gallery wall, should be at least 2/3rds the size of the side of the table it’s on but typically not any larger than the table.

DON’T HAVE A TOO SMALL RUG

design by arlyn hernandez | photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: arlyn’s moody dining room reveal is all about the insane power of paint

Are you team rug in the dining room? I know this is a hot debate so let me know down below. If you do opt for a rug in the dining room it is absolutely imperative you go big. All go your chairs should be completely on the rug so you can easily scoot your chair in and out. The goal is to allow at least 36″ from the edge of your table to the edge of the rug. The average dining table will need a rug that’s at least 8′ wide. This let’s gives you room to pull out your chairs without falling off the rug.

Don’t Hang Your Light Fixture Too Low

design by sandy alexander of dessa lea productions | photo by kelly shea | via rue mag

The bottom of your light fixture should be at least 30″-36″ above the table. This way no one’s vision is blocked and everyone can see each other plus there is less risk of bumping your head.

Do Center Your Light Fixture Over The Table (Not in the center of the room)

photo by tessa neustadt for ehd | from: griffith park formal dining room reveal

A dining room will easily look off if your light fixture is centered in the room rather than centered over the table. Think of your dining table as the stage and your light fixture as the spotlight.

If you are opting for a chandelier it should be about half the width of your dining table. You can also add the room’s length and width in feet and that number in inches suggests an approximate size for the diameter of your chandelier. So, if you have a 10′ x 12′ room your chandelier should be about 22″ in diameter.

Also, scale is everything. Having the right scale light above your table will help the entire space to feel more pulled together. Unless your fixture is a more abstract or sculptural piece – stick with something that is to scale with the size of the table, otherwise, your room could feel overpowered by the fixture. Now I know what you are thinking. But what if the junction box is not in the right place?? If you do have a junction box that is off-centered to where your dining table is the easiest trick is to swag the chandelier over. If that isn’t your vibe you can of course have the junction box moved so that the light falls directly over the table.

Do Vary The Heights of The Furniture In The Room

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the portland dining room reveal

If you have room for more than a dining table and chairs, it is important to vary the heights of any additional furniture. Your console table or credenza should be at least higher than your table so your eye can easily take in everything in the room.

Do Style Your Dining Table

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | design by ryann miller | from: ryann’s moto reveal: a living and dining room with a lot of soul

This is 100% optional but opting for an everyday centerpiece or some vases will make your dining room feel more styled and personal. In my home we always have a large footed bowl filled with lemons and garlic plus two candlesticks and it really does make a difference.

As far as tablecloths go, an EHD personal rule is to never have a tablecloth on a table unless the table is set. Instead, use a table runner for everyday casual use.

So now that some guidelines are in place, allow me to introduce you to the project.

The Real Life Project: Refurnish and Redecorate My Parent’s Walk Through Dining Room

Ever since I started working at EHD my mom has been asking me to help her redecorate her home. I’ve always wanted to of course, but I didn’t know much when I first started working here and then by the time I sort of knew what I was doing, it was time for me to work on my own MOTO (makeover takeover). But now that my project is finished, I am so ready and excited to use my knowledge to help my parents get the home they deserve.

I’m going to get personal for a minute because I think you should know why this project is so important. On August 8th 2021 my brother Mac passed way unexpectedly. He was 29 years old, a Sergeant in the Army, a Sapper, a husband, father to his now 11 month old baby girl, son, brother, and so much more. He was and always will be our hero and the pain of losing him is at times unbearable for all of us. It’s been a hard year for the Millers. We’ve been to far too many funerals this year and I desperately want to do something for my parents that will hopefully bring them joy everyday. So as a part of my Christmas present to them, I am helping them redecorate and refresh their entire house starting with the dining area. It’ll be a gift that keeps on giving as this will not be finished by Christmas this year but will be an ongoing project for my parents and I to work on together and hopefully a way for us to heal as a family.

