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Ideas to modernize dining room set? Please ???

lisa N
August 21, 2014
I inherited this set from my parents and hate it. I recently did my kitchen and most of the house modern (greys/white/putty sleek) I can't afford to replace this set yet but want to make this more liveable. I can replace the chandelier and thought about painting the set. I am not a huge fan of the chalk paint because it looks to cottage like to me. BUT...I am open to ideas- even with chalk as long as I can get this to look more modern. I love mid century modern.... I just can't put the money out yet. Please help, this is driving me nuts!

Comments (43)

  • trudela
    Leave it alone. Either use it or try to sell it. I would separate the pieces.... maybe use the china cabinet in a different room for storage, or try to sell just that. You can mix the Chippandale table and chairs with more contemporary furniture. A contemporary rug and a geometric fabric on the chair seats and a more interesting light fixture would make a big difference. It's in great condition. It's a family heirloom. You'll regret it if you paint it and ruin it. It will cost you nothing to try it, and you might decide you like it.
  • PRO
    Schreiber Interior
    what else is there in the room and what is the Layout? What are the shades? Metall?
    lisa N thanked Schreiber Interior
  • PRO
    Schreiber Interior
    Certainly don´t paint it in any way - change the seat fabric - designers guilt as an example and the lamp needs to go - trudela said it already - change the shades as well - something softer needs to go there - Organza all the way down starting shortly under the ceiling
  • sondramartina
    I could not find anything closer to your room than this mix.

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  • PRO
    Decorative Philosophy
    Listen to trudela.
    Save up and get what you want. This falls into the category of "IT IS NEVER GOING TO LOOK LIKE YOU WANT IT TOO!" And remember,we are strong proponents of repurposing.
    Find a friend who wants to trade or do an online posting. If there are rentals in your area, landlords love to snap up furniture. We sold the sofa we were loaned after the flood in 30 minutes on Craigslist!
    MEANWHILE: If you like wine, buy a case of your favorite and forget about it for a while.
    Keep the "innards" of the china cabinet filled with crisp and clean things that are Mid 20th.
    Get the chandelier you like and start from there.
    Next, get rid of the chairs, then the cabinet.
    See, that wasn't hard at all :)
    Karen & Joseph
    for Decorative Philosophy
    lisa N thanked Decorative Philosophy
  • Marci
    As a fellow mid-century modern aficionado, my advice is to sell the dining set and cabinet together to someone who will love it.

    The set and cabinet look to be in excellent condition. You can probably get a decent price for them.

    Figure out what you do want in the dining room and price it out. The sale of the current furniture should cover at least part of your cost for refurbishing the room.
    lisa N thanked Marci
  • makarooni
    Spotted on remodelista, I rather fancy painting some inherited chairs myself....
  • PRO
    flair lighting
    recover the chairs, get rid of the runner asap, lol. take the leaf out, and remove most of the chairs, but 4. the rug is very country, and the light, considering what you said im surprised you have either haha. what about slip covering the chairs entirely.? here are some ideas, perhaps you could add some batting to the back to fill out the top? take a lot of the items out of the hutch, only have a few items. change the dark wooden blinds and add curtains something that doesnt match the table in color.
  • libradesigneye
    I will assume this is not your rug, blinds, light fixture. First, get thee to craigslist and start looking at prices for what you think you want. Or FirstDibs.
    Slipcover the chairs in a graphic fabric with some gray in it. List the china cabinet, but if no takers at your price within a month, paint it black - wax in the chalk paint so you get a patina. Change the light fixture .. add some red-orange accents or art to adjacent spaces to tie in the wood tone of the table . . or use a tablecloth at all times.
    lisa N thanked libradesigneye
  • lisa N
    I found many things on craigslist that I loved. Mid century modern tables, chairs, sets... I listed my stuff for awhile but no takers. I just relisted it again though.

