A Big, Juicy Dining Room Update: What’s New, What’s Working, What’s Not.

March 19, 2020

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Last week, we had a fun video shoot in our dining room with a large brand that will be coming out soon-ish (we’ll be sure to share when it does!) and against all odds, we were able to get the dining room in working order before then. So today I wanted to share a big update of where we are, where we’ve been and what still needs to be done!

By the end of the shoot, we had a beautiful, decorated dining table:

Floors (Dark one: Neuro, Light one: Magnifica Calacatta Oro) | Table | Chairs | Pendant Lights | Sconces | Vases | Flowers | Candlesticks | Plates | Appetizer Plates | Bowls | Silverware | Glasses | Napkins

When we first saw this space when we toured this home last summer, we envisioned a large gathering space for our family and friends to all have dinner together. But it started out as an enclosed porch.

We’ve come SO far from where we started, but let’s strip it down for just a minute to see how it looks without the styling so you can really gauge the progress that has been made and we’ll go through each point.

The Paint

Originally I imagined this room painted a warm gray but struggled how to make the transition since opening up a second arched doorway leading into the living room (that’s flush with the wall so there’s no clear breaking point). We discussed adding trim, but in the end my love for the simplicity of the arched doorways dictated carrying the same white paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster) and trim color (Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige) into the dining room. I’m relieved and thrilled to say this was absolutely the right choice for us! Because the flooring is different in the dining room, I love that the flow of the wall and trim colors are the same. It really connects it to the rest of the house. Also because there are a lot of other show-stoppers in this room, it’s nice that the paint feels soft and secondary but ties into the rest of the house.

The Lighting

The large 30″ drum pendants (these, from Rejuvenation) add so much to the room. The size and scale are truly breathtaking in person, but they also say, “Hey, no rush, this dinner is with friends.” or “This is a comfortable place to chat for hours.” Also as soon as we put them up the acoustics in the space really balanced and it feels like home.

We originally got these candlestick sconces for the walls, but we held them up just a few days before the shoot and realized the backplate was too narrow for the electrical that was installed! We didn’t have time to get the electrical fixed so we overnighted these round globe sconces and it was the happiest accident. I love them even more than the original! They are a little modern and quirky (and tie into a lot of the other round fixtures we have in our home) and this room definitely needed that element.

The Fireplace

Having a large double sided fireplace has always been our dream, but now that it’s in place, we love it even more. It separates the living room and dining room, but still allows the space to feel connected visually and even audibly. We shared how the construction of the fireplace went down here, but since then we added a local honed ivory travertine hearth on either side that really finishes it off.

We aren’t 100% of the fire itself yet. We’ve had issues getting the logs we want in the size we need (36″) and the current logs don’t let a large enough fire through. (In fact, it’s barely visible) so there’s tweaking to be done there still and then I’ll focus on what to hang on the mantle!

The Beams

Probably the number 1 question I get asked about the beams in the dining room is why we painted them white instead of doing wood like the living room. We knew with a large wood dining table running down the center of the room, and large lights hanging above it and large checkerboard floors below, the last thing this room needed was another layer of contrast. But I still wanted to bring in the layered element, texture and architectural interest that beams add. Keeping them tonal (white on white) allowed us to get the look and interest without the high contrast.

Each of the 6 beams are about 5.5″ tall and 8.5″ wide, but there was just one little (big) oops. Apparently that height doesn’t clear the large double doors at the end! We opened them and they wouldn’t clear the beam by maybe a quarter-half inch.

I was feeling guilty because I was originally the one that said there needed to be two extra beams added at the edges so that the beams were evenly space throughout the room, instead of just floating in the middle. And although I stand by that decision, I took full responsibility for assuming the door wouldn’t hit (the beams were installed before the door.) But it was one of those perfect storm scenarios where apparently, the door opening was roughed in a little too tall and so the door was installed ever so slightly too high causing the collision.

Because it’s so minuscule, (it actually looks like it’s going to clear in person!) we’ll just trim off the beam on the end half an inch and if we can avoid doing that to all of them…we will.

The Doors

Permitting, heating and entirely reconstructing this room as part of our home as opposed to the step-down, walled-in porch it once was added valuable living space and square footage to our home that we are excited to use year round, but we definitely see summer dinner parties, with all the doors open to the patio and the flow from inside to out being magical. The five doors we added lining the left wall are all Pella with Baldwin hardware. I love the traditional look of them and we have already gotten used to opening one door (the others remained locked) during the winter/spring.