The Style Diagnostic: Modern Farmhouse With A Hint of California Casual

photo by amy bartlam | design by katie hodges | via rue mag

I remember my mom telling me she figured out her style is “modern farmhouse” and I was so proud. I think a lot of people (myself included) are attracted to many different styles but one great thing about both my parents is they know what they want. Cheryl (my mom) has been thinking about this redesign for many years and I think that helped her really nail down the aesthetic she wants to go for. Now that we are officially in the mood board/shopping phase I periodically send her photos and furniture to see what she’s really in to, so I’ve narrowed their style down even more to “Modern farmhouse with a hint of California casual”. I am drawing a lot of inspo from Studio Mcgee, Lauren Liess, and Emily Henderson (of course) and this part is VERY FUN. I love putting mood boards together, showing my parents, and watching them get just as excited as I am.

I look at theses photos and feel so much serotonin rush in my brain but eventually I have to return to reality. We aren’t working with an unlimited budget. We aren’t going to renovate (for now) so the space won’t look like these million dollar homes. But that’s not the point of this project anyway. The point is to make the space beautiful, to give something back to my incredibly deserving parents, and work on this project together. SO, here is the space:

At first glance, I think you will agree that this room is too dark and has the same overall color palette as The Cheesecake Factory. You can’t blame my parents, though. The last time they got new furniture and decorated was the early 2000s. And the early 2000s were a rough time.

My dad, a retired fireman and general contractor, built that barn door and this really got the design plan going. Now we just need to compliment it with some neutral furniture and decor and we are in business.

Since this is a walk through dining room the kitchen will be in view no matter what. It is unfortunate that we can only focus on one room at a time therefore this project won’t come out picture perfect but hey, that’s life right? It’s far from perfect.

On the other side we have the living room that will be my next challenge. It’s going to be hard for my ADHD brain to focus on one area at a time but I know it’ll be worth it if I stick to the dining area for now.

The design plan:

Get new dining table and chairs

Obviously we need new dining table and chairs. My parents want a rustic, wooden farmhouse table and we think black spindle back chairs paired with a thick farmhouse table will bring in the modern element. I definitely want the dining table and chairs to have different finishes so it doesn’t look too cookie cutter or predictable.

Replace pendants

Lighting is so important and as I noted above, this room is really too dark. My parents want an industrial style chandelier which I think will work great with their style plus it’ll complement the industrial vibe of the barn door.

add a rug (maybe)

I want to add a rug in here because the tile is dated and I think it would be a great way to bring in some color as well. The problem is this space gets a lot of foot traffic so my dad is not a fan of the idea of cleaning a rug all the time. I believe a rug would help elevate the space and make it feel more finished but I understand his reservations. Is it too weird/impractical to get a rug but only pull it out on special occasions or when guests are over? I’ll let you guys vote on that down below!

replace cabinet

That cabinet is not terrible but it could be better. I’ve been eyeing this glass display cabinet and think it will be great for storage plus the black finish will complement the other black elements I want to bring in here.

hang art

There isn’t a ton of wall space here but I want one fairly large piece of art to put over the cabinet. I am thinking a vintage seascape would be wonderful to bring in some color and a California casual element.

display family photos and my brother mac’s achievements

I know my parents will want some family photos and I think framed black and white photos can look really tasteful if done right. The more difficult challenge will be displaying the army memorabilia as red white blue is not necessarily a part of the desired color palette. If we do use the glass cabinet I mentioned, we can perhaps display them in there but I am still unsure of the execution but that is a problem for future Ryann. Suggestions welcome!

The “Rough” Design:

Again, this isn’t a renovation project due to budget (this project will be fully funded by my parents and I) so I did my best to create a design mock-up that resembles the elements that we won’t be replacing for now (i.e. the tile, back doors, kitchen cabinets, and countertops). It’s definitely possible that my dad will do a kitchen reno in the future but as we all know that costs money and a lot of it. That is why right now this project is a more of a refresh than a makeover which is probably a good thing since a full kitchen reno is in no way my expertise.

