Level Up: Dining Room

Call us old fashioned. Jim and I love to sit down together and eat our meals at a real table!  This dining room was perfect for us: not too huge, not too far from the kitchen, and not part of the kitchen!

Since it’s such an important room to us it’s gotten some serious love since we moved in!   These things never happen overnight, especially not when we both work full time and can only dedicate so much time to improving our house.  But bit by bit, we did it!!  Here’s our dining room’s journey.

Watch our Dining Room Evolve!

November 2010

Here it is in all its grey-walls, brown-trim, and metallic outlet cover glory.  Jim snapped this photo of me telling the old light fixture its days are numbered the day we got our keys!

December 2010

The dining room was quickly filled with tools and supplies.  We moved our table and chairs in, and then loaded the room with tools, paper towels, supplies – so much stuff, in fact, we ultimately lined this room with shelving to hold it all.  I neglected to photograph it, but for a month or so this room looked more like a garage than a dining room.

January 2011

With the holidays (and the flu) behind us, it was time to paint the dining room!

The room originally had very high gloss, greyish brown walls and natural wood trim which has a nearly orange hue.  The neutral carpet is worn out, but we’ve been keeping it until we’re ready to tackle our flooring redo.  Here’s sort of what the original palette was like – but it varies a lot depending on the lighting!

We first applied spray-on de-glosser to the shiny walls to help our new paint stick.  I’m definitely an eggshell person – the shiny walls were driving me nuts!   I swear I could almost see myself in them.

I wanted to brighten the room and just make it more “us”.  We tend to like lighter colors, but I’ve seen just about every color look great on walls.  I chose a light “almond” color for the walls and an off-white for the wood trim.

Inspired by how great the room looked after a few coats of paint, we mounted a curtain rod and beige curtains from Bed Bath and Beyond.  But something wasn’t quite right… the curtains were too vanilla.

Back at the ‘Beyond we spotted this gorgeous floral painting:

We grabbed it plus curtains to match and put them both in the room.  Success!  (But the curtains were too short – fortunately, clippy rings were invented for this very reason!)

We let the color palette of the painting guide the rest of our color choices for this room, adding napkins, place mats, and eventually several other items in the same colors.

I put our three-tiered shelving unit into the other corner, giving us some much-needed storage space in this room.  We also rotated the table 90 degrees.  The room was really starting to feel like our own!

I replaced all of the room’s electrical outlets (Light Almond color from Home Depot), since the old ones were worn and plugs were falling out.  I also tossed the mirror-like metallic outlet face plates and installed matching Light Almond covers – now the outlets just disappear into the wall!

May 2011

We left the room alone for a few months until my dad came to visit in May.  Dad is very handy.  He holds a Master’s in Light Fixture Bracketology, which he put to good use helping us replace the old and dated light fixture with a snazzy new one!   I was very picky about finding the right light fixture – the light cups had to point upwards (we hate seeing the bulbs!) and it had to be Just The Right Size.  Fortunately, McClendon’s Hardware (Bothell, WA) came through for us with this gem:

June 2011

Decorating! We added a tree and big golden vase, both from MyHome (located in Kirkland, WA).

April 2012

Flooring!  At last, we tore up the last vestiges of the old flooring in this house and installed a uniform laminate throughout the entrance, kitchen, and dining room areas.

It’s so warm and inviting!  I just love sitting down to a plate of pancakes on a Saturday morning or a big steak after work in this room. :)


Memorial Day Weekend Decorating Blitz

The MyHome Warehouse in Totem Lake (Washington state) is definitely our new favorite source of house loot.  The prices are at the upper end of what we consider reasonable but the goods appear to be high quality.  This jives with our new stuff-buying philosophy.

In the past, we’d snag cheap items from stores like Wal Mart and Target which were okay – and this applies to everything from clothing to home goods to shoes – but now we’re ready to save our pennies for high quality items we *LOVE*.  And we were DEFINITELY ready to start covering some of our bare walls with pretty art.

And oh boy, did we find some goodies!!


















The “Vase With Sticks In It” trend won me over at last!  The golden hue vase now cheering up the black shelf in our dining room was an amazing clearance find at MyHome.   The sticks themselves are from IKEA and this barely made a dent in the bundle!


