The original double arched door at the far end of the dining room was in rough shape when we bought the house. It wouldn’t open, would lock, had broken glass, but when we got a bid for a new one it came in at $17K!!! So we looked around for someone that could restore the original. It required a lot of wood filler and new glass and time, but I’m so happy we were able to save the original.

The inside wood was past repair, which was fine because we wanted to paint it black to correspond with the other doors anyway, but the exterior will remain wood which we’re excited to see come to life when we do our exterior. You can still see light poking in from underneath (remember how it was hung just a smidge too high) and in the center which is easily fixed with weather-stripping. Still work to do on the door!

The Furnishings

At the very beginning, Chris and I were going to BUILD a table for the space but back in November, in this post, we explained our reasonings for buying two tables instead. Part of it was because they were on clearance, but also, they are a lot more versatile. These two table together look like one large table but they can expand even further or condense down if needed, too. And if we ever want to clear the room for, I don’t know, A DANCE PARTY, it’s a lot easier to move and store two smaller tables, as well.

When pushing two tables together, especially two that you order online!, you definitely worry about how the seating will fit around it. We were anal about measuring and spacing and I’m so happy with how it all came together. Right now, we have two center leafs in (so one end of each table that touch) and three chairs fit perfectly in each section–fitting 20 total around the room.

Happy to report the leather chairs are very comfortable too! We had several guest that were here for the shoot even compliment them which made us feel even more confident in our choice.

We’d love to have two substantial captains chairs at either end of the table eventually, but for now, the extra smaller leather chairs are serving as place holders.

The Fauxdenza

On the right side of the dining room, across from the wall of doors, we always imagined a long storage solution. Turns out, a 12 foot credenza is both, very very hard to find and also extremely expensive! We decided to build a fauxdenza (which is just a floating credenza/sideboard made of upper cabinets mounted together and attached to the wall) for now and we’re already loving the extensive storage close by. All of the plates, glasses, silverware, napkins, vases, candlesticks, bowls, etc. for this table fit in it. We topped it with painted plywood temporarily, but I’m looking into a stone remnant for the top and I still need to find knobs, too!

Also, lamps and art for above it!!!

For us, this is a dream space. And it represents a lot of what we value in our life and why this house spoke to us. It’s ironic that it’s usable right when we’re all social distancing, but the future is bright and we can already envision the dinner parties, gatherings and conversations we’ll have here.


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What do you think?

  1. Can you share the name of the company you used for the subtile heating? Thank you!

  2. Kim Dee says:

    Love this room so much! Question on the floor tiles… one is 24×24 and the other 30×30… also, thickness is different. Did you have the larger tile cut down and use grout to level them?

  3. Cassie says:

    This looks amazing. I am curious about adding the same floors in my kitchen. However it is much smaller. Do you think that it would work in a small kitchen?

  4. Vicki says:

    It is simply stunning! Love it so much!

  5. Kelly says:

    Would you mind sharing which doors you got? I am looking for those and cannot find them with two handles. The room looks beautiful!!

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      These are “Special Architect, Double Inswing Doors, Contemporary” custom doors from Pella — and we have a whole blog post on them coming up!

  6. Susannah says:

    This looks like the hallway at the Chateau at Chenonceau! I imagine you must have seen images of it in your inspiration searches but I don’t recall you mentioning it!? Uncanny.

  7. D Marshall says:

    Have really enjoyed you for a very long while. You have so many good design ideas, and are a thoroughly engaging couple.
    But you have left most of us. …. moving on to such a grandiose mansion and elaborate surroundings. Please provide us with some hope for people of little means.

    • Chris Loves Julia says:

      Aw, we don’t live in a mansion! Our home has undergone a massive renovation in the first few months we’ve been here, because we wanted to get the living room and dining room to where we wanted them, structurally. But you can bet the budget-friendly DIYs are filling our calendar as far as the eye can see. Stay tuned!

    • Christina says:

      I love you guys and I continue to notice budget-friendly ideas and suggestions, but the overall tone is getting a little hard to relate to. But c’est la vie….I’ll probably keep tuning in out of curiosity.

