A Return To Neutrals

March 18, 2010

My dining space has always been tricky to decorate because it stands in the middle of a major freeway between the garage, family room, and kitchen.  We don’t have a formal dining room – there is simply no need for our laid back family of five to have anything other than a casual dining space for evening meals.  We nibble in the kitchen most of the time, don’t you?

However, I do like the idea of our dining space being dolled up for holidays or special guests.  After all, it has a beautiful set of French doors and a view that leads to the rear yard.  So a few weeks ago I decided to upgrade by adding some new window panels and a bench for additional seating.  I’m returning to the peaceful calm of white because I find it so fresh and uplifting.  Also, cream and white are such a nice contrast to rich dark wood, so I kept a purposeful neutral palette in our dining space.  I added some taller silk curtains and a transformed Craigslist bench. 

To some it’s plain, to me it’s perfect.

neutral dining room

This walnut pedestal table used to be part of a formal set we found at an antique shop when we were first married.  After the kids came along I had a glass top made for it to keep the top from getting damaged.  The traditional seats that came with it were too matchy matchy for my taste, so I like to pair the table with some ‘Couture’ chairs from Ballard Designs. 

light and dark

I cannot sing the praises enough of these ‘Couture’ chairs !  If I could marry them, I would.  I bought them about seven or eight years ago and I simply change the slipcovers with the seasons.  Latte velvet in the fall, and Ecru velvet in the spring.  I love the flirty but sophisticated pleat detail.  You can usually find them around $39 each at Ballard.  They’re worth it for the perfect fit, style, and durability – I’ve laundered these at least ten times and they always hold up in the wash. 

Kids + sauce = slipcovers.

ballard slipcover and shag pillow

The area rug is from Overstock and can be found right here.  The wall color ties in with the greens in the carpet – it is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Camouflage’ just like in my kitchen

I confess, I’ve gone around and around with the window treatments in this space.  First it was chocolate floral fabric, then a sage linen fabric.  Then I finally realized my previous solutions were too short !  These panels are a foot longer, and I raised the rod above the transom window instead of just the doors in order to elongate the space and make the ceiling feel much taller. 

dining room window panels


They were store bought 95” cream lined silk panels from Bed, Bath and Beyond on clearance, plus with a 20% off coupon, so I paid $20 for each panel.  There are four of them, doubled up for fullness.  I repeat.  Cream. Silk. Lined.   True love!  It sounds strange, but to me it’s like I have an elegant wedding gown hanging on my windows.  Call me crazy, but that totally speaks to me. 

I also created a border for the edges.  Do you know how much fancy shmancy decorative trim costs retail ?  Exorbitant !  This liner is simply some chocolate satin ribbon and a discount trim with some robin’s egg blue (shown below) attached via my sewing machine to the edge of the panels.   

trim pieces

I thought it a nice designer touch, plus a good idea for those potentially grubby hands that will no doubt finger the edges of my gown-like silk panels.  Momma’s got to outsmart her munchkins. 

trim detail

I pinched the tops and sewed the simple pleats with my sewing machine to give them more formal touch.  Then I hand stitched the wood rings to the pleats.  Please ignore the holes in my wall that I have yet to patch.  :-)

pleats and rings on rod

dining room window panels

Now you know I’m a sucker for white accessories – hence the spring lineup.  The flowers are from Trader Joes – $11 bucks for the whole arrangement !!   Gor.Gee.Us. 


A little wedding-ish, but still beautiful.  If only you could smell the roses and the stock – they’ve got that thick summery sweet scent that is absolutely intoxicating ! 

fresh flowers soft focus

I just have to show you the white soup tureen that I picked up at the Goodwill for $5 bucks.  Seriously.  Who drops off a perfectly beautiful white soup tureen complete with lid, platter and spoon, and inside the original box at the Goodwill ?  $5 bucks.  Score !  It makes a such a great container for blooms ! 

white soup tureen

Oh, and notice the tired and hungry child in the corner ?   Somehow the words “Hold on honey while Mommy adjusts her aperture” did not seem to comfort.  

tired child

OK, enough flowers.  And I fed the child a few morsels.  She’s fine now. 

Please note, this space is no longer used for my decorative whims. Rather, it has become a construction zone for tall skyscrapers.   

lego tower

But see how I did happen to find a bench on Craigslist and give it a little makeover.

b and a

I’ll tell you the full story of the bench very soon!  Meanwhile, I’m just happy in this very simple, very white, very neutral dining space.  It’s a great canvas for any colorful tabletop settings in any season.

And that’s probably the last time it will look this clean.  :-)

neutral dining room


What’s your theory on white spaces ?  Are they boring or beautiful ? 



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