Tristina’s Design Dilemma

Tristina’s brand-spanking-new dining room is bursting with potential. Here’s her letter:

Yay – I got one :-) I am so excited! I am stuck in a matchy-matchy rut – everything is dark wood with brushed nickel. Bad – I know, but I am so stuck! We are not going to move in for about a week or two once the house is done so some other work can be completed but what a perfect time to get the dining room going! It’s only drywall now but soon it’ll be ready for furniture. Our style is modern and casual, but classic and chic – I want to move away from matchy-matchy. I would love some soft color on the walls (like a pretty gray-blue or green). I love Stacy Garcia light fixtures and the builder’s grade chandelier that will soon be hung has to go! I bought two pieces of craigslist furniture that I want to redo. Here’s the pedestal table (which easily fits six chairs) and buffet that I want to paint. The floors will be this beautiful bamboo and there will be two-piece crown molding. We also bought this print – which I love. Will it work over the buffet? The foyer is right across from the dining room. I have a console table for that space (it’s dark wood but I’m thinking of painting it). What color would make it work with the nearby dining room? Thank you, thank you!!!!!! -Tristina

Here’s the plan:

And now for the mood board breakdown.

1. Our color palette will be chic and serene with some sandy tan tones accented by hits of deep chocolate and pops of weathered gray-blues. For the walls we’d love to see a soft blue-gray tone (Benjamin Moore’s Quiet Moments) for a look that’s gentle and airy. It’ll look oh so lovely with those dark bamboo floors that Tristina already has going into the space.

2. Anyone who know us well enough to know that we love pedestal tables (after all we do have two of them in our little house) also knows that we believe they call for something pretty substantial in the center of them to ground them and make them feel polished and complete. Otherwise they just look forlorn and not-quite-finished. So Tristina can grab this large woven hurricane for a gorgeous dose of texture along with that instantly “done” look.

3. And speaking of that amazing pedestal table that Christina already snagged on craigslist, we’d love to see it painted a muddy gray-blue color (using this tutorial and Benjamin Moore’s Mount Saint Anne) for a showstopping result that will anchor the entire room. And when it comes to her already-purchased buffet, we think it would look great stained in a deep chocolate tone (try a gel stain for an easy transformation) to work with the dark flooring so the round table really becomes the star of the space. Plus we always love a painted piece paired with a stained one for a non matchy-matchy look that feels special and collected over time.

4. Clean-lined chic accessories like these will look great atop the buffet for interest and effortless style that feels modern and crisp with the soft blue walls setting them off.

5. We love the art that Tristina already selected for over the buffet (see #10) but since it’s a long wall with a long buffet under it, a polished nickel sconce on each side of the art (mounted about 8″ wide on either side) will help to fill things out and add tons of soft ambiance to take this dining room from nice to super fabulous.

6. And speaking of fabulous lighting that will take this room to the next level, this amazing stunner of a pendant will look lush and lovely above the pedestal table. Gotta love that intricate glowing fern pattern and the modern clean-lined elegance it will bring to the space.

7. The soft blue-gray painted table is one of the room’s most amazing pieces along with that heart-skippingly-beautiful pendant light, but these breezy and textural open weave curtains just might sneak in and steal the show. Nothing transforms a space faster than a new set of gorgeous floor length curtains hung high and wide, and the movement in these will work seamlessly with our rug and even the hurricane on the center of the table for a layered and luxe effect.

8. As soon as we saw these chairs we knew they were meant to be thanks to the striped fabric (Tristina told us she loves stripes) and the dead-on color palette (they have tones that match the rug, the soon-to-be-stained buffet, the blue-gray painted table, and even Tristina’s recently purchased art). Gotta love when a perfect match like that falls into your lap. Plus we especially appreciate that the chairs are upholstered for more of that mixed & matched look that Tristina loves (a rich stained buffet + striped upholstered chairs + a painted table = bliss). And at less than $100 a pop they’re a total Target steal!

9. This large natural weave rug will inject tons of texture and function to the space (they’re easy to shake out or vacuum and don’t absorb food or beverage stains like traditional wool rugs). And the warm wheaty color will really set off those deep bamboo floors while grounding the pedestal table in the center of the room. Oh and Tristina will want to go with either the 9 x 12′ or 10 x 14′ sized rug (whichever one allows for all the chairs to be pulled out from the table but still remain on the rug). You never want chairs that feel uneven because they’re half on and half off the rug while your guests eat.

10. Here’s the already purchased print that Tristina wanted us to work into the space. It’s sure to fit in perfectly thanks to everything from the tones in the rug and the curtains to the soft gray-blues on the table and the wall. We’d love to see it centered above the buffet in a clean-lined dark wood frame with those lovely sconces (see #5) hung about 8″ away on either side of it.

Oh and as for the console table that Tristina mentioned will soon live in the nearby foyer, we think painting it the same weathered gray-blue tone that will be on the dining table (Benjamin Moore’s Mount Saint Anne) will be a super easy way to mix in more interest and color to the rest of Tristina’s home for a less cookie cutter look.

So there you have it. A dining room full of serene and elegant style. We can’t wait to see 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. Christin says

    Wow – this might be my favorite mood board yet. Those colors totally fit what I’d like in my home as well, which is why I love it so much! I hope Tristina sends in the after pics!

  2. Martha says

    This one is a stunner!! It makes me want to repaint my bedroom in that beautiful Quiet Moments color which will look sooo good with the dark wood floors and buffet! And I love the way the stripes in the chairs are picked up in the art work!! Well done, youngsters!!

  3. says

    Gorgeous… would love to see after pics! Quiet Moments is a GREAT paint color.

    On the down side, I just learned that my dining room rug is too small. Bummer.

  4. MeganM says

    Christin, I completely agree — it’s my favorite board yet, too! I’ll be keeping it in mind when I do over my next project — the bedroom or dining room. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Mary Evers says

    I had to laugh when I read Sevi’s comment. Whenever I tell my husband I’m painting a room, he say’s “AGAIN? You just painted it!”. I can’t stop myself either.
    I just finished painting our bedroom Quiet Moments. I love it! That color may stay awhile.

    I haven’t picked out the window panels yet & your suggestion sounds great. But if they are hung high & wide, won’t the wall color show through the open weave? Is that a good thing?

    • says

      Hey Mary,

      It will and that is a good thing! I wouldn’t go crazy wide or anything, just about 12″ wide on either side and around 8-12″ above the window frame. The key is that the open weave curtains will hang softly in front of most of the wall instead of blocking the view out the window and making it appear smaller. Hope it helps!


      p.s. So glad to hear that so many people are loving Quiet Moments! It’s one of our favorite colors as well. Can’t wait for these after pics…

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