    You are so right about the runner and the lighting. I have my dream fixture in the basement waiting. I kept thinking that I would save it for when I got what I wanted-That will be changed tomorrow. I'll go to Ikea. They have inexpensive long drapes I can hang from a few inches below the ceiling to add some height and depth. Ah, i have a direction. .

    Then I will cover the chair pads and change the artwork...until the set sells. any other thoughts about the artwork of what else could bring out more design into the room? cool mirror? Thanks again!!!
  • sondramartina
    lisa N if you listed and no takers means that the asking price is high .It is hard to sell used furniture that is currently not in style.But this what you have must have certain type of buyers that are willing to buy but you can not expect to get even half of what your parents paid for it. 1/3 of 1/4 of the price you should be able to sell it. And you must be patient.
    Speaking from my experience selling large pieces of my furniture.
    lisa N thanked sondramartina
  • libradesigneye
    don't just cover chair pads . . try the full skirt chair slipcover it will hide the scroll backs for you . .
    lisa N thanked libradesigneye
  • PRO
    LB Interiors
    I would paint the chairs in a metallic silver with a painted black table. You could save the energy and slipcover the chairs. Maybe paint the china cabinet in black highlighting the details with silver accents. Brushed silver hardware.
    lisa N thanked LB Interiors
  • PRO
    Black Cat Interiors
    I'd leave the set itself alone and store the chairs and cabinet away and get different (maybe more modern) chairs either from thrift stores or Craigslist. If you buy chairs secondhand, you can try refinishing them w/o the worry of ruining a family heirloom and/or it's resell value.
    lisa N thanked Black Cat Interiors
  • averya219
    When we moved, I collected 8 chairs from estate sales and tag sales--combined less than $50--and painted them a bright color to use with our old, more rustic table. I re-upholstered some of the chair pads a neutral linen and used a cool print tablecloth most of the time. This lasted 6 months until I found the perfect dining room set at an estate sale for $400 (mid century table with 3 leaves, 6 padded chairs, and a buffet). BUT I am having the same dilemma with my old hutch. It doesn't quite fit the decor, but I love and need the storage and am reluctant to paint it. I probably will though. I think slip-covering the entire chair could be an option for you too.
    lisa N thanked averya219
  • PRO
    Dino TURCHI design
    I think you have your answer but not knowing the rest of your home and the modern that you've done this might be too far out are bald but it will be fun to think about nonetheless. How about a Palm Springs mid century modern see if you have a friend or a relative that maybe he works in an auto body shop and you can have the table sprayed with a high-gloss Packard car paint that will stand the test and the durability you need out of the dining room table and you could go white or cream and then do the surrounding chairs and then limegreen and maybe eat the buffet in a sunny yellow and if you're really really bold I would do the table in a bright California orange high-gloss lacquer green chairs and the buffet in a sunny yellow try to find some remnants that go with the green and maybe tie and some of the other colors like the oranges and yellows for the fabric seat and as far as the chandelier guys you could probably take whatever you have now and do the same thing maybe in the green again to create some relationship or even a black but I would look at a color chart of mid century modern colors that range from to citrus colors! It would be a bold statement and if you could find some foil wallpaper that has some of these colors and it may be the wall that anchors the buffet or hutch could handle A nice silver foil wallpaper and if you're crazy enough to do this I would love to see a photo! Best / DinoTURCHIdesign.com. The idea is not entirely mine years ago somewhere I saw in a magazine a four year with the Bombay chest that was sprayed in a high-gloss lacquer Florida orange color and I was obsessed with it for years and when I did finally have a home big enough to accommodate a Bombay chest in the foyer I went in a decidedly modern route and it's so much more serious approach to my shared passion of mid century modern design. If interested check out my print dressed house or Zillow decks as I have been an avid collector of good century modern furnishings for 20 years and have some fairly neat pieces good luck to you!
    lisa N thanked Dino TURCHI design
  • rouxb
    If painting them would result in you keeping them, then paint them. If you plan to replace them in the near future, don't wreck them by painting. Slip cover the chairs, change the light fixture and store the buffet.
  • edithsmom
    Lisa, maybe if you listed the furniture separately on craigs, it would help...just the chairs or table with chairs. I wouldn't list the cabinet with the other pieces, but make another listing.
  • apple_pie_order
    Ask yourself if you really need dining room furniture. If you don't, drop the price 20% on Craigslist or have a consignment store pick it up. Anything you do to the furniture (other than recovering the chair seats) will reduce their resale value.

