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Dining Room Makeover

Tackle a redecorating project in manageable stages. See this dining room morph from bland to spicy in three steps.

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-Decorating a room from scratch can be intimidating. There are lots of decisions to make and many of them require hard work, a lot of money, or both. Where do you start? How do you create the room of your dreams? Hi. I'm Doug Hanson and I'm a project designer for Decorating Magazine. Today, you're going to watch a dining room morph from the sterile white shell into a chic entertaining hub. By breaking the transformation into three stages, I'll show you how to begin the project with one terrific piece, in this case a dining set, and add to it over time until the room is picture perfect. Things are pretty stark as we begin this transformation. The room has great bones, high ceilings, generous windows, and a unique alcove and we're starting with that terrific table, but the builders' white walls aren't very warm, the window treatments are uninspired, and the lighting is standard issue. The dinnerware is nice but simple, and our beautiful dining set blends right into the dark floor. This room has a lot of potential but it needs a big dose of personality. At stage 2, our dining room is on its way from drab to dramatic. The beautiful table and chairs provided Asian inspiration so I sought out accessories that take us in that direction but with a modern twist. You can live with quality classic furniture for decades, redecorating from time to time with changes in accessories. Artwork doesn't have to break your budget. These distinctive prints are actually decorative papers that look special with generous mats embellished with an aging stamp. The ho-hum chandelier is replaced with a sleek drum pendant, inexpensive and stylish, once again proving that chic dcor doesn't have to cost a lot. The table has been layered with additional dinnerware and accessories, adding sophistication, and, look, the room's first dose of color. You might be tempted to paint first but it makes sense to begin with large items like this rug. Paint can be mixed to match any color, textiles can't. Wow, what a difference. Here in the final stage of our makeover, color is king. People are more open to bold color in dining rooms so we went for it. With a large scale floral print on the red-orange ground, this gorgeous wallpaper makes a big statement. With its Asian aesthetic, the wallpaper is a great partner for the dining chairs and accessories. To balance the bold paper, I chose white and black accents and additional accessories with subtle Asian motifs. The window treatments command attention and since the windows are symmetrical, it was easy to bring crisp white and black into the mix, even though they aren't a big part of the wallpaper pattern. Black grill grain ribbon is applied to the balances in a contemporary interpretation of a classic Greek key motif. The dragonfly artwork picks up on the Asian motif in a modern way. With bold and busy walls, I needed art that was simple with lots of white space. These pricey looking prints are actually clip art from the web framed in inexpensive molding that I finished in faux gold leaf. In the alcove, glamorous floor lamps bracket a contemporary altar table. Floor lamps are an unusual choice for a dining room, but these are so sculptural and the additional light source adds ambience. While this pair of lamps add drama to the room, more traditional buffet lamps would work well, too. The table is set with a wonderful mix of dinnerware, crystal, and textiles. Black and white accents continue and the gorgeous peony china picks up color and pattern from the wallpaper. A centerpiece of lilies, mums, and orchids adds another touch of Asian design. The one accessory with lots of color is our rug. Since the walls are so bold, the bright rug helps balance the room by bringing the brightness of the walls beneath the table. Notice the subtle Greek key motif that mimics the window treatments. Remember where this room began? The walls were bellow white, the dark floors blended with the table and chairs, the window treatments were boring, and the lighting fixture was wimpy. The room had great bones but lacked drama. In stage 2, we began to build the color scheme by choosing a terrific rug and moved toward an Asian aesthetic. A modern pendant light added an updated mood. Stage 3 is all about drama--a gorgeous, daring wallpaper adds swagger to the space and artwork, a bar table, and chic lamps exude glamour. The window treatments are simple but commanding. The table setting grew, too, from a foundation of basic white to an eclectic mix of floral and geometric patterns with lots of sparkle. Decorating should be fun, not frightening. As we teach in Decorating Magazine, it's easy to just begin with one well-chosen piece such as this dining table. It will lead you to your first good decision, which will lead you to your second and so on. By understanding the room by living in it, you'll make the right choices to create the room that you love.