Look! We Have a Dining Room Again!

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

We’re coming up on a year and a half in this house (insane, yes? not just me? k cool.), and even though I’m super proud of the progress that we’ve made in some ways, I feel like we’ve barely even scratched the surface in others! We started in the kitchen out of necessity, then I moved onto the little office so I could teach myself some stuff before I had the opportunity to mess up the more important spaces, then I dove into the laundry room because we were losing our minds trying to keep up with our filthy lives and our lack of laundry-doing ability.

I’ve been dying to really get into the more major rooms in the house, though! The kitchen and laundry room were kind of an exercise in working what we were working with (and in the laundry room, trying to add back some character and detail to tie it in with the rest of the house), and the little office was, well, small and more of a learning exercise than anything else. For the past several months, we’ve basically been living between the kitchen, the laundry room, and our bedroom, since all the other rooms were either jam-packed with stuff or under construction.

NOT ANYMORE! I don’t even really know where to begin talking about the dining room, other than to say that I love this room and have since the very first time we saw the house. It’s the perfect size, it gets beautiful light, it has a bay window (replete with fancy archway!), original moldings, old doors, old windows, all that good stuff. It’s been mocking me relentlessly. When we first moved here, I was completely delusional and wanted to have it pretty much done by Thanksgiving, which definitely didn’t happen. Then we tore out the ceiling in December, and since then the remodeling/restoration process spiraled into much more than I realized it even could when we toured the house initially. Aside from, you know, getting a new ceiling, there was also the matter of removing a non-original closet and sealing up the doorway, getting exposed heating pipes removed and buried in the wall, swapping the radiator with a different radiator and completely changing its location, re-running a lot of the old electrical work, repairing and skim-coating the walls, stripping down and restoring sections of molding, and finally the easy stuff like caulking and painting and moving furniture in and all that.

But! The hard stuff is DONE. I’m not going to say the room is done, because we literally just got it to the point of functioning like a dining room and I’m positive it will change and evolve as time goes by, but whatever! It’s a real room and worth taking pictures of! So there! Eep!

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Here we are on Day 1! The room was rocking some pretty ugly acoustic ceiling tiles, a bad light fixture, and some very wild walls that I will admit to appreciating without wanting to actually live with. The good thing about these walls is that the pattern is actually painted with a patterned roller over walls that were skim-coated probably 50 years ago, so aside from a section of wall across the room, there wasn’t really any wallpaper to strip!

Anyway, I’m a sucker for this view. The molding work in our house is one of my favorite things about it (I love how the door and window casings miter into the baseboards—I don’t think I’ve ever seen that anywhere else!), and the original doors and hardware still make me so swoony and sappy. The door on the right leads into the front parlor (the future library room) and the door on the left leads to a shallow linen closet that I haven’t touched yet.


Me too.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Look guys! It’s a real house and stuff! I’m so super stupid happy about this development. Like so happy.

After the ceilings went up (which I’m soooo glad I hired out, after so much internal debate), I went to WERK repairing and skim-coating the necessary sections of wall. I don’t really have tons of pictures, mainly because it was super boring and I was bouncing back from mono and generally living a lot like a zombie, but it happened? Here’s a really bad photo from the other night that sort of shows what I’m talking about:


When all was said and done, I’d say the walls were about 50% joint compound and 50% the old pattern craziness. I tested the walls for lead, and luckily the test was negative, so I gave the pattern a sanding while I was sanding the final skim-coat just so I wouldn’t see the dimension of the pattern through the new paint. Totally worked. Groovy.

I painted all of the skim-coated sections and the new ceiling with drywall primer before painting. I mention this because drywall primer is like $10-13/gallon, and new joint compound and drywall REALLY suck in the first coat of paint, so you don’t want to be wasting your more expensive paint on that first coat. The drywall primer does a good job of sealing everything in and prepping for your actual paint.

SPEAKING OF PAINT! I’m so, so, so happy with the paint color. I kid you not: I have somewhere upwards of 20 light grey paint samples stashed away. I hated everything once I painted samples on the wall. Grey is so hard. I was really after a very pale grey, but one that would never, ever go blue or purple on me. I’ve noticed that I really prefer warm grey colors for old houses, so I needed something that had more of a yellow undertone than blue, but wouldn’t look mayonaisse-y or yellowish. It felt totally impossible.

And then something miraculous happened: I got myself a tester can of a Benjamin Moore color called Soft Chamois, and it is PERFECT. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, I think. It reads very white in the room, but up against actual white, it’s clearly definitely not white. When I started painting late at night, I had a mini panic-session that involved a lot of “am I painting my walls…tan?” but it dried into this gorgeous neutral that never looks cool and also never looks tan/taupe/yellow/custard-ish/etc. Greys and whites are so hard because what looks great in one space might look completely different and awful in another, so I can’t say that this color is perfect by any means, but it’s perfect here and I’m so glad I found a winner! The trim and ceiling are both painted Benjamin Moore Simply White, which is a fairly bright white that’s a little bit warmer than just pulling the can off the shelf. I love how it offsets with the walls. I’m basically very happy about the whole situation.

For all of the paint, I had it color-matched at Lowe’s to the new Valspar Reserve line, and I can honestly say that it’s the nicest paint I’ve ever used! And that includes Benjamin Moore Aura. It’s about $45/gallon (compared to $65 for BM), and the coverage was INSANE. I didn’t prime any of the crazy bright green pattern, and the Valspar Reserve covered it in one coat and looked flawless in two. I ended up using less than a gallon of paint on the ceiling and only a little over one gallon on the walls. I made sure to clean all of the moldings with TSP substitute before I painted, and it’s already dried really hard and solid and smooth and looks awesome. I’m really impressed with it.

So now that you know about my harrowing struggle of choosing a paint color, more pictures? Let’s do it.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

One of the things that drove me crazy about the drop ceiling was the way the archway clearly did not fit under it, so the situation was remedied with some creative crown molding work and a ton of caulk. It was not good. Trust.

Since the radiators were probably added somewhere around 40 years after the house was built, I didn’t feel bad about changing the location of the one in the dining room. It was very oddly placed between the opening to the bay window and the other window, obscured the moldings of both, and generally cluttered up a wall that already has, well, a lot going on.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Yayyy! One thing I did NOT do was get into the bay window. I’m saving that for another time. There’s some water damage to the windows and moldings in there, and it’s going to be one of those slow jobs that I can deal with another time. So I stuck a Fiddle Leaf Fig in it because that is what I do.

SOMEDAY, the other window in the dining room will look out to the outdoors, but right now it faces into that weird enclosed porch situation on the side of the house. The side porch is really horrible and falling apart and full of tools and stuff, so I hung a cheap vinyl shade on the outside so I wouldn’t have to look at it in the meantime. Fancy!

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Because who DOESN’T love before-and-after shots carefully taken from the same angle, here’s another one! The closet on the right is the one that I removed (the space became part of the pantry). The door and casing were removed entirely (hoarded in the basement, of course, because you never know) and I framed in the doorway and patched it with drywall. Then I skim-coated the entire wall…aside from some missing baseboard molding (again, different project, different day), you’d never know the doorway was ever there!

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

All that work didn’t end up being all that important, I guess, because I went and bought an enormous antique cabinet and stuck it where the door used to be anyhow. But anyway! I swear I did all that hard work and stuff.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

While we’re here, let’s talk about this cabinet! I LOVE it. It’s about 4 feet wide and 8 feet tall, and I found it at a clock shop in Uptown Kingston months and months ago. I casually stalked it for a few months, and then the store owner decided to renovate and clear things out at discounted prices, and sold it to me after some back-and-forth for $450. I’m guessing parts of it are about the age of the house (maybe a little older), but I have a feeling that it used to be part of a longer run of built-ins and various parts have been tacked on over time, like the crown molding and the bead-board backing, and I think the doors might actually be old storm windows…who knows! The point is that it’s here, and we got it into the house, and somehow Max and I managed to hoist the top onto the bottom all by ourselves, and I think it’s somewhat magnificent.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

The interior of the whole thing used to be this custard yellow color, but I don’t play that. When I got it home, I wiped down the inside with TSP substitute, primed it with shellac-base primer, and painted it with two coats of semi-gloss Bedford Grey, which is a Martha Stewart color that I had leftover from painting the frame and rolling cabinet in the laundry room.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

I love how it turned out! Bedford Grey is SUCH a good stand-by kind of color. For now at least, the top pretty much just holds pretty stuff I’ve picked up here and there (mildly obsessed with that green crock, FYI), except that big wine decanter in the bottom left corner that doesn’t fit anywhere else. The drawers hold napkins, placemats, candles, all that kind of stuff, and the bottom has all our tech crap like the printer and modem and airport. And also booze. It also holds booze.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Let’s take a moment to recall how awful the ceilings were. SURE, FINE, they could have been a lot better with a coat of paint, but the best thing was really to take them down, even though it ended up meaning taking the plaster ceiling above it down, too, and truly starting over.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

We can agree that this is way better, right? Like if we agree on nothing else at least we can agree on this one thing.

