Trudi’s Design Dilemma

When Trudi tasked us with helping her create a fresh new dining zone and sitting area we rolled up our sleeves and whipped our our paint decks. Here’s her letter:

We’re looking to warm up the whole space with a new wall color and I would like a dining area and a sitting/reading area. I love color: lime green, blues, yellow, white, tans, I like graphic and floral prints. Oh and I’m over red. I like pops of color on white or light furniture… but I have 3 small children (4, 2 & 9 months) so a lot of white won’t work for now. Traditional, modern, beachy, glamorous, casual I like them all. I love the painting (it was my first big purchase when I bought my first house). The piano will be removed and I just purchased a sisal rug with a black border and parson chairs with black slip covers for the table, but they were inexpensive so the slipcover color can change if necessary. The benches are out, the buffet is an old dresser that can be replaced, I would love a round dining table for 6 but I don’t know if I have the room so we may have to keep the dining table, I will leave that up to you. We are also planning to get a new light fixture and I have a Pottery Barn Charleston chair in a half that I can buy a slipcover for if you think that would work. I’m so looking forward to your design ideas, being a stay at home mom this is where I spend most of my time and I really want to love what I see. Thanks! – Trudi



There’s nothing like clearing a few things out and bringing some fresh new life into a space. Here’s our plan:


And now for the mood board breakdown.

1. Trudi’s attraction to bursts of color inspired us to bring in some punchy splashes of blue and green (which pick up the tones in her painting above the fireplace). We’ll keep things classic by tempering those dashes of hue with warm and inviting neutrals and a few hits of sophisticated black. We also love that Trudi already ordered a sisal rug with a black border and some black slipcovered parsons chairs, and we’d actually suggest that she paint her existing buffet a nice glossy black to instantly add drama and style to the piece that she was ready to move out of the room. We’d love to see a serene and subtle celedon color on the walls (it always looks great with black and white and tan) and we think bringing this color into all of the adjoined rooms will keep the whole floor plan feeling open, fresh and cohesive (try Benjamin Moore’s Ceadon Green).

2. We looked high and low for a classic and stylish light fixture for above the dining table, and we swooned when we saw this clean and elegant design.

3. And speaking of lighting, we’d love to see the newly painted black buffet with a matching lamp on either side of it. These posh turquoise-toned leather-looking beauties will add a cheerful dose of color to that side of the room (and they look far more spendy than they actually are).

4. Trudi mentioned that she wanted a sitting area where the piano resides, and since she already has a Charleston chair and a half from Pottery Barn, she said she’d be happy to slipcover it. We’d love to see it covered in durable and timeless “Caramel” twill, which will work seamlessly with the rest of the space (and come clean in the wash when the kids have grubby hands). We also found this vibrant green velvet pillow to toss onto the neutral chair and a half for a bit of fun and color that can be switched out whenever the mood strikes.

5. One of our favorite finds for the space, these fabulous patterned curtains (in Tadashi Black) should be right up Trudi’s alley (she mentioned that she likes graphic prints and floral patterns and these babies have both). They’ll perfectly complement her black slipcovered chairs and sisal bordered rug while adding height and glamour to the entire space. We’d love to see them all hung high and wide at the same height- which means that Trudi should mount the highest one first and hang the rest on the same line. It looks like the window near the buffet and the pass-through is a good deal higher than the others in the room, so hanging the curtains at that height throughout the space will make things feel more balanced and cohesive. And Trudi can use the same bamboo blind trick that we used in our living room to make all the windows appear to be that tall (hanging bamboo blinds to bridge the gap between the curtain rod and the window so no one’s the wiser). This curtain trick will be the single most transformative thing Trudi can do to create a welcoming and stylish space. Curtains can really make the room!

6. Since our curtains have such a strong and bold pattern, we’ll want to eliminate the existing fireplace screen which may compete with the new drapery panels (and also draws attention away from the neutral fireplace tiles above it). This clean-lined substitute will still keep little hands and feet out of the firebox while injecting a crisp and current feel in a snap.

7. Here’s a sisal rug with a black border similar to the one that Trudi already ordered. We’re crossing our fingers that she picked up an 8 x 10 rug for the space, because that size will better accommodate a new round table and allow for the chair legs to rest on the rug (whether the chairs are pulled out or tucked in). And even if Trudi wants to decorate in phases, keeping her current table and painting it black is another great way to crisp it up so it looks like new (it will also look great on a bigger sisal rug)!

8. To add more of that splash of color that Trudi adores, we’d love to see this turquoise vase full of these yellow flowers in the center of the new dining table that we dug up (round tables often need something with a bit of height in the middle of them). The beauty of this pairing is that it will subtly mimic the blue vase with yellow flowers in the art above the fireplace without looking too obvious and matchy-matchy (while connecting the round table to the round pendant hanging above it for one balanced vertical line in the middle of the dining area).

