The Time I Nailed Books to My Wall: A Dining Room Renovation

If you’ve read this post, you know all about how my farmhouse looked when I bought it about 5 years ago. It had wallpaper in just about every room, various colored carpeting, and overall was very dated. When I purchased the home, I didn’t have a lot of money to put into the house and decided to just make the more cosmetic updates at the time. I focused on de-wallpapering and new coats of paint as well as some updated hardware in the kitchen and that’s about it.

I had moved to Florida for two years with my job, and upon returning to PA last summer, I decided to make the second set of updates to the farmhouse since I knew it would be easiest before I moved back in. The renters that were in my house moved out in September, so I, along with help, worked on the house from September through November. During those two months, just about every room had some updates done to it minus the kitchen (an investment for another time).

Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be sharing some of the updates done to the various rooms of the house. To start, we will begin with the dining room.

My dining room is pretty large. It’s right when you enter the front door of the house, and can fit an 8 person dining table along with other pieces. When I initially bought the house, it looked like the picture below. It had a border of horses, a bear light cover, a beige carpet, and curtains to match. The walls were a dullish white and the ceiling was white turning into grey.

The week after closing, I removed the wallpaper (just vinegar and water), as well as the curtains, and the light cover. The walls were painted a medium grey, and the carpet and door stayed as they were which you can see below. I used a vestibule that my sister in law painted for storage, and was able to use the dining room table I grew up with that my Dad gave me. I used a chicken wire light I found at a local store for an overhead light, added some new curtains, and decor and called it finished.

When moving back into the house last year, I decided this was the time to make the bigger updates. The room got a facelift from floor to ceiling.

  • I removed the carpeting to expose the hardwood flooring underneath which you can read about here
  • All the baseboard heater covers were removed and painted white
  • The trim went from a wood finish to white as well
  • The ceiling was updated from the dull grey back to white
  • My step mom who’s since passed was the one who painted my dining room back in 2015 and helped me pick the color so I kept it the same. One because I love it, but two because it’s a reminder of the ideas and effort she helped me with in making my house a home a few years ago.
  • I painted my door a very dark grey that almost comes off as black called Cracked Pepper from Behr.

I also then brought in some decor and did some projects for the final touches to the room.

  • I purchased my biggest piece of art to date (with a $ investment to match) that I absolutely adore from Lindsay Letters. It’s the “Disturb Us Lord” poem from Sir Francis Drake. They don’t have this specific piece anymore, but I love so much of their work that I still encourage you to check out the site.
  • I bought 6 different chairs at antique stores for about $120 total and sanded them and spray painted them all black.
  • I took a church pew bench had from a mud sale I got a few years ago and sanded it and painted it black to match the chairs.
  • I brought in an older 1800s hutch from my dad’s house and added it as a type of buffet and storage to the room.
  • I made a reading wall with old books nailed and taped to the wall paired with a letter board from House Hathaway.
  • I have a bench my dad made that I’ve had for a few years and brought that in for additional seating under the window.
  • I then paired that with a few plants for greenery, some antiques that I either had or purchased, and a some other wall pieces.

A random tip worth noting is that on the beige hutch you’ll see a little metal organizer. I use this for mail so I have stamps, plain envelopes, and generic greeting cards in it so everything is in one place. I keep my mail together on that piece when it comes in, so this is my mail center. It makes sending mail and bills so much easier than trying to find an envelope or a stamp.

A favorite part of the room is my book wall. I used a letter board and gathered a few of my favorite books and ripped out specific pages to put on the walls. I have some C.S. Lewis coupled with some of the Harry Potter series, as well as some must reads like the Alchemist. If you read the pages long enough, you’ll see a few of my favorite passages scattered on the walls.

I heard somewhere that every room in your house should have something old, something new, and something green so that’s what I keep in mind when I decorate. In this room, the old are the hutch, chairs, bench, and the antique crock and stool, while the new is the wall art, my dining table, and the curtains and lamps.

While there’s always ideas of changes I could make, what you see above is really what my dining room looks like complete with the cheap Ikea light from college, and scratches in the floor. Sometimes I’ll have more mail out, or pillows in a different spot, but overall what you see above is what you get – un-dusted and un-vacuumed.

What’s interesting about this farmhouse is that what you expect a light switch to turn on, is not what it turns on. For example, the light switch you see by the hutch operates the kitchen. The other one operates the living room. While this room has two light switches, none of them are for the dining room. Later this spring, I will be having someone come out and install an overhead light that I got on Wayfair and we will likely have to install a way to turn it on. Unfortunately to avoid cutting open the wall, we will be installing some type of light box and wiring on the outside of the wall. While it won’t be the best looking, it will be functional. That’s what you get in an old farmhouse.

Over time, I may decide to put a rug under the table and switch out the chairs for something a little sturdier (since these are old and cheap) but for now I love it as is.

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