Love where you live. Sign up for our newsletter

The Curbly House: Our Dining Room Makeover with Emily Henderson

by on Sep 28, 2013

Last week we told you all about the magic that’s happening in our master bedroom, thanks to Ms. Emily Henderson and the lovely folks at Sherwin-Williams! This week, we’re back to give you a little preview of what’s in store for the dining room. 

But, before we get into the details of our new-and-much-improved dining space, let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

When bought the house, the dining room looked like this. Terrible:

A bare room with two wood cabinets and a door.

Ok, maybe ‘terrible’ is a bit harsh. But those depression-era corner built-ins look much better in photos than they did in person.

A bare room with wood cabinets and a door and window.

When demolition began, this is the room that housed the most dead-animals and massive nests. Super appetizing.

A garage and empty room with most of the wall being pulled off.

Here we’ve torn the foam tile ceilings down, only to find lots of …

Man holding dead and diseased rat in a gloved hand.

… these little guys.

After months of work, the room was pest-free, and move-in ready. This is what it looked like the day we moved in. Much improved, but kind of random and a little bland:

A dining table is part of a home office.


When we added our kitchen in the latest phase of the Curbly House remodel-o-rama, we got an unexpected surprise. Our small dining room was suddenly about 7 feet longer, due to the removal of the short wall separating the dining room and kitchen.

Plastic sheeting covering a wall next to a refrigerator with magnets next to a cluttered counter top in a kitchen.

During construction: looking back through the dining room toward what would become the new kitchen.

"An Empty Dining room under Alteration"

Somewhere along the way this happened (the old wood floor got torn up and replaced so it could match the kitchen).

Two windows let in light in a green room with wooden flooring.

Looking back into the roughed-in kitchen, further along during construction.

We couldn’t visualize the added space until it was right there in front of us. The room has nearly doubled in length, and I believe its new, expansive appearance also has a little something to do with our use of paint.

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again because I can’t help myself: nothing beats neutral colors when it comes to wall paint. Forget what you’ve heard, people; neutrals are not boring. They play with the light and change with each hour of the day.

In our case, we discovered the absolute BEST GRAY IN THE WHOLE WORLD! Sherwin-Williams Aloof Gray (SW 6197). Ok, I kid … I’m sure there are some other great grays out there, but, like I had to explain to my husband, not all grays are alike, and this one rocks. I love that it makes woodwork – especially painted woodwork – pop and look super sharp.


A person is using a paintbrush near the wall near the top moulding.


Gray is my favorite neutral because it’s super flexible, easily warmed up or cooled down, depending on your lighting situation, decor, artwork, etc. Aloof Gray is a transformative color: it has greens, blues, true grays, and even white highlights depending on the time of day. It looks different in each room of our house, but because we’ve used it throughout, it makes our entire space feel airy and open, almost cloud-like. We’ve lived with this color for over a year now, and I have not once thought of changing it. Which, if you know me, is actually super-impressive because I have real paint-commitment issues.

The increased size of the room is great,  but it has also created a few conundrums, specifically where furniture was concerned. To begin with, we had to find a new location for my favorite piece of furniture, the dining room table my dad made decades ago.

As you can see from this shot (a table setting we did years ago at our old house), my dad’s table cleans up nicely:

A table set with a rustic theme, using wooden pears.


Bruno was the first to realize that the table just wasn’t working in the new, elongated space, and Emily took his side. When the shock subsided, I reluctantly agreed, and my favorite table in the world is going to my brother’s house, where it will look perfect. Here’s where I admit to my dear husband that he was right, and I was wrong. I bet Emily doesn’t know she’s also a mediator/couple’s therapist.

As we began the search for a new dining table, we had a few criteria in mind:

1. The table had to have the ability to expand to accommodate 8-10 diners.

2. It needed a thin profile that wouldn’t take over the room. Because, while the room got a lot longer, it did not get any wider.

3. There had to be something visually interesting about it. And preferably, it would be vintage. 

4. It had to be sturdy (y’know, like, kids-climbing-around-on-top-of-it sturdy).

With that list in tow, we began scouring Craiglist and vintage shops like it was our full-time job, which to be quite honest, it sort of was. In three week’s time, we’d fallen in love with three tables. The first one was so gorgeous in the pictures, but so delicate in person that we feared it didn’t stand a chance next to our one-year-old who we’ve affectionately nicknamed “Smash”. 

A long, oval, wooden dining table with black metal legs sitting in a garage.


The second table looked perfect in the pictures, but to this day we can not get the “seller” to respond to us. We’ve e-mailed them a dozen times, and heard nada. Seriously, table owners, your business model needs work.


Group of dining chairs by a dining table in a dining room.


We ended up getting the last table we saw. In truth, I was least excited about it based solely on its Craigslist ad. But the pictures didn’t do it justice, because it’s lovely and big and just what our room needed. And, guess what? We got it for a total steal, which makes it even sweeter.


A shiny wooden table, with a matching chair next to it.

Aaaand we got that chair in the background for free in the deal! Amazefulness.

We also scored this insanely awesome Lane credenza, which has become my new favorite piece of furniture. I can already picture it decked out with lovely lamps and a zillion other pretty/weird things Emily will dream up. 

A huge, long dresser is dark wooden brown.

This puppy cost $260. Yes, Bruno has some mean negotiating tactics (like … asking please). 


We’re enjoying playing around with chair ideas, but need to get a plan figured out pronto. We have these four gorgeous Umanoff slat wood chairs (also from a certain list-of-Craig), and can’t decide if we should find some captain’s chairs to go with them, or just spring for a full set of six.


Four brown slat chairs on black legs in front of a garage door.

Ok, full disclosure: these are not our actual chairs, since I couldn’t find the original CL photo. But they’re almost identical (ours are a smidge darker wood)

Along with the furniture pieces, we’ve installed a new chandelier from that is beyond brilliant. It’s the definition of stunning. Here are a few of the lighting choices Emily and Orlando asked us to consider (a dollar for whoever guesses which we chose … a virtual dollar):

Three styles of black lamp hanging from the ceiling.

Sonneman Tempo, Possini Euro Planet, and Echo Deep Patina chandeliers from

We’re also excited to receive our Loloi rug, which will quite literally ground the room and define the dining space beautifully. Here’s our working mood board:

A living room rod chandelier above a brown cabinet and in front of a blue painting on the wall.

Mood board sources:

– Lane Credenza (vintage, from Craigslist)
Lisbon Bar cart from Arteriors
Jonathan Adler Meurice Chandelier  at
“Mountain of Things” by Mo Negm at Saatchi Online)
Happy Chic Vase by Jonathan Adler
Laura Ashley Soft Fold Roman shades in Cameo Apple Blossom from
Thumprints Starburst Cast Metal Tinted Copper table lamp  from
Anzio rug in Denim from Loloi Rugs


We’ll be back in a few weeks with the full reveal. We can’t wait to show you!


If you’re just catching up, here’s our first post on planning a master bedroom design with Emily Henderson.

This post was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. All opinions are mine alone. 



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *