My husband and I have dubbed 2012 The Year of Thinking Small. Rather than tackling big renovations in areas of our house that sorely want it, we are opting to get instant satisfaction — minor changes that make a major difference. First up: making over our dining room, a dull space with a formal dining room, an outdated chandelier and not much else.
I have tons of ideas for giving this room a little more zing, but I don’t want to spend a lot of money. So I’m searching for methods to add panache on a $500 budget, and that means scrimping in some areas and splashing out in others. My biggest splurges would be fabrics — a pricey custom table runner in a design that I couldn’t resist, as well as a complementary print to pay for the seat chairs. But I will need to control myself when it comes to a brand new light fixture, accent china and art, so seeking out budget-friendly locates will be key.
If you’re trying to give your dining room a fresh spin, consider mixing and matching some of those well-priced picks below. And if you’ve recently pulled an inexpensive makeover, then tell us in the Remarks!
Liz Williams Interiors
1. Spice up plain china with accents. If you’re bored with your wedding china or the basic white dishware you purchased on your salad days, then there is no need to ship it up and start from scratch. Twist in cups, plates, goblets and other pieces in bold, fun colours to give the older standbys a fresh spin. Here, sprightly majolica updates a group of easy serving pieces.
Kamala Dessert Plates – $12
These brightly colored plates would be right at home next to the family Wedgwood, but there is not a whiff of those proper or fussy about these. Vary the colours to get an appealing collected look.
Splash Wineglasses, Set of 4 – $35
Strokes of colour give these wineglasses sufficient character to punch up crystal.
2. Install an lighting fixture. Old-school chandelier maybe not doing it for you? Replace it with a showy model that won’t stress your bank account. The Ikea Maskros Pendant Light in this dining room became a classic almost as soon as it hit the U.S. market, but also check out more options, next.
Eurofase 12260-010 Vidal Pendant, Chrome/Clear Crystal – $81
The classic crystal chandelier goes sleek and compact in this incarnation. It is a terrific way to bridge the gap between formal furniture and down-to-earth fashion.
Austen Wood Veneer Pendant – $99
I can’t imagine a space that this pendant wouldn’t suit — you can dress it up or down, based on the rest of your decor. Made from thin strips of wood veneer, it adds a top note of feel.
Tip: Shop kid- and teen-focused retailers to get cheap accents on a shoestring budget. This fixture is from PB Teen.
Travelers Compass Giclee Plug-In Swag Chandelier – $129.99
This drum pendant looks to be an expensive designer model. Additionally, it plugs in, so you don’t need to get a pro to fiddle with electric wiring.
Denise Maloney Interior Design
3. Swap out seat cloth. If your chairs have upholstered chairs that are twisted to the frames (check the bottoms to watch), it is a snap to cover them with fresh fabric.
Anew Twist/Caviar Fabric – $10.99
This crisp indoor-outdoor print, full of power and movement, adds a manly touch that would contrast superbly with a dainty chair frame.
Hint: Because they withstand stains and spills so well, indoor-outdoor fabrics are ideal for dining room upholstery.
Amy Butler Midwest Modern Fresh Poppies Fuchsia Fabric – $8.98
Sweet yet mod, this lively floral is a pretty choice for refreshing a cottage-style dining area. Additionally, it is an perfect choice for starting DIYers since there’s no tricky repeat and there are no traces that must be straight.
Remix Bermuda Zig Zags Yardage Fabric – $10.50
A rainbow of zigzags turns this publish into a playful riff on vintage chevrons.
4. Add a posh table runner. Less expensive and more informal than tablecloths, runners could immediately update a dining room. If you’re at all handy with a sewing machine, you can stitch your own to size, but the subsequent selections are easy on the pocket.
Carpenters Nation Shop
Red Rooster Table Runner – $14.99
Try this rooster-bedecked runner at a French country–fashion area. At this cost, you could even buy two or three and drape them crosswise in lieu of placemats.
