Category: decoration

Dining Room, Before & After

dining room wainscoting

I shared a few photos of our dining room with the wainscoting tutorial, but here’s a full before and after with sources, in case you are curious. I’m no expert on decorating, and this room isn’t even fully finished (I need to put art on the walls, paint the cabinet and maybe replace the chandelier), but that stuff isn’t going to be done for a long time and it’s so much better than it used to be.

Dining room before and after

Here are some more blurry pictures of what it used to look like:

dining room, before dining room, before dining room, before

Our dining room is pretty small (11’x11′ I think?) and opens up from our office (through french doors), our kitchen, and into the hallway that leads into our family room. So it’s very open, which is a good thing! But also a challenge because our long table fit awkwardly in the square-size room.

So here was my dining room inspiration for what I wanted to change:

Dining Room Inspiration

And here’s what it looks like today:

dining room wainscoting

dining room wainscoting

dining room wainscoting Navy and white dining room with round table // Sherwin Williams Smokey Blue

Pretty close to my inspiration, right? :) It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house such an improvement from the drab room it used to be.

A few notes on the changes:

TABLE: I wanted a round table because a) they fit really well in small rooms and b) they are my FAVORITE. I love round tables. You get to see everyone at the table and it is always an intimate dining experience. I thought maybe it would limit how many people we can sit, but this 60″ table can easily fit 8 comfortably and 10 pretty cozy. I bought it in the fall when they were having a 20% off sale on dining with an additional 15% coupon I already had. Score.

CHAIRS: My criteria for the chairs was 100% COMFORT. I wanted people to feel comfortable enough to linger at the table long after the meal had finished. We had the table for months before I bought chairs because I couldn’t find the right ones. Also chairs are expensive! They really add up quickly. I finally found these at Pier One and waited until they went on sale, so they were a lot more affordable than their ticket price (I think they ended up being around $78 each?). I kind of want two more.

WALLS + PAINT: We wainscoted the walls (all about that in this post), painted the walls Sherwin Williams’ “Smokey Blue” on the top and white on the bottom.

CURTAINS: Bought these curtains from West Elm with a birthday gift card (thanks Mom!),

ART: I hung a photo of us using a silver frame from Michaels, a starburst mirror I got from Target a few years ago, and painted the canvas above the buffet. I am thinking about replacing the starburst mirror for something else (maybe hang some plates on that wall?) and definitely need another photo on the other side of the french doors to balance it out.

HUTCH: I decided to take the top part of the hutch off, since we really didn’t store that much in there anyways, and leave the base. It fits so much better in this space now! The yellow-orange wood doesn’t go, so I’d like to paint it eventually, but can’t figure out what color yet. Any suggestions?

Overall I am SO happy with the way it turned out and have already started using it for more dinner parties soon! :)

How to install wainscoting

how to add wainscoting to a room

Remember me talking about adding wainscoting to my dining room? I’m finally here to talk about how I did it, and the steps I took in case you want to try this adventure for yourself.

I’m actually embarrassed at how long it has taken me to write this post — I did this project last July. I am getting chilly just looking at these pictures of me in a tank top and shorts! I was waiting until the room was actually finished and pretty enough to photograph… but when will any room ever actually be finished? It’s always evolving. So better late than never.


Here’s the before and after:

wainscoting dining room

Here is a really detailed tutorial of what we did, complete with pictures in case you want to tackle this project yourself. Or in case you want to back out and hire someone else. Cause for someone who’s not that handy (me) it was a pretty hefty project, and I honestly would never have started it without the help (and handy tools) of my friend Melissa.

We didn’t follow any tutorials (cause Melissa is just that awesome), but just kind of winged it on what we thought would look good. If you look really closely, you may notice we framed the window as well. I didn’t include that in the instructions below since it doesn’t really apply to wainscoting, but it was in the costs at the bottom.

Alright, let’s go through these steps now, shall we.

1. Decide what type of wainscoting to do.

Google wainscoting and you’ll find a ton of different varieties. Thick, thin. Frames, straight boards, beadboard. For my room (and this tutorial) I chose framed wainscoting around the base of the room, since it was the cheapest option and seemed to fit my awkward dining room space the best. It also looks the most formal to me, which is what I was going for in this space. This is the only room where I would ever use that adjective.

2. Do a lot of math

After you figure what you want, you’re going to have to take lots of measurements and crunch some numbers. This was the worst part, and seemed to take forever because everything has to be exactly correct. Two calculations:

  1. Decide the length of the chair rail, and height from the floor. The standard height for chair rail is one-third of the room, so the top of my chair rail was 33 inches from the floor (not baseboard).
  2. Decide the length of the boxes. Good lawd this took a while. All of the frames were 22 inches in height, and we decided to make the boxes three inches from the wall/corner or the other frames. In all, we had 13 frames to make.

