Dining Room Ideas – Pick My Presto

Hey there- and welcome to another installment of Pick My Presto! I randomly selected another email from my Pick My Presto inbox (PickMyPresto at aol dot com) yesterday, and had some fun with a photo of a dining room sent in by a reader named Katie.

Her email read:

Hello! I’m a busy mom of three little girls and I’ve found that I just haven’t had the time to really decorate my house so it has that “complete” feeling! This is our dining room…

It’s just kind of a hodge podge right now and doesn’t feel like “us”.

Things I don’t like about the room: the rug, the lamps, the table and the stuffy feeling the room has. I don’t mind the color, but I’m open for change. I’d like to have a dining room table that isn’t traditional, but is classic, comfortable and inviting for friends and kids to dine together.

Things I like: I tend to be drawn to decorating with pictures of our family, lanterns and meaningful artwork that relates to us. I like my home to feel clean, with straight lines, but very inviting and not stuffy. With three little girls, I keep the house clean, but would love to have that “this is a family of love” feeling.


With all that info in mind, here’s the inspiration drawing I had fun creating for her…

(Move your cursor on and off of the photo below)

(Note: My drawing is for inspirational purposes only, and the ideas shown in it are just that. Spontaneous, totally flexible, just-for-fun, ideas. And since this is a just-for-fun-photo-consultation, and not an actual-and-perfectly-to-scale-virtual-consultation, I have no idea if any of the furniture, ideas or accessories I used in the drawing would actually work in the room. Boom.)

Here’s a still image in case you couldn’t view the presto change-o above…

The first thing that popped into my head was wallpaper. But after Googling ‘wallpaper’ for a few minutes, and discovering that most of them are pretty spendy (like the one pictured below by Kreme)…

…I thought, wait a second! Didn’t Emily Jones stencil a really cool pattern onto her walls with regular ol’ latex paint?

Yep! She sure did! Here it is…

(click on the photo to see how she did it!)

Gorgeous! And since Katie said she was okay with the room color as-is, (and let’s face it, who likes to re-paint!?) I left the walls below the chair rail molding alone, and just showed what it would look like if she did some kind of stencil (or wallpaper) on the walls above the chair rail.

It was hard to find photos of dining tables and chairs that were in the right position (straight on) for this presto, but I thought the one I ended up using (from Country Living mag) looked pretty great in the space. A chalky black table, paired with dusty white side chairs and a couple of upholstered captains chairs…YUM.

A piece of framed photography or a large painting that speaks to Katie and her family would be great on the wall above the chair rail on the right, and a lighter & leggier buffet would be fantastic on the left side of the room. Top it with a big mirror and some fun accessories and voila! Luh. Shuss. Ness!

Ivory-colored curtains, and a chandelier that’s a little more understated and that directs light down at the food (vs. up at the ceiling) complete the (hopefully inspirational!) new look.

Last but not least, here are some of the inspirational elements I plucked from the web to put together my drawing…

(Top two photos and photo of ivory-colored drape- Pottery Barn; oil painting- Wendy Whitson; , dining room photo- Country Living magazine, wallpaper- Kreme, buffet photo- UrbanGraceInteriors.typepad.com)

Thank you for the opportunity to pick your presto this week, Katie! I had a ball putting it together and I hope you can use some of the ideas as a jumping off point when you start to redo the room!

Wanna submit a photo for our Pick My Presto series?

Send an email to PickMyPresto [at] aol [dot] com titled, “PICK MY PRESTO- Living Room. (Replace the words Living Room with whatever type of room you’re actually submitting.) In the body of the email, include your name, your blog name (if you have one) your design likes & dislikes, and one photo of the space in question. (No links please.) It should be clear, and measure at least 400 pixels high x 600 pixels wide. (In other words: at least 4″high x 6″ wide) The bigger the better though! Make sure it’s a photo you’re comfortable with us showing and writing about on our blog. Then, whenever I’m feelin’ the urge, I’ll randomly select someone’s email and have a little fun creating some traditional or cottage style presto change-o inspiration. Oh, and since I love surprises, I probably won’t email you to let you know I’ve “picked your presto” unless I have a specific question for ya about your space.


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  1. says

    Love this transformation- it is so great to see the before and after and it hasn’t begun yet! I love this feature and you always have awesome ideas!

  2. says

    Love it Layla. I think if she even picked a couple of your elements like the rug and drapes it would lighten up the whole feeling of the room. Can’t wait to see more of the outside of the Lettered Cottage.

  3. JuliP says

    The giant spoon and fork on the wall remind me of “Everybody Loves Raymond”!

  4. says

    Layla, the design is so pretty…light and airy! I hope that Katie can implement some of your suggestions. I am off to write a Pick My Presto email today! 😀

    Ricki Jill

  5. says

    Beautiful, Layla! I love the light fixture and the sideboard, as well as the painting. Now I have to “pin” this for my dining room inspiration! :)

    • Layla says

      At some point, I have GOT to get our Pinterest account up and runnin’! Thanks for reminding me! 😀

  6. Allison A. says

    It looks stunning. I want her dining room now. lol It’s so bright and the stencil is FAB! I really need to submit a photo for my son’s room for PMP. lol


  7. says

    Great ideas but I do have one suggestions. Move the drapery rod all the way across the wallso the drapery panels cover those small wall areas and expose more of the window light. Will be interesting to see her finished product.

    • Layla says

      Hey Diane!

      I actually thought about that, but didn’t want to cover any of the wallpaper/stencil pattern back there. I like the idea of it looking like it’s wrapping all the way around! YUM!
      She could use skinnier panels and pull them all the way to the side of the window trim though! :-)

  8. Dawn says

    I love the tranformation! David Bromstead just did a stencil on wallls instead of wall paper on Color Splash yesterday. It added texture and they had it kinda faded on purpose to blend with the time period they were trying to recreate. I am loving stencils right now! Great job Layla and good luck Katie!

  9. Kim in MD says

    Beautiful…just beautiful! I love Pick My Presto! Everytime you post another one I am reminded that I really want to send you a photo of one of my rooms! :-)

  10. says

    Layla, I love it! You really brightened and freshened it up. I also like how the changes seem totally do-able for anyone. Thanks for this! I’ll have to submit a “Pick-my-Presto” of my own!

  11. says

    I L-O-V-E this dining room. Thank you SO much for posting the information about the handpainted wall paper. I am now thinking about it 24/7 and feel a serious urge to do this everywhere in my house. Yikes! ;-/

  12. Katie Smith says

    THANK YOU SO MUCH LAYLA!!! I absolutely love this design and would have never had the vision by myself! You are so talented! I can’t wait to redo the dining room now. I’ll send you an after picture when I’m done! And, thanks for all the comments and suggestions everyone!

  13. says

    Wow this is over the top cool!!!! Just love it all. Hey and thanks to Kevin’s mom I had a ton of compliments on her key lime cake, my son’s favorite thing is lemon meringue pie so I thought I would see how he liked the cake and it has the same flavor as lemon so he was blown away by how good and says it’s now his favorite!!! Score!! Thanks again *mom*

  14. Christina says

    You work magic. Seriously, you are blessed with a gift – you have a vision!

  15. Kaley says

    What paint color did you use for the beige behind the white lines. I am having the hardest time finding the perfect beige. Thanks!