A Gorgeous Antique Farmhouse That Isn’t Yet Singing

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel

I’m at a loss to figure out what to do with this window.

 

It’s in the dining room of my Connecticut Antique Farmhouse.

 

The house was built in 1825 and is loaded with antiques– and charm. Well, we think so.

I usually have a vision but I’m struggling with this one. I don’t want it to look fuddy-duddy. Back in the day I would have done a swag and jabot, but right now I’m stumped.  Should I just leave it naked?

Maybe this could be a blog post?

Thank you,

Susan

PS: By the way, I have enjoyed following you for several years. Not only are you extremely talented and helpful, but you have a terrific sense of humor!

 

*********

 

Thank you Susan! This is a recent email I received.

Please know that I can’t help everyone, even though I wish I could. However, if I hear the words “Connecticut Antique Farmhouse” you stand an excellent chance of hearing back from me:

 

“please send back, if you like, a half-dozen or so photos and I’ll see if there’s something I can use for a blog post.”

And, she did.

 

But, then, Susan had this to say about her antique farmhouse dining room:

 

While I’m at it, here’s the drab dining room. Everything feels so dated to me. How can I give this decor a facelift? I feel like I’m living in grandma’s house. I’m not going for the millennial Pottery Barn house look, but this just isn’t working for me.

BTW, when I went to grab the link, just saw that PB is having a MASSIVE bedding sale!

However, when I looked more closely, this was from a much earlier email from the fall of 2016 when Susan had sent in a few images from this beautiful antique home!

 

Susan Connecticut Antique Farmhouse Dining room with beige walls

This is one of the old photos

 

The rest of the photos are how her gorgeous antique farmhouse looks today.

 

And then, we can see if we can help her with that window treatment.

 

Susan Connecticut Farmhouse Dining room with beige walls - antique farmhouse That’s a better shot.

Connecticut antique farmhouse dining room traditional table
My immediate thoughts were that the room is not terribly big, but looks quite heavy with a lot of brown furniture against the pale walls. I LOVE that cache pot and orchid!

As for the window treatment, I could see why Susan is struggling. While the room has many things going for it, to me, it feels that the balance is off.

In addition, the area rug while very beautiful, is a little too large for the room.

 

Susan later gave me the measurements and she said:

The dining room is 13’11” x 11’5” and the rug is 12’1” x 8’8”.

Ceiling is 8.5 feet high.

Window is 5’10” x 3’6”.

However, it’s an old home and the dining room is a little short, so we probably need it to be that long. Ideally, I would like to see at least a foot of wood margin and usually a little more all the way around.

My next thought was that what would make this room really work would be a lovely, soft red on the walls as it would balance out all of the brown wood.

Benjamin Moore strawberry red 2003-20

 

Maybe Like Benjamin Moore Strawberry Red, one of the Laurel Home Paint/Palette Collection colors

I used this in a darkish living room once and it is magical!

Next up for me is the chandelier.

 

I feel that it’s a little too rustic/casual for the more formal mahogany pieces. Chandeliers are so difficult, so when I find a really great one, I tend to use it again and again.

Below is one such chandelier.

 

paris flea market chandelier larchmont dining room lighting

I think that the 24″ Paris Flea Market chandelier would be the perfect size and style for Susan’s Antique Farmhouse dining room. Above, you can see it in this dining room we did a few years ago.

This is such a pretty piece. The photos don’t do it justice.

24 inch Paris Flea Market chandelier - 1800lighting

 

And you can find it at 1800lighting to purchase.

 

For more great chandelier ideas please check out this post,

this post

and this post too.

Still, I know better than to be giving advice without seeing what else is going and so I asked Susan to send in some more images of the other walls and adjoining spaces.
And, here they are.

 

Connecticut Antique farmhouse dining room

 

Susan dining room - living room antique farmhouse decorHere we can see the fourth wall and into the living room. Don’t you just love these old floors. I believe that they are pine but they could be something else.

Susan Living Room antique farmhouse decor
Antique Farmhouse Living Room - Dining Room
I love this shot. This is a very lovely home, but it is falling a little flat in a few places.

 

The first thing I noticed now, is that the color is okay, but it’s creating a drag. However, now that I’m seeing the larger picture, maybe painting the dining room red will feel too much.

This here, is the perfect example of why I go a little nutso when someone asks me what color to paint something without being able to see what else is going on. It’s a dangerous thing to do.

 

I would, however, like to see more creamy white in pillows and window treatments. Not solid white, but I feel that the rooms need a little more white– and a little black.

 

And while I am now rethinking the red on the dining room walls, I do think that they still need something beefier going on and that made me think of beautiful Sarah Wagner’s wonderful dining room and wallpaper.

 

Young family home remodel-new trad dining room Quadrille - china seas wallpaper

I think that something like this Quadrille paper could work nicely and help balance out all of the heavy brown furniture. BTW, have you seen Sarah’s beautiful new blog, Sarita and Gail?