9. This slipcovered parson’s chair is similar to the ones that Trudi already ordered for the space. We think they’ll look fabulous atop her black bordered sisal rug (and dirty little hands won’t be cause for concern). Of course they’ll also look amazing with those graphic curtain panels!

10. And last but not least, we looked far and wide for a spacious round table that can accommodate 6 people (this one’s 60″ wide, which we think should still fit in Trudy’s space). A round table is a great way to go when you’re looking for easy flow and a chic yet casual feeling, and we can’t wait to see the table centered under the new light fixture that we dug up. Trudi may find that she actually has to swag her light fixture to make it appear centered over the table (this can be done easily with a plant hook on the ceiling above the table which will allow her to drape the excess cording over the hook so the light now dangles perfectly over the table). And speaking of the table, it’s especially beautiful (check out the top view on the site!) and extremely highly rated, and we also love that it ties in with the color of the existing hutch in the nook next to the fireplace while the black slipcovered chairs will tie in with the soon-to-be-painted black buffet.

So there you have it. Trudi’s new dining and sitting area with some fun pops of color and a lot of classic and timeless appeal. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

Update: We sadly can no longer find the time to take on client commissioned mood boards (we now whip up general inspiration boards instead) but if we ever reinstate them we’ll make a big announcement!


  1. Aubrey says

    random question– it appears that the window on the other side of the beam/passthru is a pair with the tall window in the dining area. given that the rooms are so open to each other, how would you recommend dressing windows that are that close together and visually connected, but are parts of different design spaces? different curtains on each half? same curtains thruout? i’m having a hard time visualizing a curtain rod hung high above just one of those windows… just wondering :)

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Aubrey,

      Good question! We always think curtains are an easy way to unify any areas that are open to each other, so we definitely would like to see Trudi snatch up a few more curtain panels for the living area as well. Then they can all be hung at the same height and look consistent (while adding sophisticated style throughout the space). Gotta love an inexpensive bonus little living room makeover thanks to those fabulous curtains and nothing else!


  2. Miranda says

    I have the light fixture and it is fabulous! Super good quality. Even though we knew the dimensions, it seemed bigger in person but it makes a chic statement. We were also happy to see the diffuser is glass.

  3. says

    Beautiful job. I think you have really created a space that responds well to her likes and desires. As for the dining table, another great option for the dining table could be the LEKSVIK from IKEA. It could easily be sanded and lightly white-washed for a lighter/beachy feel. It is also nice because it is an extension table so it doesn’t have to take up a ton of room all the time.

  4. says

    Great design board! One thing, tho – not sure that there’s enough wall height above the windows in the sitting area (where the piano is now) to hang panels at the same high height that you’re suggesting at the double window by the fireplace. I’d maybe rather see all window treatments hung at the lower height with the rod just above the lower window’s white millwork trim(as Trudi’s done in the living room). This will also allow for some symmetry on either side of the fireplace – the panels and the armoire/cabinet on the other side of the FP will be the same height. It also will allow the VERY cool painting above the FP to be the tallest item on that wall, and thus the focal point.

    Then maybe remove the blinds from the two upper windows (1 in dining area, 1 in the living room) so that Trudi and her family can enjoy the look of clean-lined transom windows? (Window tinting film will cut any glare or heat coming thru those uncovered windows and is totally invisible!)

    Can’t wait to see what Trudi does with the space!

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Pam,

      You may be right about the height difference over the piano, and hanging the curtain rods below the transom window near the pass-through (still at the same height throughout the space) is another great way to totally transform the room while keeping things nice and balanced in there! The goal is definitely to unify things so lovely items like that art on the mantel can really shine, and we can’t wait to see how it all turns out in there. Thanks again for chiming in with the great idea!


  5. says

    These are the EXACT same colors I am contemplating for my home right now! In fact, I just picked up some turquoise and green swatches, covered my bulletin boards in brown burlap, and lined them with black grosgrain. I’m all over this design plan!

  6. says

    I love Trudi’s painting! What a great inspiration piece for the fab mood board.
    Forgot to say excellent post. Looking forward to seeing the next post!

  7. Trudi says

    What a day, I just sat down to look at my amazing mood board! Thank you so much for your time Sherry, you have really helped me look outside the box and feel more comfortable about making some bold choices. And to all you readers, you have such thoughtful, insightful questions I will try to get this transformation to you soon!

  8. Jacqui says

    Let’s say (hypothetically, of course) that you LOVE this mood board and are halfway through purchasing, um, everything on it. Let’s say that you are also planning a big remodel of your kitchen this summer, which will open into a living room/dining room combo where said mood board will be implemented. Any suggestions on cabinet color?

    • YoungHouseLove says

      Hey Jacqui,

      So glad you’re digging the mood board so much. We’re so excited about your impending (hypothetical) makeover and of course would LOVE some pictures of the finished product!!! As for the cabinet color, cream would look lovely as well as dark hardwood or even chocolate brown paint. You could also go for a medium tan tone like the slipcover of the chair. Hope it helps! Happy decorating…

      And don’t forget to send us those pics! We’re on the edge of our seats here!


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