So what do ya think?? Any tips? Comments, questions, or concerns? Let me know in the comments. xx

**Some commenters asked if they could donate to help fund this project. We are overwhelmed with appreciation at the thought! If you’d also like to you can do so here. Your generous donations will go to funding the project and any remaining funds will go directly to Mac’s wife and sweet baby girl.

Opener Image Credit: Design and styling by Emily Henderson and Brady Tolbert (and team) |Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: The Portland Dining Room Reveal

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Amber
1 month ago

So excited for this project! It sounds like a great way for your family to work together. And shopping/styling (versus renovation) projects can be so inspiring.

While I understand the urge to cover the tile, I think there is zero chance you’ll want to move the table and all the chairs when guests come over. Maybe consider a floor cloth (remodelista has a DIY tutorial you could check out) or a Beija Flor vinyl mat (Food52 has some and there are more on the manufacturers’ website). They are both flat and easy to clean.

Diane
1 month ago

Ryann, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, and I’m grateful to your brother’s service to our country. Grief is a highly personal, unpredictable process and makeovers surely don’t work for everyone. But when grieving people feel ready to embrace change in their homes, I’ve seen the process bring peace and some measure of healing, and I hope that’s exactly how it turns out for the Millers. What a beautiful gift you’re giving to your family; I’m touched and I’m excited to follow your progress.

Vicki Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane

DIANE YOU HAVE SUCH A LOVELY WAY OF EXPRESSING YOURSELF. YOU SAY THINGS JUST THE WAY I WOULD LIKE AND OFTEN DON’T FIND THE WORDS AS WELL AS YOU DO.

Vicki Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Vicki Williams

Shoot didn’t realizeI was in caps.

Diane
1 month ago
Reply to  Vicki Williams

Vicki, you’re very kind, and I appreciate your well-chosen words. And don’t mind about the caps lock – I kind of liked it. 😀

Kara
1 month ago
Reply to  Diane

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Sending you and your family lots of love.

Nataša
1 month ago

Dear Ryann, I can’t even imagine the pain of your loss, so sorry you and your family have to go through it…

Re: rug – In my dining room, there is a cowhide rug and I remember Emily having that gorgeous white, scalloped one in the living room of her old house in Glendale. Those are SO robust and easy to clean, perfect for a dining room! The stains can be cleaned away with a wet cloth! Just a thought, might be the solution you are looking for.

Tarynkay
1 month ago

I am so sorry for your loss. My brother died unexpectedly in 2017 at age 34, leaving behind a then 6 year old son. I miss him every day. Praying for peace and healing for you and your family.

Sarah
1 month ago

Very sorry to hear about your family’s loss. Thanks to your brother and your whole family for his service to our country.

I am wondering if a nice indoor/outdoor rug may help solve the rug problem. I have kids and got an indoor/outdoor rug for my living room with a nice pad underneath. When they mess it up (weekly) or dog throws up (happened yesterday), clean up is easy.

Brenda
1 month ago

What a beautiful, special gift for your parents! I like the design direction and ideas. My only suggestion is instead of spending $350 for a “disposable” piece of furniture from Target, spend that same amount on a real wooden piece of vintage furniture. Don’t get me wrong, I love Target, but the quality of their “wooden” furniture is not as nice as something for could get secondhand. Happy Holidays!

Vicki Williams
1 month ago
Reply to  Brenda

Yes I am doing the same and am blown away by Facebook Marketplace! I have found wonderful pieces for absolute pennies! A Henredon, ( the Tiffany of furniture), gorgeous round table, with two 18″ leaves and 4 cane back chairs, (what do you know, in style again). So a 5 to 8K set up originally for $150! A designer $2000 desk for $200, and more that are $1000 huge mirror, perfect design and quality for $50! All in perfect condition.
So there you go, follow Emily on some of these things, right? Plus more soul and as said above amazing quality!