You never really know how a drywall job has panned out until after you get it painted, and I’m happy to say that these ceilings are terrific! The guys did such a great job. Even though I wish blueboard and plaster veneer had been an option budget-wise, I’m more than OK with this.

The medallion, by the way, looks great. I’m thrilled with the size of it (32 inches!), and I think the design really suits the house without overwhelming the room.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Before I put the medallion in place, I ended up painting it with a mix of watered-down primer and plaster of paris, which I mixed into kind of a soupy paste and slathered on. The mixture helped fill in some of the crevasses and soften the details, so the medallion looks more like real plaster and more like it’s aged along with the house and been painted a bunch of times. I feel a little ridiculous about all of this, but WHATEVER. IT HAPPENED. WE’RE ALL GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH MY FAUX-FINISHING WAYS.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

You might recognize the light fixture from our kitchen renovation! I bought this thing at a thrift store in Sweden for $7 a couple of years ago, and I still love it in all it’s knock-off-y glory. We tried to love it as a kitchen light, but we wound up really needing something that diffused light better and more evenly, so the kitchen got a simple globe light and this went back into the lighting hoard. I LOVE it for the dining room, though. I think it looks adorable and it casts perfect light for dining, especially when it’s dimmed down all romantic-like.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

Max and I found the figure drawing at an antiques store for $40 a while ago. I sort of forgot about him but then I was hunting around for something to hang over the radiator and out he came. Nothing says “Welcome to Gay Gardens!” like a strange naked man on the wall while you’re eating dinner, am I right? I dig it. It was between this or a large oil painting I found, which Max swears is a portrait of Sigourney Weaver. (I tried, Sigourney.)

Those who have followed my slow descent into total madness closely may recall my fondness for the NORDEN table from IKEA. When I mentioned wanting this table, there was SERIOUS dramarama and outcry in the comments about how terrible and cheap and awful this table was, but I like what I like and I found one on Craigslist for $250 and I was like GET IN MY HOUSE, NORDEN.

A word about the NORDEN: it’s a very nice piece of furniture. The size is more than generous, it’s solid wood, it expands, and it’s so simple and versatile that it could work in a million different spaces and look amazing. This table is from 1999 and was used in an office, where I can only assume it took a beating, and it’s still in awesome shape and solid as a rock despite having been disassembled and reassembled multiple times.

will say, though, the design of this table has changed a bit over the years. IKEA has since made the table longer, for starters, but they’ve also changed the top—on the older NORDEN tables, each strip of birch is continuous from one side to the other, but now the top is made of many smaller pieces and looks more like a butcherblock. There’s also something different about the finish…my table is super smooth and the new ones have the slightest texture and feel a little…plastic-y? I don’t know…it’s still a really nice piece of furniture (especially for the price) but I do think the older design is nicer. Luckily the seller had saved the original assembly instructions, so I could figure out how to put the thing together!

Anyway. I have no idea if it’ll stick around forever. But I’m totally happy with it for now and I actually like the way it looks with the chairs, so…that’s that.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

OK, so, the doors! After I’d painted the walls and trim, I felt comfortable pulling the trigger on painting the doors black. I did this in my apartment like 3 years ago, and loved it there, and I already had the black paint, so I went for it! I really live on the edge that way. I used the same color: Onyx by Benjamin Moore, which continues to be my favorite black. It’s very slightly off-black, so not as stark as a true black paint, but it never looks even a little bit navy to me, which is a huge pet-peeve of mine with almost-black colors.

I’m going to be totally honest: I’m not entirely sure about this yet! We hung the doors 2 nights ago, and at first I was like “OMG I HATE IT” and then the next morning I was like “ok, maybe I don’t hate it totally” and then by last night I was kind of into it. I think it’s the white hardware that’s sort of throwing me. The hardware is original and beautiful and non-negotiable, and I knew maybe it was kind of a risk to do something so high-contrast, and…I think I just need to live with it for a while. I call them my Wednesday Addams doors.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

I love this itty bitty mirror. Just saying.

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

|Manhattan Nest Dining Room Makeover|

I think that’s about it! I don’t  know what else to say! I’m so happy to be able to use this space again, and excited that I pretty much just get to futz with it from here on out. The only really major thing left is to refinish the floors (they’re in terrible shape…somehow the pictures make them look a lot better!), but that should really wait until more of the house has been renovated…it’s probably a next spring/summer thing. We’ll get there!

Now onto the next room! I vote library.


  1. It is all gorgeous. I love the black doors and well, everything!

  2. You make the before and after look so effortless. It’s easy to forget about everything that went into this and how much had to be torn apart in order to look as if it had been there forever.

    I love love love it. You amaze me every time.

  3. This transformation is amazing. I remember when you started out with this and it seemed so overwhelming, but all your hard work was worth it! My eyes are especially drawn to the moldings, which I think get a lot more focus now with the non-patterned walls. And the ceiling medallion is also really cool. Yay for old houses!

    • I totally agree! I think people tend to associate high contrast between walls and moldings with really making the moldings “pop,” but I think (at least in this case) the quieter color scheme helps the moldings really shine. Or maybe it’s just because the walls aren’t so dizzying anymore! Anyway, thank you!!

  4. The kitchen was hard to beat, but the dining room is mega beautiful. You are a genius.

  5. I LOVE it all, even the black doors. But, it seems like that light fixture is hung too high from the table. Did you re-wire it so you had choice of distance or was that the original wire so you were limited by its length? Is there a standard height from above the table one should aim for?

    • Thanks, Mommy! You know, it’s strange…in the room, the light fixture looks really low and the right height, but in the pictures it looks too high! I guess it’s a perspective thing, since the pictures are taken mostly from a little below eye level? Or something? I’m not sure. You’ll have to let me know when you see it in person! <3

      • You didn’t answer any of my questions! But, I think the black doors look great with the black chairs.

      • Sorry! Another commenter chimed in to say 30″-36″ is standard. I’m at 37″ here, so you’re right—it’s on the high side! Oops!

        (And no, I didn’t rewire it!)

        Also, does this mean that you no longer think the table looks like “unfinished furniture they sell in parts of Pennsylvania. Cheap and icky”?? Haha! Love you.

    • Dear Daniel’s mom – did you know there’s a few (well, maybe many) ladies in their 50’s who follow Daniel’s blog and think so highly of your son that they want to adopt him and Max and their dogs? He’s quite a talented young man! And a hard worker to boot. Love the room Daniel. I can never seem to wait until your next post …

      • Dear Daniel! I am so far from you ( in Brazil), but I’d love to adopt you too like the others ladies in 50fths ( I am 59 years old). Your mom is a happy mom for have a son as you are. Congrats for all your hard work- it’s great ! and I love every thing. I confess: I am a “Manhattan Nest” addict!

  6. Amazing! Beautiful! What a graceful room – I love all the before & afters, it’s crazy much you’ve done. Your info. on the light gray paint is timely, I just painted my living room Blackened (F&B color, color matched in Evolution paint) hoping for a pale grey, but it is indisputably a baby, baby blue. It looks like a nursery. Your glorious dining room is an inspiration to keep moving forward. Well done!

    • Oh no! That’s the worst…exact same thing happened with my apartment living room and I’m still not over it! My best advice is to repaint quickly before you decide to just live with it, haha! (which is what I did…grumble grumble.)

    • Hello Katie, I also color matched Farrown and Ball colors and was told be the BM colorist that they are especially hard to match because they have an extra element in them. I took the actual paint sample (as opposed to a swatch) from FB and they worked at it a few times before getting it right. Not sure what you did but I figured I drop in to relay the information! I love FB paint, the texture is amazing just don’t have the cash to justify using it in my rental!
      Beautiful work Daniel! Really really chic and modern.

  7. HOLY CRAP. That is freakin’ amazing.

  8. The original hardware on the doors really is highlighted against the dark paint; which is actually a good thing since they are one of the features you love (as would I). Enjoy eating in your proper dining room ^_^

  9. Truly beautiful Daniel.

  10. I’m so happy for you! It looks great! It always feels good to be able to reclaim a room from the chaos, doesn’t it? : )

  11. Green vase — any chance it says or marked Pewabic on the bottom? The colors in the glazes sparked my curiosity but I’m not confident with the finish near the top and bottom. If so, you have a real wonderful find.