    If you do need dining room furniture, recover the seats, buy a tablecloth you love, and forget about selling it until you've bought your new set.

    Good for you putting up the new chandelier.
    lisa N thanked apple_pie_order
  • Emily Heil
    Just as others have said--if you update the rug and light fixture it will make a huge difference. Another thing I always recommend to my clients when they want to do small updates to their dining rooms is add host chairs--it's amazing what a difference it can make. I included a photo of a dining room using very similar furniture, but a lot of more "modern" accents. I know this is in no way mid-century modern, but it does give a much different spin on it!
    lisa N thanked Emily Heil
  • PRO
    Schreiber Interior
    Hi Lisa N.. after all those great comments - have you started with anything and perhaps have a foto? very mcuh like the colour ideas from Dino Turchi design!
  • potchiemagoodleberry
    before going very drastic and altering the set permanently, take into consideration that every other element in this space is VERY traditional. personally, i'd simply take the traditional elements out of the room, then recover the seat cushions in a modern looking fabric, hang a new cleaner lined & modern looking chandelier, add a new wall color (inspired by the seat cushion fabric), and hang simple straight hanging curtain panels to replace the dark blinds. perhaps the upper portion of the hutch can be removed, leaving only the buffet base? also, seriously consider selling the entire set, and using the $ towards a new set of your taste.
  • Eleanor Jacobs
    Don't do consignment. I did a 20 year old mint condition country French dining set 6 chairs, china cabinet and credenza and got 1/2 of the $600 (yes $600) they sold it for. Net to me minus moving cost of furniture to store $240. Set sat in store 3 months before selling. Sad. So use CList. Not consignment.
    lisa N thanked Eleanor Jacobs
  • rouxb
    Piggybacking on Potchiemagoodleberry's comment, I think modernizing the area around the dining set will make you feel differently about it. Along with different rug, light fixture, seat covering/slip cover and curtains, think about wall paper or fabric on the inside back of the hutch to add brightness and interest. Don't break up the set to sell it, just note that pieces may be purchased separately.
  • sondramartina
    Where is Lisa? We haven't heard from Her after she posted her dilemma .
  • lisa N
    I'm so sorry...I am here. My son was sick. So as an update, I just ordered a much more modern rug that should be in this week and I got light grey/taupe colored panel curtains. I sold the little tables and am still trying to figure out how to cover the chairs. The chandelier is going to be replaced with a modern, lucite one that I found on Craigslist. I love the crispness that Emily from Ethan Allen posted and am looking for a great mirror right now. I will post pics by the end of next week after everything arrives and the kids are in school so I can focus. I can't thank everyone enough!!!!!
  • km kane
    Dump the hutch! It is weighing down the set and the room. Ad some modern art.

    No need to paint the table or chairs, but do Change the covering on the seats.

    Wall color is blah. Try a blue-ish grey? And a modern light fixture.

    Remove grandma's table runner and go for a modern piece.

    Those are easy things to do. Try that first and see how it feels.

