Dining Room

Dining Room Makeover

Almost within hours of moving into our new house, we started removing the dated wallpaper and painting the trim white. The room that gave us the biggest run for our money was the dining room, which featured a chair rail, wall paper below, thick paint above, and a most *original* border along the top. Here is a flattering view from the sale listing:

The bottom half came off pretty easily, but the border was really difficult and required lots more tedious spraying, scraping, and peeling.

And here’s a closer look at what we [not so] affectionately referred to as Amish Country:


Pat’s sister Laura was visiting, and she was an amazing help with this project. We took turns working on the wallpaper, and they started replacing the outlets. (Not only were they all so old that plugs fell out, but the plate covers were all a weird assortment of finishes.) While the chair rail was easy to remove, Pat soon discovered that 40+ years of paint on the top was going to be a challenge to smooth out with the bare drywall bottom! Best we can remember, he sanded and painted at least 3 coats.

There was dry wall dust everywhere, despite our best efforts to “Dexterize” the place. Little did I realize this would be my life for the next 7 or so months!

Board and Batten Installation

We had only a rough idea of how we wanted the board and batten to look, so Pat cut out strips of floor protection paper to help estimate how many boards to use and visualize how close together they should be.

Then he did some more accurate graph paper math configuring:

And it was off to Home Depot! You can also see that he decided to buy a few tools, knowing we would be using them again for the kitchen renovation. The nail gun was especially crucial to this project!

Back home, they ripped up the existing baseboards.

And framed out the kitchen entryway.

We painted the bottom 2/3 of the wall white (Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore).

And finally came time to nail some boards!

We decided that the plain boards didn’t offer enough dimension or detail to the space, so we picked out a decorative trim to make the overall effect more fancy. The main issue then was that the depth of the trim was too shallow in comparison to the board, so we had to back it with a filler strip. More measuring, more cuts, more nails.

Here you can see the layers we worked with: painted wall + filler + trim + boards. Each of these items had to be cut to fit!

One of the most challenging parts of this project was trying to find a solution for the light switch, which needed to go right at the intersection of two boards. Pat’s solution was pretty awesome!

He wanted to count how many cuts he made for this project, but the answer is literally somewhere in the thousands.


We went through many samples of light grey before settling on Pencil Sketch by Behr.

We painted trim for what seemed like forever. (And obviously only tackled that upper border in small spurts because it was so annoying!)

We also swapped out the builder grade lighting for a glamorous drum pendant from Ballard Designs. I love how all the curves contrast with the straight lines of the board and batten.

Finally we tackled all of the border wallpaper, and finished painting the top half of the wall.

After about a week of hard work, we were done!

A year later, we still love this room just as much. Now the walls are a different color (the grey clashed with the kitchen cabinets), and the “art” on the walls remains a work in progress, but we are so happy that we tackled this room first! Having one room that felt like “us” in this house was really helpful when the rest of the house still felt like it belonged to another family (and another decade!).