I experienced somewhat of a miniature life crisis back in February, so I did what any person who lives and works within the same set of walls would do: I decided to redecorate one of the rooms.
'Twas the dining room who fell to my mercy. We've lived in this house for just over two years now and in that time we've gradually made tweaks here and there, but we've certainly not been in a rush when it comes to decorating. We blitzed everything with bright white paint during moving week and assembled furniture in a fury of takeaway pizzas and help from our Mums, but beyond that, we've remained pretty content with the set-up that we have. In truth, we mostly forget that rooms need finishing. Once you start to live within a home in a functional sense, the pretty bits are quite often drowned out by the urgency of daily life, and they remain on the to-do list indefinitely until such a time arises that you think 'fuck, how long have I been putting this off?'. February delivered such a moment, and so I set out with the intention of turning the largely redundant dining room into a sort of office/diner/social space.
Owing to my own impatience and the desire to rid my life of those horrific net curtains as soon as possible, I didn't really capture many before images. Or any, really, beyond documenting the window situation so that I never take for granted a good set of curtains again. But just know this: the contents of the room consisted of a dining table and bench set, a large, gold mirror which was too huge to live anywhere else, a shoe rack, the hoover, and whatever medley of parcels had made it through the door that week. That's it. It was the crap room; if you didn't know where to put something and all of the usual cupboards were full, then in here it went.
It becomes a little depressing after a while, to keep shutting off a part of your home because its insides are so confused. This is potentially the largest room in the house, too, and boasts this big, beautiful window which was such a shame to waste, so when I found my nerves aching for a little project - something which would yield tangible, useful results I could touch and keep - revamping the dining room felt like a natural avenue. With the help of my DIY queen of a Mum, I think it turned out quite well. Prepare yourself for a heck tonne of photos, because they're coming your way in 3... 2... 1...
I set about clearing out the non-essentials first, sorting through the various accoutrements that had found their way into the space and existed intermittently, only when the door had been opened to see and remember them. I pulled the table and benches to the back so they touched the far wall, opening up much more space in the middle which I bridged with a beautiful La Redoute* rug.
I pinched the console table from our bedroom and placed this by the window, accompanied by one of the metal ASDA chairs which made up the original orchestra of our first home shared. I think we got two for £20 and we've used them for all sorts since; desk chairs, dinner chairs, BBQ overflow seating when I neglected to buy more than 4 seats for a party of over 20, even - and often - a makeshift step ladder. Cheap and cheerful chippies. This new duo made up my updated 'office', of sorts - somewhere to sit and spy on my neighbours whilst trawling through my inbox or writing to share. I can only write openly if there is space ahead of me (facing the wall is a no-no), so being able to look out onto the street is a big bonus for me.
Including storage in the redecoration was essential. I needed somewhere to unpack my packages and parcels so that the dining room table didn't become a default sorting office, and Keiran has various odds and sods that needed somewhere to live too. I searched for weeks for an open shelving unit with built in storage, but honestly? Unless you have a heck load of time to go rooting around for something second-hand, or you have the budget to go straight for something bespoke or from Swoon.com, then there's not a whole lot out there. As such, I fell back on the internet's favourites: IKEA. We picked up the FJÄLKINGE unit with two drawers and two of the MOSSLANDA picture ledges, placing them either side of the fireplace to tie into the high ceilings of the room and offer that all important storage.
Then it was a case of dressing them both. For the shelving unit, I just added in a bit of anything which was lying around; I'm not particularly imaginative with interior decoration so I wasn't too fussed with what went on display (I had egg cups on there for a little bit but they kept making me hungry), just so long as it sparked a slither of joy à la Marie Kondo. We've ended up with some books, some plants, some ornaments given to me by friends and family, and of course, some candles. The picture ledges have unintentionally morphed into somewhat of a bag sanctuary, accompanied by my SZA CTRL vinyl* and the beautifully vibrant 'No Signal' artwork by Yime, kindly sent to me by the independent store Nine by Nine Club*.
The corner where the hoover once resided was now empty (although, in truth, the hoover does still find its way back here more often than not. Where are we supposed to keep these necessary but hideous beasts?), and I wasn't entirely sure what to do with it. The opposite wall had been occupied with all manner of shelving so something similar seemed excessive. I thought a mid-century sideboard would work, but whilst searching for this is in my local British Heart Foundation store (so many gems to be found - thank you Jess for encouraging me to dig!), I stumbled across this rattan/wood hybrid which was the perfect size for a miniature bar.
A week later it was delivered to me, for an entire, all-in-cost of £20. What a steal. On top now lives the speaker and this d-i-v-i-n-e wine decanter* I requested from my Ma for my birthday, and inside, an assortment of half-finished spirits and ciders destined for the fridge. It was a blessing in disguise that the sideboard I had my eye on wouldn't actually fit; it meant the radiator could stay exposed and become a place of rest for these large Desenio prints which would have otherwise been put away. Radiators like this are notoriously ugly, so I'm pretty happy with how this little section turned out.
Beyond that, all that was left to do was to inject a little love and warmth into the room. I gladly replaced the generic Desenio prints on the wall with this incredible illustration by Gosia Herba* and the custom soundwave print* I had made for Keiran as a Christmas gift. I moved these fluffy West Elm cushions* downstairs to bougie up the benches a bit, with a mirrored tray from H&M which is used for flowers or candles or rapidly-emptying bottles of wine. A picnic basket inhabits the redundant fireplace, now home to any hair-care related products and located beneath a smattering of candles and my dried bunny tails from Little Deer. Most of the items used are things we owned already but were effectively floating around the house, so there is definitely a satisfaction in finding them a place and purpose.
Well, what do you think? Not bad for a little tweak, hey? We live in an old Victorian property so the rooms get quite cold quite quickly, but now the sun is shining its beamy little face, I'm looking forward to hosting some friends without the fear of them freezing to death. I'm glad I got round to making the changes though because the room emanates such a nicer feeling now - no more closing the door on mess and disorder. It's so easy to fall into step with your everyday surroundings, but when you finally find the time to put a little thought in, well, it makes such a difference.
(So you're here for the links, huh? Fair enough - I respect a dedicated shopper when I sense one. Below is a list of every featured item I am able to link. If it isn't in the list, then it either no longer exists in the shoppable sphere, or I simply can't locate a web page online. Fingers crossed you find what you're looking for. Anything marked with an asterisk* uses an affiliate link or was 'gifted'.)
- Tee - & Other Stories*
- Pearl Cuff - Astrid & Miyu*
- Gold Hoops - Jane Kønig
- Bracelets - Monica Vinader*
- Table & Bench Set - eBay
- Rug - La Redoute*
- Highland Cow Print - Desenio*
- Open Shelving Unit - IKEA
- Picture Ledges - IKEA
- Shell Pot - H&M*
- Face Planter - La Redoute*
- Bull Terrier Planter - west elm*
- Glass Vase - Oliver Bonas*
- KOTO Candle - John Lewis*
- Fluffy Cushions - west elm*
- Textured Cushions - H&M*
- Camel & Grey Blankets - H&M*
- Cup & Saucer Set (a gift from our best friends Lauren & Luke!) - Root7
- SZA CTRL Vinyl* - Urban Outfitters*
- 'No Signal' Illustration - Yime at Nine by Nine Club*
- Wine Decanter - Oliver Bonas*
- Dried Bunny Tail - Little Deer
- Jute Baskets - H&M*
- Gosia Herba Smoking Print - Etsy*
- Soundwave Print - Etsy*