In this Ask A Designer column, Gillian Atkins’ shares advice for updating a tired dining room.
Question: My partner and I just moved into a rental apartment in an old house and would really like your help making the long, awkward dining room feel up-to-date and ready for entertaining. My father-in-law made the dining table so we’d like to keep it, though we don’t love the color. We’ll be hosting family for the holidays and need budget ideas to get the space ready! — S.S., Toronto
Do you have a design dilemma? Send your questions to . [email protected]
Answer: The bar is cool — stock it with trays, barware and additional glassware to make it a feature. Remove the shutters; exposing the bar will make the room feel bigger.
Consider swapping the benches out for more comfortable dining chairs, just like this inspiration space.
Photographer: Amy Bartlam
Designer: Katie Hodges Design
Your oak table is great! It’s worth stripping and refinishing. Try a rich walnut stain with a matte finish, or go very light by bleaching or whitewashing the raw wood.
Wood bleach by Circa 1850, $24
Home Hardware/Home Building Centres
Try these blond chairs from Rove Concepts with woven paper-cord seats.
Round Woven chair, $424
Clearly, the owners removed a wall to create a bigger dining room (you can still see the beam above). Why not use the area closest to the window as a lounge? Place an interesting settee under the window and a low coffee table, and replace the tieback drapes with inexpensive matchstick blinds.
Sinuous Curved sofa in Delight Ivory by Athena Calderone, $3,499
Crate and Barrel
Place lots of pillows on your settee.
Cara throw pillows in Burnt Orange and Cream, from approx. $269 each
Replace the utilitarian track light with a pendant that makes a statement — even in a rental! You can take it with you when you move.
Verner Three-tiered pendant by Studio Anansi, $949
Lastly, update your rug. The overdyed vintage one in the inspiration photo is the idea. Your father-in-law will love the room refresh when he comes for the holidays.
Georgie Collection rug in Jade and Sunset by Amber Lewis x Loloi, $955
Ah-bohd Home Store
Gillian Atkins is a senior designer at Lynda Reeves Design Studio.
Photographer: Alex Lukey