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  • Writer's pictureAmy Pagano

The Dining Room: Thrifting and other Decoration Details

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

Don't underestimate the power of thrifting and some fake plants.

Ahh, a dining room with carped flooring - sort of my worst nightmare. One thing that Brenton reminds me of when it comes to purchasing new things is functionality. I tend to go for aesthetics but have slowly been learning the merge the two thanks to his logical minded ways. He HATES when things don't function as they should or you have to be too careful. For example, he does not like when I buy (or make on my Cricut) dishware that can't go in the dishwasher. He gets very frustrated when there is a light switch in a house with no purpose. And most of all, he hates throw pillows on the bed because he's not allowed to sleep with them (don't be getting my white throw pillows all mis-shaped and dirty.)

I say all of that to say, we hated that we had to do carpet in the dining room (see blog post about HOA rules for why) I am actually seriously regretting not breaking the rules for this one room. I also have considered on multiple occasions ripping up our very expensive new carpet and installing more LVP but I'll save that for another blog post when it actually happens. We both hate feeling anal about eating at the dining room table for fear of spilling red wine on the brand new cream colored carpet. Not to mention, the chair feet sliding around on it aren't great either, I can tell it will wear down fast despite the name "Lifeproof" there is only so much a carpet can withstand (click that link to see the carpet we bought. The color we purchased is not shown online.) To protect the carpet and allow the chairs to slide better I actually seriously considered putting tennis balls on the feet of the chairs kind of like you'd see in elementary school. More on home hacks later because I did find a solution (kind of.)

So an area rug on top of the carpet seemed like the best idea. As you see above, aesthetically it looks great, however there are still some practical challenges we are overcoming.

  1. Carpet on carpet likes to bubble, especially with pressure or weight (like a chair) so you have to adjust it every so often and be careful not to trip.

  2. Our robot vacuum gets confused sometimes with the change in texture and it has to jump about an inch up which doesn't always work if it's bubbling (we legit made some decisions based on our robot vacuum and I don't regret it.)

  3. The chair feet are now tearing up this rug - which is better than the actual carpet but it's still annoying

  4. This rug texture is challenging to clean

Despite these things, it's still the best solution as of yet and we do like it although I worry about it's longevity. For the price, I am a bit disappointed since parts of it are starting to pull up however I think that's also the nature of a "natural" rug. We found this rug online at Walmart and Overstock but ultimately went with Walmart. It's the Safavieh Natural Fiber Tashi Geometric Diamond Braided Area Rug

A Word About Dining Room Tables

First of all, furniture is pricey! If you want real wood furniture- forget it. You are spending a pretty penny. Since we know this is not our forever home we wanted to find the balance of furniture that looks nice (I am over the days of a take-what-you-can-get-mismatched-free-from-your-friends furniture) and is decent quality but that we won't feel guilty about selling off or tossing in a few years when we do find our forever home. Now, I learned something valuable with this table purchase. Real wood on a dining room table can be overrated and here is why. It comes back to that practicality piece. I was trained from a young age to use a coaster because of my Aunt Lisa and her home full of beautiful antique furniture. She has an eye for antiques and her house was filled with unique, beautiful and good quality items. That being said she was the coaster enforcer of the family and rightfully so. She didn't want little rings of condensation all over her nice wood furniture (thanks for training me Aunt Lisa!) Now, if every time we go to use our dining room table I have to bug Brenton to use a coaster he may legitimately end this relationship. I harass him to use a placemat when he eats at the coffee table (real wood) and he gives me THE LOOK. So as much as I wanted a nice wood dining room table, I am kind of thrilled with what we got. It's nice quality in the sense that it is heavy and sturdy but the top is fake wood and it has a worn look to it so no need to stress about coasters although I do keep placemats down anyway. It also has become a makeshift desk since I am working from home so I don't worry about scratching it with my computer or mouse as I might a real wood top.

I know I will want my nice wood table eventually but I think I'll save that for when we have a larger space with room for a more formal dining table and an everyday table. In this small space, we use this table a lot so it's nice not to worry about messing it up. I think it's funny that I don't even have kids yet (unless you count Brenton, which is debatable) and I am worried about it so those of you with little ones may find a lot of value in having a table you don't have to stress over.