Eileen Lonergan helped Sarah and I believe it was one of the last jobs she took. I miss Eileen so much!!! But, she will always be with me.

 

Lyford-Trellis-Quadrille-via-james_andrew-on-instagram

 

Or below, I also love this wallpaper from Schumacher

 

Nanjing+Wallpaper+CoralSchumacher Nanjing Wallpaper in Coral

 

Petite-Rustique-Bamboo-Cordless-Roman-Shade

Petite Rustique found on Overstock

 

I am thinking maybe a bamboo or some other natural wood Roman shade would be nice in the dining room.

 

Let’s discuss the wall color a little further.

 

Susan says that the wall color is  Benjamin Moore White Sand oc-10 but with a little added green to take away the red undertone.

Benjamin Moore White Sand OC-10

White Sand

Benjamin Moore White Sand OC-10 -green added

And here, I added a little green the white sand image.

 

This is actually quite close to a Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection color – Niveous oc-36.

 

My feeling with mixing paint colors is that unless you’re fixing a booboo, it is better to get a color that is good without having to manipulate it.

Susan Living Room antique farmhouse decor

 

I brought this image back down so that you don’t have to scroll back up.

 

I notice that these are the only windows with window treatments.

 

However, the other windows in the living room should also have drapes, unless there’s some compelling reason why they can’t. And, while these aren’t terrible, they are clashing a little, as is the chair fabric. Of course, it could just be the photo. I’ve learned not to trust colors completely in photos!

 

Slipcover maker boxpleated slipcover

 

I would do a lighter creamy white and have slipcovers made for the chairs with a skirt. Maybe something like above or it would not need to have the box pleats. I feel that the chairs, while nice look a little too contemporary in this space. But, this is just me being nit-picky. The chairs are fine as is.

 

Lynn Chalk - on Etsy Custom Drapes with Greek Key Trim

 

For draperies, I’m thinking something like this or with a plain ribbon trim. These are by Lynn Chalk.

Please check out her page on Etsy for dozens of gorgeous draperies and pillows.

 

Susan said that she bought the lumbar pillows on the club chairs from Pop O’ Color on Etsy which she found here. They are one of the 75 I think it is top sources I put in the vintage and hand-made update on Laurel’s Rolodex last November.

She also said that the throw pillows on the sofa came with it and then she added the Samuel & Sons trim which she purchased at Good Goods in Darien.

Very clever and fabulous!

Another idea I have to spark things up would be to add some varying shades of blue in the living room in accents like other pillows will make a big difference.

for terrific throw pillow ideas, click here.

Here are a few other ideas I put together in this sliding widget. Please click on the individual images for more info.

 

 

Oh wait, one other idea. It’s the dining room chairs.

 

They can definitely be left brown, but I think that it would be awesome if they were painted a chalky black. It would add another dimension to the room that I think would be quite pleasing.

 

And then, I would add a slipcover skirt.

Here are some ideas for that.

 

New trad dining room chairs slipcovers - source unknown

This is the basic idea of what I’m talking about. It would add a lot of style and make the room a little less formal feeling. Beautiful dining room by Suzanne Kasler

 

Mrs. Howard Slipcovers dining chairs

This style without the back part would be lovely too. Room by Phoebe Howard

 

I very much recommend Karen – The Slipcover Maker.

There is also some of her work featured in this post about slipcovers

I’m sure that you guys are chomping at the bit to share some of your ideas for this lovely antique farmhouse.

 

I could keep going, but they are all exceedingly minor things. This is such a fabulous home! I think with a few tweaks, it could be a showstopper. Although, it already really is.

 

Before I sign off. As you know, I do moderate comments.

 

Fortunately, 99.9% of you are incredibly wise, thoughtful and kind. And it pains me to have to say this for the .1% of you who aren’t. But, please remember that Susan has graciously allowed me to post her home and she will be reading your words. Please bear that in mind while writing your comments.

However, as I have to say about once a month or so, I do not allow nasty comments and unfortunately two people got their subscriptions deleted on Sunday. Not only were they snarky comments directed at me, but they sent them out when I was sick. WTF?

Talk about kicking a dog when she’s down.

xo,

 

 

OH! PS: Please go to the newly updated hot sales page if interested in getting a 20% off promo code for Serena and Lily!!! It’s good until February 22nd!

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Nancy Bowman - February 4, 2019 - 9:46 AM

    I love Susan’s home; it is very much my style of decorating. Thank you Laurel for sharing your decorating wisdom.

