Mandi's Dining Room Before & After

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessAs a first time home owner, I was incredibly eager to start renovating our entire house the day we moved in. Of course, it usually doesn't work like that, especially when you're on a tight budget. The comparatively large and open kitchen/dining area was what had really sold us on this little house, but for a long time it was my least favorite part of our home, as far as decor was concerned.

As I recently prepared for our kitchen renovation (you can see my posts and follow along here), I became really motivated to make a few changes I had been dreaming about for our dining room as well. After two years of saving money and shuffling things in from my thrift store trips, I decided it was high time this space got a little love.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe Before

This is about as before as it gets, folks! I snapped this photo when we were just house hunters looking for a bargain buy. When we first viewed this house, everything was plain, dark, and basically a blank canvas, since no one had been living in the home for quite some time. Because we were really tight on money, I took a couple of years to really think about what I wanted for the space. While I waited, I filled the dining room with things I had inexpensively created or had found at thrift stores over the years. If my home looks like a hodge podge of found items, it's because that's exactly what it is! It's just taken me a while to refine everything to my liking.

The first change I made to our home was regrettable, and it concerned the purple-gray paint you see on the walls in the image below. When we moved in, all of the walls in the entire house were a light, bright green (see image above). So, in a hurry to be rid of it, I bought three gallons of paint after looking at swatches for only a few minutes at the store. Because I was pregnant, family offered to paint all of the walls in our dining room and living room while I hid from the fumes at my parents' house. When I saw the paint on the walls the next day, I didn't exactly despise it, but I definitely did not like it. I just didn't feel as though it fit our personality or style at all, and it made our generously shaded home feel even darker. (I used flashes to capture the image below left because I couldn't get enough even light for a good shot.) But, like I said, money was tight. I couldn't justify the expense of buying more paint and definitely couldn't bear asking people to repaint it for me. So I figured I'd wait it out.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe Changes

Two years later I finally got the dramatic change I was waiting for when I dipped into our home repair fund and painted all of the trim a glossy white and repainted all of the walls with a carefully considered Benjamin Moore paint that I just adore— Bright White. (It's more like a very light gray— a shade darker than the untinted white paint on our trim and cabinet.) We also repainted the ceiling with untinted white paint and were surprised to see that the ceilings had actually been a really dingy, dark shade of white. No wonder it had been so dreary in our house!

The little white light fixture shown in the before picture below was something inexpensive I had hastily found on the Internet to replace the ceiling fan that had come with the previously un-air-conditioned house. The light was another unfortunate choice I made in the early days of home ownership, as its small size was severely disproportionate to our big farmhouse table in this wide-open space. Oops. I suppose it would be perfect over someone's small kitchen table though. I had a really difficult time settling on a light fixture to replace it. I was afraid of getting something too trendy, but I didn't want anything too traditional either. Eventually I settled on these two 12" globe pendants, which fill the space above the table quite nicely and add a nice sixties' flair to our home.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI excitedly spotted the shell chairs above on the sidewalk at Goodwill one Sunday when we were driving home from church. Of course, I ran into the store and bought them all, but I eventually decided they didn't work with our space very well. I ended up selling them for a profit and replaced them with new, more traditional spindle-back chairs. I really love these chairs and hope they last a long time!

In the before pictures, you'll see a beautiful Turkish kilim rug on the floor. When my daughter Lucy started eating food, it had to go. I pulled it up and stored it in our garage. I ended up selling the rug to an ABM reader, and the money from that sale, in combination with the sale of the chairs above, gave me enough money to buy the new dining room chairs. Now we are rugless in here, and I think it's the best choice for our messy family, considering my constant crafting and Lucy's penchant for throwing food on the floor. Terrazzo floors are wonderfully resilient.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessAn easy change, well, really more like a temporary fix, was pulling off the brass fireplace surround. I thought it was kind of ugly and it wasn't serving a purpose on our unused fireplace. So we just ripped it off and cleaned the wall. Such a dramatic change! Eventually I want to install a gas fireplace insert because the chimney would need expensive repair work to make it wood burning, and there's already a gas line in place for an easy hook-up. The brick wall of the fireplace is also shared by the kitchen (see image below). So when we decided to paint it white during the stressful backsplash repair, the dining room was also affected. Painting the brick wall white wasn't something I had ever wanted to do, but now that it's done, I actually really love it! It's so bright in here now, and the built-in oven blends into the background so nicely.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessThe last big changes in this space are the storage pieces and curtains. My mother-in-law scored some major points when she got these curtains for me last Christmas. I love the pop of color they inject into the room, and the golden yellow hue is just perfect for my '60s-influenced style. Recently I whipped up this DIY curtain rod to complete the look.