Lesley
1 month ago
Reply to  Brenda

Yes! This seems to be especially true for big things like china cabinets and armoires, which not everyone needs/has room for. Very ones are often available for very cheap.

R
1 month ago

I have had amazing luck with the indoor/outdoor synthetic sisal rugs in high traffic areas – and have even seen people use them as stair runners. In some sort of lighter color with a pretty weave I suspect these would be great for the dining room.

And as soon many others are saying, I am so sorry for your loss and for our family’s loss. May his memory be a blessing, and may this project being comfort and healing, now and in the future.

R
1 month ago
Reply to  R

Sheesh TYPOS 🙁

*as SO many others are saying
*I am so sorry for YOUR family’s loss

K
1 month ago

Ryann… I am terribly sorry…. I experienced the same loss this summer… my beautiful young sister passed away, leaving a baby boy behind.. I don’t know how we will accept and survive but we have to somehow… I am very much with you and wish you all the best that can come – together with a wonderful dining room! 🙂

Sorry to hear about the loss of your brother, Ryann. I think this project sounds like a wonderful idea. The mockup looked way better than I imagined. Can’t wait to see what you do!

Donna
1 month ago

If you’re all up for it, I think you could do a refresh of the kitchen without remodeling by simply painting the cabinets a fresh white. I think it could make a big difference in helping you reach the fresh modern look you are aiming for in the dining area. Also, have you considered stenciling the tile floor, or maybe just stenciling a rug area under the dining table. Etsy has a ton of options for this type of project. I would go lighter in color than the present tile, again to bring light and healing into the space. Paint does wonders on a limited budget. I’m even wondering if you could keep the chairs you have presently and chalk paint them black. They have nice lines and might look entirely different paired with a natural wood farmhouse table with freshly painted white background. I wouldn’t worry about the red, white, blue memorabilia not matching the color scheme and displaying them behind glass is a great idea. This gift of refresh, especially working together on it, is a wonderful idea for fostering closeness during this time of healing and piecing together a different future than you all had envisioned. I… Read more »

MKP
1 month ago
Reply to  Donna

Ryann, I am so deeply sorry for your family’s loss. I hope that the project will bring you all some healing and peace and also a beautiful way to have extra time together over the process. I agree with this comment. A coat of paint on the kitchen cabinets could totally transform the whole space. There is nothing wrong with the kitchen at all! But if you want more lightness ans brightness, painting the cabinets would do it. And I love the idea of using the existing chairs with black chalk paint so that you can put more $ into a really great solid wood table. As for the rug, an outdoor or hide one is a good idea. Before I read those suggestions, I was thinking of putting down a rug but just folding it over for everyday use so it wouldn’t be walked on all the time. But I think the other ideas are much better. It is really special to imagine you all gathered at this new dining area in the future. I know your loss is tremendous, but hopefully the gift of connection and togetherness for those that remain will come from it. Again, just so… Read more »

Zoe
1 month ago
Reply to  MKP

I agree as well – a fresh coat of paint + perhaps changing out the brackets on the island for something simpler and more streamlined would make a world of difference! The tile backsplash over the range actually looks nice + in line with the vibe you’re going for, and the countertops are workable too!

Suze
1 month ago
Reply to  Donna

Yes, yes, yes to the paint refresh! You will be so happy to see how a coat of white paint revitalizes the kitchen cabinets and furniture. I am very low skilled at DYI but recently rehabbed a table with black chalk paint and could not believe how forgiving the paint was and how it freshened up the look. I will also vote for colorful kilims to make those tile floors come to life ! Deep pockets are not necessary for this labor of love, I promise!

Joy Bruce
30 days ago
Reply to  Donna

I agree! The countertops and tiles do not have to be changed; a fresh coat of paint and removing the corbels would be enough to have a really lovely space to go with the dining room refresh.

