sometimes katie goes from outdated to retro [dining room makeover]…

…so it’s been awhile since I posted. I have been VERY busy working on the house since May, and I’m hoping to finish all of my projects soon, so that I can post about them!

One of my projects that has taken months to complete is my dining room. It’s basically done, and I will DEFINITELY be posting a lot of pictures, because it has been an amazing transformation, and I am so proud of how it turned out.

When we bought our house (as I’ve probably said before), it was updated at some point since 1940 when it was built, but it still looked pretty outdated to me. A lot of yellow, gold, and brass, which just isn’t exactly my style.

The dining room is very long and narrow, which makes it difficult to have a big dining room set. I have six siblings, and I need somewhat of a space to host dinners/parties. I knew right away that this room would need to be changed at some point, but wasn’t quite sure what look I was going for. Very early on, though, I started envisioning transforming it into a 1950s diner-like kitchen and dining room. I knew there was a lot of work to do though, and it was not a huge priority.

This is the view from the kitchen to the dining room. I remember when we looked at the house for the first time, I immediately had ideas to knock that cabinet out to create space. I also thought maybe we could cut that counter off and make it into a movable island, but once we moved in I realized we would lose a lot of space, so that wasn’t feasible.

The family that lived there before us had a big dining room set, and in each corner there was a dresser or hutch. It seemed very full, and there wasn’t a lot of room to walk through. I liked that there was a counter into the kitchen, and wanted to have stools there to be able to eat breakfast/socialize/etc.

One thing was for sure: those gold curtains HAD to go. It was one of the first changes I made when we got the keys. Well, I had to buy new ones first, otherwise the neighbors would be able to see in… so it took a couple of weeks, until we made an IKEA trip and found some cheap white curtains to hold us over until we knew what we wanted to do with the windows.

My parents found a cool, marbled yellow vintage table with matching yellow chairs at a thrift store YEARS ago. It’s been passed to several siblings, especially when we move into our first apartment, and holds us over until we buy our own. Because the walls were yellow, it matched perfectly. But it just seemed a little TOO yellow, so I usually had it covered with a white tablecloth. My husband hated the table. It’s big, bulky, and heavy, and really hard to move.

My first dinner gathering at my house. At this point, I had decided the kitchen would be black, white, and red, with accents of polka dots (obviously. I love polka dots, and I have so many things from my wedding, I knew this would be a fun place to display some).

On our first IKEA outing, not only did we buy some white curtains to replace the gold, but we also found some other fun pieces (black and white dish sets, stools for the countertop, and a funky red light):

These black stools were about $12 each, and were nice to have for extra seating, as well as somewhere for people to sit as I was preparing in the kitchen. Only bummer: the counter top doesn’t extend out, so you kinda hit your knees on the base.

OHMYGOSH I fell IN LOVE with this lamp. It was about $30 at IKEA, and I knew it would be a showpiece for this room. I made my husband put it up pronto, because I couldn’t handle the black and gold chandelier anymore.

The yellow table didn’t stay too long. At the end of the summer, we were walking home from our favorite local pizza place, and there was a yard sale down the street. They were packing up all of their stuff and moving to Europe. In the middle of their yard, they had a beautiful small wooden table with white legs. There were also 2 white chairs with wood seats. I don’t remember the original price. But when we told them we just moved in the neighborhood, they gave us the whole set for $15. It was an upgrade from the yellow table, and my husband was thrilled.

For some odd reason, I didn’t get a picture of the table. I just found shots where it’s partly visible.

Ah, yes. Here’s a shot of the table. (We had to use some of the white and yellow chairs for seating). Our cat, Bob, was “warming up” the puzzle I put together.

The table worked well, but it didn’t have a lot of seating. When we had more than 4 people over, we had to bring in the big yellow table, which meant my husband had to lug the parts in, and put it together. So I knew that couldn’t be our final option.

In July of the next year, we were driving home and I saw a yard sale with something that caught my eye. It was a really cool glass table with a silver base, and 4 black and silver chairs. I flipped around to check it out. The price tag was kinda scribbled, but it looked like it said $15, and I WANTED IT. The owners were about to close up the sale, and she said it was only $5, which was a steal, because it was from Dania (a little pricier than IKEA, people). We threw it in the car, and took it home. It matched SO WELL.

I loved this table. Those striped placemats I had just found at IKEA, and wanted to put them all over my house, every surface. I settled for just the table.

These awesome puppies were a Craigslist find earlier that Spring. $50 for the pair (that’s big money for me, but they are pretty legit when it comes to diner stools, and I knew I had to have ’em).

So that’s all I had done for the first year we lived in our house. That summer I started working on all sorts of little projects, which you can see in previous blog posts if you’re curious!

May of this year came along, and I started to get “the itch.” As in, the itch to start redecorating my house.