    The dining room you featured with the slip covered chairs and the twin mirrors, is by Suzanne Kasler. It is from her book Inspired Interiors, which I happen to have just bought and pored over;) Just thought I would mention that. Thanks again!ReplyCancel

    • Cynthia Novotny - February 5, 2019 - 2:29 PM

      I read this post when it first came out and loved so many of the suggestions that it got me thinking of my own mismatched dining room – the result of downsizing and trying to be practical. Instead of commenting earlier I spent time looking for a new chandelier! Thank you, Ladies.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 5, 2019 - 12:43 AM

      Thanks Nancy! I’ll add that.ReplyCancel

  • Paula VanHoogen - February 2, 2019 - 11:46 AM

    Hi Laurel, My husband passed away in June, so I have not been able to comment for awhile….
    but I just love how you express yourself, both in words I’m in your work— your sparkly personality just adds so much life to every party!
    I think you really have made this gal happy here! What a great gift that is.
    I love the idea of switching out the rugs, the bamboo shade and a beefier wallpaper!
    Your suggestions for the LR are equally cool.
    ….especially the drapes!
    Would it be over the top to liven up the opposite wall ( of the DR) with a little more drama on the smaller table top? Not sure what—but it wouldn’t take you long to come up with something.Also, what do you think of a companion bamboo treatment on the French door?
    Trying to “get back in the swing” here….
    Paula.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - February 3, 2019 - 9:55 AM

      Hi Paula,

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. {{{hugs}}} Yes, I would do a companion shade on the French door. I should’ve said that.ReplyCancel

  • Robin - February 2, 2019 - 11:12 AM

    Gorgeous home! I love Susan’s taste and how she’s already created a space that looks welcoming and beautiful. If she does nothing else, that drop-dead-gorgeous chandelier will elevate the entire space, like a fabulous piece of jewelry. But for the fun of creativity…I think a large round mirror over the buffet would give the room an updated vibe, in a gold or champagne finish to complement the chandelier. And instead of the smaller sideboard on the other wall, hang 4 large framed prints with a more contemporary feel, or do a gallery-type grouping, and place a fun bar cart in the corner instead of the clock. For the table, I think it would look a little less formal with one of the leaves removed and 4 side chairs instead of 6, a tonal rug, and upholstered end chairs. Thanks, Susan, for letting us “play” in your beautiful home!ReplyCancel

  • Fenella - February 1, 2019 - 9:16 AM

    What a lot of wonderful ideas, and what a gorgeous house! Our house is a little later, same floors that we’re beginning to uncover beneath teal carpets (mmmm). So far I’ve been painting them, as they would never have been meant to have been exposed. I love them even though those cracks between the boards area home to endless wee dust-bunnies.

    I agree with swapping the rugs, but then wouldn’t a glamorous chandelier then look a bit incongruous in the dining room with that seagrass mat under the formal dining table? I do think the persian rug would look lovely in the living room, though, and I’d like to see that furniture moved around a bit.

    I disagree with painting the chairs (horrors!) – I’d rather see them with prettier seat covers with panelled skirts, as Laurel suggests.

    I disagree with a chair-rail or any other paneling in the dining room. It’s
    Georgian farmhouse, and for me that would clash with the honest vernacular of the place.

    How about a green on the dining room walls? The reds are wonderful at night, a bit painful in daylight, for brunches and lunches, etc. I love Farrow & Ball’s Calke Green, it’s warm and inviting in all lights. Although I love the idea of a cracking wallpaper, too.

    I’d be leery of too much Chinoiserie, or the whole place might run the risk of suddenly resembling an interior decorating spread from the redoubtable Mary Gilliat, circa mid 70s!

    I think the empire-esque mirror over the sideboard in the dining room is cracking, but jars a little, for some reason. Could it go in a hall, and have a piece of art there instead?

    I do hope the owner pipes in once she’s made her changes.ReplyCancel

  • Ksenija - January 31, 2019 - 8:55 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    What a beautiful charming home – LOVE those antique wide floorboards. Such History! I agree with some of the other readers who suggested ‘switching’ out the living room & dining room rugs. The dynamic colourway in Suzanne’s beautiful Persian rug would look super in her living room, to enliven the space and harmonize with existing colour accents (blue couch, blue Chinese ceramics & ceramic lamps). Another budget-friendly solution would be to add some additional sofa pillows (in coral and/or chinoiserie pattern). I am visualizing “Ralph Lauren’s English Country Style” Manor Home. A harmonizing mix of colours & patterns all jumping off those found in the Persian rug.
    As for Suzanne’s dining room, re-positioning the existing living room sisal (if dimensions permit) would look quite fresh against her existing dark wood furniture while visually adding more lightness to the space. Perhaps painting the upper walls in warm soft, golden paint colour (instead of red) in conjunction with (off-white) painted wood paneling onto lower walls for more architectural interest. If Suzanne is wishing for less formality, breezy linen drapes (in neutral/soft white colour) and (neutral/soft white) linen/cotton chair seat covers will add soft romance without jeopardizing the lovely daylight streaming into the room. In the evening, candle wall scones would further add lovely accents to the space.
    Kind wishes, KReplyCancel