Jen
1 month ago

Heartfelt condolences for your family’s loss. Creating a space for recalling happy memories of him I hope bring some peace.
Your mock up is beautiful! Yet adding in memorabilia of your brother with red white and blue does seem a challenge in the mock up. A few thoughts; Emily, if I recall clearly, has mentioned a pop of red in every room is great! And I’ve read enough EH posts to consider adding in another accessory in the same color. What about a dusting of Max Humphrey powder to the room? Perhaps the art piece could have just a slice of red that would pull in the red from the flag, or a vintage chippy red painted piece atop the cabinet, or even a couple worn red vintage books. Although what I’m mentioning are finishing touches, I’d think about that red element, there is a feel of dusty blue in your mock up now. As the finished room draws closer, incorporating those pieces will likely feel very important and emotional, so planning them into the design now to me feels important for the cohesion and feel you want to arrive at.

Karen
1 month ago

Grief is a ride. I wish you and your family well. Your project will be a nice focus for all of you. I hope you enjoy it!

Elizabeth
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing this personal project with us! I love to see the real life process – it makes it feel so much more doable. I wish you and your family peace and healing.

Juanita
1 month ago

Hi Ryann, I think the oversize tile from the photos could be a plus! It reminds me of the built in Plain English kitchens that all have those gorgeous Old World stone floors. Maybe this inspo picture will lead you to work with what some might think “outdated” to a very nice melding of farmhouse style with English overtones? I also like in the picture how they play with the contrast: nice old wood table with the painted finish of cabs. I also like the bright simplicity of the lighting in the photo— maybe a fun DIY for your family? some milky white paint on some galvanized metal fan shapes? Peace to your family.

English kitchen stone floor.JPG
Leslie
1 month ago

My deepest sympathy for the loss of your brother. It’s lovely, and tough, to take on this project at this time.
One little comment: When one gets older, it’s difficult to sit on hard chairs for a long time. Most of your inspiration rooms have chairs with cushioning. That might not go with the chairs you’ve chosen, but it would be a lot more comfortable.

CB
1 month ago

Ryann,
As a way to honor your brother, would your family accept a go fund me for this project? I would love to contribute, and I imagine that others in this community would be willing to join in as well?

Aimee
1 month ago
Reply to  CB

I was just about to comment the same thing!

As readers/followers, I know so much of us feel invested in your lives. We would love to be able to contribute in honor of your brother and to show sone kindness to you and your family during this painful time.
Much love to you and your family ❤️

Lindsay
1 month ago
Reply to  CB

Hear hear! I was imagining the same thing–maybe each donation goes 50% to Ryann’s parents very healing refresh of their home, and 50% goes toward Mac’s family. I’m in and would love to know where to contribute!

Cris S.
1 month ago

I just want to echo what others have said, that I am so sorry for your loss. That is such a depth of grief to lose a son, brother, father and husband. I hope this project brings some distraction and it’s own good memories.

Vicki Williams
1 month ago

I commented some below in a reply but have some other thoughts. I know your mood board is just a unfinished mock up but the height of the picture over the glass cabinet I would nestle closer to the top of the cabinet and add some varied height styling pieces, layering a bit in front of the picture. Obviously not obscuring it. A tall candlestick, a plant and a piece of memorabilia for instance. Also as others have mentioned having some sort of cushioning on the chairs so everyone is comfortable when you want to sit and chat or play games for hours. Opting to remove and replace a rug is not practical as you have said but indoor-outdoor or washable rugs a great solution. A rug would make so much difference! Colorful, not too somber. Boutique rugs and Ruggable are great options. Bought 7 rugs last night for my client’s remodeled Spanish Colonial with under $400 prices for 9 x 12’s. PersonalIy I wouldn’t worry at all about the flag colors. It is it’s own statement that needs to show. One’s eyes will automatically “not see it” as part of the design palette and just acknowledge it for what… Read more »

Admin
1 month ago

We love you Ryann!! What an amazing post – EHD SENDS YOU SO MUCH LOVE & we’re all so excited to see this finished room xx

Sheri
1 month ago

Ryann, so terribly sorry to hear of this tremendous loss. Peace to your family and to your brother’s memory.

