Dining Room Progress


August 13, 2012 by stpaulhaus

The dining room.  It has come a long way from the before photos. These were taken when the house was put on the market by the previous owner:

It is not fully completed, but this is where we are at right now:

The floors are refinished, original pine.  The table, chairs, and hutch are a set that my grandparents received as a wedding gift approximately 1 billion years ago. Aren’t they nice? The table has a couple leafs that we can put in for holidays/parties so we can accomodate more people.

I have already rolled the walls below the chair rail with the same Behr Ultra White  used in the kitchen, and above the chair rail is ‘Mississippi Mud’  also by Behr.  The chair rail is the same stuff use in the kitchen.  And of course, we put in that lovely pass-through.

Here is what still needs to be done:

  • Finish chair rail
  • Trim out the built-in cabinet
  • Add extra storage with some built-in window seats
  • Electric fireplace between the windows
  • New blinds–either faux wood or shutters in white
  • Build and install window cornice boxes
  • Replace the ceiling fan with a nice antique chandelier

I can appreciate all the work that they put into updating the house, but I am saddened that most of the original details were pulled out of the house when it was remodeled by the previous owners.

There may or may not have been a built-in cabinet here originally, but I am in love with the beautiful built-ins that you find in craftsmen style homes from the 1900-1930s.  That is what I am hoping to replicate here.  Now that is easier said than done.  When working with wood that is going to be stained (not painted) it leaves less room for error. If I haven’t said it before, I will say it now: Paintable caulk is probably the greatest thing ever invented, ever.  I have used it to correct my minor errors in the woodwork that I have done so far to take care of things such as gaps against walls and in between boards.  When working with stained wood you really can’t fill in large gaps with caulk to hide less-than-perfect cuts. 😦 Here is a rough drawing that I made up really quick of what I am looking to do:

A couple cabinets, a drawer, a couple of shelves, and trim to match the pass-through…easy, right?  After this is done, I will be able to finish the chair rail.

I also have major plans for a window seats along this wall.

They will be made from unfinished stock cabinets that will sit on a base of 2x4s and covered with some plywood. Something like what they did here.  The window seats would be under each of these windows, and in the middle would be the fireplace.  Those miniblinds are just terrible.  Can’t wait to replace them, but I’m still trying to decide between 2″ faux wood blinds (similar to the ones we used in the guest bedroom) or shutters in white. The shutters would look nice, but they are on the spendy side, so I just don’t know if I want to pay for them.

I am planning on getting a fireplace insert, then building the surround and mantel to fit perfectly between those windows. I already have the fireplace tools ready–these were in the basement when we moved in. Funny, considering we don’t have a fireplace…add it to the list of things the previous owners removed, I guess.  I’m going with an electric insert for several reasons: 1) they are inexpensive 2) they are easy to use/clean 3) they are much better than they used to be as far as heat and aesthetics and 4) they don’t require any venting to the outdoors.  I have this one in mind from Dimplex which has an optional expandable trim kit on Amazon:

Of course, I would be building a surround and mantel in a different style, but you get the idea. I also want to build and install some cornice boxes over the windows like these:

I actually just found this terrible computer drawing I made a really long time ago when I was looking through my saved dining room idea pictures. And yes, those red, orange, and yellow stars are supposed to be flames.  At least it gives you kind of an idea about what I am thinking:

I have been on the look out a nice old stained glass to place in front of this window. I don’t particularly like these glass blocks, but I havent found anything yet.

I also would like to do something more with the ceiling, but I don’t have much to work with given that we only have 8′ ceiling in there.   I found a couple of photos for inspiration that don’t take up too much headroom.  These are actually from houses that were for sale at one point on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul.  To give you an idea, these are $2 million+ homes.

I could always just go for a nice ceiling medallion like this:

Finding the right chandelier will take some doing. I have seen several, but nothing in my price range has really been what I am looking for. I think I might try to find one with a longer chain so I can do one of those swaggy deals over the table without having to make around the electricals. I think I may have addressed my fear of being electrocuted here. I am also not a big fan of heights–which is why I have yet to get up on the roof to address the old chimney.  My hands and feet start tingling  even thinking about it.  I have to cover my eyes during that credit card commercial where the girl is rock climbing up on a teeny tiny rock cliff thing.

That has to be fake.  Anyway… Finding a fixture that is in scale with the size of the room and table is important.  Choosing a chandelier that is too large will dwarf the room, and one that is too small just looks dinky. I’m open to buying a new one, but an old one would be nice. I’m trying to follow these guidelines:

  • 10′ by 10′ or smaller room: 17″-20″ diameter fixture
  • 12′ x 12′ room: a 26″-28″ fixture
  • 14′ x 14′ room: a 24″-36″ fixture
  • Hang about 30″ from the surface of the table
  • Should be about 12″-16″ narrower than the width of the table

I don’t know the exact measurements of the room and I’m too lazy to get out a tape measure, but I think it is in the 12′ x 12′ ish range so something 26″-28″ would be good.

We really aren’t in any rush to get this completed soon, but I will probably work on things over time.  I would like to get that fireplace in this fall so we can use it this winter. We will have to find another place for the Christmas tree, as it has been the designated christmas tree area for the past 3 years.

Sheesh…this is going to be a lot of work…now that it is all written out.  So it looks like you got a little hint of the living room in these photos as well.  I’ll get you a full-blown post on that soon enough.  Anyone have ideas for a dining room chandelier?  Thoughts on the electric fireplace?  How about the ceiling–Inlays or medallion?  Should we go with blinds or bite the bullet and bring in the big guns with the shutters?  Lots of decision making to be done here!


7 thoughts on “Dining Room Progress

  1. Lory Perryman says:

    i don’t think the color in the photos does your room justice. the color is much stronger in person. go for the fireplace!!

    • stpaulhaus says:

      The lighting was not ideal for my photo shoot last night. I really should have taken the photos during the day with the blinds open, but I got impatient. I’ll have to do that for the ‘After’ post. I enjoy your fireplace so much–looking forward to my own. 🙂

  2. […] before but not while also balancing 15 feet in the air on a ladder over very steep stairs–which also scares me. We picked up the bulbs from Menards for $3, but i am considering getting something a little more […]

  3. […] house projects. I don’t think the appraiser would look too fondly on the half-finished chair rail here, or the current hole in the wall in the guest bedroom. We also have a bunch of exterior/landscape […]

  4. […] to the dining room, even though it is one of the most used rooms in the house. Recently, i did post some photos of the progress and what it look to get to its current state, but it does have a long way to […]

  5. […] Now please turn your attention to the grossly untrimmed built-in thingy in our dining room that is full of crap. You can read about the original plan for this baby here. […]

  6. […] one is the best I could do. Want to read more about the plan for this dining room? Check it out here. Slowly but surely we are starting to check things off the To Do List, which is now updated. […]

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