I do most of my crafting in the dining room, and since I'm working on something every week, it's important to have somewhere to tuck away all of my materials so our dining room doesn't end up looking like a work zone. I ditched the old thrifted china cabinet and its clear glass doors for an antique cabinet that had plenty of hidden storage, which greatly reduced the visual clutter. I had to paint the cabinet to disguise extensive repair work I had done, so a fresh coat of white paint helped to brighten the dining room even more. The proportions of this wider cabinet work better than the narrow china cabinet did next to my large dining table. And I really love that, because of the cabinet's lower height, I now have a nice surface for decorating.

The vintage green locker was another piece that I bought for its storage potential, and it fit perfectly next to the sliding door without obstructing the path to our patio. I had considered painting the locker a different color, because avocado green would not have been my first choice. But I really love the patina and character of the finish, which makes me a bit worried I wouldn't like it as much if it were freshly painted. Maybe I'll try an antique looking paint job on it someday, though I don't know what color I would choose.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI plan to change up the vignettes on the cabinet from time to time, especially during the holidays. For now, I have silly little tchotchkes and Lucy's photo on display. I have a feeling they'll soon get displaced by pumpkins or maybe something a little spooky.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
The Glitter Counter

I had been looking for a cabinet like the one in our dining room for quite some time. I finally found the perfect piece and took it home in the midst of our kitchen renovation. It needed some work done to it before it could be used, so, as if I wasn't busy enough at the time, I decided to build a countertop for it. But not just any counter, you guys! I made a glitter countertop. Because of its height, you really can't see the glitter until you walk up to the cabinet. It's a fun little surprise.

You can check out how I made the glitter countertop at my personal blog here.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessEclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessI've been collecting wall art for the past few years, and while I had been hanging mostly tolerable thrift store finds in our past homes, I finally have amassed a collection of pieces I really, truly love. Above you can see the vintage photobooth panel from a local Northeast Ohio amusement park, Cedar Point. Funny enough, we actually found it at a resale/antique shop when we were down in Columbus this summer.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful Mess
The paintings in our dining room are both Milton Avery reproduction canvases that I framed myself. You can see my post about custom framing without any power tools here. Links to where you can buy them are at the bottom of this post. 

To add some extra cheer to our kitchen and dining area, I like to impulsively grab flowers on occasional grocery store trips and rearrange them in my own pots and vases when I get home. I arranged these bright flowers inside of a vintage glazed pot on our table for an infusion of happy, end-of-summer color.

Eclectic Dining Room Before & After on A Beautiful MessIn case you are curious about where anything in our dining room is from, I've included information and links for you below:

-Dining table— I made it out of old barn siding
-Dining chairs— Overstock
-Portable radio— Vermont Country Store
-Liquor tray— Wild Orchid Quilts
-Cabinet— vintage
-Countertop— DIY
-Locker— vintage
-Curtains— Amazon
-Curtain rod— DIY

-Large Milton Avery canvas— Painting Star (stretched and framed by me)
-Small Milton Avery canvas over fireplace— Encore Editions (framed by me)
-Photobooth panel— vintage, purchased from Grandview Mercantile in Columbus
-Wall paint— Benjamin Moore "Bright White"
-Brick wall paint— untinted white semi-gloss paint
-Cowhide stool— eBay, reupholstered
-Faux cowhide upholstery fabric— Amazon
-Dog on wheels— garage sale find

-High Chair— Amazon (we removed the pad)

I loved looking at these before and after pictures! Our house really has come quite a long way since we first walked through its doors as potential buyers. We really love it here, and hope you enjoyed taking a peek! -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection.