Since I’ve redone my living room (sometimes katie turns told into grey), I’m constantly looking around my house at all of the colors that don’t match. ESPECIALLY the yellow kitchen and dining room. I was always telling my husband, “I cannot WAIT to paint the dining room!” But really, all four walls of this room are yellow. Plus every wall in the kitchen as well. I’ve always felt that it made the lighting look horrible in there.

I started looking at different shades of red for the dining room. I figured I’d paint the main wall red, and then possibly the small pieces above the cabinets red as well.

By the way – when I was researching painting walls red, I read that it’s smart to use a dark tinted primer before you use the red paint. Apparently it will help the red appear less streaky, and you won’t need as many coats. I believe this fully, because we have a red wall on the opposite side of the kitchen, and it was poorly done. You can see the yellow peeking through, and it’s terribly streaky.

Lucky for us, we still had a can of dark grey primer + paint from our living room, and so I painted a coat on.

Let me tell ya — red is a hard shade to pick out! Some are too dark and close to maroon. Some are too pink. Some are too orange. I just wanted bright RED. I grabbed several color swatches from Home Depot. I settled on two choices by Behr: 100 mph and Flirt Alert.

I painted a small rectangle of each color on the grey wall and let it dry before I decided.

In the end, the winner was Flirt Alert!

Funny side-note: when I do a project, I’m not very good at sticking with one thing until I finish it. So as I was trying to paint the grey wall red, and the two end walls from yellow to white, I decided to paint the 4th wall (above the cabinets leading into the kitchen) from white to grey. I had 1-3 different colors out with brushes for each, and as one was drying, I’d go to the other color. I don’t know why I do this to myself. Well, yes I do. I like to finish projects, no matter what!

This is how OCD I am. I came home one night after getting FroYo and went straight to working on the trim. Barefoot, in a dress. This happens a lot, and I’ve been pretty lucky so far of not ruining my clothes. P.S. Look how much better the room looks already!!

So before I show you how great the room looks painted, let me tell you about another side project I was working on during this room makeover. The back door was brown (and not wooden, but painted brown to look like wood). With gold hinges. My husband had already replaced the doorknob so it was silver, but the door needed to be updated. (Have I mentioned I don’t like brown or gold?)

My friend BreAnna helped me with this project, since I already had 3 paints going at the same time. We took the door off, put it outside, and she painted it with “Carbon” in Eggshell by Behr. My go-to is Eggshell by Behr. I’m sure there are other options for paint that would work, but I just like the look of it.

Above: unpainted door, and a muffin tin full of the screws for the door (a nice tip from BreAnna, not to mix up the different screws). Below: starting to paint the door with the black paint (big difference, huh?)

I also decided to spray paint the hinges silver. I’ve never done this before, but I saw on Pinterest that you can stick screws into a box or piece of foam so they don’t roll around.

This actually worked really well. I like this spray paint, but it was the first silver-toned color I’ve tried. Now I tend to use brighter silvers, like nickel or chrome, depending on the project. It looks great with the black door; silver, but subtle.

We had to bring the door in overnight to dry, to make sure any wind or rain couldn’t damage it.

When we put the door back up, it looked fantastic. There were a couple of spots that got messed up somehow, so when it was up, I tried touching it up with a roller. Well, it didn’t work well. I think the sun had lightened up the black a tiny bit, so when I put the new roll on, it showed the roll marks. It’s one tiny thing that I will fix on a rainy day when I’m out of projects (Ha!)

Okay, painting finally got finished, and it really did look sharp. Already started to transform the room.


Next side project: REMOVE THE HUGE CABINET THAT IS BETWEEN THE DINING ROOM AND KITCHEN!! It seriously has bothered me since we moved in. I mean, it’s a sturdy, nice piece of wood, and there is tempered glass so you can see through it, but you still have to duck your head to talk to people on the other side of it. I have also had a few people hit their head on it (me included), and it’s just an eyesore.

This is the best I could do with it. Add some color blocked dishes in to match the kitchen. But still: GET RID OF IT!

My husband’s mom’s cousin is a retired carpenter, and when he heard us talking about this project, he told us he’d help. We didn’t know how to go about it, because the shelves are attached to a cabinet on the wall, and we wanted to keep the end piece for storage. But we also couldn’t figure out how to take the whole thing off of the wall.


This guy worked like a machine! They had to unscrew several parts, and rip up the trim, but he made it look easy. I was so thankful he helped us with this project, because it’s something my Darling Husband would never have tried himself! (And I’m don’t blame him.) I yelled out a “woo-hoo!” when the whole thing came off.

(P.S. – that red wall behind them? That’s the poorly painted wall I was talking about either. It’s so bright and unnecessary, and I’ve always had dreams of making it something special. I DID, and I will blog about it SOON! Stay tuned!)