Now where did we find this nice yet not nice dining room table you may ask? Well technically it's from Ashley Furniture and it's the Coverty Dining Table with Chairs set. Funny story though, I saw this table on Pinterest and thought it was okay but when I went to the website they were no longer selling it so I didn't think much about it and continued on my way of perusing the internet for a plain wood but modern table which is what I thought I wanted. Fast forward a week or so later and this exact dining set was on OfferUp (which is like Craigslist) for half the price. I couldn't believe it. The look of this set is not at all what I had envisioned but it was the perfect size and everything I did like was sold out. Trying to buy furniture during the 2020 shutdown was impossible because everyone was remodeling their homes and with factories closed many places ran out of stock quickly. We decided to go for it and and here we are with our thrifted table set that was in perfect condition for half the price and we love how it turned out in the space.

The Look

The goal for the look of the condo was bright, fresh, and full of greenery. Modern but not too trendy. I truly believe your space matters, it effects your mood so I wanted to create a space we both loved and felt happy to be in.

The challenge with an open floor plan is you are essentially planning out three different rooms all in one space so the furniture and decorations have to compliment each other. I underestimated that factor but eventually found a way to make things flow. For example, the light fixture in the dining room had to work with the kitchen even thought it's not in the kitchen. Because our hardware in the kitchen was black, we felt a black light fixture was the best fit. I didn't want anything too big or anything that would make a huge statement. I found some simple fixtures from West Elm that I wanted and I was even willing to splurge a little for the right piece however the ones I found were not compatible for slanted ceilings. Something I am glad I learned to look for in advance!

Keep in mind if you have vaulted or slanted ceilings, not all light fixtures will work! So, lo and behold Amazon came to the rescue! Meet the Caserti Mid Century Modern 3 Light Hanging Ceiling Chandelier Light Fixture | Black with Clear Glass Globes Pendant Lighting LL-C607-5BLK I love this fixture because of it's simplicity and ability to be modern and sleek. It's also dimmable which is nice for setting the mood. My only complaint is that the glass sometimes looks a tad foggy and I think it might be the actual glass having a bit of a streaky-ness about it because I can't seem to get it right with Windex but it's not a deal breaker for me. When the lights are on is when see this minor flaw. Overall we are really happy about this fixture.

That Plant Life

Listen, I am all about plants and greenery in the home. That being said, I also truly believe there is a place for fake plants. I know there are some haters out there who will say you must have real plants and that they bring positive energy to the home. I totally believe that real plants bring positive energy to the home...until they are dead because you have a black thumb OR your space doesn't get enough light. Both of which are true for me.

Fake Greenery All Day

In the above photo, none of those plants are real- not one! While since taking that photo I have swapped out the tall plant in the right corner with a real palm (compliments of an impulse buy at yours truly, Costco) however I am not convinced it's not going to die on me. I went through a "plants must be real" phase until I spent $80 on succulents and air plants only to have killed them all. The amount of tender love and care I put into keeping them alive was...enough to make me feel like a failure when they died. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Now I go for fakes unless I have a really good spot that gets light or I make an impulse buy OR they're out on my porch. Those of course, are real. Not to mention the fake plants always look great, never get overgrown or dead, and never stress me out. The only time I will argue that you MUST get a real plant, is for Christmas or for the purpose of an herb garden (obviously!)

The Rest of the Decorations

With the exception of the table/chairs, the area rug and the shelf - I am not lying when I say it's all from either Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Amazon or Target. Those are my go-to places for decorations and knick knacks. The shelf, which is a prized possession is actually homemade! I am really proud of this shelf and would love to write a blog post about how I made it except I made it years ago and don't remember any of the details. I made up the measurements as it was being cut at Home Depot so I don't even have any real plans but I'll tell you this - draw it out, decide on the outside frame size and go from there. It wasn't THAT hard (shout out to Rachel and Christy who helped make it come to life!)

Stay tuned for a post on our bedroom with some details about the decorations in there which is a different look than our living space.

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