  8. michaela says:

    Gorgeous!! I love that the oval door mimics the beautiful window in the living room.

  9. Did you get the doors custom designed? I want them for our new wedding venue space, but the grilles on the website are not the clean, double pattern shown in your home. Those are dreamy! Can you tell me which Pella door you used?

  10. Lisa says:

    It’s fabulous!! I’d love to see a photo taken at night with the wall and pendant lights on.

  11. Jenn Dollard-Smith says:

    A quick note to let you know that I was so surprised/hesitant when you were choosing the flooring because it didn’t seem your (or my) style but holy. sh*t. It is PERFECTION. Need your brain/vision as I work on my 1920s craftsman home! Obsessed with your work.

  12. Kate Mahan says:

    The place settings are stunning! Where could I find the chargers underneath the Amazon plates?

    Thanks so much!

  13. LD says:

    Love the room!!!! Not a fan of the pendants. In the pictures they just dominate but may be different in person.

  14. Nina says:

    The “But the future is bright” was the much-needed star in this post although the competition (this dining room gives me chilllllls) was hard :)

  15. Rosie Coppola says:

    So beautiful! Did you ever consider adding a rug?

  16. Kimberly says:

    This room is screaming for a Josh Young! ;) I bought three of his pieces a few years ago and they remain my favorite pieces of art. This room turned out beautifully—congratulations on a space that will be so special for your family.

  17. AC says:

    Gorgeous. I was surprised to see you didn’t use your semi handmade fronts. Did they just not fit your vision for the space?

  18. Dawn says:

    This is gorgeous!

  19. Erica Robinson says:

    Only you guys could make such an excessively large dining room look so cozy and inviting, I absolutely love it! Such a fantastic space for winter, and it will totally transform in warmer weather. Amazing job!!

  20. Laura says:

    It’s all so beautiful. I love the argyle pattern on the floor from the shadow of the doors. It’s going to be lovely when filled with family and friends.

  21. Michelle says:

    Full confession, when you bought this house my whole reaction was “whoah”. That’s a LOT. I’ve spruced up and remodeled a few homes, but never at this scale. Watching it transform into this stunning space has been educational and inspirational. Thank you for sharing your talents and journey with us. That floor is one that I wasn’t immediately sure about, but seeing it now I can’t imagine anything else. But also so glad about the lights – those little round globes are unexpected but so chill about it. The original choice was elegant and sophisticated but maybe also a little common? The door story sounds like every remodel story ever. There is also a thing that needs accommodating – at least it is beautiful and not like a heating vent or whatever.

  22. Julie says:

    The room looks very nice. Did you add “connectors” to the 2 tables to keep them from drifting apart or shifting?

  23. Nissa says:

    This room is a TRIUMPH!!!

  24. Linda M. says:

    I love it all!! Can’t wait to see how it evolves. What direction does the dining room face? Love the alabaster color and was thinking about it for our own space but our windows and doors are facing south so I have to be careful which white I use. Many blessings to you! Stay healthy.

  25. Laurielulu says:

    Chris and Julia…..I love the dining room soooo much! With styling the credenza will be smashing. I so love the flooring and doors. Just WOW!

  26. Karissa Aman says:

    I love love love this room! It also feels like a sneak peak if CLJ ever did a commercial space. Great job you guys!

  27. Kristin Caffrey says:

    Just wondering size wise…can you walk under the light fixtures when the table is removed from the space? They seem large. It is a beautiful room and I imagine you will create so many memories in that space in the future.

  28. Jake says:

    OMG! This room looks stunningly beautiful!

  29. Aline says:

    It is stunning! I love it! And a I truly appreciate your transparency in telling us about what was planned vs. what is now, and what is working and what is not – because that is just inevitable in any reno or new built! And sometimes, like you said, it works for the best. About that, two questions: 1- is it confortable to sit in the end of the table? From the pic it looks like there isnt much leg/feet space? 2- the table and lights arent centered with the fireplace, was that a calculated decision?
    Love reading your thought process, that is why i always (always) read your blog posts!! Congrats on this beautiful space! Cant wait to see what is coming next!

  30. Natalie says:

    What cabinets did you use for the fauxdenza? The room looks amazing!

  31. Sandy Camarena says:

    Can you please link where you got the fauxdenza from? I can’t seem to find the right buffet console and this seems to be the best solution. Simple and lots of storage. Thank you , thank you thank you for always posting everything on your site.

