September 30, 2012

Guest Post: Amity's Delightful Dining Room

As I noted in my first guest blog post (the one about collections), I bought my cottage almost three years ago and had amassed a somewhat random assortment of furniture and knick knacks over the previous several years. I have a fairly small dining space that is just to the left of my front entrance and basically part of the overall living area, so I had to create a space that is inviting and, of course, adorable. 
My first order of business was to paint the dining room table I inherited from my parents. At the time, I had been seeing a lot of metallic side tables and dressers at local furniture stores. I very much wanted a snazzy piece of furniture like that but didn't want to pay the unnecessarily high price for it… so, Lowe's to the rescue.
I don't have before and after pictures but just trust me when I say the table was the epitome of 1980s dining sets. It had been stained a dark brown and had chairs that seem to be in every Goodwill across the country -- you know, the ones with the high, open backs and country-floral scroll work at the top. The project involved three steps, and I started by priming the table with Glidden Gripper primer/sealer. I'm usually partial to paint + primer in one, but, for this particular project, I had to use primer alone. Once the table was primed, the second step was putting the base color on the table. I applied two coats of Valspar's Brilliant Metals Shimmering Bronze. I would definitely recommend at least two coats. The third step involved a top coat that actually brings out the shimmer of the Shimmering Bronze. It's a sister-paint to the Shimmering Bronze, and the good folks at Lowe's won't let you buy one without the other. The paint experts at Lowe's will also give you really good tips on how to use this paint. It's not the easiest, simply because it involves a special rolling brush and careful application. However, I'm somewhat careless when it comes to painting, so if I can do it, anyone can.
The finished product is exactly what I wanted -- a high gloss, high shimmer, pale bronze dining room table. It adds just a little bit of fancy to a cottage dining room. And, I topped it off with a few glass vases/bottles from TJ Maxx that act as a year-round centerpiece.
The next part of my dining room transformation was to find new chairs. I loathed those 1980s, country-floral chairs. They made me feel like I needed a bunch of rooster figurines siting on shelves. For readers in Tallahassee, my answer was Bobbi at Southern Chicks on South Monroe. If you have yet to stop by her place, it's a must-do for anyone who loves good finds at even greater prices. Bobbi searches for furniture on the cheap and then refinishes, re-assembles or re-designs, so I called her to see if she'd take my rooster chairs in exchange for something else she had on hand. Thankfully, she agreed to the trade as long as I paid her to refinish whatever chairs I wanted. I ended up paying $120 for four refinished, black, open-back chairs. That's a steal in my book, considering even TJ Maxx sells chairs for $139 a pop. The best part is that the chairs have a cushion seat that can be recovered whenever I feel the need for a new look. At this moment, they are covered with a canvas French-scroll fabric that I snagged on sale at Tallahassee Decorative Fabrics. 
Of course, no dining space is complete without a bar. I had every intention of picking up a piece at Southern Chicks, but a friend of mine was getting rid of a bedroom dresser and he gave it to me for free. I decided to leave the stain as is and went to Hobby Lobby to buy knobs that matched the fabric on my chairs. The dresser is actually missing its mirror, but I left the mirror-holders to act as a frame of sorts for a couple of framed bird prints I bought in San Diego. I also hit up one of my favorite stores, Home Goods, for a coordinating lamp and used the desk space to display my Venetian champagne glasses, a cocktail book, a bottle of wine and other assorted bar materials. The final touch of the bar area was the old mailbox from my front porch. The very first week I moved in, the mailman instructed me to buy a roadside mailbox because he was no longer going to deliver mail to my front porch. Total bummer, but I ended up with antique wall decor, so I can't complain too much.
To finish off the room, I hit up Urban Thread (basically, an outlet store of Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters goodies) for white ruffle curtains. TIP: If you ever decide to buy curtains from an outlet store, be sure to bring a measuring tape with you. A lot of times they are at an outlet store because they have mismatched lengths. I bought the curtain rods from… wait for it… Wal Mart. It's not often you find cute decor at Wal Mart, but I never discount it when I'm looking for hardware. 

My dining room tends to be where most of my guests gather -- whether it's for a weekday dinner party or Friday night drinking games -- so it was important for me to have a functional and inviting space.  I have a feeling that my dining room table will follow me wherever I end up next and will continue to be a focal point for a dining room or breakfast nook. The real beauty of my dining room is that it's interchangeable, from my chair cushions to the dresser knobs to the curtains, and changing any of those won't ever break the bank. 
I so love Amity's fresh take on some old pieces in her dining room. What do you guys think? I hope you all have a wonderful week!


  1. I love this Amity. The wall color is really cool with the metallic paint on your table. I also have a side table similar to your dresser in my dining room and my refinisher selected glass knobs which you might consider. Love what you did!

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