As an aside, consider keeping the dining room table if it’s the right size! It’d save you a bunch of money and it actually works perfectly for the modern farmhouse vibe. It’s a lovely, classic table. 🙂

Francesca
30 days ago
Reply to  Sheri

Yeah, I think the existing table could look great painted black!

Grace
30 days ago
Reply to  Sheri

I was thinking the same thing about the dining room table! Perhaps it could be sanded and restained a lighter tone?

Megan A.
1 month ago

This is so lovely and comes from such a loving place.
I love a lot of the others’ suggestions and mine may be small – but in addition to replacing the light fixture, take a look at the actual light bulbs in the whole area (even connecting rooms). A brighter bulb will help make the space feel lighter vs the warm colored bulbs being used now. Excited to see how this shapes up!

Rachel
1 month ago

Ryann, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Everyone grieves differently, but my mom died last month and my husband and I immediately threw ourselves into what I call my Grief Kitchen (just an aesthetic upgrade, not reno). It was always on our to-do list, but I needed desperately to destroy and create in between the heavy administrative tasks that come with loss. That does not compare to losing a sibling, particularly so young, but you aren’t alone in finding comfort and solace in a group project, especially something that touches on a concept as intimate to each of us as “home.” Re: the rug–I have two kids and three large dogs. Vintage Turkish or South Asian rugs have held up through everything you can think of. They are easy to spot clean, obscure daily grime, and can be cleaned in a driveway once every couple years with a hose and some dish soap (or professionally, of course). I figure if it has made it 60 years, even my family won’t be its undoing. The bang-for-the-buck is hard to beat, particularly with Etsy sellers. If the budget and Dad allow, it might be a great statement piece to cover up… Read more »

1 month ago

Ryann, I am so sorry for your family’s devastating loss. Thank you for sharing with us. You have a caring, supportive community in the EHD readers. I love that your dad made the barn door! Do you think a Ruggable might be a good middle ground in terms of care and style? We have several due to a large, destructive rescue dog and have found them to be attractive, durable, and easy to clean, even if I do miss the look and feel of a “real” rug. Can’t wait to see how the room comes together and how you’ll incorporate the special personal touches honoring your brother.

Nicola O.
1 month ago

Sounds like a fun project! I had two thoughts on your parents’ dining room – 1, do you really need a new table? it seems like the one they have fits the new plan. 2) for the army memorabilia, could you do a b/w photo of the items instead of showcasing the items themselves? Looking forward to seeing the new look!

Heidi
1 month ago

I’m so sorry about your brother! Blessings to you and your family.
Just a thought: I wonder if a couple of rustic posts under the counter would help tie things in. Even a pilaster on the right might work if knee room is needed. Also, I don’t think painting the cabinets white would work with all those browns, but you probably already know that. All the best to you!

Jenms
1 month ago

Beautiful ideas! I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. It sounds like the refreshes you’re doing for your parents will let you spend some good quality time with them.

Susanne
1 month ago

I agree with painting the kitchen cabinets an off white. That will make a huge difference! It looks like the layout and quality of the cabinets is all functional and nice. One thing I would change out is the fridge! It sticks out way too far into the kitchen! It sounds like your parents’ “kids” are all grown and out of the house, so maybe they could change it for a counter-depth version!? And once the cabinets are painted, new hardware will tie everything together : )

Nice job! Your parents are lucky to have such a nice daughter!
I am sorry for your family’s loss!

michelle
1 month ago

We have an indoor/outdoor rug under our dinning table, which is in a room super similarly laid out to your parents home. The rug not only gets a lot of traffic, we have 3 kids who do their best to destroy it as well. It is made of recycled plastic bottles, so the texture isn’t comfy, but it does a beautiful job of grounding the space and also being SO easy to clean. We have taken it outside to pressure wash it about once a year, and otherwise, cleaning it is really not different than cleaning the tile.