    Love the dining room, great work!

  12. Oh I LOVE the doors. White hardware included. Please don’t change them back. Everything looks absolutely fantastically amazing and I’m so excited for you to have a major room done!!!

  13. WOW!!! Was not expecting this – paint and furniture!!! LOVE. Is it time to have a party? Can I come? Can you just have a party in the dining room, kitchen, and laundry room? Maybe the front yard too :)

  14. Awesome. I love it all – but especially the black doors, the light fixture, the cabinet…

    And Mom, I’ve heard that a chandelier should be hung about 30 – 36″ above the table, FWIW.

    • Oh thank you, Robin! I’ve always just eyeballed it, haha. We’re at 37″, so I guess it is a *touch* high. Damnit! I’ll probably get around to fixing that…never. Sad faces.

      • Just pretend you installed it slightly high on purpose for the tall people. My 6’4″ husband always installs light fixtures over dining tables too high so the light is not right in his eyes and to avoid knocking into it if he happens to be standing and leaning over the table for any reason.

      • I’ll go with that, haha! Although as a 5’7″ guy, I’m not sure people will believe me…:)

  15. Hooray for the dining room. It looks great. And a great big thank you! for the the before and after shots from the same perspective. (Almost black that looks navy is your pet peeve – before and after shots that don’t convey that you are looking at the same room is one of mine, “look at this dingy corner turn into a long wall of beautiful windows!”).

    • Thanks, Michelle! I hate that too!! For what it’s worth, I think often it’s unintentional, since people usually just don’t have very good “before” pictures, or they’re relying on photos from a third party, or something like that. I tried to be smart and went around to EVERY room on, like, our second day in the house and tried to take at least 8 pictures—one from each corner, and one from each wall pointing toward the opposite wall. I *have* read a blogger’s advice (who shall remain unnamed) to intentionally take/use bad “before” pictures, which just feels like cheating! No fun! :)

  16. Oh my God, Daniel! It looks super gorgeous! Super!
    It’s been really nice to watch you, guys, transform the house! Congrats!
    Please check your calendar to see when you can come to my place (yes, in Portugal) and help me with the berdroom, which is in dire need of a renovation!


  17. Daniel, your DIY skills and humour are perfectly matched in their excellence! Love the transformation and love the witty write-up even more. Makes it totally worth it reading your War and Peace blog posts…! ;-)

  18. And this writing made me laugh out loud…..you rock man!

  19. So now that you’ve mentioned the pretty light that your fixture gives off, I’m dying to see this room at night! Pretty please?

    • I guess next time! It didn’t occur to me! Night interior photography is tough, but I’ll try! Maybe just an instagram. :)

  20. I’m applauding the most applause ever applauded. Wow! You never fail to make the most incredible changes!

  21. This is such an incredible transformation considering what you started with and how much work went into it. Wonderful job!! Love the black doors and white hardware- it’s a really unique look that you just don’t get to see anywhere else, so you should own it!

  22. I love this so much. the doors are so dramatic. another gorgeous job!

    PS- I echo the call for a nighttime shot.

  23. I love the black doors; you inspired me to paint my doors black too. I live in a 2-unit building that was converted to 1 unit in a shoddy rehab. The upstairs doors are a mess… some were too wide for the doorways so they were cut off on one side and they’re asymmetrical. Just terrible. But the black paint helps hide this (I think, I hope?) somehow. Anyway it looks bad ass with the white trim (the trim is a mix of wood toned and white — see shoddy rehab job, above) which makes me forgive their asymmetry. Another idea I have used from your blog is the cornstarch/water mix to create privacy. Our front entry doors have three large panes of glass, and I covered them all with white muslin using your technique. I actually think that of all the blogs I’ve read, yours is the only one where I’ve actually (consciously) implemented your ideas. THANK YOU, and I’m sorry for the long ass comment.

    • We have a couple of doors like that (where the orientation was changed to swing the opposite way) and I do think the black will help—glad to hear it worked out for you! And I’m glad the cornstarch thing worked, too! Thanks so much for letting me know—that’s all really nice to hear! (no apologies needed for long comments…have you SEEN my posts?? haha!)

  24. I could not possibly love your aesthetic anymore than I already do! Obsessing and fangirling over this room like crazy…
    I love the contrast of the black doors, for what it’s worth.

  25. OMG, yes!! It’s gorgeous. Love the black doors with the white keyholes. Talk to me about color matching BM to Valspar. I’m thinking about doing the same to save some $$ since we need 5 gallons to do our main living area. Do you think you got a perfect match? I’m so picky about beige/grey/green undertones.

    • OK, let’s talk! I totally know what you mean! :)

      So, I don’t really know the whole science behind color-matching…basically they use the color code and the formula from BM, just with Valspar paint, so it isn’t like matching the paint chip or something—it’s all completely automated. I guess I’d say if you’re really nervous, get a sample of the color you like mixed with valspar (it should be like 5 bucks), but I think the color looks exactly the same as the BM sample. The only thing I’ve heard to stay away from is trying to color-match Farrow & Ball colors, because they use fancy special weird tints and pigments and stuff and apparently trying to match with another brand is just not a great call, even though they all claim they can do it. But usually color matching between the normal paint brands should be fine…it becomes more a matter of the quality of the paint (adhesion, stain-blocking power, coverage, durability, etc) than the color itself. From my understanding.

      • That’s reassuring, thank you! I don’t know why but I thought they matched by doing a scan of the paint chip (maybe that’s the old method?), which sounds like it would be a disaster.

      • I think they only do that if they’re trying to match a fabric color or something like that! Which can also be handy, but definitely not as accurate.

  26. OBSESSED! I really like the Norden! Agree that it looks great with the chairs and it’s nice to have a lighter wood table in there. I also like the black doors and think they play well off the chairs too. Adds a little drama. The hard work definitely pays off and hopefully now you can enjoy it a little!

  27. So glad you moved the radiator to the new location, it looks so much better. Those moldings needed to shine, and now they do! I too love the black doors. I hope they stay, because I love the old hardware and now I can see it :) Just love it.

    • Thanks, Jeanna! Moving the radiator is definitely one of the things I’m happiest about in here! That wall originally probably had some kind of fireplace/stove situation on it, so it kind of just feels right to at least put a heat source back in that spot.

  28. I love, love, love it! Everything looks so smooth and beautiful. The light that comes in from the bay – holy shit.

    How did you feel about digging holes into your walls to hang things? Any tips on hanging things in plaster to make sure everything stays, but also doesn’t create a shit ton of hairline plaster fractures throughout?

    • Hmmm, I can’t say I’ve ever really run into major cracks in the wall just from hanging things! Plaster can be tough…Luckily ours is mostly in very good, strong, stable condition, but I’ve definitely encountered plaster elsewhere that would just crumble and fall apart as soon as you did anything to it. I guess my best advice is for lighter things like pictures, a simple hook is usually all I need, but for heavier stuff, I prefer *either* a good plastic anchor (depending on how the wall holds up to drilling the hole) or, if need be, a stronger anchor like a toggle/molly bolt, which will basically hold from the backside of the wall and grip the lath. Those anchors require pretty large holes, so they’re usually more of a last resort for me, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and just worry about the repair when/if the time comes. Obviously the best thing is hitting a stud, but that’s not always an option and they can be next to impossible to locate in a plaster wall. That’s kind of all I’ve got!

  29. Ahhhh SPECTACULAR! I never comment, but I have definitely accompanied you very closely on your descent into total madness – and I have appreciated your hilarious and OCD (I mean that in the most positive way) blog posts and gorgeous photos so, so much along the way. Really, who DOESN’T appreciate a before-and-after taken carefully from the exact same angle? Is there anything better in the entire world? I love them SO MUCH. Thanks for your fantastic blog. (I wish I could put a little mitered-corner-trim emoji in here to sign off)

  30. Awwww! This reveal makes me so happy! I’m continually amazed because it feels like in my own boring life that only a few days have passed and then you put up a new post and it’s just like .. HOLY SHIT WHEN DID ALL OF THAT HAPPEN and then I look at my own projects which have seen 0 progression in the same time span… you truly are a wonder!

    • Yeah! Exactly! How do you DO all this!

    • Aw, everyone (and everyTHING) has to go at its own pace! If it’s any consolation, this is really the result of like 15 months of very sloowwwww work, followed by about 2 weeks of pretty rapid changes (painting is the most dramatic part, but also the fastest and easiest!). I also work a job with pretty flexible hours (and, since I do make $ off of blogging, this is sorta part of my job!) and I don’t sleep a whole lot…no magic here! Just time and obsessiveness. I’ll admit, though, that this dining room kind of crept up on me…one minute it looked like a crazy construction zone and then all of a sudden it was like, hey, holy shit, it’s a room! I guess that’s how the final stages of this stuff goes! Next room I’ll probably post more of the in-between progress stuff. :)

  31. The doors are killer-those white knobs take it up a to a whole new level of cool. Love that they are the originals!
    Library sounds like a fun project as well. Can’t wait to see what you Mulder out of that.