    The wood blinds are a bit heavy too. They could be changed to something lighter. First things first though!
  • PRO
    Jazzy Jazz
    If you don't like it seel it, and buy the furniture that you really love but please do not re-paint or re-do this set, because you may ruin everything.
  • PRO
    The Classy Home
    change the background and lighting of the dining room for the modern look. use light color shade for wall. put some modern decorative items. see modern dining room design http://www.theclassyhome.com/comersus_listItems.asp?idCategory=239&Furniture=Casual+Dinette+Sets
  • PRO
    LB Interiors
    Wow, Lisa, sounds like a great plan. Happy for you! Can't wait to see all your new things!
  • PRO
    LB Interiors
    Dining chair slipcovers. I would get 6 and leave the head chairs as is.
  • janroze
    I think it is beautiful, but I would be tempted to follow the photo, from sondramartina, with the high-backed upholstered bench between all the wood . It seems one can always find a spot to keep or store extra chairs - even at a friends.Don't break up the set or paint. Sell instead &/or use modern prints and colors on windows, chair seats, table runner and rug. Update chandelier.
  • janroze
    I meant to add, the bench might be problematic if one needed to use the lady's room in the middle of a dinner.
  • PRO
    Schreiber Interior
    Any updates how the changes are implemented.
  • PRO
    Interior Affairs -- Vickie Daeley
    The furniture is very nice...and maybe instead of painting it you could sell it and go modern...although if you paint...have it done professionally do that the paint will hold up and not chip. I like the idea of the chairs being a different color...but the stain is just beautiful...and changing the seat pads would work...and maybe you could bring in a host chair at each end of the table that is upholstered in another fabric...then do the window treatments to blend...the chandelier needs to be special...so splurge here!
  • lisa N
    Thank you to everyone who has helped me. Someone just showed interest in the set and I am able to sell it after all this back and forth. Life is strange huh? All of your help was so appreciated and it enabled me to remember to design for me again and not get stuck in an existing style just because it's what is there. What an eye opener.

    But now, for the fun part...a new dining room set once this is picked up. I'm most likely keeping all the stuff I bought for the new set. Thank you again for all your help...what a great group of people! also, the reason i am not getting notifications is bc I didn't realize i have to change my houzz email address to my non spammy email.
  • PRO
    LB Interiors
    Lisa, I'm happy you sold the set. It feels so good to begin fresh. We keep things a long time and sometimes we can be so conservative that we forget the possibilities for a great pick me up! With a new modern set, you can add some traditional elements and you will have a very nice transitional design going on.
  • parishnurse
    Love this dining room
  • B. Bryant

    Congratulations! I know you resolved this, but in case anyone else is wondering what to do with a similar Colonial cabinet, I wanted to post some suggestions as I have one too and have done a bit of research. I've found that the curved Colonial ornamentation on the top can be removed--it's merely screwed in. Removing that and adding new hardware can make a tremendous difference in the cabinet's appearance. The glass section and the bottom part can also be separated. Recently I saw the awesome design of a woman who used the glass part to create some unique shelves for her kitchen. She attached shelves over the bottom part to create a cool built in cabinet with bookshelves for her living room. And she painted it all white.

  • Rose Lee

    B.Bryant. I have same situation as original poster. Who do I call to take off decorative top . Also I want to chane hardware but they are riveted on . Who does this kind of work? I can't do myalgic but am willing to pay someone but don't know who to call. Thanks

  • Sheri Michael

    A friend wanted to use her grandmother's formal midcentury dining set for sentimental reasons; but, like you she wanted to modernize it to fit her industrial very casual home. She split the china cabinet from the table and painted the china cabinet a matte black. She took down her kitchen cabinets and used this painted china cabinet as her main kitchen storage space for plates and such. She placed a simple wood butcher block island with industrial legs in front of the cabinet. Her kitchen looks awesome. For her table, she kept the cherry finish but put a transparent coat of something over top to make it appropriate for everyday family use. She also reupholstered the chairs from formal fabric to a modern easy to wipe off style. Steph left in the table leaves and added 4 more modern style chairs alternating with the exiting 4. She hung an ecclectic light fixture above the table and simple, modern shades on the windows. Her kitchen/eating area look great.

  • C Priday

    I am working on same dilemma. Any pictures of update?

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