Once the whole piece came off, we decided to keep the end for storage. But that meant the rest had to be sawed off.


No sweat.

Again, I was so thankful for him, and we have promised to have them over for dinner once the room is completed! (I’ll just say it now – we didn’t have a dining room table up for 5 months after we painted, because I knew if we did, then the floor would NEVER get put down. I had to stand firm and wait until we had an open weekend to get it done!)

Once that big, nasty thing was gone, it was AMAZING how much roomier it felt in there.

You can see throughhhhh!!!

P.S. I doubt if anyone caught it, but the kitchen is no longer yellow. As I was painting the dining room, I got a wild hair to go into the kitchen (what?! the white paint was out, the brushes were fresh… why not?). Since the yellow is gone, I feel a lot better about being patient to complete the kitchen makeover. It’ll happen!


A very early before and after picture – basically just to show how much more space it has, and also how much better the colors look (in my opinion) 😉

I’m not a huge fan of curtains/drapes, but I love a good set of thick, white, wooden blinds. Even if they’re faux. I just like how simple they are, and probably the fact that they have straight lines. The site I ordered my living room blinds wasn’t around anymore, so I found some at Lowest Price Blinds for $55! Not bad. And now we have total privacy in our main level, AND all the window treatments match! Even better.

Next step: figure out where to put the dishes. Since we took their home away (the big, nasty cabinet), they literally had nowhere to go. For a couple of weeks they sat on the counter, until I found a better option.

I ended up buying a white pantry and putting it the corner of the kitchen by the fridge. It fits perfectly, and adds a ton of space. I was able to move some food and paper items to the pantry, freeing up shelf space. Of course this meant I had to reorganize ALL the shelves. But my slightly OCD mind enjoys these tasks.

YAY! Except the floor. I’ll never like that floor.

Now that the dishes are organized (by color), I will probably leave a couple cabinets open to display them, once we paint the cabinets white. (CAN IT BE SOOOOOON??!!)

Next piece of business: the floor.

With a 50s diner, you think black and white checkerboard floor, right? That’s totally what I was thinking originally. But the more I thought about it, the more cliche I felt it was, and I don’t want to be cliche. I want to be bold, and funky, and a little different.

As usual, I went to Pinterest for some inspiration. There were a lot of checkerboard options, but it just never felt right. THEN I saw a floor that did a striped pattern instead of checkerboard. I. FELL. IN. LOVE.

The most difficult part was finding which flooring we wanted to use. There are so many options out there: vinyl, linoleum, fake hardwood, stone, etc. We checked out a local place that sells a ton of Home Decor, especially stuff that has been taken out of old homes. They had some boxes of vinyl tile, but they were pre-made small black and white checkerboard, and I was firm that I did NOT want that!

I did the research online, and found my best bet was buying white and black 12″ x 12″ glossy vinyl tile from Home Depot (found here and here). $31/case wasn’t too bad. I calculated the dimensions of the room, and realized I’d only need one box of each. They had to be purchased online, and waiting for them to come felt like f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

BUT… they came in mid-September, and that’s when my husband went back to school. We had to wait for an open weekend, which happened to be at the beginning of October (his birthday… sorry dear!)

So once we had the tiles, I realized that I hadn’t chosen which direction I wanted the tiles to go. I couldn’t picture it in my head, so my Photoshop-Pro husband played around with it and showed me these pictures of different layouts:

Kitchen View

Side View

After looking at these: I liked the look of the stripes going against the red wall (not parallel to it). There were more stripes, and it made the room look bigger.

It’s funny though; originally I wanted to cut the tiles in half so the stripes were thinner. After looking at these pictures, I realized two things: 1) too many stripes would make the room look too busy, and 2) the thought of cutting the tiles all in half perfectly stressed me out a little. So we kept them as they were, and I’m so glad we did!

Okay, so on to putting the floor down.

First task: remove the old tile from the floor. I’d be happy to! They used a similar 12″ x 12″ vinyl tile with the sticky backs, so we had to use a crowbar or flat screwdriver to get underneath them. Some were VERY sticky, and we had to hammer the flat part underneath more, and then tear them up.

Tearing up the first layer of the floor

Well, this task took longer than we thought. The tiles were verrrrryyyy sticky.

As it got closer to the end, my husband grabbed both tools and went crazy with them in frustration. I loved it. Luckily, I caught it on video…

So once the first layer was torn up, we had to work on the second layer. These tiles were 18″ x 18″, and I assume were some sort of linoleum tile that required a glue to stick to the wooden floor below. These were more difficult to tear up. We used the same tools, but it took a little more “oomph” to tear them up.

This is the only shot I have of what the under layer looked like. I liked the look of the bigger tiles, but NOT the color. Had to go.