3. Buy your supplies.

Here was our lengthy list of supplies. Melissa had all of the tools (bless!), so all I had to buy were the materials.


  • Wood glue
  • Brad nailer
  • Trim nailer
  • Air compressor
  • Paint brushes
  • Wood putty
  • Sand paper
  • Chop saw
  • Saw horses
  • Caulk
  • Caulk gun


  • Chair rail
  • Frame, for the window
  • Boards for frames
    • All of the above were primed wood, so it saved us time in painting.


4. Paint the room.

While Melissa was measuring and cutting the wood in the garage, I was busy painting the room. She had a laser level that helped show where the chair rail would go, to help know where the two colors would meet. I chose “Smoky Blue” by Sherwin Williams for the top and white for the bottom (don’t know the name color, it’s the paint the previous owners left for all of the baseboards).


5. Cut and build your frames.

Melissa did all of the cutting, I did all of the building. I glued all of the pieces together with wood glue, then nailed them with a nail gun. It was a tedious job, but we blasted country music and enjoyed the beautiful weather.



Do we see the cracks in this one? We measured a little off, so we had to put some scraps together for one of the frames. You can’t tell at all on the wall… well, maybe if you look really hard. If you ever come to my house try to see if you can find the broken one. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. (Shoutout to the Nester!)


6. Cut your chair rail. 

Cut your chair rail the measurements of the wall. Melissa did all of this, because she was much better at the power saw than I was. She also created 45-degree cuts to all corner pieces.

7. Nail chair rail and frames to the wall.

Nail the chair rail to the wall first, using a laser level if you have one, or just a ruler and level to make sure it’s even. Then add the frames to the wall, making sure they are equal distance from the baseboard, the bottom of the chair rail, the wall and the other frames.



As you can see from some of the photos above, I didn’t paint to the right spot where the chair rail was supposed to go (rats!), so if you’re a lazy painter like me, add in another step here to even the paint.

8. Fill in spaces with caulk and wood filler.

By this point your room looks almost done and you’re tempted to put back the furniture and call it quits… but you aren’t done just yet. Fill in the cracks between pieces with wood filler (like the corners where two chair rails meet), and then filled in the cracks between the wall and the frames with caulk.


9. Paint your chair rail and frames.

Get your paint brushes out again and paint your chair rail and frames the same color as the wall. While I was at it, I also painted the baseboard because it looked so much dirtier than the rest of the crisp white wall.

10. Put back your dining room and marvel at your fancy space!

Finally! The end! Wash your paint brushes, put away the supplies, clean the room, and marvel at your beautiful new space. :)

how to add wainscoting to a room

dining room wainscoting

dining room wainscoting


This would have cost much more without borrowing my friend’s tools, so keep that in mind if you need to buy a lot of tools.

  • Window casting: $18.43
  • Chair rail molding: $31.50
  • Base cap wood: $77.00

Total: $135.50 with tax, but I had $88.15 in Home Depot gift cards, so it only cost me $47.29 out of pocket.

Also! Whatever wood you don’t use, if it is longer than a foot, it can be returned. So I returned some pieces and got back $10. ‘Cause this girl is not doing any more projects like that anytime soon.

So thus concludes my super long post on how to add wainscoting to your dining room.

Have you ever done wainscoting? 

Current Crush: Art

I first heard about a couple of years ago when I ordered Christmas cards from there (see our cards from 2013 and 2012). It is one of my favorite stationery and custom card sites; all of their designs are modern, lovely and affordable.

In the last couple of years they have expanded from a card company to an art shop. Art can really transform a room, and I love browsing for beautiful new pieces and dreaming up where I would put them in my home. I somehow got on their mailing list and received their catalog last week, and found myself reading it like it was a magazine. (Does that mean I’m getting older, or are marketers just getting smarter?) Catalog Catalog Catalog Catalog

Here are some pretty pieces I am eyeing….Nice Work by Heather Francisco

Nice Work by Heather Francisco — This is a great print for an office, and comes in five different colors. Maybe it needs to go on my bookcase at work?

Rusty Patina by Artsy Canvas Girl Designs

Rusty Patina by Artsy Canvas Girl Designs — Prettiest colors. I wonder if I could paint something like this….

Seaside by Alexandra Nazari

Seaside by Alexandra Nazari — I have seen a lot of large ocean and beach prints across Pinterest and blogs. They are so calming and happy. I could see this one blown up and hung above a linen couch.

Big Sur by Lindsay Megahed

Big Sur by Lindsay Megahed — Another beachy print. I am a little obsessed with the brush strokes for the waves.

Peonies in Vase by Kelli Hall

Peonies in Vase by Kelli Hall — I think this one would look gorgeous in my master bedroom!

