The Dining Room Project

This work was finished in May 2007, so naturally it’s taken me a year to put this page together. In case you still care here it is, my chronicle of how our dining room went from depressing to fabulous. It started out like this:

It’s not easy seeing green

Under “depressingly green” in the dictionary there is this picture. I can only imagine that they did this so people could not see how unappetizing their food was. Dark green light sucking wallpaper plus those awful pink drapes equals I can’t see my dinner. Does pink even go with green? And you may think the pink in the drapes brightens the place up a bit, but those drapes blocked so much of the sun it was amazing. When I took them off I couldn’t believe how much more light got into the room.

Also notice the floor. Very dark brown, almost black, and you can’t see the grain of the wood. These floorboards are 100 years old, so they are also no longer flat. Lots of ridges, bumps, and some boards have raised up from the joists below. I did lots of nailing down before I sanded.

My first surprise was how difficult it would be to pull off the wallpaper. I’ve said before that it was attached with epoxy or something. In the summer of 2006 I “began” the project, stripping off a patch of paper approximately 2′x2′. There the project sat until February 2007, where I made a bit more progress:

Is that green paint under the wallpaper?

You can already see my second surprise. Under all that ugly green wallpaper was ugly green paint. The same color. They’re right. White primer would have just brightened up the room unnecessarily. My third surprise was how much of that ugly green paint, and indeed the drywall underneath, came off with the wallpaper.

Getting that wallpaper off took a very long time. After that was done, however, my next task was putting up the crown moulding. This was necessary because the skilled technicians did no edging work when they installed the drywall. And why should they? There’s wallpaper going up, after all. A very good friend who is very good with power tools and is also a perfectionist helped me do it. That means he did all the work.

Look up! It’s the crown moulding!

Once the trim was up, I set to work with my gallon of spackle to smooth those walls. That was the fun part. The not fun part was sanding it. Can you say dust? Ick.

Spackle spackle spackle

Just patching the walls with white spackling compound brightened up the room; I couldn’t believe the difference. Then I primed the walls.

It’s WHITE!!

Looks better already, doesn’t it? I could’ve just left it like this, right? Wrong. Let there be COLOR!!!

Can I help paint? Please??????

Yellow went the walls, blue went the trim, and then came the floor:

Say hello to my little friend!

When I was halfway done staining the floor I took this cool picture.

yes, it’s a very nice picture

And when I was done I took this picture.

…and it’s a very nice floor too

Now for the details. I added wood blinds to replace those life sucking curtains, and they matched the window trim perfectly.

I also got some new light fixtures.

The last time we visited Trinidad (2005, our 10th anniversary) we got some prints from a Tobagonian artist named Rachael. We knew exactly where they were heading. I bought some frames and custom cut the mats myself.

from Tobago

These three prints are of houses in Trinidad. Karen wishes she lived in any of them, even the one with the car in the yard.

but this is a picture of the prints

Here is the inspiration for the room. Karen’s mother brought us these plates from Trinidad about a year before we started this project. Karen loved them instantly and decided we’d have a yellow dining room. Thank you Mummy.

And they share the china closet with our other reminders of Trinidad.

We need lots of reminders of Trinidad, particularly in the winter. Here’s the room in its completed state:

Now this is a room I can eat dinner in. My food tastes better already.

good thing it wasn\'t raining

So was it worth the wait? I hope you liked the pictures, that’s what took so long.

7 responses

9 06 2008
Lara

The room looks amazing!!! You are quite the handy man!

18 06 2008
reya

The finished room looks fabulous! I love the steelpan..A great reminder of back home.

18 06 2008
Alison

Gorgeous–love, love, LOVE the yellow! I cannot believe you find the time to do this stuff. Though I suppose I quilt, so maybe this is what you do instead… Do you do laundry, too? Wanna move to San Diego, guys?

17 02 2009
Maureen

Great job, Mark. What a transformation! It looks fantastic.

22 03 2009
Kate

Looks beautiful!

10 07 2009
Miss Behaving

Absolutely fantastic, you are such a handy guy, the room looks beautiful and I love all your Trinidad reminders.

21 10 2011
Tammy

Mark, I got a question for you… why people put up wallpapers in the first place? And busy-looking wallpapers at that? I never understood the purpose of the wallpapers at all.

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