Anna Seltz
1 month ago

I think your design is beautiful and makes the room feel very fresh and modern. I do not think it would be very easy to have a rug you pull out for company only. It just wouldn’t happen. Why not opt for a durable, washable rug that is very low pile so no one trips?
And my deepest sympathies on the loss of your brother.

Julie S
1 month ago

I’m so sorry to hear about your brother! It sounds like a rough year indeed for your family. This dining refresh will exciting to watch because your parents have such a typical home. It’s truly relatable to see what can be done with paint and decor and simpler sweat equity changes since I think that’s what’s possible for most of us most of the time.

Lynn W
1 month ago

Thank you for sharing a most personal family story with all of us and I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss ❤️

Wow!!! What an amazing gift for your parents!! I love the ideas and cannot wait to follow along the journey.

Kim Gaza
1 month ago

Hi Ryann, I would echo so many voices and express my deep sympathy for your loss!! Indeed your attention to your parents during this difficult time is so loving of you and will mean more to them than you know! I love your moodboard! Well done!! The Loloi rugs by Chrislovesjulia or Amber Lewis are low pile, affordable, and are a great choice for a high traffic area. I have one in my entryway and u can’t see the dirt. If it ever needs cleaning down the road, it cleans up super well. Really looking forward to seeing all u do with your parents house!!

Lisa
1 month ago

What a wonderful project for you and your family! I hope it can bring you together and give you many happy memories. As others have mentioned I would consider keeping the chairs and even the dining table – they have such lovely shapes (especially that table!) and actually seem to go quite well with what you’re going for. If it was my space (or my parent’s I guess 😉 ) I would sand an refinish the table, so its returned to the nice light wood colour I’m guessing it has underneath the current surface treatment, paint the chairs black and maybe think about painting the kitchen kabinets in that beautiful dusty blue you can see in some your inspo pics. Then you can invest more easily in the other decor pieces you’d need like a light, rug, art etc or put it towards decorating the living room in the future (I actually also think the current cabinet is really cute but agree its probably a little bit too dark and closed off for the vibe you’re going for – I hope it gets a good new home!)

Sunny
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa

Using oven cleaner to strip furniture is all over Instagram right now…agree with Lisa that stripping the table to see what it looks like without stain would be a project for you before you purchase a new one.

Amanda
1 month ago

Much love to you and your parents! I have several Ruggable rugs in my house, could be a great solution for your folks. Softer than an indoor/outdoor rug but much easier to clean than a traditional rug.

KD
1 month ago

Hi Ryann, so very sorry for your loss. I hope this project brings you and your family some peace. I am looking forward to following along as you tackle this project. Thank you for sharing.
Re furniture being different heights–could EHD please do a round-up of taller sideboards/credenzas? I am in the market, and I’m finding most are 30 in high, just like most tables. I’ve seen the advice to vary heights of furniture before, so I’m surprised so many of the sideboards are 30 in high. Some are 32-33, but does that create enough of a height difference with a 30 in table? Would love to hear more on this subject. Vintage buffets seem to be the right height, so I will likely go in that direction. Or just put a tall cabinet in the corner.

Lindsay
1 month ago

Dear Ryann, First we all are grieving with you on the loss of your brother. Completely support the go fund me, and thought maybe 50% of each donation goes to your folks’ healing refresh of their home, and maybe 50% to your sister-in-law and her precious baby? we are all behind you! With regard to the dining room refresh–yes, yes to the rug. I think it does make sense to think of the LR, kitchen, and DR cohesively when it comes to the color palette. If your mom and dad can select a palette they love, then a beautiful, durable rug that picks up all the tones would be perfect for the dining room. Since it is the “room in the middle”, a rug that unites all three rooms in palette would be perfect, especially if your art picks that up. Now, this is a tough one, so feel free to ignore, and please don’t be offended. I am wondering where the best place is to put your brother’s momentos? I think that is a topic well worth discussing with your parents. And maybe some of you that have lost siblings can give good advice. Placing them someplace that you… Read more »