Springfield, MO Book Signing!

ABM-MAP-postcard-6inx6in-front-1000px

Don't forget this coming Saturday, September 20th, Elsie and I will be hosting our first hometown book signing! You can bring your own copy of Happy Handmade Home or you can purchase one at the event ($13). All proceeds from book sales will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. Please come say hi, take a photo with us, eat some snacks, check out the Restore, and just have a good time. 

Also, in case any of you will be traveling to Springfield, we wanted to make sure and give you our favorite local recommendations. Josh designed this map of Springfield, highlighting many of our favorite spots. We love our hometown and know you will too. You can print this map, or we'll have copies available at the book signing. 

Habitat for Humanity Restore
2410 South Scenic Ave. 
Springfield, MO 65807
4pm to 6pm

We can't wait to meet you! xo. Emma + Elsie

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Illustration: Josh Rhodes.

Easy Crop Top Restyle

DIY cropped shirt from an oversized topHey, guys— it's Katie here! I'm sure you've heard me talk about this before, but I just love embellishments and alterations. I adore taking something I already own but may not be super into, and turning it into something I frequently wear. It helps stave off my constant need to be shopping for new things... which my husband greatly appreciates.  ;)

I scored this cute top at my favorite thrift store at the beginning of spring, but haven't worn it. There is nothing wrong with it, I just never really loved the way it fit. I decided to do a pretty small alteration, and now it's one of my favorites! Here's what I did:

Turn a baggy shirt into a cropped shirtSupplies:
-a top you'd like to alter

-scissors or rotary cutter
-measuring tape
-elastic (I used 3/8")
-sewing machine

Baggy shirt to fitted cropped shirt (before)I suppose I should start with a "before" photo to give you a point of reference. Like I said, there was nothing wrong with this top. It was just another thing sitting in my closet that wasn't getting worn.

Measure and cut the bottom sectionCreating a cropped shirt from an oversized top (click through for tutorial)Step One: Measure up from the bottom how many inches you'd like to remove from your shirt. Keep in mind you will need a little seam allowance for your hem.

Iron the hemStep Two: Turn your top inside out and fold up the bottom. Iron the fold (mine was 1 1/4"). After you've ironed your hem, fold up a second time and iron again.

Pin the hemSew the hemLeave an opening for the elasticStep Three: Pin your ironed hem. This will ensure the hem stays even as you run it through your sewing machine. Use your sewing machine to stitch along the top of the hem, leaving a small section unsewn (the circled section in the photo above).

Attach a paper clip or safety pin to the elastic
Thread the elastic through the hem
Step Four: Measure your waist and cut a length of elastic to fit. Attach a paper clip or safety pin to the elastic. Thread the elastic strip through the hole of your hem and out the other side. Make sure to hold one end as you thread the elastic. Pin and stitch the elastic once you've made it through.

Turn a baggy oversized shirt into a sweet cropped top (click through for tutorial)Step Five (optional): Sew the small opening closed.

Turn your top right side out and you're all finished!

DIY Cropped Shirt (click through for tutorial)Great tutorial for turning oversized shirts into lovely cropped tops (click through for tutorial)Turn an oversized shirt into a cropped blouse (click through for tutorial)And that's it! I turned a shirt that wasn't getting any love into a top I absolutely adore! I love pairing my cropped shirts with high-waisted skirts and shorts... and more than that, I love breathing new life into things I already own. Happy sewing! xo. Katie

Credits // Author and Photography: Katie Shelton. Photos edited with Imogen from the Folk Collection.

The Shop

Check out our Photoshop Actions, E-Courses, Workshops and Crash Courses!

Browse by Category