    • I have to agree about the door hardware: I really love the contrast! And I think naming them is full of awesome – ‘Wednesday Addams’ is my girl crush.

  32. It looks GORGEOUS! Those walls and ceilings are like buttah. I love the black doors and think they work really well in the space. Questions: is the bay window fiddle fig the same that you got for like $12 bucks at ikea? I weep a little every time I go to ikea and still no fiddle figs. Second, do you have any plans to restore the outside of the antique cabinet or would that defeat it’s antiquey-ness?

    • Thank you, Darcy! This FLF is actually from a local grocery store/nursery called Adams. The IKEA ones are actually a different species, as it turns out! They will still grow tall and leafy, but they don’t ever really become trees like this one—they remain more bush-like. I’m a fan of both types! Apparently lots of people have found fiddle trees at Home Depot for superrr cheap—I’ve never seen it, but might be worth a shot!

      I don’t think I’ll do a whole lot to the outside of the cabinet…not because it’s so precious, but I like it the way it is! It could definitely benefit from a good cleaning and a little Howard’s Feed-n-Wax, but that’s about all it needs.

  33. This makes me so happy! The black doors look perfect w/the white hardware. I love everything about this and I vote Library too!!

  34. I was in awe by the first before & after picture. I think about your blog each morning on the bus, hoping you’ll reveal some newly changed space for me to read about when I get to work (and the insta teasers ALWAYS tease). I love this room. The simplicity of it – the cleanliness of it – and just the overall satisfaction of a job well done. Keep going – you’re doing good work and your judgement is spot on. Until next week…

  35. When the third picture came into view my jaw hit the floor! Such a beautiful, wonderful space! Great job!

  36. Where did you get that gorgeous planter for the fiddle leaf??

    Also, I love everything.

    • Oh! It actually came out of the old Design*Sponge office…I’m not sure where it’s from originally! I’ll try to find out.

      • Seriously? Seriously??? That from you! I can’t even! Not even once!

        I’ve been SO jealous of you, when I saw that pot in Anna’s blog Door 16. And you don’t even know what kind of super amazing pot that is!

        That is a planter from Architectural Pottery – Vessel U.S.A. from California. They have been used a lot in the Case Study House Program – by super great and super famous people like the Emeases, Pierre Koenig, Craig Elwood and so on. Taschen sells this great book on the CSH and you will find those pots in like every second gorgeous Julian Shulman photograph.

        I love love, LOVE them. Like I wanna have their potty babies! Sadly they don’t sell them in Europe and shipping is crazy expensive. Plus the pots themselves aren’t cheap either. Also I’m kind of hesitant ordering very expensive, breakable planters from overseas that I haven’t even touched once in real life.

        So will you please, please, please post more about that planter? It might get me off the fence and into ordering one myself.

        Also, I like the room. Nice work. Keep it up!

      • Florian—I’m ashamed!! I even own the Taschen CSH book and have done tons of research on the CSH Program, and I didn’t make the connection! Ha. FORGIVE MEEEEE.

        (I don’t think Anna owns one, but maybe she blogged about it or something at some point? I think one time she took an Instagram of this spot in my house, so maybe that’s where you saw it…)

        I don’t really know what to say about it!! It is quite nice, especially the pot itself, and the base is sturdy enough, but maybe not crazy strong. Mine actually came out of the Design*Sponge office…I guess Grace bought it but didn’t have the space for it when they moved out, so it became mine! And after looking up what they actually cost, I’m going to go ahead and say you don’t even want to know what I paid for it. I sort of feel like I robbed a bank? Yikes! But if you have the $, it’s a nice piece!

      • http://www.doorsixteen.com/2014/06/12/my-lost-month-stress-anxiety-instagram/

        Anna did an Instagram post a while back and your pot is in there, lower collection Number 8 complete with description of a visit to you. Didn’t mean to stalk, it just sort of happened…

        Anyhow, as you apparently didn’t inveigle that Grace woman into selling you that planter cheaply, you should view it like an amazing thrift store find, no?

  37. The black doors win.

    Kudos on the hard work. The whole room looks amazing.

    This room looks neither cluttered nor sparse. My house looks either cluttered or sparse. Please share your magical powers.

    • I have no powers! I have no idea! To me it’s a *little* on the sparse side…I think it needs a good rug at some point (right now, the house is too dusty all the time to put rugs down anyway!) and some more color (again, rug will help!), but that will all come with time. This stuff is always just a process…you just have to play until you like it! That’s the fun part! :)

  38. Ok, I literaly lol’d and spit out some coffee at ‘welcome to gay gardens’ – you are so funny!

    It looks amazing!!! I love the black and white, love love love it! Awesome job!

  39. Wow. Just wow. This looks amazing. We put up “new” medallions in our house and I am always looking up at them wishing we had done something similar with a light plaster wash. I am sure no one else notices, but now I know never to invite you to my house because you will!

  40. I’ve been thinking and thinking about painting our doors black but haven’t pulled the trigger but these photos, wow, I want to do it right away now! Beautiful job with the room. And can you tell us some more about these chairs? I’m looking for new dining chairs and these look great!

    • Thank you, Elisa! I should have mentioned in the post—the chairs are vintage, originally purchased by my grandparents in/near Chicago in the 60s. The frames are brass and the seats/backs are black leather with white stitching. They’re sort of Milo Baughman-esque, but they don’t have any labels are markings. That’s really all I know about them…my grandparents gave them to my parents at some point in the 80s, so they were in the house I grew up in…I’ve pretty much lived with them my entire life! They’re really special to me. I guess the best advice I can give is just googling around and scouring eBay—you might turn up something similar!

  41. I wish I had something more detailed to say than you’re a genius, but hey, I’m dumbstruck. So amazing. Thank you for doing this, and for your wonderful writing style. Even though I don’t know you, I have to sign this xoxox.

  42. F@#$ that doesn’t look like the same house, let alone the same room! Well done!

  43. Lovely!
    I like the black, but think that grey you painted inside the cabinet might work too.
    I think you could potentially go bigger with your light fixture. The medallion is huge and is begging for a larger fixture to match.

  44. Congrats on your dining room! It looks fabulous!
    Although I am far behind you (we only closed last month) and my space is not as old (1910) or even a house, there are so many parallels to what you are doing and what I plan to be doing to my old space. Your progress gives me great hopes for mine.
    Love the color choice for the inside of the very beautiful cabinet… I read the color as a very pale blue (probably because that is what I painted the insides of my kitchen cabinets in my last apartment), but gray is just as appropriate.
    Also… Thanks for the tip on aging a ceiling medallion… Our ceiling medallion was delivered this past week and I was trying to think of ways to age it and make it seem as though it was always there. The plaster of paris is a great idea. Totally stealing that…

  45. This is amazing!! I actually gasped when I scrolled down for the reveal. Terrific work!

  46. that is breathtakingly gorgeous-made my day to think such perfection exists in people’s heads…so well done!!!

  47. The room looks great, but I’ll admit that I’m not in love with the black doors. Mostly because on the wall with the antique cabinet, it looks unbalanced to have the two focal points of different size. In the pictures at least, the cabinet just dwarfs the door, and the black paint makes it recede/look smaller and to my eye a little weird.

    • I totally hear you! We’ll see what happens. It’s really been like 2 days so I’m not decided either way. It’s just paint, so not a big deal to just go back to white. :)

  48. What manufacturer / where did you get those awesome chairs??? I just love what you do.

  49. Lovely.

    I’d love to see a pic with the door to the kitchen open. :) That kitchen redo is still my favorite and I bet it ties in beautifully with the dining room.

    • Ha, I was going to take one, but the kitchen was too messy yesterday afternoon! Ha! Realities of living in a renovation zone. Next time!

  50. Your vision came to life!

  51. Just beautiful. I also love the cabinet.

    • Me too! It’s like some sort of hunky Shaker thing.
      It seems like it maybe used to have legs or something, though. Maybe a plinth or something?
      Congrats! The room looks great!

  52. Looks fantastic, as usual! I was wondering about the doorknobs. You say they are original, but are they porcelain or metal? I am only asking because when I was younger, my parents stripped the doorknobs in our house (built probably 1920 or thereabouts) from painted black to their original, gorgeous bronze. Could these be stripped? If porcelain, obviously not, but I thought I would ask. Love that hutch!