Sarah L
1 month ago

Re light, I can’t see what the patio roof is, but if budget allows could you swap out that roof for something that lets in more light? My parents did this at some point with these semi-clear fiber glass panels (I knew eww) but I swear it transformed both the patio and the adjacent kitchen by letting in light, and doesn’t look terrible- they just kind of disappear into the pergola beams.

Giang
1 month ago

I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds exciting for you and your parents to collaborate together during a rough time.

1 month ago

Ryann, I am so so sorry to hear about your brother. You seem like a very sweet person and I know this hurts a lot. Good luck with the reno! Kara

Melissa
30 days ago

As someone who lost an older brother suddenly (he was 39), I feel your pain and am so sorry for your loss. Approaching the holidays is so difficult, but what a wonderful distraction for your family to have this project to work on together.
Couple of thoughts- a rug is a must. I am the most practical person on the planet so I get it dad, but it won’t be as bad as he thinks. You already vacuum the floor right? Something not too thick and with enough pattern to hide stains. As for the cabinet- it depends on your storage needs but a sideboard would give you more opportunity for additional lighting (lamps or sconces) and artwork. If you are set on the style of the Target one, IKEA has a better version (IMO). Lastly, one thing that may help with natural light is to have “skylights” cut into the patio roof. I think this can be done relatively in expensively with clear fiberglass panels. I look forward to following along!

Heather Amsden
30 days ago

What a fun project! I think what stands out to me the most if the need for color. Maybe colored chairs – painted red or something. A brighter rug. Chair cushions or chairs that have padded seats – comfy and a way to bring in color. The only other thing is be sure the cabinet is big enough for the space. I love the cabinet but it looks tiny on line. Can’t wait to see the end result!

Katrina
30 days ago

Have you ever thought of stripping the dining table’s varnish? I got a hand me down dining table that had an ugly dark orange varnish and I used paint stripper and it became a very very nice light bleached wood which I varnished with a colorless varnish. I painted the table legs with light grey chalk paint for contrast. People come in and think it’s worth a thousand dollars. For the chairs, I stripped the seat and then painted the legs and the back with a light grey chalk paint – same color with the table legs and it looked great. I’m not fan of rugs for dining tables since I have kids and they are messy eaters but a large rug for the living room is a must! Also consider a buffet sideboard from ikea. I have the besta and I use it as a buffet table when guests are over. It works as storage and at the same time, a buffet table and coffee station. I find that it’s better than a hutch because a hutch doesn’t have table space for buffet or the coffee maker. Good luck!

30 days ago

I am so sorry for your family’s loss. I hope a refresh of your parents surroundings will help ease their sorrow a little. I don’t know what the quality of their existing table is, but it seems like the style could work (the turned legs and thick top). You could use the saved money elsewhere. I think the space definitely needs a rug. It will cover the tile and it helps delineate the space, since it isn’t it’s own room. Obviously the physical reminders of your brother and his service are important to your family. The idea of putting them in a glass front cabinet is great, with the right styling. It contains them and makes the display seem intentional.

Roberta Whitmer
27 days ago

Get an indoor outdoor rug. I got one for my young kids after a pet destroyed my good dining room rug. It has lasted 20 years and is great for various reasons including accidents at holidays caused by the young and old. The rug adds so much to the space as far as color and texture. I like your color scheme with the tile. Love the chairs. The cabinet is nice. Not sure about that chandelier though.

27 days ago

Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

25 days ago

This is a great guide. I’ve been looking for this kind of information and haven’t found it anywhere else except on your website, so thanks again! It’s really helpful to have all the steps laid out in such an easy-to-follow format.

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