  32. Jenna says:

    This is such a stunningly beautiful room. For some reason I feel as if this room is calling for a tapestry!!? Hate that the door gave you that last minute surprise but the solution sounds clever. Y’all are amazing.

  33. Kelly says:

    Crazy gorgeous room! I think the sideboard would also look fab painted the same color as the walls. I’m jealous you get to have fabulous parties in that amazing space (er…..someday lol)!

  34. katy says:

    Hi! I love the cabinet idea for the fauxdenza! I think that I might end up doing that for my husband’s home office. Any chance that you’ll be writing a post on where you sourced the cabinets and how you hung them?

    Looks lovely and very much reminds me of my favorite chateau, Chenonceau. :)

  35. Danielle says:

    It’s such a beautiful space – bravo!

  36. Rachel says:

    Is it possible to change the arched door to open out instead of in to avoid hitting the beam?

    • Chris says:

      It’s possible, but we would have to pay a lot more money to have the jamb remade to be in swing. It’ll just be easier to address the beam instead.

  37. Jennifer I says:

    So pretty! Probably because the original sconces you were planning to use reminded me of Beauty & the Beast, I totally think you need to dig up an antique cart for Mrs. Potts to come storming in to serve tea from….

  38. TP says:

    To solve the door hitting the beam issue, I would sand down the top of the door until it cleared the beam.

  39. Kristen says:

    I remember you mentioning the chairs weren’t quite the color you expected, but I’m so glad to hear you are keeping them because I love the touch of warmth they bring! And the fit the tables just PERFECTLY. What a beautiful room!

  40. Meredith says:

    Now how does one score an invite to one of these magical dinner parties….? :) It all looks beautiful. I frankly can’t imagine having it as a space in a house I live in (it’s huge!) but I’m glad you’ll get tons of use out of it.

  41. JL says:

    Julia, the space is simply STUNNING! Can’t wait for an ambient evening shot of those pendants glowing. I’d love to see a couple of big beautiful textured pots with plants (e.g. small meyer lemon trees) to bring some greenery into the space. So happy it’s turned out how you envisioned. It’s been a joy to watch!

    (BTW, you shouldn’t wait for a large dinner party…the five of you should enjoy a special dinner in this lovely space!)

  42. Ashley says:

    Beautiful bones. Have loved watching your new home evolve. This may be the worst suggestion ever (ha!), but have you considered making a custom skirted sideboard (not like our grandma’s…simple with straight lines)? Was thinking the fabric would add some texture and warmth. Still keep a stone top? Or maybe you plan to get a rug instead…or maybe with art and accessories, neither would be necessary. Whatever you decide, it will look wonderful!

    • Liz says:

      I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a modern skirted table, but if anyone can pull it off, it is CLJ. Another option would be to incorporate the CLJ Semihandmade doors for the fauxdenza in the trim color. It would be a beautiful balance to the trim-work surrounding the exterior doors while also bringing more warmth than the stark white cabinet doors. I personally can’t wait for the big brand reveal to see the fauxdenza all styled out. Everything you touch turns to gold!

    • Jen says:

      I like this idea! Since it doesn’t seem like there will (or should) be curtains and a rug, it might be a nice spot to inject some fabric/texture. Looks great!

  43. LIz says:

    SUch an amazing transformation! It’s coming along beautifully Well done!!

  44. Andrea says:

    Could you have the doors open out instead of in? A friend of mine did that and it actually worked well. The space is amazing! Love your style and I love the quirky sconces! Can’t wait to see what else you come up with!

  45. Lydia says:

    this seems like a simpleton question, but could you make the large arched doors swing out instead of in?

  46. Haley says:

    What happened to the white-ish arm chairs for the ends?

  47. Meredith says:

    This room is so beautiful, both visually and by what it represents. I am so happy for you guys! I cannot wait to see what you choose for art and how you style it through the years. Such a dream!

  48. Patricia says:

    Watching the progress of this room and the living room has kept me engrossed and tuned into daily stories for months! Nothing ever goes perfectly (little oops) but the end result is wonderful. The huge dining room is impractical for most of us but very in keeping with your large families and circle of friends.
    Now all you need (aside from a closet and bathroom) is a great kitchen for Chris to cook fabulous dinners.

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