  • Sarah - January 31, 2019 - 10:01 AM

    Those old wood floors are making me drool – I’m in love!! I definitely agree with Laurel when it comes to creating depth with varying shades of blue. I’d love to see some follow up pictures 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 31, 2019 - 2:22 PM

      I agree Sarah. I would love to see some follow up shots as well.ReplyCancel

  • Laura in Ohio - January 31, 2019 - 8:59 AM

    Love this post! It seems like this is how I see 99% of real-life nice looking homes. The rooms look and feel very nice, there’s obvious great taste, it just needs a little amping up. Great suggestions. I had never actually been a big fan of this type of dining chair until I saw a room in AD that Katie Ridder did for Mindy Kaling. Stunning balance of traditional and punchy—if you’re in to that sort of thing ;). Stay warm everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - January 31, 2019 - 8:15 AM

    Good morning Laurel,
    This post came at the perfect time. I’m dealing with the polar vortex that hit Chicago so I’m stuck in the house. I suppose I could be cleaning a bathroom or something but that’s no fun.
    I have enjoyed reading all the comments as much as the post itself.
    I love your suggestion regarding replacing the chandelier. And the red toile wallpaper. That room would really be spectacular!
    When I first read the post I thought a relaxed Roman shade would be lovely in the window. And I would recover the chair seats. It’s an easy DIY project that could be done in an afternoon.
    Stay warm!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 31, 2019 - 2:20 PM

      Hi Mary,

      Yes, it’s freezing here too! People in the south may not realize that it’s the BRIGHTEST SUNNIEST days that are the COLDEST at this time of year.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - January 31, 2019 - 1:03 AM

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful home Susan and for you’re inspired suggestions Laurel. I’d love to see some architectural detailing added. Perhaps crown moulding, an art rail or wainscoting. I love Wallpaper above wainscoting in a dining room.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 31, 2019 - 2:18 PM

      Hi Gail,

      I’m always for adding appropriate architectural detailing in an old home, especially.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline - January 30, 2019 - 10:59 PM

    Well, I’m late in commenting, but I also think switching the rugs might help, and I’m wondering why the living room is so empty. I’d like to see the other side of it; otherwise, I’d move the chairs into a conversation group with the sofa, as others have said. More color, more lightness, as all have shared.

    But I’d really like to know what you would suggest, Laurel, for the large bare window in the living, as you said all the windows in a room should be treated similarly. I can’t see if it is a bay window or something like that? But I’d love to know how you would dress it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 31, 2019 - 2:17 PM

      Hi Caroline,

      Well, the emphasis is on the dining room. The living room is mostly to show that when you’re trying to figure out one room, you need to consider the adjacent areas, not just look at the one room in isolation. Since I don’t have enough information, I can’t say for certain what I would do. There are usually numerous options. My recommendations are based on what I can see and what I feel will make the space even better.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Bardon - January 30, 2019 - 6:48 PM

    I think Susan has a beautiful house with a lot of charm and has done a marvelous job! I like the idea of repeating a small # of colours 3x in a room. If you had some blue, cream and red (i.e. add the same red as you have in the DR) accents in the living room (e.g. throw pillows with all 3 colours and some accents) it would help tie the space to your dining room. I agree with Laurel that a more sophisticated chandelier would coordinate better with the very pretty dining set. I agree with other comments that moving the mirror to the wall opposite the sideboard (not above) if possible, would reduce a little bit of visual distraction and allow the focus to be on your pretty pots and orchid. Maybe a runner in the same fabric as some living room throw cushions to link the two rooms? I also wonder about doing blue on the DR walls and slipcovering the dining room chairs in cream. Blue and orange are opposite on the colour wheel and the wood in your DR could read as orange/gold, so a logical choice if you change the seats to a creamy colour. I think the rug would still work. Good luck and please send Laurel your finished product to share so we can all admire your work!ReplyCancel

  • Maxine - January 30, 2019 - 6:27 PM

    Thanks Laurel for the pictures of dining chairs with pale slip covers. Light bulb moment! Just what I need to lighten the mood in my trad dining decor. The key’s a bit high for my room, so I’ll be doing them in natural linen. Thanks also for the effort you put into your posts.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:03 PM

      Oh, you’re welcome Maxine. I’ve always loved this type of look for dining room chairs. Ideas have always come pretty easily to me. It’s implementing them that’s more of a struggle. :]ReplyCancel

  • Barb - January 30, 2019 - 5:21 PM

    Terrific post as always! Enjoy seeing the design challenges and hearing the great advice from Laurel. I too am struggling with adding more balance to my dining room. It’s in a 1912 Craftsman stye home. The dining room has the original built ins and wainscotting. So the window treatments and decor need to highlight the room.Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:42 PM

    Thank you Ann. I do love layering art with the wallpaper, however to break it up. Barbara Barry once said. “Complexity is what makes rooms rich.” I believe that too.ReplyCancel

  • Sara Holloway - January 30, 2019 - 4:30 PM

    What a wonderful post! So many ideas generated! All interesting and clever and unique! I especially noticed some of the art work, particularly the prints that are either antique birds and/or botanicals framed with an interesting red matting along with cream matting. I would love to know more about the prints and what was used for that “textured” red matting.