    • Shoulda mentioned—porcelain! We actually did strip all the paint off of them (and the hinges, which got spray-painted black so they don’t rust). I love stripping down painted-over hardware…it might be my favorite thing to do aside from, like, eating and watching TV.

  53. You are a magician! I love it all–the wall color, the chairs, the table (and I was a doubter,) the drawing, the black doors, the white knobs–everything. Gorgeous, calm and quiet.

  54. Black + White + Wood 4 lyfe. Seriously jaw dropping.

  55. I found your blog last week after I went searching for better design blogs when YHL went on a break and now I feel like I’m seeing how a real grown up (even though I assume you’re younger than they are) and design professional works with a space and it is so incredibly inspiring to me. My home was built in the 40s and now I want to research the time period and see if I can incorporate its original style when we make changes. As an aside, we have wood floors that are horrifically damaged and were the victim of a really bad DIY floor repair job (all the sanding stops about 2 inches from the base boards, etc.). Anyway, they look really not great in person, but in photos they look like the most beautiful floors anyone has ever owned, so I think it’s just a wood floor thing. Wonderful job for this phase of the dining room!

    • Welcome to the blog, Sarah! And ha! I’m neither a real grown-up nor a real design professional (I am younger than John and Sherry—25 in a couple of weeks—and I do work as a freelance interior decorator, but I don’t have a design degree/license or anything), but thank you! I’ll take it!

      Have you ever looked at the blog Retro Renovation? Pam has done a truly EXHAUSTIVE amount of research on houses from about 1940-1970 (give or take a few years in either direction), and the site is an amazing resource for information, ideas, products, you name it, especially if your house isn’t some crazy fancy mid-century gem but more of a normal “mid-century modest,” as she calls it, house. Just thought I’d mention!

      And so funny about the wood floors! The “before” pictures of this room somehow make the floors look REALLY pristine—I have no idea how! They’re really a mess!!

      • Thank you so much for the blog suggestion! I love it!

      • Oh, wow! I wish I’d known about Retro Renovation ages ago. Thank you so much for mentioning it, Daniel. My 1943 Army-Corps-of-Engineers-built cottage with 50s additions thanks you, too.

        p.s. I love the dining room, especially the paint colors. The black doors look great with the original white hardware, and I think it helps minimize the bulk of the radiator to be framed by the black doors like that.

      • No problem! Pam really does a great job. I used to read it RELIGIOUSLY for years…now it’s a little less pertinent to my life, but it’s still a handy resource every now and then. There are YEARS of archives full of SO MUCH information, and it’s really the only place I can think of that offers so much about more “modest” mid-century architecture. I wish everyone who owned a house built in that period were forced to read it—so much interesting history that people so frequently and quickly rip out and send to a landfill!

      • Wow, it blows my mind that you’re so young, Daniel :) How can someone at that age have such a great work ethic and such immaculate taste? I am truly amazed. I am in love with this room. And I love your writing as well. Thank you so much!
        xo from Germany

  56. So. Good.

  57. Oh dammit, this is so good. I’ve never commented before, but I have to say I wait with baited breath for each of your reveals! Also, this weekend I was talking to my dad about your blog (we both like home renovations) and I sent him a link today. I started him on the toilet explosion story so hopefully that will get him hooked.

  58. Wow, I just LOVE this room! Will definitely do some serious pinning here. :) The black doors are absolutely gorgeus. And yeah, what about that Sigourney Weaver painting? Did you guys buy it and if you did, could you PLEASE show us a picture of it?

    • I found the painting in the trash!! The trash is seriously my favorite art dealer. Haha. It’s a whole lot of look, but I LOVE it. I don’t think it’s Sigourney Weaver, but Max thinks it looks like her in Alien. Here she is on instagram. :)

  59. I’m sitting here trying to convince myself that black doors will look OK in my house; they will not. But now I really want them. New house, LOL? This room looks amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  60. GAH!!! I hope you are so, so proud because the new dining room looks absolutely GORGEOUS.

  61. Goddamn, this is beautiful. I’ve been obsessing over your house since your first post about it and I never even noticed how gorgeous the molding really is. The light walls and black doors highlight them perfectly, and that radiator looks like it should have been there all along. As always, amazing job!

    (P.S.- I love the table. Whatever.)

  62. This looks fantastic! I know how agonizing paint choices can be (I have my own collection of gray paint samples, none of them just right) so congratulations on finding the perfect color for this room. And CONGRATS on getting this room “done”—hard work has paid off! Also, the black doors look great. I love them.

    What’s the status of the death bathroom??

    • Thank you, Christine!

      And oh man, don’t ask! It’s been totally gutted for months, and the entire bathroom “suite” (haha) is sitting in the living room (you can sort of see the tub next to the top of the cabinet in the painting picture), and…that’s about it! We don’t really *need* a second bathroom, and bathrooms are spendy (we have to get new plumbing and electric, and then all the finishing stuff, and sandblasting and refinishing the tub and sink, and and and), so we’re basically holding off until we have the budget and time to really tackle it. That’s fine, though—there’s so much other work in the house (which luckily is much cheaper—joint compound ain’t nothing compared to faucets!) to distract us for a good long time. :)

  63. Oh maGAAAAH. I live for these posts.

  64. It looks great! I feel like the black doors balance the radiator really well.
    And why must grey paint be so hard? We got two different samples and both are just so incredibly blue/purple. It doesn’t help that we’ve only got a TruValue and a McCoy’s in town. The nearest Lowe’s/Home Depot are two hours away. I feel so paint limited.

    • Don’t feel paint limited! If those stores don’t have enough swatches, you could order the color decks online…they should be able to mix whatever you want based on the codes! I totally feel your pain, though…the only thing I can suggest is moving toward stuff that might even look a little beige on the swatch and seeing what happens. Stuff that looks really neutral-grey on the swatch (American White, Sidewalk Grey, Marilyn’s Dress, Paper White…I could go on forever!) goes so blue all the time…it’s so challenging!

  65. I love the black doors. I have a similar kind of door as yours, but with brass and brown marble-swirled knobs and I’m now inspired to paint all my old interior doors black. Did you use any kind of primer or anything on your doors? The paint on mine is flakey and chippy, and probably lead. I feel like I need to prime it or remove it, and I planned to use a heat gun to scrape them, but judging by all the comments from your other post about your front door, I shouldn’t do that?

    • I did not prime the doors, which really goes against my better judgement, but I had a can of Benjamin Moore Aura paint and I felt like I could get away with it! The outermost layer of paint on the doors tested negative for lead, so all I did was give them a light sanding to get rid of any bumps/paint drips/ etc, and then cleaned them well with TSP substitute, which is a heavy-duty cleaner that should strip off any oils/waxes/crap that will keep the paint from adhering well.

      In GENERAL, if woodwork/doors are already painted, I kind of think it’s way too much time/effort/energy to fully strip them, unless there’s some serious problem (like textured paint or something awful) that makes it really necessary. My front doors just had SO, SO much paint on them that all of the detail was gone, so that’s why I did that, but for interior stuff, I don’t plan on doing any more stripping than I absolutely have to! If you are going to strip them, you’re probably better off using a chemical stripper (Peel Away is the only thing I’ve used that works really well on multiple layers), but it’s SUCH a pain in the butt…it’s messy, you have to neutralize the stripper afterwards, you’re not *really* supposed to let the water you use to neutralize get onto/into the ground, proper disposal is a pain…it’s just no fun! Total hassle. Heat gunning isn’t much easier…it’s slow, and technically bad (although there’s some debate about this…I think the lead doesn’t vaporize unless it’s heated to above 1,100 degrees F, and you can strip paint at much lower temperatures…but there’s still the dust + disposal thing. Best to avoid if you have kids/pets in the house, are pregnant, etc…but frankly adults can handle some lead exposure and not have any problems…so you do you, I’m not judging!), and there’s risk of fire, blahhh. Basically paint stripping is terrible always, no matter how you do it.

      SO ANYWAY. I’d say if you can get away with it, scrape off whatever is loose/flakey, and leave the rest. Use a good primer if you’re nervous (I like Zinsser’s shellac-based or oil-based primers…either can be used under/over regular latex paint), and then do your finish coats. The doors may not look brand new, but hey—they’re old! They’re allowed to look old. :)

  66. Wow this room looks amazing! All the wonderful features can now shine.

    *do i spy a tub+toilet in the photo that shows the interior of the cabinet in the process of being painted ;)

    • Yes you do, haha!! They’ve been living in the living room for probably 6 months now, because we have CLA$$.

      • As I’m currently renovating my kitchen and half my cabinets are in my guest bedroom, I think that tub-in-the-living room shot is one of my favs. That plus your other beautiful shots gives me hope!

