Dining Room Renovation Plans & Design

livinginafixerupper.com before pictures dining room

Lemme tell ya, restoring an old home or renovating a fixer upper is never a sprint, and always a marathon…unless you’re HGTV of course. Ugh. But our dining room renovation has been a work in progress from the time we moved in over a year-and-a-half ago. Within the first few months after moving in we took out the cheap shelving and sanded and stained the floors back to a beautiful condition.

Things were moving along great, and then we had the happy news of finding out we were pregnant! This meant that we suddenly had to pause the dining room work and pivot our focus last Spring and Summer to renovate our master bedroom and closet before baby girl arrived.

However, this summer with the master bedroom done and baby girl crawling around the house, we’re kicking things off in our dining room to finally finish restoring it!

Unlike what it looks like now, we’re aiming for a formal and elegant room that conjures up a bit of the old world charm that this home fosters. We want to bring back a period-look to the room, but without making the room feel stuffy or dark which will undoubtedly be a bit of a challenge.

Our giant to-do list gives some reference already for what we have to do in the room, but let’s go through with pictures, shall we? (and these pix keep it real for life in a fixer upper, haha).

Here’s our dining room, starting with the view you see when looking in from our main foyer:

dining room looking in from entryway before renovation fixer upper

No paint, no ceiling light, and the only furniture is the dining table and chairs. And yes, we do have unpacked boxes in the corner that have sat there since moving day!


Here’s the really long reason why (skip to the next pix if you don’t care – I won’t blame ya!): Because we knew finishing the dining room was in the near-future, we didn’t want to have a lot of extra furniture and decor to move out into neighboring rooms while we worked on it. Therefore we only bought the table and chairs to furnish the room (in fact we didn’t even get the table and chairs until nearly a year after we’d moved in – Craigslist, woot woot! – before thee table, we used tv tables. #renovationrealities ). The boxes contain items that I want to store in the dining room…such as the buffet that I plan to get once the room is ready…as in, the perfect buffet that lives in my dreams for the perfect price that I just know will suddenly appear…so maybe in 5 years you won’t see those boxes any more. ;)

Here is looking in from the adjoining living room – you can see the doorway to the entry hall there on the right:

dining room before renovation

Circling the room now:

dining room double windows

dining room before renovation

Y’all like my patchwork-quilt artwork of paint color samples on the walls? ;)

dining room patchwork paint samples before

dining room looking into living room before renovation
Baby girl got a cameo! ^_^

dining room looking into entry hall before renovation

Now that you’ve seen the room, let’s get on to what needs to happen to make this room less of a catastrophe:


The first thing we need to address is the need for wiring. The room has never had a ceiling fixture or light switch. With over a year to be on the look-out for my dream brass crystal chandelier, we found and bought one more than a year ago at an antique dealer for an amazing $150 buck-a-roos. Oooo yeah.

With so much time to think over design, we’ve known for awhile that we wanted a ceiling medallion in the room. For the past week I’ve also been scouring the web for plaster ceiling medallions we can add to eloquently enhance the chandelier’s impact. I think I found a good design that Karl and I both like for a good deal with the Ekena Vienna medallion from Lowes, and it’s on its way to us now! *happy dance*

ekena millwork ceiling medallion vienna

Also for a fun nod to our home’s age, we’re going to be installing a historically accurate reproduction brass plate and push-button switch from House of Antique Hardware that we’ve had our eyes on forever and then snagged when they were 25% off.

house of antique hardware brass push button reproduction victorian switch plate
House of Antique Hardware

Can’t wait to see all the brass in this room!


We’ve also maintained some delightful holes in our plaster left by the large bolts that kept the shelving up. See the areas of bright green on the wall? That’s frog tape, and using it to seal the holes has been my temporary remedy for keeping the cold air out during the winter (you know you love it, hehe). Green frog tape ftw, yo.

green frog tape for winterization...notSo after we make more holes in our wall for the wiring, we’ll be able to finally plaster up these bad boys so that we can have smooth, finished walls again. Fancy that.



I’ve had paint samples on the wall since last summer (explains the patchwork quilt on the walls in the pictures earlier, right?). I’ve settled on green, one that’s somewhat like this:

moody green dining room

The color I did eventually find that matches the color in my mind turned out to be from Behr, but I plan to get it color-matched at Benjamin Moore as I have a high preference for their no-VOC Natura paint line that we used and loved in our living room and master bedroom. I’ll be revealing all the details for the room’s design plans (color, furniture style, mood, etc) in a future post!

Also needing paint is our radiator and pipes in the room. Right now the radiator is a dull and worn gray with past owner’s wonderful drippy paint splotches slathered here and there on it. We plan to paint the piping in a bold brass color to match the chandelier and switch plate.


To my fellow old-house owners: one simply cannot have a dining room and not want crown moulding, am I right? ;) However, we were inspired recently by Old Home Love’s use of picture hanging rail in their One Room Challenge this past Spring and LOVE how the rails are not only pretty, but historically accurate and functional (especially with our plaster walls!). So of course we are now on a mission to do both crown and picture mouldings.

Do all the fancy things!


It’s not as dusty and dirty of a project (woot), but we can’t call our room complete without them. With the dining room being in the front of the house, we really need some privacy in the room which we will solve using interior wood shutters similar to these:

interior wood shutters

We want shutters rather than blinds not just for looks, but because of their ability to still let a lot of light in on the top half of the windows without compromising on privacy, just as is shown in the pic above.

Dining Room Furniture

From the beginning I knew what I wanted for furniture in the dining room; a table & chairs (duh), sideboard buffet table, and a glass door cabinet hutch.

I also knew I wanted antique wood-stained pieces.

So that’s where I started.

I narrowed down the style of the buffet table to 2 choices relatively quickly – I don’t care for mid-century, colonial/early american, or anything with Queen Anne style legs.

Therefore, for the longest time I was mentally debating between if I liked an Empire style oak buffet table like this:

empire dining room

…or a Jacobean Tudor buffet style table more…

english tudor jacobean buffet table sideboard antique

Jacobean won. Keeping my eyes peeled at auctions and Craigslist for about 18 months now and so far they’ve either been too far away, out of my price range, or saddest of all…I lost it to another who found it a day before I did on Craigslist. #itstillhauntsme

The glass door china cabinet has been harder to narrow down, and any of the following 3 styles would be awesome; I have looking out for any pieces as beautiful as these and that happen to be in my super-tightwad budget range. Though…deep down inside I know which of these 3 would be my “I just won the lottery!” choice. See if you can guess which one is the lottery winner:

Curio cabinet like this…

antique curio cabinet

…a hutch like this…

antique hutch

…or a glass door bookcase like THIS…#allthehearteyes

antique stepback bookcase cabinet glass doors

Yeah. Can you guess which of these 3 would be my dream-of-dreams #1 choice?

But seriously! Could you imagine finding something like that bookcase?! I get giddy just looking at it! I know I’m counting on a miracle to find such a piece for a price I can’t refuse…but well…miracles happen…Yes it counts as a miracle…


The dining room renovation is our last big dusty project room on the main floor (excluding the kitchen, but that’ll be some years from now. EDIT: nope. the kitchen is happening now because we had a mini disaster), and we’re both excited to have the chance to bring some fun historical elements into the dining room and make it finally feel like it’s a functional part of our home!

Now that y’all know what the plans are, in the coming days we’re going to be running wiring and adding our antique chandelier and medallion!

Be sure to follow along on Instagram to see the antique chandelier and progress we’re already making in our dining room renovation, and subscribe to our email newsletter to get updates on new posts! :)

See all the changes made in only one week in the next post for the dining room renovation!

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