Over on the right side of the dining room we have our second indoor tree!  I love the way the vase and the tree work together to soften up what was originally a very hard, geometric-looking room.

I photographed these babies at MyHome, intending to “think about them” and come back later if I decided I liked them.   Thinking about them lasted about the time it took for us to walk to the register.  I ran back and grabbed them!   And after putting them into the family room, I can’t believe we almost left ’em there!!











One of them is helping pretty-up the corner of the family room that currently features our very chic drying rack:


















I rested the other on top of the book shelf, where it now fills what used to be a very empty spot of wall:











Surely that’s enough decorating by now?!  Nope.  Still decorating.  MyHome seriously has more art than I’ve ever seen in one place before.   We took three trips to MyHome before the weekend was over – the employees must think we’re nuts!

Jim and I both instantly fell in love with this beauty, which now graces our stairway:


















Aaaand this one too:











(Yes, that’s a pull-up bar mounted on the door to our computer room.  It’s impossible to resist the urge to do a pull up every other time we walk under it!)

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where, after he’s been kicked out of the All You Can Eat fish buffet for eating all the fish, Homer goes fishing?  That was us, except after we’d gotten everything we’d liked at MyHome we went to Fred Meyer, which has its own fairly robust home decoration department.  And there it was.

LOVE IT!   Especially love that it was 50% off!  But after getting it home I discovered a hitch in this grand plan:  it was meant to hang horizontally!  Not to be discouraged, I busted out my drill for some Arts and Crafts Time at the Level Up household!!











I was a little surprised at how easy it was to remove the hardware.  With a little help from my friends Yardstick and Level, I moved the hooks like so:











Ta-dah!  Now it hangs vertically and our entryway’s days of being a boring white wall are OVER!  In fact, the whole house just feels so much more complete with some art and decorations.

It was a little weird to buy things that serve no purpose other than beautification (especially when we still lack basics like end tables for our couch and furniture for several rooms), but it was totally worth it.  Never underestimate the power of art and decorations!

Quick Project: Crisp laundry… doors!

Our laundry machines occupy a small closet in the entry hall guarded by a fierce pair of louvered doors.  But we’re not ready to replace functional doors just because they’re old and dirty, and bearing the scars of a lifetime of defending the washer and dryer from the angry hordes of the hallway.  A bit of white paint might be all they really need!

Here they are in their original state, photographed during our first visit to the house.   Yes, that orange hue is 100% true-to-life.















First up: removing the doors.   Jim just wiggled ’em out of their tracks and we hauled ’em into our dining room, which thanks to its still-original carpet doubles as our “messy project”  room.    (Once we finish the flooring downstairs, the garage will take over that responsibility!)















A half-hour of scrubbing with a ret wag  removed the thick layer of dust and lint from front and back.  While they dried, I ventured to our paint stash and busted out a can of the same paint we used on the floor trims, which happens to be just regular ‘ole wall paint from Home Depot: Behr brand semi-gloss latex paint in a color known as “Popped Corn”.

These doors have hardly any finish on them, so I didn’t bother sanding them.  Thank goodness the paint stuck anyway.  The thought of sanding all those louvers was somewhat terrifying.

Before I show you the “after”, first take a gander at the battle damage these babies have suffered.  Dings, dents, water warping galore, but all cosmetic issues easily covered with a nice creamy coat of paint.  A nice creamy coat of paint that took me about six hours to apply to both doors (2 coats each).   To save time, I did not paint the back sides.  It’ll be my dirty little secret. ;)















We let ’em dry overnight and then put them back in their tracks.  I was stunned at what a difference this made!  Before they were shouting “CLOSET!”.  Now they just whisper it. :)















Open trunk; insert tree

When you get a rain-free day in Seattle and you need to do something outside, you immediately DROP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND YOU GO OUTSIDE.  For us, that meant getting this fake tree home from MyHome Wholesale.  It didn’t fit in the car, but the trip was just a couple miles so we just took our chances and hauled it home like this.

Look, a tree indoors!

Actually, I think this looks pretty good.  It brings a nice natural softness to the room.

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