Character can be hard to come by when you’re shopping for a home—especially if you don’t want to pay for a turnkey property. But don’t get discouraged, Fariha of Pennies for a Fortune proves that it’s easier and more affordable than you think to turn a bare, blank slate room into a space with dimension and texture. The dining room design started the way most do, an empty beige room with zero architectural details that was a dumping ground for kids toys. It was even finished with a generic builder-grade chandelier.
The first step was adding some unique details to the room. Fariha added a board and batten accent wall and then painted it with Motor City. This sophisticated, cool-toned gray paint added some edge to her more rustic looking dining table and chairs and provided just the right amount of contrast to the space. On an adjacent wall she added the perfect dining room wallpaper in a classic marquee geometric pattern to complement the paint color. While pairing wallpaper and paint together can be tricky, Fariha went with a neutral pattern that works well with the blue-gray color, but more importantly will look great if she decides to switch up the color eventually.
Smart decor swaps like hanging natural window shades, adding vintage art and a mirror to the wall, and incorporating additional lighting with a table lamp and sconces are all easy ways to add more depth and character to a dining space. The additional console table not only holds beautiful objets and accents pieces, but also is a great place to set up a makeshift bar or place additional food when entertaining. Scale is incredibly important as well, where before the chandelier felt small and underwhelming, now a black modern chandelier makes more of a statement thanks to its larger dimensions.
Here’s some more inside info on how she transformed her cookie cutter dining room into something more extraordinary:
On adding interest to your home:“We bought our home and there wasn’t much personality, it was builder grade and lacked unique details. So I knew I wanted to DIY a few things to add more visual interest. Our dining room is the first room you see when you walk in so I wanted to make it more interesting—that’s why I decided to do an accent wall with wallpaper and add wood paneling.”
On choosing dining room wallpaper:“In this instance I chose the wall color first, normally it’s the other way around. But I wanted the wallpaper to be traditional but also modern. I ended up choosing a black and white pattern, it’s not super geometric, but it still has movement and it complements the board and batten design. Plus, it’s neutral enough to match a variety of colors and styles.”
On the perfect dining room paint color:
“I chose Motor City for the walls. I knew I wanted a neutral gray and it really helped me narrow down the color, it was between this and Headspace. I ended up liking this more, it looked like a blue-gray and it really popped against the other grays in my home.”
On DIYing a board and batten wall:
“Going into this I thought it was going to be extremely difficult; I’ve never done trim work. I got an estimate for the work from a pro and it was $4,000! We ended up doing it ourselves and spending $300—it was so much easier than expected. It was very non-technical, just measuring and simple cuts. I also used a laser level and that really helped too. Anyone can do this.”
On painting a dining room with wainscoting:“There’s a little more cutting in compared to a normal wall, but I loved the Clare formula because it goes on so well and leaves a brush-free finish. I was using a two inch angled brush to cut in and then used a small roller because it offered more control. The coverage was smooth and even so I didn’t have to worry about the difference in strokes.”
On mixing design styles:“I mix styles in all of my spaces, it’s just my personality. I combined a modern and traditional look in this room; it allowed me to bring a lot of neutral colors into the room. It’s easy to mix styles if you have at least one unifying element. Here it’s more earthy and grounding colors and then I varied the textures within the room. Plus I was able to keep some of my existing furniture but make them feel totally different thanks to other decor accents.”
Related: If you loved this transformation, you might also like Step Inside this Stunning Dining Room Makeover.