I think it took a few hours on Saturday to get all the floor ripped up, and what we saw underneath was a layer of plywood or subfloor (I don’t know the lingo yet). But you could tell the previous owner had put a lot of effort into laying it down, and then measuring out where the 18″ x 18″ tiles would go. It was EXTREMELY sticky from the glue, and we had to put some boards down to walk through the room, and to start laying down the new tile. Unfortunately, dust and dirt and fabric still got stuck to the floor pretty easily, and before we laid down the new tile, it had to be scraped and vacuumed (I’m guessing this was my husband’s most dreaded task).

The wooden base of the dining room floor, with the boards to walk on so we didn’t stick to the floor.

Funny thing we found — the two guys that put the floor down wrote a little note. On another part of the floor was the name and phone number of the other guy who helped. The date was 8/24/02. Before we finished, my husband wrote our names and date down as well.

We researched the process of laying down tile, and they recommended finding the exact center of the room, and starting there. Lucky for us, the guys before us already did this. My husband made a few measurements and marked it with a chalk line, and got to work!

The process of putting down those sweet black and white tiles!


Once he got the middle section done, he waited until the next day to do the border, because he needed to figure out how to cut them to size. In the end, he measured them and used a utility knife to slice off the extra parts. Wait – he just told me that he scored them, and then flexed them, and it broke off. See, that’s why I trust him to do these sorts of things. I would just end up slicing part of my finger off.

Well, it turns out I didn’t account for the fact that because there was stripes, and it would end up being an odd number, we were about two tiles short of being able to fill the whole floor. It probably would’ve been okay, but the box of black tiles that we got had about 4 tiles that didn’t have a sticky back on them. We didn’t want to have to mess with finding a glue to use, and eventually we want to do the same pattern in the kitchen, so we ended up just buying another box of black. This delayed completion for about a week, so we put down wax paper over the unfinished parts, and were able to walk on the floor.

A couple of weeks later, he finished the job! I couldn’t stop staring at it. And smiling. It was better than I imagined.


Another addition: a new table! I searched and searched, and eventually found myself in the Seattle area at my mothership, Ikea. I found that my best, cheapest bet, was to buy a tabletop, with coordinating legs to match. Amazingly, I found a long, narrow table in the Office section (described as a two-person desk), that would fit PERFECTLY in the dining room, to allow about eight people to sit, and still have the bar stools at the counter top. It was only $45, and found here at Ikea. It required five legs (one for the middle because it’s so long), and I picked out a white, rounded leg with black tips at the bottom. $3.50 each here. So $62.50 wasn’t bad for a table that I would finally be okay with in my dining room! It’s amazing how many compliments I’ve gotten on this table, it’s unlike most dining room sets, and is fun to decorate with centerpieces throughout the year.

The hardest part? Just getting it in my car to bring home!

It barely made it into my car, and the 5 hour drive home was kinda long without being able to reach over and hold my husband’s hand! In this trip we also got the makings for an entertainment center for our living room.

I used the black and chrome chairs from a previous yard sale find, and eventually made a white bench for the backside of the table (blog post to come later).

My mom’s favorite thing to do is decorate the table for seasons, holidays, and dinners. She’s an amazing decorator, and always knows how things will look best.


My mom’s Autumn centerpiece she just “threw together”

The beautiful table she set for Thanksgiving. Naturally black, white, and red. Dishes from IKEA!

One last thing before I end this extremely long post…

I’ve always wanted a coffee station. We got a Keurig as a wedding gift, and we use it daily. But I didn’t like how much room it took on the counter. I put my mom on the task of keeping her eye out for some sort of shelf or cart that I could use for a coffee station. A couple months later, she brought me a piece my little brother had left in his room when he moved out. And voila! A coffee station! I had a lot of fun picking out the red/black/white mugs to go on display on the shelves.

Mu cute little coffee cart! And yes, that is a hand-painted food bowl for our cat that matches the room.


And speaking of our cat, Bob, here are some shots of him “getting used to” our
new dining room.

IMG_5322 IMG_20141009_122723

I absolutely love my dining room. I am so proud of it, and I love having people over for meals.

Here’s what I need to do to make the room “complete:”

  • Fix the black paint on the door (maybe with chalkboard paint?)
  • Add white trim around the tiles on the edges (there’s some small gaps that need to be filled)
  • Paint the cupboards white!!! (This will be part of a blog in the future when I eventually redo that room!)
  • Put a silver room divider between the striped floor and hardwood floor in the living room (there were gold strips previously, and we found the right piece to separate the kitchen from dining room, but we got the wrong size for the other end).

I hope you enjoyed the transformation as much as I did! Stay tuned for more updates I did last Spring/Summer, and keep an eye out for a special room I’m going to decorate soon!! 😉


One thought on “sometimes katie goes from outdated to retro [dining room makeover]…

  1. Pingback: sometimes katie makes a chalkboard wall… | sometimeskatie

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