My well-used dining room has, over the years, done double duty as an office for the Man of the House. Which means that, at the very least, it’s always looked a tad confused. It’s shown above, looking even sadder than usual, after a good purge. I know, right? Like, yikes!
Necessity and practicality, however, always ruled over beauty. As a teacher, MOTH needed space to spread pictures and projects kids have made, and pile stacks of journals, research books, and notes (some of them pretty sweet, tbh) to the teacher.
The room cleaned up nicely enough to host large family dinners, but now MOTH is nearing his well-deserved retirement, I want to turn it into a comfortable, multi-purpose space that can be used throughout the day, especially given that large gatherings are now — for a multitude of reasons — rare.
A rethink is definitely in order, but there are challenges. The first — budget. Investing for resale value isn’t a high priority, and affordability will be key.
Help first came in the form of a lunch with William MacDonald. who is one of my favourite designers. When I said I wanted it to be an airy, casual, pretty space, William hit on the idea of using an English conservatory as a jumping off point. He even gave me homework: to look at a video about the style of Bunny Mellon.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m no Bunny Mellon. I get it. Bill’s point was not to try and replicate a look but to be inspired by her strong sense of style and confidence.
Contrary to much popular thought about room design, this one started with paint colour. (I’ve had many designers tell me paint colour is the last thing they pick.) Not surprisingly though here perhaps, as paint is probably the easiest, most affordable way to transform a room.
On the walls, I tested a new product called Venetian Silk from Dulux, which produces a metallic sheen and gives the walls subtle shadow and depth. It’s a two-step process, with a base layer rolled on before two more layers of tinted “paint” are applied with a trowel-like plastic applicator. Check out the effect on this video.
Right from the beginning, I liked the way the finish played with shadow and light. Over time, I’ve come to really love the way greens, blues and silver surface in different lights, and at different times of the day.
The three-quarter in hardwood floors did not have one more sanding in them. And frankly, neither did I – or my budget. So they were covered in Dulux floor paint. It was simple: the floor was given a quick sand and then two coats of paint were rolled on. We did add felt cushions to the legs of furniture to avoid scarping the surface, but other than that, it seems very durable.
More on this room soon, and tips on affordable ways to create elegant effects from La MacDonald, next week. Stay tuned.