Budget-Friendly Dining Room Updates From Expert Designers

We asked. They answered. Expert designers share what to buy if you only have $200.

Beaudet Dining Room

Beaudet Dining Room


Trish Beaudet

Designer Trish Beaudet created this elegant and romatic dining space with a golden chandelier over the glass and wood table set with candles and a floral centerpiece, golden drapery and a complementary rug, and a large pedestal urn with flowers by the window.

Start By De-Cluttering

Trish Beaudet, Finishing Touches Interior by Design, Inc.:
Concentrate on four things: de-clutter, paint, fabric and lighting. The dining room is a place where guests enjoy relaxing meals so free the room from things that do not relate to the room’s purpose. Simply stated, a dining table, chairs and server/buffet create a perfect foundation.

For around $30, paint the room a color that has sophistication and depth. Also, you can try paint techniques, like a color wash or a soft suede finish, to give the walls a custom look. Practice your technique on a poster board to achieve the perfect look before moving onto the walls.

Beautiful fabrics in a dining room are a must have. Custom window treatments can be expensive, but there are many retailers that offer beautiful readymade panels and drapery hardware for around $75. To add a touch of romance and elegance, hang your rod at the highest point on the wall and choose a panel length at least 10 inches longer than needed to add drama.

If you can wrap a present, you can reupholster seat cushions. The average chair only requires a half a yard of fabric. Look in the remnants section of a fabric store to find fabulous finds at a discount. Can’t find enough of one fabric to complete your chairs? Don’t be afraid to mix in another fabric.

For around $5, give an existing chandelier a facelift with spray paint to change the finish. If your chandelier features candelabra bulbs, remove the shades for a more elegant feel.

We have spent a total of $130 for paint, drapery treatments and fabric. With the remaining $70, invest $50 in a large framed mirror to visually open the space. Lastly, utilize your existing place settings and wine glasses and spend the remaining $20 for a few table accessories. A grouping of candles always creates the perfect ambiance.

Check out more of Trish's romantic design style on Designers' Portfolio.

Add Color to the Table


For designer M. Grace Sielaff, the dining room is a great place to enjoy time with family and friends, fashion, flair and conversation.

M. Grace Sielaff, M. Grace Designs Inc.: Here are my top designer tips for creating a dining room that is low cost yet beautiful and functional.

1. Wrinkle-resistant dining chair slipcovers make all the difference in terms of color and can be purchase for under $25 a chair.

2. Add paint to a wall. I prefer a creamy sage green color and depending on the brand, one gallon of paint ranges from $18 to $30.

3. Cut decorative glittery crepe or gift-wrapping paper in the shape of a circle, and use as replacements for doilies and placemats. The price: only $4!

4. Add a captivating floral arrangement, which can be done for around $60.

Beautiful Fabric is Key


Designer Gina Fitzsimmons knows that fabric and paint is all you need to create a stunning transformation in the dining room.

Gina Fitzsimmons, Fitzsimmons Design Associates:
Give your dated dining room a lift by painting the dining chairs a fun contrasting color to the table. Purchase three yards of fabric and staple gun the new fabric on the seats. Paint the wall behind the buffet the same contrasting color for an accent wall. With the remaining money, sew a table runner from the same fabric that is on the dining seats, grab a large bowl from the kitchen and fill it with something seasonal like pine cones, fruit or Christmas balls.

Make a Window Statement


Designer Linda Applewhite makes a bold statement with her window treatments and updating fixtures with paint.

Linda Applewhite, Linda Applewhite and Associates:
To make a big impact in a dining room, raise the window treatments. In this space, we simply added a contrasting fabric to the bottom and top of the existing window treatments and removed the tie backs to achieve a more current look. It could definitely be accomplished for $200 or less with inexpensive fabric and a sewing machine. One of the most common mistakes is hanging the treatments just above the windows no matter how tall the ceilings are. Use the vertical and bring the eye up to the top of a room to expand the feeling.

Paint a silver chandelier a bronze color to make it look more elegant and stand out in a room. For this project, we did it inexpensively with canned spray paint.

Lastly, which costs nothing, we simply opened the doors! Connecting to the outdoors is so important for all of us who need the nurturing that nature can bring, but we often forget about what’s outside, while only focusing on what’s inside.

Update Your Seating


Designer Jessica Nixon updates her dining rooms with elegant upholstery, easy-to-make window treatments and a fresh coat of paint.

Jessica Nixon, Jessica Nixon Interior Design:
Vamp up the dining room chairs with upholstery fabric that fits your new style or coordinates with existing rugs or drapes. To cut down on cost, reupholster them yourself using a heavy-duty stapler. If you have all wood seats, buy seat cushions or slipcovers for the dining chairs to soften all the wood edges.

My next suggestion is to hang drapery panels, which dress up a room in an instant. Tackle this project on your own to save on cost by sewing a three-inch hem on the top and bottom of a fabric panel and you're done. If you have left over fabric, make a table runner to coordinate.

Lastly, paint is another option that magically changes the look of a dining room for very little money. Be sure to bring samples of your existing furniture and finishes, such as a drawer from a buffet or a drapery panel, with you to the paint store when searching for the right color. Many paint stores offer $5 sample cans you can bring home and test on your walls or on large sheets of poster board so that you can make sure the color works in your lighting at home.

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