ABM Studio: The Dining Room (Before)

Dining room inspiration Hey friends! I'm back for another round of "before" sharing and decor idea brainstorming. Today we're talking about the dining room. I'll admit upfront that this is one of my most clueless rooms. I'm still not sure what we're doing with it. The possibilities are (SO) exciting, but the time to make choices, choose colors and commit to furniture is soon approaching. I'm excited to share my thoughts so far! 

Photo above via Apartment 34. I absolutely love the mismatched metal chairs, wood table and string of twinkle lights! 

Dining Room BEFOREDining Room BEFOREDining Room BEFOREDining Room BEFOREHere's the way the dining room looked on closing day. It's a nice big space, with good windows and three doors going into the entryway, office room and kitchen. I know some of you are going to say to keep the color (it is pretty cute!), but the walls are actually super cracked in this room. We've had to do a lot of skim coating and also that border had to come down. With that said, I haven't picked out any colors for sure yet, but I want to do at least one wall with color in this space… or maybe the ceiling? 

I'm looking forward to seeing how the built ins look with a fresh coat of white paint and the lace curtains removed. I'm thinking about painting the insides of the shelves black so that the dishware will pop!

Dining Room BEFORE     I love the chandelier and I want to keep it, but I think it needs a little somethin'. After looking (for an undisclosed amount of time) at painted chandeliers on Pinterest I feel bright colors aren't the right move, but I'm still considering painting the metal a brighter gold, copper or white and possibly adding more crystals. It looks exactly like the one I have on my porch at home (which I love for the porch), so I want to somehow make this piece a little more cheerful or fancy. Thoughts? 

Cute black and white roomsI love the black and white walls in these two rooms (via SF Girl By Bay and Stacie Bloomfield featured here). A two tone wall is defintely an option. 

Dining room inspirationOne thing I am (mostly) sure about for this room is that we want to build bench style table. I love the the look and as much as I love shopping for chairs I think it'll be fun to try something different! This room is via The Design Files. I'm absolutely obsessed with every detail! 

I can't wait to get started! xo. Elsie 

ps. For more obsessive daily studio inspiration, follow me on Pinterest

Credits // Author and Photography: Elsie Larson, Inspiration images are linked throughout.

  • just posted an idea for your dinning room make-over on pinterest 😛
    http://www.pinterest.com/pin/125256433359940972/ 😉

  • Another option for the back of the built ins is some nice wallpaper. Something cute and graphic print, like Orla Kiely style.

  • I love the bench seat in the the last photo, the pop of pink lifts this from beautiful to extraordinary, and the 2 toned panelled walls are a classic. I also love that one of my fav blogs (ABM) is referencing one of other fav blogs (THe design files) which is all the way from my side of the world, Melbourne, Australia! Lucy (the founder) has an incredible eye, check out her TDF Open House idea, truly inspired!

  • This is going to be the perfect creative space for you guys. I can just tell.


  • Hi, I follow your blog…but I think this is the first comment I have made…love the blog!
    So the space…gosh it is great! my suggestions would be:
    if you want to do black with your built in… I would get black poster board first…but it in…put you dishes in it to make sure you can see them…especially if there is no light in there… they say…light pink is the best to show off your china…(I collect china.
    As for a table… love the idea…how about something rustic but industrial? That would look awesome! Love the chandelier! And I think you are right about the bright color…I think its a fade and chandeliers should be more of a tradition piece.. love the ideas for brightening it up!
    And for a contrast wall… why not go chalkboard…if you don’t have one already…you could post your menu… or messages to your guests… then do a calming grey…with burst of color throughout.. just remember yellow makae you hungry…reds promote conversation….wow! Now I know why I don’t post… sorry for the long comment….just love the space!

  • I don’t know if they still have them, but IKEA used to sell colorful crystals that you can hang off of chandeliers. The ones i have are in blue, pink, purple and orange and they look just like the regular prisms, but in fun colors!
    I hung them in my window ( Like in the movie Pollyanna) the look really pretty! IT might look neat to mix and match the colored and traditional ones!

  • For the chandelier, I love it!! But it almost seems too small for the space, may look into adding another piece above it to make the fixture better proportioned to the room. Love the idea of painting it a brighter gold/copper color!!!