Inkblot Table Runner – $48
No, it is not a Rorschach test. An inkblot print gives this runner a playful note that would fit right in with an eclectic or contemporary look.
Black and White Chain Link Table Runner – $45
How can you go wrong with black and white? Offset this runner with a simple white bowl, platter or tureen to let the picture pattern glow.
Liz Williams Interiors
5. Set your space aglow with candlelight. Candles make even the humblest space look tasteful, and they cost next to nothing. Fashion a pair of hurricanes from everyday strands or jars, with pillar candles embedded in sand, rock salt, pebbles or some other fire-safe material.
Coral Votive Holders – $22.50
When these votive holders are massed together, their happy-go-lucky contours create a beautiful, organic focal point.
Jamali Floral & Garden Supplies
Antique Silver Cylinders – $7
Longing for high-end glamour at a low cost price? Reflective candleholders create double the sparkle and shimmer. And what a deal!
Candelabra – $57
A tiered, swiveling tea light holder carries the classic candelabra into fresh land.
6. Dress the walls with cheap art and objects. You can always go the DIY art route, but a few people (read: me) are not that motivated. Read the directory of professionals on to find artists that offer inexpensive works or source originals from local art shows, art students and internet vendors. You can also hang preferred finds, from plates to images to patterned fabrics.
Baroque Turquoise Frame – $21.99
Envision a trio of those lavish-looking frames full of black and white photos and hung onto the dining room wall. The bold colour updates an extremely standard type.
Vino Italiano Printing for Kitchen with Anek – $45
Toast your new area with a pared-down wine bottle print.
Watch more food-inspired art
Suzanne Nicoll Studio
Wooden Seahorse Wall Plaque – $60
Seahorse-shape wooden cutouts are just right to get a coastal area.
Cynthia Mason Interiors
7. Roll at a pub cart. Expand storage and serving space without having to spend major money. Bar carts would be the ultimate multitaskers — they morph from party buffet to cocktail channel to decorative screen without breaking a sweat.
Råskog Kitchen Cart, Turquoise – $49.99
This workhorse looks anything but utilitarian, as a result of its cheerful paint colour.
Bordeaux Bar Cart – $119.95
A petite pub cart topped with trays feels more upscale than the cost suggests.
8. Update the paint shade. You have heard it before, and it still holds true: Paint gives you far and away the most bang for your dollar. Whether you restrict the new hue to an accent wall or splash it across the entire area, it may completely transform the look of your dining area.
Because dining rooms have a tendency to get used most frequently in the day, consider a colour that will look prettier as the sunlight fades. This orange-red shade radiates coziness and heat at nighttime.
Farrow & Ball
Pink Ground Paint | Farrow & Ball – $85
Who wouldn’t look great against this barely-there blush colour? It is costly, but you can source similar, less pricey shades from if you’d rather dedicate your decorating dollars elsewhere.
Benjamin Moore Ben Paint, Blue Danube 2062-30 – $35.95
This bright blue grows more cryptic with the deepening dusk.
Marigold SW6664 Paint
Since the sun goes down, spicy orange heats up. I will wager that this colour appears simply bewitching in candlelight.
Mayonnaise OC-85 Paint
If you’d rather stick with tried and true white, then go for it — just pick a warm, creamy color such as this one.
Lucy Interior Design
9. Jazz up case products with brand new hardware. Give an old sideboard or hutch a minifacelift by shifting the knobs up and pulls.
Hint: If you have leftover wall paint, consider painting a freestanding shelf or a china cabinet the exact same colour to give it a built-in look.
Rebekah Zaveloff | KitchenLab
Glass Melon Knob, Brass – $8
These pretty cut-glass knobs would look just right on a painted or light wooden piece of furniture.
Laurey 3-Inch Satin Pewter Nantucket Bar Cabinet Pull – $6
This sleek rope-style pull adds a touch of nautical detailing.
Layered Ocatagon Horn Knob – $9.20
Add a hint of the exotic to breakfront or a simple buffet with octagonal, horn-look hardware.