    Thanks…SaraReplyCancel

  • Teresa - January 30, 2019 - 3:16 PM

    Love your blog and love this post. I live in a 1920 American Foursquare and I too faced the sea of brown furniture – dark Chippendale like the letter writer. I was not inclined to paint my chairs, but I recovered the seats, chalk painted one of my side pieces in a lighter color, and swapped out my Oriental rug for a neutral sisal. But I got the biggest impact from replacing my host and hostess chairs with two smaller-scale wingbacks upholstered in a light and bright Chinoiserie toile. It made a huge difference!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:29 PM

      Yes, that’s a great idea too. I love when the host chairs are upholstered or slipcovered.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - January 30, 2019 - 2:57 PM

    I always have a tablecloth on my rectangular thrift store table (35X 60). It is surrounded by mismatched chairs, but they all have caned seats.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:28 PM

      Hi Susie,

      I love that mismatched look and it sounds like you’ve done it well.ReplyCancel

  • Frances - January 30, 2019 - 2:41 PM

    Particularly interesting post and reader’s comments, too. Love all the ideas! Jogging our minds is so good for us (and less tedious than jogging our bodies…:))ReplyCancel

  • Leslie - January 30, 2019 - 2:29 PM

    Hi Laurel, Hope you are feeling better and staying warm on this bitter cold day! What a lovely home Susan has. I actually like the chairs matching the table but I would eliminate one(two)? of the furniture pieces against the wall if she can. One may be a radiator cover.. Susan has gorgeous decor pieces, maybe a few could be placed on the table to provide a display solution and balance the brown. Susan has a good eye and can use the table like a canvas and change it up. She might consider some wood decorative wall pieces(gosh.. what are they called?) to go over the buffet instead of the mirror to make a display arrangement there and put a mirror on one of the other walls to pick up the outside reflection. On the window I would do either panels on rings or a relaxed roman and repeat the pattern with a relaxed roman on the door. Depending on her fabric choice she could keep or change the chair fabric. Susan could add interest with some custom placemats or table runner. The other suggestion is the art to the right of the window in the room is a bit small in scale for the size of wall it is displayed on. I’d keep the walls a neutral but maybe a grasscloth type to pick up the living room rug or just paint. Susan, I hope you enjoy the process and thank you for sharing your beautiful home. BTW, my dining room has no identity and I have to walk through it numerous times a day to get to my kitchen and garage.ReplyCancel

  • MaryEllen - January 30, 2019 - 1:46 PM

    PS- a showstopping piece of large scale art would be awesome over the buffet
    Lots of color…mirror is not doing that huge wall justiceReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:25 PM

      Hi MaryEllen,

      I like a mirror there because there is already a lot of art in the room. Unfortunately, there’s another doorway on the wall parallel to the window, so the buffet can’t be centered.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ellen - January 30, 2019 - 1:41 PM

    Bring red carpet into living room? Definitely some bright colorful pillows!
    Carpet in living room doesn’t seem like a good fit
    I had my Mom’s dining room table and was very attached to it, so I tried to update it and have something more fun…red did it for me!
    Red side chairs with red and cream Ikat print and 2 arm chairs with ivory wood and backs and seat in solid red. Carpet is very light on dark wood floors
    Doesn’t feel overly formal and much more fun!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:24 PM

      Hi Mary Ellen,

      I’m not following all of that, but thank you just the same!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Kline - January 30, 2019 - 1:29 PM

    I think this home is lovely! I actually like the color of the walls- maybe the slip covers on dining room chairs would be nice. If she changed the chandelier, maybe she could find one from the Vermont place that does reproductions? How important is light control? I would at least put UV film on the window to protect the wood from the sun.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:23 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Good point about UV film to protect both wood and fabric– especially in south and west facing rooms.ReplyCancel

  • Maria - January 30, 2019 - 12:54 PM

    The first thing that came to mind is to paint the chairs, so good idea. Speaking of red, I would do the first wallpaper shown on the ceiling. That will be less busy and will add drama to the room. The chandelier doesn’t bother me, depends how formal Susan would like to go.
    I would do a Roman shade in the dining room with a beautiful fabric to works withe paper.
    Thank you Susan for sharing your home, and thank you Laurel that invited us in!
    Beautiful house, very elegant!ReplyCancel

  • Madonna Gorriaran - January 30, 2019 - 12:46 PM

    Susan, girl, you’ve got some great stuff, and good taste, too. Sometimes I look at the dining room sets our mothers and grandmothers and great-grands cherished, and I just want to paint it all! But I don’t think I could. If I sent it out to be painted, I think I’d have to check myself into, well, not a rehab per se, but maybe go on a cruise while it was being done. Sister Parish was famous for taking the beautiful, nearly priceless antiques she was given as a young bride and painting the hell out of all of them. She started a design trend that was a shock to her contemporaries, but lasts to this day. I don’t want to know what her momma said the first time she walked in after all those dark wood pieces were painted white. I imagine she had herself a conniption.