  • Hi! I saw a quick chandelier update idea on How About Orange: http://howaboutorange.blogspot.ca/2013/11/small-victories.html

    She just swapped the light bulbs for some round ones, might be a first step for yours 🙂

    Love your blog,

  • Re: the chandelier, you could add sconces surrounding the “candlestick” bulbs – some kind of open topped, tulip shaped glass to cover the existing plastic and glass. You could add or change out the crystals to be something more colorful – colored crystals from a crystal shop, or bead store. You could replace the crystals with hanging beads in any array of design styles. Consider it a base for making a jewelry piece and hang whatever stones or objects you want. Could even extend the chandelier out to the various sides/corners of the room, with strings of tiny lights attached to each arm. Too fanciful for a dining room? I don’t know – I feel like you could pull it off.

  • For your chandelier…what about adding crystals in another color? If you are going with black walls, adding crystals in whatever accent color you use in that room would complement the clear crystals. And you could switch them out.

  • Love the little cupboard. I’d consider doing just one bench like in one of the black and white photos – benches are great, but hard to sit on for a long time, and if it’s a work table, different people have different sitting styles, you know?

  • I think a little bar in the built in cabinet would look fabulous! You could do some sort of paper along the back wall to make it pop!

  • the room you have just screams possibilities! i know you will do a gorgeous job. can’t wait to see!

  • I think the chandelier is lovely! I love the metal and crystals as they are. I’d fancy it up a bit by painting the white part that the bulbs screw into a bright, fun color and then use fat round clear bulbs (or mercury dipped eddison bulbs would be nice too!) instead of traditional chandelier bulbs. I can’t wait see the fun things that come together in this house!!!

  • Oh god, to be honest I would leave it just as it is! Love love love the old fashion walls and the chandelier and the dark wooden floors and the built-in cabinet. ♥
    But of course, it’s also great to see what you will end up doing with it: 🙂

  • What an exciting project for you! I am so jealous of all your space, being in London does have it’s downsides!I live in a shoe box! hehe.. Can’t wait to see everything take shape. Nikki

  • that built in is amazing! What about hanging some geode slices on the chandelier? that way they still show light through them and they add a little extra color.

  • Thanks so much for the link love my dear! Cannot wait to see how your dining room turns out {makes me wish I had one!}

  • I’m in love with the lace curtains in that unit! Gah!

    Lulu xx


  • Chandelier: Change of bulb shape or changing out some clear crystals for colored crystals plus a nice shiny silver or gold would brighten it up!

    Love the space, love your ideas. Especially the bench seating!

  • what about replacing the crystals with mini 2 sided round mirrors? It might look kind of cool and disco ball-ish

  • The chandelier is beautiful, but definitely needs to be brightened up with a gold or silver paint. Love the two-toned paint idea, and the bench seating, except for the problems of getting up if someone needs the “necessary” room, and the problem of no way to rest your back after eating a full meal. New curtains will be great, even though I love lace, but the lace is dated. Good luck on whatever you do. You have such great taste.

  • I love the idea of a pop of color on the ceiling….maybe an awesome medallion around the light fixture too. I think it would be so much fun to do what you guys are doing, decorating a work space that is a home! So.Much.Fun!

  • Chandelier: those bulbs and plastics bases have to go! I think you’re right not to do a bright color. You mentioned out of the choice of white, gold and copper- I would choose copper. I read a comment above about adding colored jewels, that would be really neat! Especially if you stayed in one family of hues.

  • What about painting the chandier white then stringing some colourful garland around intertwined with the crystals to give it some colour. Maybe some tissue paper flowers. You could change the garland with the seasons.

  • Whatever you all choose to do, I know it will look fantastic!
    Kolbi | Life With Kolbi

  • My first thought when it came to the chandelier was to change out the crystals with a different color of crystals. Maybe topaz, amber or a different color? I think a light aqua crystal would be pretty!

  • My first thought when it came to the chandelier was to make the crystals a different color. Maybe replace them with topaz, amber or some sort of light colored crystal. That could be fun?! 🙂

  • Yay for the black and white. The chalkboard paint would make it even better! I love my chalkboard to collect ideas and thoughts and write cute little quotes…

  • Odd question but does anybody know what those big green beautiful leaves are on the table in the first picture?