Three Oaks Barn by LeeAnn Dougherty

Three Oaks Barn by LeeAnn Dougherty — I love rustic, country barns. I could see this blown up and hung above a guest bed, or a nice addition to a gallery wall.

Which one is your favorite?
Do you have a favorite site to browse new art?  

PS – See more art that I am eyeing on my art + prints Pinterest board.

FYI this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click and purchase I will receive a small commission. Thank you for reading and supporting My Pretty Pennies!

Dining Room Inspiration

Dining Room Inspiration

One of my goals this summer is to finally decorate my dining room. I’ve been talking about it for months now, and it’s time to make some changes!

The room is a little awkward because it’s square and open on three sides, so the space for a table is quite small. When the table has two leaves and opened all the way to seat 8+, it’s hard to walk around to get to/from the adjoining rooms.

Here’s what the room looks like today:

dining room, before^View from the hallway. Yes, we only have five chairs, and they don’t match. dining room, before^View from the corner. The room opens up to the hallway and into our family room. The rest of the house has a lot of blue/gray undertones so I think painting will go a long way in improving this room! Also, photobomb by the lovely Leia. :) dining room, before^View from the office, with french doors that can be closed to make it cozier. The table isn’t centered because it would block off the walkway from the kitchen. I’ve tried to put the table the other way and it also has its own challenges.

Can you tell why I’m eager to redecorate it?! Right now this room is pretty blah, but I think it has great potential.

Here’s my dining room inspiration:

Dining Room Inspiration

WALLS: Dark blue walls with a bright white wainscoting around the base.There was a sale on paint over Memorial Day, so I went ahead and got the top coat. I debated against peacock blue, dark teal, and even chalkboard black, but ended up choosing Sherwin Williams’ Smoky Blue, color-matched to Behr’s premium ultra paint. I’m not one who gets the hankering to repaint every season, so I think this color will be more timeless than the others I considered. Now I just gotta build up my courage to DIY wainscoting, and I can get started. Eeks! Those tutorials look intimidating!

CURTAINS: The giant window is one of my favorite parts of the room, and I’d love to frame it with beautiful curtains. I’m thinking either plain white or a simple graphical print in navy or gray, hung high and wide. I love West Elm or World Market‘s curtains, but I may find some fabric and make them.

HUTCH: First option, paint the hutch in chalk paint or refinish to have a rustic look. The other option is to take off the top part and just keep the base since it’s a pretty dominating piece in a small room. Then I could create a bar with hanging shelves and glasses on the wall, or just put a huge piece of art over it. Last option would be to sell this hutch and buy a new one. (What do you think?) Picture above found via Better Homes and Gardens.

ART: Once the room is painted and curtains are picked out, I will have a better idea of what art to place on the walls. But I am thinking something fun, happy and subtle. Art shown above: Out to Sea by Carolyn MacLaren. If Her Heart Could Sing by Christina Baker. And Lluvia by Michelle Armas (not available anymore – boo!).

LIGHTING: I’m not crazy about our light fixture, but I’m not in any rush and am determined to work with what I have for now. But, if I am dreaming here, I’d get a bentwood pendant from West Elm. :)

TABLE: I have two ideas. First, getting a round table to center the room, like this West Elm 60″ one I’m swooning for:

West Elm Arc Base Pedestal Table

Or use what we have, paint / stain it, push it against the window with a bench for more room and center the light fixture over the table.  Until then, I will most likely use what I have until I find either a nice round table or gorgeous tufted bench for a good price.

SEATING: One of my favorite things in all the world is lingering around the dining table with friends, long after the meal is over. That’s much more likely to happen if the seating is comfortable! I love the idea of doing a bench (I am eyeing this upholstered loveseat from Target) or upholstered chairs. But even uncomfortable seating can be so expensive! Hopefully I can score some on Craigslist or at Yard Sales.

So that’s the inspiration.  I’ll keep you posted on what changes this summer! :)

PS – If you’re curious, here’s what the house looked like the day we bought it.

Our Home Office

home office

When you walk through our front door, our office is the first room that you seen to your left. Here’s what it looked like when we first moved in:

afterlightphoto 3dining room

It’s technically a living room, but we use it as our home office. It’s far from finished and I have big dreams for this room, but in the meantime, I’m calling it “done for now.”

It’s got a lot of good things working for it: Two sets of french doors (one from the hallway, another that leads to the dining room), a built-in bench, and a beautiful big window. The only thing working against it is the size. At 12×12, this room is pretty small, but I think we managed to make it a cozy space.