    I think your stuff is lovely, and if you take Laurel’s advice, it’ll all come together beautifully. I envy you the gorgeous, old house, Suz, but not the upkeep. However I love history and have a special place in my heart for people like you who keep these old homes going. You are a credit to your ancestors!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:21 PM

      Hi Madonna,

      Conniption, indeed. Now, that’s a word you don’t hear very often; at least not around here.ReplyCancel

  • nicole rivlin - January 30, 2019 - 12:16 PM

    so many great comments! i would love to see the wall across from the sofa, from the photo you have i feel that the 2 chairs should be facing the sofa for an easier conversation grouping – what a lovely home and those floors oh my. thank you for sharing yourself so willingly and helpfully.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Gregory - January 30, 2019 - 12:11 PM

    I love this house, and feel like it is 90% there (oh how I wish mine was antique, and 90% of the way there, but then I would have finished the fun of working through all these issues). The wide floor boards are to die for, and so hard to replicate. My thought was to add a chinoiserie print for panel drapes, or a similar sort of document pattern fabric (I loved Tidewater Resist by Waverly, which was also done by Brunschwig & Fils, which gives you high/low options), in the dining room. That would bring in the desired color while keeping the walls a peaceful color. I myself can’t bear to paint good dark wood, but I love love love the idea of the seat covers. Am waiting for a moment’s peace to do that in my own dining room. I feel like the living room could use an oriental rug layered over the natural fiber rug. Nothing very bright or strong, just a little more warmth, color and softness. I think I am saying the same things Laurel is, except with slightly different options (though I absolutely 100% agree about that chandelier! I love Laurel’s choice, and have an antique version in my own dining room which is a joy every single day of my life). Laurel is always so good at these things…ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - January 30, 2019 - 12:06 PM

    Hi Laurel, great post, great house! This is my favorite kind of post because it’s like a real world design lab for all of us civilians! Love all of your suggestions especially the chandelier and wallpaper and painting the chairs. Also love everyone’s idea to switch the rugs! I have a question: the living room with the chairs up against the wall has a lot of empty rug across from the coffee table that bothers me for some reason. I was thinking it might be good to move the chairs across from the couch as a conversation area. What do you think about that? I love love love your blog–how boring would our lives be without you?!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:16 PM

      Hi Jenn,

      I noticed the empty space too but can’t see what’s going on in the other corner. But, maybe there’s room for another chair or a chair and an ottoman.ReplyCancel

  • Donna - January 30, 2019 - 11:56 AM

    Gosh, this is a beautiful home. I would love to see the outside. And yes, I would have been thinking swag and jabot back in the day, too! It seemed every home in Richmond had them! If I wasn’t a follower of your blog, I would never think about making any changes to these rooms, but then you through up a picture of a swatch of paint or wallpaper, a gorgeous chandelier, slip covers, curtains, and voila, stunning! You are magic! I’m working on my dining room now. It’s freshly painted Consentino Chardonnay. I have furniture that I have to work around, but I love the slip cover seat idea for the chairs to help break up all the dark brown. And I love, love, love that chandelier, but I bought one of the cheaper versions from a previous blog post. It’s a one love not three only because I’ve since purchased a few Visual Comfort light fixtures and now I know how gorgeous they are! One day it might be replaced and hubby probably won’t notice. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:15 PM

      Hi Donna,

      I promise you that he won’t notice. He’ll think that you changed your hair or something. LOLReplyCancel

  • Chris Irizarry - January 30, 2019 - 11:53 AM

    This post resonates with me as I have similar issues with my dining room. Although I do not live in a fabulous Connecticut antique home, sigh. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this house. Susan is a lucky girl. My first reaction is to switch rugs in the living and dining room. It will give the living room a little “oomph” and tie the two spaces together. Can’t believe I’m saying this but adore the idea of wallpaper in the dining room. I have removed more wallpaper in my lifetime than I care to admit but IF you choose a timeless, classic pattern in a timeless, classic color way you are never going to tire of it and therefore never going to remove it again. Laurel, so glad you wrote this today as I am about to embark on redecorating my dining room. My dining room is a matched set of Henkel Harris furniture that hubby will never, ever permit to be painted. He says it’s a “sin”, LOL. Much food for thought here. Thank you so much.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:13 PM

      Thanks so much Chris! That should be the title of a post – “He Says It’s A Sin to Paint Wood-Stained Furniture.”