    Also, I just painted my entire formal dining room with chalkboard paint LOVE IT

  • I had a question about the light. I feel the light in the entire house seems less as compared to what we are used to seeing on your blog pictures.. I am wondering how you guys manage to make the rooms look bright. Do you guys use camera setting to enhance light or would you make changes in the house and add more windows to make up for the lack of light.

  • I know you said that you were feeling bright colours for the chandelier, but perhaps you could add them in subtly. I’d take the crystals off and re-thread them onto coloured (neon!) wire. Just a thought 🙂

  • I’m very good in drawing houses designs them… now I need to take a step to fulfill my dream.

  • Fun project! Do you have to get rid of the lace curtains though? They’re really cute. I think colour in the shelving would be fantastic, especially if you do a two-tone wall with black (an idea which I love!). The chandelier does look a bit sad but I’m yet to see a done-up one which doesn’t look tacky so I’m interested to see how you handle it! I wish I had my own house to do lovely projects like yours..

  • Love the two tone chalkboard walls! Such a good idea for a kids room 🙂

  • Add more crystals in another color to that chandelier. Can’t wait to see the after photos.

  • Do a copper chandelier!!

    I also really love the wood benches with the neon pop of color.

  • It could be fun to paint the ceiling a green close to the original wall color as a nod to the way the room used to look. Then you can paint the walls whatever color you like but always be reminded how far the room has come.

    So jealous of this project. It is going to be a blast.

  • This is the room that needs a color pop on the ceiling!!!!! Maybe even do a black ceiling with pops of color everywhere else! The chandelier would look amazing, if you paint it a bright white, against a colored ceiling!

    Can’t wait to see what you do with it!!


  • I love that built-in! We have a built-in in our living room and it adds so much charm and much needed storage in our little apartment. I am thinking about adding a fun patterned wallpaper or fabric (removable of course) to the back of the shelves to add a pop of color. I love your idea of painting the inside of yours black, that will look amazing if you are using white dishes!

    P.S. This has been my favorite ABM series! I have loved seeing your inspiration and dreams for your spaces. Enjoy, can’t wait to see the finished house!

  • Love the highlighted surfaces!


  • I really love copper right now, so I’d try spraying the chandelier copper. It would also be neat to see the crystals painted something fun and opaque…maybe a green/teal close to the current wall color. It would look like your copper chandelier was dripping patina crystals 🙂

  • Love that built-in! We have one in our living room and I just love how charming it is and it adds so much storage to our little apartment. This has been my favorite series from ABM, love seeing your inspiration, it’s so much fun dreaming about what to do with a new space. Enjoy it!

  • Can’t wait to see the changes! Love the chalkboard walls.


  • I love the idea of painting the chandelier white! Maybe against a black ceiling?! I love dramatic dining rooms…my favorite is a bright chartreuse and white!

  • I just want you to remember that the chairs/bench have to be very comfy!! It is a studio, so you will be sitting there for many hours!!

    congrats in everything 🙂

  • How about putting rough crystals on the chandelier? I love the look of rough crystal quartz on jewelry- why not decor?


  • The dining room looks very princessy right now! Haha 🙂 I am looking forward to seeing the “after” version because I am sure that whatever you do with it, it will look amazing! 🙂


  • Hi ! i know this has nothing to do with the post you have posted but I wanted to know when the android version of the app was coming outtt??!!
    i am really excited for it !

  • dining rooms are tough- you don’t have tons of choices. i feel like sort of simple spaces are good because then you can go wild thing table settings without it feeling discoordinate.

  • Can’t wait to see what you do with it!

  • I like the idea of painting the chandelier white. It will help the light it emits spread even further because it won’t be being absorbed by a darker color. I can’t wait to see what you end up doing!

  • Agree with everyone else, nice to see what you do with it!

  • Hey there Elsie! I love the base of the chandelier in the design files photo. I would probably go with painting the chandelier gold/copper and adding in more crystals. I also love the horizontal split black and white walls. Bench tables are my fav, but it would be great to have some back support (a practical concern, ha, for long nights conversing over wine). But Im sure whatever you will do will look amazing! 😉

    Kristin at callhomedear.com

  • I like the idea via apartament 34 and the last one from the design files! It’s going to be terrerific!!

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