IMG_8382  478 464468462475485480482

In case you are interested, here are some resources for the room (because I’m always nosy about where people got their stuff):

  • Bookcases: J’s mom dropped off a lot of furniture when we first moved into our house, and the bookcases were unexpected but she thought we could put in closets or sell if we didn’t want it. Low and behold they fit perfectly side by side in this little room!
  • Paint color: Unknown, original when we bought the house
  • Silver lamp: Pottery barn, a wedding gift
  • Rug: Amazon, from my mom two years ago for my birthday
  • Art: Map from amazon, painting by my grandmother
  • Wire basket: TJ Maxx
  • Blue vase: Target
  • Mugs/Pencil holders, candle: Anthropologie
  • Desk, chair, bronze lamp: Hand-me-downs.

I am so thankful for all of the donations our families have given us to furnish this place. Most of the things I’ve had before, so I’ve really only put about $20 or so into this room.

If/when we have kids, I would love for this room to be converted to a library/playroom. My long term vision is to build bookcases around the window so it’s a nice little library with a window seat. Then get a love seat against the wall for reading and a small table in the middle of the rug for kids to play and color and do whatever. But who knows, I may need a room just for me when that day comes. :)

Left to do:

  • Organize the books — right now they are not in any particular order
  • Get matching lamps
  • Paint the room — I am thinking either something dark and moody, or something bright and happy. Or maybe just plain white. It depends on what we paint the dining room.
  • Paint the desk, probably white
  • Update the hardware on the desk
  • Get coordinating baskets for the built-in bench
  • Finish putting art on the walls
  • Build bookcases around the window, maybe?
  • Add curtains or window treatments
  • Get a cushion for the built-in bench

Mint & Gold Baby Shower

One of my best friends Allison (in like half of all my pictures) is having a baby in a month, and this past weekend a few friends and I threw her a shower at my mom’s house. I am trying to be better about a) taking more photos, and b) posting pictures sooner (still have on my list to post Thanksgiving and Christmas recaps – oy!!), so as soon as I downloaded these from my camera, I decided to put my favorites in a post to share. Because y’all — it was such a sweet shower. That baby boy has so many aunts that love him!

I also wanted to share because sometimes when you’re planning a party it’s hard to come up with all of the pieces from scratch and it’s helpful to see what other parties look like when you’re brainstorming. So here’s a recap of what we did for anyone hosting one in the future. :)

baby shower

Decorations: We didn’t really have a theme, just a color scheme. Originally it was mint and gold, but as it happens when you order “mint crepe paper” online, sometimes it comes in teal. So it ended up a mint, gold, gray, silver, and teal party, which worked out beautifully. Allison’s sister Natalie made this cute backdrop for behind the couch, which looks good in this picture but way cuter in person. She hot-glued the tissue paper to a gold ribbon and said it was easy, but that looks like a fragile task if you ask me. :)

My sister Carrie made pompoms over the table, and a cute yarn pom-pom wreath and a sign for the french doors leading to the back porch. Allison has a woodland creatures decoration theme to her nursery, so we placed gold spray-painted pinecones around the table and incorporated some wooden circles as centerpieces.

baby shower

Menu: It was a 2pm shower, so the menu was pretty simple but tasty. A few of the guests and hostesses were gluten free, so we labeled all gluten free items with a gold glittery dot. We had:

– Cheese assortment with gluten free and whole grain crackers
– Brie with fig butter (from Trader Joe’s)
Candy bar cupcakes (used a gluten free devil’s food cake mix)
– Fruit
– Veggies and white bean and basil hummus (from Trader Joe’s)
Chicken salad in wonton wrappers and lettuce wraps
Chocolate peanut butter cups
Coconut macaroons

I have learned it’s good to have a mixture of items that can be prepared two days ahead (chocolate peanut butter cups, buy the cheese, crackers, hummus), one day ahead (cupcakes, chicken salad), and the day of (coconut macroons, cut the fruit/veggies, make the icing). Spreading it out makes it all so much easier and stress-free.

baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower

For drinks, we had a pomegranate-cranberry spritzer (just sprite + pomegranate juice + cranberry juice) and a hot chocolate bar (since it was a January shower). My friend Michelle was in charge of the hot chocolate and it was a hit! She had three different kinds of hot chocolate, varied stirrers and toppings. What I would do for a hot cup of chocolate right now…

baby showerbaby shower

Games: In lieu of a big organized game, we had guests write messages on diapers. We also had little cards for guests to fill out answering four questions, which Carrie made into a little book:
– What to do when the baby is up at midnight
– A tradition to start
– Carry this with you at all times
– Always remember

After the party was over we all sat around the fire reading the funny and sweet messages people left. Lots of diapers will be changed by the dad very soon. :)

Favor: Natalie made gluten-free sugar cookies in the shape of onesies as a favor, although I didn’t get a good picture of them. But trust me, they were cute and delicious.

baby shower baby shower  baby shower

It was such a fun shower and SO good to see so many dear friends. I can’t wait to meet Baby Parker next month!