      My theory is that it’s in the male DNA. It must be. lolReplyCancel

  • Morgana - January 30, 2019 - 11:53 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    Great post, as usual. I was struck by her comment that it felt like living in Grandma’s house. And then I saw a room full of Grandma’s matchy matchy furniture. I’d leave the walls alone. I would use that red trellis pattern you chose (love!) in fabric for Roman shades on the window and door. Then I’d bring in a complimentary pattern for dresser scarves for the console table and hutch, kicking out that third smallest console (too much!). Then add a table runner to match the Roman shades. I’d leave the rug but definitely cover the chair seats in the complimentary pattern.
    In the living room, it’s those window curtains. Too beige, I would put a navy blue and white print up there.

    Honestly, though, that dining room feels like a room that probably isn’t used much. I would take the two leaves out of that table and shrink it down. Put four of the chairs in storage or on duty in other rooms. Add a large bookcase, (filled with books and interesting objects) painted the same as the walls at one end with a cozy chair and reading lamp. For the few times a year that table is used at full length move the cozy chair to the living room.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel A - January 30, 2019 - 11:34 AM

    It is such a BEAUTIFUL home! I think these posts are extremely helpful. For some reason, it is easier to specify changes to someone else’s space to help the room come together than to see/make those changes in your own space. I love all of Laurel’s suggestions especially the bamboo shades in the dining room and the new chandelier. I have also enjoyed reading all the comments and suggestions. If I may add my two cents, I agree with moving the lovely clock and was wondering if we could switch the clock with the corner cabinet that was in there before and now sits in the living room. I think the clock would look lovely in the living room and the corner cabinet would bring in a lighter wood. But I think the table on the wall that is shared with the living room would then need to go. Could it be replaced with a small gold bar cart? Maybe that is too informal, but I love the idea others had of adding more gold and breaking up the darker wood on every wall. Beautiful home. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 3:36 PM

      Hi Rachel,

      Yes, you are right. It is SOOOOOO much easier to see things in someone else’s home than in our own. This is WHY I need help with mine! LOL I think that your ideas are good ones. I’m wondering about that door in the living room. Maybe, it’s normally closed.ReplyCancel

  • Denise Manno - January 30, 2019 - 11:18 AM

    The lamps on the buffet piece that now blend in would really pop with any if the wall color/covering choices. I prefer the lattice paper.ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - January 30, 2019 - 10:51 AM

    I love the Nanjing coral wallpaper and the slipcover idea. I love red and orange but many of my friends are terrified of using them in their homes. If she is fearful of red could she paint the dining room a dark blue (coordinating/not clashing) with the blue in the sofa?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 3:32 PM

      Hi Cheryl,

      I think that she could do a blue in the dining room, but probably with a different rug. And I’d still like to see a little warm red and gold.ReplyCancel

  • Merrilyn - January 30, 2019 - 10:42 AM

    Beautiful farmhouse! My choice for chandelier would be the Visual Comfort chandelier a la Sarah Wagner’s chandy. Skirted chair seat covers to tie on, would add some whimsy (could even change out the covers from winter to summery fabric). Love your wallpaper idea. I lean more to thinking coral or raspberry than red.ReplyCancel

  • Susan Squires - January 30, 2019 - 10:35 AM

    And Laurel, you’re spot on about the paint color. After the painters finished the first coat of White Sand, I HATED it, so we added green to the second coat to get rid of the pink. It was, as you say, a booboo.

    I don’t think I had yet discovered the Laurel Home Paint and Palette Collection when we did all that work back in 2014.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:55 PM

      Hi again Susan! Well, you definitely didn’t discover it in 2014, because I didn’t create it until 2016!!! haha.ReplyCancel

  • GGG - January 30, 2019 - 10:30 AM

    What a pretty house to begin with! I love your idea for more color on the walls. I have another suggestion along the lines of wallpaper. Would a scenic wallpaper mural work? ( I mean the kind where there is a landscape or other scene that wraps the room.) It would be in keeping with the antique furniture and you did have some posts about getting wallpaper murals relatively inexpensively. Alternatively, an artist or someone artistically inclined could paint a mural.

    And you could also stencil–this is for those people who want the designs but don’t want the wallpaper.

    Also, I love the blue and white china. Are there some colors that go better with the blue and white accent pieces or do they play well with all colors?ReplyCancel

  • Susan Squires - January 30, 2019 - 10:23 AM

    I’m loving all these comments and suggestions. You’re all quite right about the grandfather clock. It is a family heirloom that belongs in the living room but because of floor vents it ended up in the dining room. I hadn’t considered closing the vent, but maybe I should reconsider. These old houses aren’t well insulated so we can use all the heat we can muster in the winter but beauty first! As for the small print on the other wall, my husband hung it one day when I was out , LOL. I will find a new home for it. (This is a second marriage and the husband came with an Audubon dowry).