  67. Ah, congratulations! I never comment, but I wanted to let you know that I am SO happy for you! I am pregnant, so probably this is all the hormones, but I totally teared up when I saw the paint and furniture in this once-sad room. I hope one day I have the courage to take on a house like yours! Cheers!

  68. Mazel tov! It’s beautiful.

  69. Congrats on finishing this room – you can tell how much careful work went into it! Hard to tell in pictures but it looks like the door to the left of the radiator is either falling towards the right or has been worn/shaved down on the top right corner, creating that triangle gap at the top. The pics might exaggerate it so ignore if it’s not actually a problem (or is and doesn’t bother you) but you might want to mess around with throwing the hinges a bit. A carpenter friend taught me how – they use it to fix square doors that are falling to one side (which makes doors stick and creates those asymmetrical gaps), but it is also really helpful for minimizing the asymmetry of a door and/or frame that is not perfectly square to begin with (aka every door in an old house). So satisfying to fix a wonky door in a matter of minutes! I can explain if it isn’t easily Google-able.

    • Thanks, Hannah! The door has definitely been shaved down (probably more than once!) and there’s nothing square about it, haha! It doesn’t really bother me at all, though…I don’t want to mess with it because I’m worried then it won’t close anymore! It actually hangs/swings/catches the latch perfectly, so I’m not touching it!! :)

      • Very smart. Wonky doors are just part of the charm sometimes. They look great with the new paint and that cleaned-up hardware. I just inherited some old black porcelain knobs with brass hardware, buried under paint — will be hard to resist throwing them in the crock pot as soon as I get home!

  70. So in love with the black doors! They really make the wall color look inviting instead of cold or empty (a sometimes problem with whites and almost whites).

  71. This is ridiculously gorgeous! Beautiful blend of aesthetics…and, keep the doors black!

  72. is GOL a thing? because i totally gasped at the first set of the before and afters. AMAZING!

    love the black doors … and i agree with the others that it looks so EASY – like you twitched your nose … but love hearing the back story.


    cant wait for the LIBRARY!

  74. Yay! Sometimes it’s hard for outsiders to comprehend and appreciate all the sweat and elbow grease that went into a project, but all your hard work was worth it! Looks great!

  75. What you have done to that house is just f***ing amazing. Bravo.

  76. love love love love….oh Daniel…amazing..and I do like the black doors…they pop…

    and that green vase thing…I want that! The big cabinet was a score, looks amazing.
    I can’t believe you got all that done AND had mono….you truly rock.

    LIBRARY, LIBRARY…can’t wait.

    • oh…and the ceiling medallion….genius….like it’s always been there…

  77. I actually GASPED when I saw the photos. Such amazing work and totally worth all the pain to get there. And YES YES YES to the super dramatic black doors. I really love them. You are a DIY rockstar in my book.

  78. Not that I get a vote, but if I did it would be to keep the black doors. This room is so YOU. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  79. Little pro-tip about IKEA furniture (from an ex-employee)- if you like a piece, buy it the first year they are making it. After that they find all sorts of ways to make the piece for less money. I love the Norden table in this room!

    • That’s such a good tip, yes!! IKEA really does make so many nice things, but it’s sad when their really great, high-quality pieces degrade over time. I guess I better buy that new sofa fast! :)

  80. Absolutely splendid! Such a gorgeous and understated transformation. Where is that planter from? It’s just what I need for my own dining room…

  81. It looks amazing. I LOVE the black doors! It’s such a nice clean, bright space now.

  82. Gobsmacked. That room is now beautiful and deceptively simple yet full of character. The house must be smiling. And yup, the Norden works; I was in the skeptical camp. I bow to you; the room is ready to host Thanksgiving. Questions, ’cause I’m just that nosy:
    If the Wednesday Addams doors go (they help make the room, I think), what will you do instead? Are they worth stripping and refinishing way down the line, or would you just go with a different paint color?
    Is there a bit of missing molding on the door to the left in the photo, and if so, what’s your perfectionist brain thinking about that?
    Any chance you might sneak a photo of the new kitchen globe light in a future post?

    • Thank you, Gilliane! I appreciate it!

      I think the doors have to either be black or white! Like all of the woodwork in our house, I’m pretty certain that the doors have always been painted…I think the original woodwork was faux-painted to look like a nicer wood than they really are (pine or fur, probably), but none of it was ever just stained wood. It looks like the doors have mostly been shades of white/off-white, with the exception of a time when they were a kind of battleship grey color. I don’t think they’ve ever been black, but that’s the fun thing about paint…it’s easy to change, so I don’t really consider it part of the house’s restoration. Whoever lives here next can easily just change it…I’ve done all the hard stuff!

      And yes, there is a bit of missing molding on that side! I’m trying to be very zen about it, haha. I’m pretty certain there used to be some kind of fireplace/mantel situation on that wall, and I think it’s very possible that it was just a *touch* too wide, so that tiny outer piece of molding stopped at the top of the mantel, and then was never patched in when the whole thing was removed. I’m inclined to just leave it as-is! I try to not care about stuff like that…if I did, EVERYTHING would drive me crazy! I always feel like the best old houses have little quirks like that.

      And yes! I actually made the light out of some stock parts…it isn’t the greatest DIY of my life, but it might be worth a post! Globe lights are spendy and this one was about $30 in parts!

  83. Beautiful! Congratulations.

  84. The black doors are easily my favorite part of the room. White hardware and all!

  85. Congratulations! It’s so, so purty. I want to pat it. I can’t wait to see how the rest of it turns out!

  86. Love it! Especially like the black doors with the original knobs. I think if the doors weren’t such a contrast it wouldn’t highlight the knobs so much. I really like seeing the before and after pics from the same perspective. It must be so satisfying to just sit in that room and feel the accomplishment!

  87. Daniel, the dinning room is beautiful! I devoutedly check your blog every week and it is always such a treat! I can’t wait to see what comes next. For now I am stuck in Brooklyn but I can’t wait to finally move back upstate to where I am from and start my own project.

  88. Really gorgeous. It looks so good as a real room! I like the light grey + black + birch combination and the humongous antique cabinet adds a lot of character. All your hard work inspires me to work harder on my own digs.

  89. I’m so jealous of your door hardware. Such a small detail, but it looks great. I think the black/white looks good in the space. And forget the haters, the Norden is a nice counterpoint to the chairs. Can’t wait for the next room. Y’all must be excited to have a useable dining room (with ceilings!) again. Also, glad to see you back in action.

  90. Whoaaaa! You’ve combined all of my absolute favorite elements in one space — a wooden table with black chairs, a gorgeous and simple antique, a little round mirror (which is absolutely perfect for that wall, btw), a bit of greenery, and naked-man art. Yup, hit this one out of the park. It sings.

  91. Love what you are doing and love that you love what you are doing!! Is there a word for what we feel
    when we enjoy another’s enjoyment? Great job! So Fresh and Classic and Balanced.

  92. I vote library too! That’s one of my favourite rooms in our (tiny) house. It feels like a room from days gone by, because really, who has a library anymore. We actually call ours the Music Room (because my husband is a musician and we needed a home for our piano), but it also has two of the walls covered in books :) I also put a secret passageway in, so maybe that’s part of the magic. Anyways, library gets my vote! Here’s our bookshelves I made – http://goo.gl/hOmTbe … and here’s the other side of the room, the gallery wall – http://goo.gl/JfO34T

    • Wow, so cool!! The secret passageway—amazing!! Come make one for me now…somewhere…anywhere!

  93. If you like stained glass (and maybe you don’t), I’ve hung very large pieces of stained glass (scavenged pieces from old homes) over the top of regular windows like the one you have that faces your porch ( they are rather like huge suncatchers). They can obscure pretty much the whole view of the window but do allow the light in. I don’t know–it works in our house to obscure the fact that some windows face the window of the neighbors’ house six feet away (rather awkward, that).

    I like the black doors, don’t like the white hardware; I like the random nekkid guy, but hated Sigourney (that definitely looks like Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters); I like the over-sized cabinet that is so delightfully awkward with the smaller-scale door on the other side, but it needs some kind of a base to replace whatever it was on at one time; I think the table is fun in that it does not fit the style at all and looks like a refugee from Denmark (okay, the Netherlands), but I hate that light fixture where it is (though I like the light fixture as a concept). Still, what is most delightful is that you like it and are happy. I’ll steal (borrow with credit) all the ideasI like when I redo that house I am dreading having to redo when my relative moves out to the nursing home.

