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Dining Room Converted With French Country Theme

See how a lackluster dining room gets a French country makeover.

Chris and Rowena Morneau love the French country look they have created in their new house. They have tried to bring the dining room in on the theme by removing a mirrored wall, but the dark paneling left behind doesn't have the look they were going for. The Design on a Dime team signs on to help with the update.

Before: This dining room had lots of dark paneling but very little style.

The Dilemma
Dark paneling in the space clashes with the beautiful French country table they already have. The old ceiling fan needs to be replaced with a dressier, style-appropriate fixture, and the white banister separating the room from the staircase doesn't fit the French country look either. Since the Morneaus have been at a decorating impasse in their dining room, they need a stylish, functional place to serve while entertaining. They also haven't accessorized much, leaving the space a bit impersonal and bland.

The Solution
The dark-paneled wall will be revamped using new paneling that will be stained a vibrant green color. The ceiling fan will be replaced with a wrought-iron chandelier, and a buffet will be added to give the room style and function. Existing accessories will be repurposed, and new ones will be brought in as well. For example, a new, dramatic clock will give the space a touch of old Europe. Here's how the team helps the Morneaus say "Bonjour!" to the French country dining room they've been waiting for.

Design coordinator Charles Burbridge gets to work on the paneled wall. He uses a tongue-in-groove paneling that will create a seamless look when finished. Before staining the wood, he sands it lightly and applies wood conditioner using an absorbent staining sponge (available at most home-improvement stores). He uses a water-based, pigmented wood stain in a vibrant green color — pulled from the accent fabric — for the new table linens and chair seats. The adjacent walls are given a coat of rich, leathery brown paint.

Host Lee Snijders stains a new buffet piece to complement the dining table. After first staining the piece in the matching honey color of the dining table, he attaches black die-cast knobs to the doors.

Charles creates a one-of-a-kind timepiece using a 36-inch-round wooden tabletop. He paints the surface white and transfers numerals from an art book to the clock's face using graphite paper (available in art supply stores). He fills in the numbers with a black marker, making the perimeter of each intentionally imperfect to enhance the aged effect he wants to achieve. He then distresses the finished clock face using a glazing technique and attaches antique-looking hands.

Lee updates the dining chairs using the striped fabric that was the inspiration for the new paneled wall. He paints the white banister black to coordinate with the wrought-iron chandelier, at right. He then gets to work accessorizing the new space. He ties the whole look together with unique glassware, wrought-iron candleholders and copper-colored charger plates.

The Cost
Tongue-in-groove paneling - $298

Clock - $48

Table settings - $166

Fabric - $75

Buffet - $110

Lamp - $46

Chandelier - $126

Paint and supplies - $70

  • Paint for railing - Mann Brothers/Metal English Brown 22-949 ME525/$31.30 per quart

Plant - $35

Accessories - $21

  • Chargers - Target/200011373/$6.99 each
  • Dishes and accessories for table dressing - Marshall's

Total - $996

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