We’ve lived in our house for just over four years now, but it’s still far from finished – not least because rather than move onto areas that we haven’t yet touched, I’ve spent the last few months redoing rooms that we’d already decorated! First up was the living room, and now I’m excited to be able to share the results of the next makeover on the list: the dining room.
This room is one of the most frequently used spaces in the house (we don’t have an open-plan kitchen so this is where we eat and where we gather with family and friends) but, as with the living room, I’d never been 100% happy with the way I’d decorated it first time round. You can get a glimpse of what it used to look like and read about my plans in this post, but essentially my aim was to replace the previous bluish-grey scheme with something a little warmer, while keeping the minimalist feel. A lot of the furniture was also beginning to look very scruffy thanks to cat claws and my own clumsiness, and I’d never been keen on the chunky dark-wood table that we bought in hurry when we first moved into the house. So, here’s what I did…
The colour scheme
As strange as it sounds, the monochrome colour palette was inspired by a cream and charcoal rug from Swedish company Nordic Knots, which now forms the basis of the entire room. The walls were already painted in a soft white, but the cool undertones of the previous scheme didn’t do it justice. It’s now paired with black and natural oak, which bring out its warmth and create a look that’s smart yet inviting. I’ve also incorporated a few grey and chrome accents to give a bit of continuity with the living room next door, and I’ve softened the room’s many angles with billowing semi-sheer curtains that pool on the floor.
Like most rooms in our house, the furniture and accessories used here are a mix of investment pieces that we saved up for and cheaper items from the likes of IKEA. The biggest spend was the solid-oak table from Rose & Grey, but it was well worth the money. I’d had my eye on it for ages, so despite the cost it was the quickest decision of the whole project! I love the tapered legs and the way the wood is laid in a chevron pattern on top, adding a bit of detail to an otherwise minimalist piece.
Finding the right chairs was much trickier. I’ve owned the vintage Bertoia side chairs for years and wanted them to act as statement pieces at either end of the table, so the hunt was on for a complementary design that wouldn’t fight them for attention. After a lot of indecision and several inconclusive Instagram polls, I finally settled on black ‘J77’ chairs from HAY – an understated, timeless and very practical design first created back in the 1960s.
Another key element of the room is the lighting – essential for setting a relaxed, cosy atmosphere for informal meals. A pendant lamp suspended low over the table was a must, as it creates an important focal point in the centre of the room. I opted for the ‘Fluid’ light from Muuto as it’s simple but striking; it also emits a soft, diffused glow and can be dimmed to alter the mood.
I’d also like to add a floor lamp in the corner of the room to give another source of ambient light, but that isn’t essential and will have to wait until budget allows.
The built-in dresser was here when we bought the house and provides a wonderful place to display treasured objects. It had started to look a little cluttered, though, so I spent an afternoon faffing around with it and pared things right back. The result is a curated selection of a few favourite pieces, including ceramics that I’ve collected over the years, a ‘Kubus’ candleholder (the first piece of classic Scandinavian design that I ever treated myself to!) and a trailing string-of-hearts plant. As I’m partial to a G&T, I decided to incorporate a handy bar corner with glasses and measures, too.
The art was also carefully chosen, and I love the fact that all of it was made by talented friends. The bespoke ceramic artwork above the fireplace was a kind gift from potter Tracy Dixon, whose journey I’ve been following for a while. As well as minimalist vases and tableware, she crafts stunning made-to-order wall hangings formed from organic stoneware shapes attached to wooden boards, and no two are the same. I asked her to paint this one the same shade as the wall, but she can use whatever colour you want. The clematis print in the far corner of the room was purchased from fellow blogger and photographer Emma Lavelle, whose work has a wonderfully ethereal, dream-like quality.
So, there you have it: my minimalist yet warm dining-room makeover! I’m so pleased to have it ready in time for Christmas feasts, and I’m looking forward to styling the table for the festive season – inspiration for that to follow next week…
Here’s a full list of everything I used in this room (items marked * were kindly gifted by the brands concerned):
‘Bergen’ solid-oak dining table, £795, Rose & Grey
HAY ‘J77’ chairs, £139 each, Utility Design
Vintage Bertoia side chairs, already owned
Large ‘Fluid’ pendant lamp, Muuto*
Cream and charcoal ‘Solid’ flat-weave rug, £359, Nordic Knots*
White fruit bowl, Hübsch
Bespoke ceramic artwork, price on application, Tracy Dixon*
‘HK’ pitcher, £195, Georg Jensen*
Chrome ‘Balance’ candleholder, €35, Ferm Living*
Grey ‘Stammen’ speaker, £219.99, Urbanears*
Black ‘Kubus 4’ candleholder, €138, By Lassen
Large white ‘Kubus’ bowl, €245, By Lassen*
Grey ‘Circle’ tray, 525 SEK (around £46), Cooee Design*
‘Ultima Thule’ glasses, £82 for a set of four, Iittala*
Dark grey ‘Sculpt’ vase, €55, Ferm Living
Other ceramics, collected from markets over the years
‘Clematis 2’ print, £25, Emma Lavelle
Grey ‘HILJA’ curtains, £12, IKEA
Smoked-glass ‘Burr’ bud vase, £12 for a set of three, MADE.com
‘Theo’ coffee brewer, £59.95, Stelton
Madam Stoltz black stoneware cups, £10 each, Stil Homeware
Grey waffle cloth / tea towel, £8.50, White Black Grey
‘Soft’ wooden board, 445 DKK (about £53), Skagerak*
Nordic Knots, Tracy Dixon and Muuto kindly gifted products for the makeover, but as always all words and opinions are my own. Several other items featured were also originally gifted by the brands concerned, as noted above.
All photography by Abi Dare