  94. It looks fantastic! I’m so happy to see all your hardwork paying off for you!

    I used Soft Chamois on my kitchen cabinets! You described it perfectly. It’s not a pure white at all and yet has no undertones. I had almost given up on the color I was picturing in my head when I found it. You using it here made me so weirdly happy I had to chime in.

  95. Hmm.
    The black doors are great for drama, and I like the way they look really crisp: Pow! The doors do appear a lot smaller, though, and narrow.
    I also like the way the doors looked before, when the trim+doors “read” together visually, and they looked grand and big in shape. Sorta sculpturally bold.
    Well, there’s a bunch of armchair opining based on blog photos for you. Whether or not you keep the black, I’m sure you will make the right decision for your house.

    • Yes, I completely hear what you’re saying! The doors definitely looked wider when they sort of melded more with the moldings visually, which I like, too! Also, as nice as the doors are, I think the moldings are way more interesting, so I’m sort of hesitant to make the doors this big accent when they’re not *all* that special, relatively.I guess I’m just trying to decide if I like the black enough for it to outweigh the illusion of the wider doorways, and whether I feel like they’re just commanding too much attention…jury’s still out!

  96. It looks great! It looks so comfy and cozy and perfect (and Gay Gardens with the naked guy, yes). I really appreciate the before and afters from the same angle! You guys must be so happy to have that room to live in — that’s what we do all the renovations for, after all! Hooray! You’ve done SO MUCH work in such a short time — hope you get to host this year’s Thanksgiving in your lovely dining room!

  97. I love the black doors. So regal.
    I would like to see a close-up of the wall and molding, to see the difference in color, if you get a chance.

  98. O-to-the-M-to-the-G
    I can’t think of any comment to make that isn’t just a string of complimentary expletives.

    really, just fantastic work.

  99. More amazingness by you! That first ‘after’ picture really made me goes “wow”! Love those black doors with the contrasting porcelain hardware and that massive cabinet has so much character. All just in time for this year’s thankgiving too. Totally worth the wait, wouldn’t you say? :)

    • I may be wrong, but the light seems a little awkward here. maybe you will find something more sutable in the future 😉

  100. OMG what an amazing transformation! I ADORE the black doors. and i’m going to have to look into that paint color because it looks like perfection in that room!!
    And I love that you are responding to so many comments, even though you have like a million of them :-)
    nice work!

  101. Exquisite!

  102. Swoon!!!! I wish I was max because I’m in love with you! Such fab taste and style.

  103. Daniel,

    This looks fantastic! Love how it’s all coming together nicely.

    One thing to keep in mind though is when it gets dark as the PH5 you have largely will shine the light down onto your table, and not out into the room, and perhaps creating a huge amount of shadows. I’d recommend you get some additional lighting in there, even if temporarily to spread the light around, even candles will work so when you have that dinner party in November when it’s dark by 6pm or so, the room won’t feel so much like a cave.

    Otherwise, I like where you are taking this room with its subtly gray walls and crisp not quite black doors as they work with your leather/brass dining room chairs.

    I know you will tweak the room as time goes on as you find things to add to the space to make it feel more finished but I can’t help think it’s a tad sparse now, but definitely has a fantastic start. You seem to be a natural at this kind of thing.

    I would also agree that the cabinet you recently bought just needs a little cleaning and Howard’s Feed and Wax to bring it back and the light gray works for the interior of the upper part as I would agree the yellow was not much of a yellow to begin with.

    Keep it up young man!

  104. About to taxi, need to turn on flight mode but had to comment (couldn’t wait 1.5hours to comment). Amazing. Yet again! Well done. Gotta go…

  105. Once again, you have done a gorgeous and fantastic job of working miracles in this space – and you were totally right about the Norden, it looks amazing in there.

  106. love it alllll.
    you are my favourite blog.
    the end.

  107. I think it’s beautiful and I really liked your description of the process and the choices that were made. Excellent post.

  108. Daniel,

    I have been waiting with bated breath to see the dining room. It ‘s amazing. I can just imagine the late night dinner parties when you will sit around the table for hours drinking a good red and nibbling cheese. Soft music playing in the background. Can’t wait to see photos of that.

    You have truly given this old house some real love and now it’s loving you back!

  109. I was an Ikea table doubter too. It looks great with the chairs in that room. Of course you were right. Love the natural lighting in this room. Great choice on paint colors including the black doors. Your aesthetic echoes here too. Love the light fixture but not so much in this space.
    You must be very pleased to have the house reno proceeding so well. I know how important all of the details are to you (followed your blog for a long time). Your blog is a joy to read. I’ve learned so much, laughed so much. Keep up the great work!

    • Thank you, Linda! I’m glad you think it’s going well!! It feels sloowwww from this end, but I know it’s probably really not. :)

  110. “Welcome to Gay Gardens”… snarfed my coffee, choked, scared the dog, so awesome. I cannot express how much I love getting to see you do your thing. I gasped at the first reveal photo. Love the black doors. Can’t wait to see what is next!

  111. Just stopping by to say this is the most stunning before and after I’ve ever seen. Your house is such an inspiration but this room…wow! This makes me want to buy a house and roll up my sleeves RIGHT NOW. Congrats on being in the house over a year! It’s coming along beautifully and thanks for letting us all share in it!

  112. I keep coming back to look through this post because it’s so WOW. Love it!

  113. This is perfect! I want to sip coffee and read the morning paper in that room! You’ve done it again, Daniel!!!

  114. Hi Daniel

    I literally gasped when I saw the first “after” shot. It is stunning. The black doors are key to the feel of the space. I totally enjoy your blog and you make me laugh out loud a lot.

    Enjoy your new dining space!

  115. I have been ogling this post all morning…..repeatedly…..while mumbling curse words under my breath. I normally am very happy for you when you have completed a hard earned project and can enjoy it. This one? I cannot celebrate with you. Why am I being so harsh? because I am insanely JEALOUS. *humph* ha. Seriously though I am in lurve. So gorgeous…all of it. Still jealous (are your ears burning) but so happy with how this turned out. LOVE the black doors! one word for this room….STUNNING. great job!

  116. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Love the black doors with the porcelain fixtures!

  117. So thrilled for you! A truly inspiring transformation. The white hardware on the doors might have thrown you off for a bit, but it looks sooooo sharp. Beautiful work!

  118. STOP. IT. I love all your stuff, but this is my absolute favorite. Perfection.

  119. I love the black doors!

  120. I’ve been waiting for this post! All that talk about drywall had me on the edge of my seat. Such an exciting reveal. I am thrilled for you and I have a huge crush on your mitred mouldings. No wonder you love them. The room really sets them off now that the wallpaper isn’t competing with them. Congrats!

  121. Daniel,

    I love, love, love it for you! Perfect for the style of your house; however, I have 2 questions. What happened to the beautiful mid-century buffet? Also, have you you consider larger art on the wall with the colored artwork? Thanks for sharing-I love reading your blog.

    • Thanks, Megan! The mid-century buffet is probably going to get sold, unfortunately! Because of all the doors and windows in our house (and the windows all have moldings to the floor), we practically have no walls long enough to accommodate it that we don’t need to use for something else! It’s a nice piece, but unfortunately the quality isn’t so great (it’s particleboard with a verrrryyy thin rosewood veneer, and it has some chips and stuff), and I’m not sure it would really jive with the house style-wise…sometimes you just gotta let it go and move on!

      And yes, I’d definitely put a larger piece on that wall! As I mentioned…we literally just brought stuff in and threw some stuff on the walls…I’m sure the art will get changed around for approximately forever! I agree this wall needs something bigger, we just didn’t have anything that really fit the bill. I’m on the look-out! :)

  122. I.Love.The.Black.Doors. Probably one of the prettiest dining rooms I’ve seen.

  123. Your dining room is stunning. I’ve lived in my house for five years and mine doesn’t look nearly this good.

    Your cabinet matches the cupboards in my pantry exactly – same hinges, handles, door closures, and color. The kitchen had the same cupboards before the previous owner redid it; they left them in my basement. My house was built in 1915 in Minneapolis. Thought I’d share in case this helps you with the provenance of your cabinet.

    • Oh interesting! SO lucky you still have your original cabinets, even if they aren’t in the kitchen anymore!! (SEND THEM HERE!)

  124. Amazing!! Please don’t question those black doors – they’re the first thing I noticed in the ‘after’ shot and I practically gasped out loud. Soo pretty. Enjoy that dining room!

  125. the black doors with white hardware are absolutely stunning! i love the minimalist feel to the furniture and decor, too. so beautiful!

  126. Just chiming in to concur with the black door love crowd! They’re beautiful.

    Also, you write so many words. And I read them all and love them.

  127. OMG, this is so damned beautiful! I kept muttering “Wow! wow! wow!” as I was looking at the photos. The black doors with white knobs are genius. The ceiling medallion with the mod fixture is so sexy! And the antique cabinet contrasts so nicely with the sleek table. LOVE this room!!

  128. The dining room looks simply wonderful. What an amazing accomplishment. AFAIAC you guys have accomplished tons in only a year and a half. Now onto my personal OCD issue, house archeology: Is it just me, or are the windows and the surrounds in the bay window identical to the ones in the dining room (that would be outside if not for the enclosed porch)? So I guess if they are that would imply the bay is original? Maybe you already said you think it is. The arched door leading into the bay window does puzzle me. The height of it makes me think it’s an external door. And usually bay windows don’t have arched doorways leading into them anyway. Wondering what your thoughts are on this. As for paint, I’ve had good success replicating lighter F&B colors in BM base, using Janovic (BM) color matching (that scan thing). I do, however, highly recommend the F&B paint if you can afford it. And if you can’t, I recommend BM (not Aura but the other stuff). I haven’t tried all the paints mentioned here so there may be some winners I don’t know about, but in general inexpensive paint has a low ratio of pigment to clay, which means that after it’s been on your wall for a while it’s going to turn into a dingy grayish brown color similar to newspaper pulp. Considering all the work that goes into painting, I’d rather pay more for the paint up front and have it last longer. Plus, actually, if you are painting over an OK surface to start with, you only need one thin coat of a paint such as Benjamin Moore, so it’s actually cost competitive with other paint even though the per gallon price is higher. And about that cabinet, which I love, we have an identical one that is circa early 1890s. It was built onto a wall and the plaster wall was the backing. Agree the doors look a tad strange, and the crown molding is a later addition (our built in just goes straight up to the ceiling — tin, in our case).

    • OK, I was going to get into this in the post, but it got so long and I was like, ugh, whatever.

      So, the “bay window,” which actually does have a door on the third side leading out to the “side porch” (but is very CLEARLY not original or even very old—pretty sure added in the 30s. Almost positive the door replaced a third window.), does match everything else. The moldings underneath the windows (and the windows themselves) match the other windows, and the arched molding around it matches the other moldings, and the foundation is stone, like the house (as opposed to the side porch, which is cinderblock). SO, even though it’s definitely quirky, I always thought it was original. BUT! I had to strip the arched molding, and eventually it became a huge pain in the ass and I decided to just pry it off the wall and put it back when I was done, and what did I find? Original wallpaper underneath the molding! And studs over the archway that were CLEARLY just hacked off to make way for it—no header or any real structural support for the whole thing. So, I now think that ORIGINALLY-ORIGINALLY, there was just another window here (there is an upstairs window directly above it), and it was bumped out very early on to make way for this. So bizarre! I really think the archway is just a funny thing that either the owner or his architect or somebody decided to do just to add a little flair, haha! It’s totally weird.

      • That is SO CRAZY about the archway. Wow. And to find that wallpaper. What are the chances? Hey, maybe in a later post you can put up a photo of the paper and we can speculate on the date. Amazing.

      • Yeah, I should post about it! Totally crazy paper. Greek key, flowers, other patterns, egg-and-dart-ish at the top…it must have been nuts!

  129. wow

  130. Sigh ! Such a beautiul room.
    But what I REALLY would like to know… Where did you find that awesome planter ? (fingers crossed it’s not some super fancy design that costs an arm and a leg to ship over the Atlantic – like the Modernica case study ones ;-)

    • June, check out Florian’s comment above! I had no idea what I had, oops! Apparently the Modernica one is kind of a bargain compared to this!!

  131. I am a member of the gasp-at-first-look & 50+ ladies crowd. I remember (and loved) the black doors from your apartment & was wondering if they would show up in the new house. Yay! They are spectacular.
    I am amazed at how you integrate your respect for an old house with a lean, rather modern aesthetic.
    I love your blog. My son Matt gave me the heads-up awhile back & I have been following you for years.
    I was just in the hospital & had an opportunity to watch TV, so I turned on HGTV & was LOL remembering your recent comments.
    Thanks for the great tips and equally superb writing!!

  132. I love it all, congratulations. What a relief to have walls and ceilings and everything :).
    In the spirit of chipping in a lighting idea because I know you have a thing about lighting, if you ever want to play with the light over the dining room table in the future, I’ve seen a couple of great diy lights in a size your room could definitely manage. The light Jenny Komenda did for their dining room in Brooklyn Heights and the current dining room light in The Painted house blog are both spectacular pieces. Cheers

  133. I love the white hardware on the black doors. You solved my grey paint dilemma. Many thanks. And the 37″ is good in a room with high ceilings. I’m retired from 30 years as a decorator and this blog makes me so HAPPY.

  134. OK here’s my theory on the cupboard doors: They look like they are the right kind of cupboard doors (in the photos at least) but as though came from another cupboard so someone had to cut them down and resize them to get them to fit this cupboard. That might also explain why they are a slightly different color (at least they seem to be in the photo).

    • Very well could be! The reason I said storm windows is because the inside of the doors is glazed with putty, not trimmed with wood, but maybe that’s just how they did it? Hmmmm

      • Very strange! On our doors on the inside the glass window panes are held in with putty, but it sounds like you mean the entire door is covered in putty.

  135. Beautifully simple. Simply beautiful.

  136. It’s gorgeous.

  137. the perfect place to read the Times!


  138. So good! Great progress in the dining room. Love the black doors, the knock off Scandinavian lighting (which I think is better than a ‘proper’ Scandinavian piece) and all that wonderful light-filled huge space. I can only imagine the dinners that will happen here for years to come. Bravo! Great progress.

  139. Can you please adopt me, so i can come and live with you and Max and your cute dogs in your awesome house?

  140. Oh wait sorry for all these multiple comments but I think I see the putty on the backs of the cupboard doors holding in the glass in the photos. Yeah, that’s the way they did it. But just like in our house, this is probably a later additional putty job on top of the first one that perhaps wasn’t as neat as it could be.

  141. It looks SO GOOD!! I really do like the black doors with white hardware. Don’t spring to change them right away. Let them sit for a bit and see how you feel. You might start to really like them.

  142. I love the black doors. I would have never thought of that. The lighting fixture your replaced the old one with is very cool. I want one for my old dining room. We just added a rosette to our bedroom ceiling, I noticed you call it a medallion. Looks beautiful. I’m all about keeping the old look while making things new. You’ve totally done that here. Well done!

  143. Sublime. The black painted doors and the naked man sketch did it for me. (“Gay Gardens”. – your humour and honesty are definitely reasons I check in on your blog a lot ! I Did think it a before you mentioned it ! Jealous you picked it up for such a steal ! ). Also I had been wondering about that same Ikea table and I’m very grateful for your opinion on the newer version. So excited about your new cottage by the way ! Lucky us.

  144. love your diningroom :)
    greetings from Poland :)

  145. Please, please, please PLEASE publish some sort of book. You’re amazing, an inspiration and just an overall dream to follow.

  146. love the black doors!!!! i remember when you first did that in your apt (how has it been 3 years!) I LURVEEEDD it so i did it to my front door and loved it! and now the dining room is amazeballs!!

  147. This room looks amazing and I love the contrast on the doors! I have 4 doors upstairs in charcoal and 1 left white (my son didn’t want a black one?) and I love them, even though folks seem to think its weird. I want to do all the downstairs ones the same but we paid a lot to have 2 of them stripped by hand 5 years ago… damn.

    My home is a constant work in progress and will never be fully ‘finished’ just because I love making changes and evolving with family life. I totally get how you will inevitably revisit the spaces to make future changes but for now as long as rooms are useable, clean and tidy it means you can move on to the next job. Take it from me… we’ve been here almost 7 years and I am slowly getting through to finishing the rooms in our home, that I’m starting to think about the rooms we started with and wanting to change them! It really is going to be a never ending cycle and to be honest I don’t think I’d have it any other way!

    I love where you have got to with your blog, life, and homes and just felt the need to say ‘hi’ after all these years. You were one of the first peeps to comment on my ‘original’ blog and I’m so happy to see how successful yours has become. It’s always a pleasure to read. I’m also so glad you have found a way to save the little house on your street too. ♡

  148. I have really loved watching your progress – thank you! We have an almost exact copy of that little round mirror that my grandmother gave me by way of my antique dealer great aunt — I was told it is a “courting mirror”, to be hung by the door so that gentlemen and ladies can give themselves one more quick look on the way out, which I have always loved. It looks wonderful in your room!

  149. Daniel,
    Why are you so quiet? I miss your chatter! :( I need someone to inspire me to do something with my loathsome-awful-messy-yucky house!

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