    I’m crazy about the Quadrille wallpaper! What a great suggestion. Then I think I’d do the bamboo shades and the brass chandelier.

    It’s hard to tell from the photos but the oriental rug is more of a rose color than red so it won’t really work in an adjacent room, but I’m not opposed to rehoming that as well.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:52 PM

      It’s Susan! So happy that you are liking some of these ideas and filling in info that we don’t know.ReplyCancel

  • Shelley @ Calypso in the Country - January 30, 2019 - 10:23 AM

    I love all those wallpapers! I also love when you do posts like this where we can see real homes and imagine the changes you suggest. One of your posts a year or two ago helped me decide on going with a dark paint color in my dining room. You are always so helpful and inspiring…and funny!
    ShelleyReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - January 30, 2019 - 10:22 AM

    Hello Laurel, Perhaps what is going on is that the dining room furnishings are Colonial, but those windows with their 2/2 sashes are mid-Victorian, and seem a little coarse-grained with that fine furniture and/or without other window treatment. I know it would be expensive to install correct windows, and I abhor those fake grids, but perhaps you or the owner could try sketching in smaller panes (perhaps 6/6 to go with the house’s period, or whatever seems fitting) with Photoshop, and see if it doesn’t help draw the room together.
    –JimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:48 PM

      Good observation Jim. However, I don’t think that it will make a significant difference in terms of pulling the room together.ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - January 30, 2019 - 10:16 AM

    Oh I forgot this is a window treatment question. My vote is to bring the red up; right now the top half of the room is so light and the bottom half is dark. I emailed a lame photoshop of corded reddish fabric.
    Don’t know the rules for posting links yet 🙂

    ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:46 PM

      I prefer if links are used judiciously. I have to go in and redo them so that they open up in a new tab. And, if there is anything fishy about them, I won’t have them on here.ReplyCancel

  • Ann cariola - January 30, 2019 - 10:10 AM

    I think that custom lamp shades in a beautiful coordinating fabric would look stunning on the creamy white lamps behind the blue sofa :). Love this home and have always wanted to live in a beautiful vintage home…those floors made my heart skip a beat!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer - January 30, 2019 - 10:01 AM

    For me it’s the wall color I want to change. It’s the green undertone IMO that is fighting the rest. I’d want to swap it for F&B Slipper Satin if staying neutral, or go into a yellow/almond maybe? but I’d also love to see it in a deep color as you’ve suggested. (I miss red dining rooms, can we have those back?)

    I also have a traditional house in CT (not an antique though, I wish!) and one idea I have for my own fuddy-duddy dining room is to put in two smaller chandeliers instead of one center one. I read it somewhere (maybe here??) and I love that idea.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:40 PM

      Hi Jennifer,

      I think that the two chandeliers or usually, it’s two lanterns is a great look, but probably in a larger dining room.ReplyCancel

  • Joni - January 30, 2019 - 9:52 AM

    I do have a question but it is more general. I love all your posts and these homes are all so beautiful. I am finding that I could no way live in any of the homes. I feel like there is always too much “stuff” and it would make me feel anxious.
    Is this a design flaw in my character make up or is it just personal taste? And if personal taste how do I find my style as it is not as if I am drawn to modern minimalist. I do love cozy and hate stark cold. I love the rooms and colors it just the posts tend to look more like a museum than a home.
    I ask as I am just starting to get ideas for redoing my house and am frozen due to this.
    I love walking into a well designed and thought out room but the dark colors, art and collectibles everywhere and so much furniture are all overwhelming to me.
    Is it possible to do your style but with “less”?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:38 PM

      Hi Joni,

      I don’t see a lot of stuff in these two rooms. One thing to consider is that a photo often shows us more than our normally takes in. I do think that it’s good to have some accessories. But, really, there’s not a lot here. Of course, you can always have a room with just furniture, tables and lamps with nothing else, but I think that it will feel impersonal.ReplyCancel

  • Gilda - January 30, 2019 - 9:48 AM

    Wow, reminds me of the 1855 farmhouse i lived in for 16 yrs; poplar floors, chunky ivory woodwork trim..I have the same diningroom set and rug. I used the red Country Lift toile for the wall paper (and used the matching fabric in the swag-jabot window treatment, too).. I miss that roomReplyCancel

  • GL - January 30, 2019 - 9:47 AM

    Edit: there’s a much better photo of the Veere Grenney room on the UK House & Garden mag site, and oops! those plates are red and turquoise rather than brown!
    Just read a few comments. I wondered about putting the long-case clock across the corner rather than on the short wall — that might leave enough room for a curtain treatment to improve the balance — although I wasn’t as worried about the asymmetrical window placement as others. GLReplyCancel

  • Corinne - January 30, 2019 - 9:42 AM

    Love your advice Laurel, and this is a gorgeous home! I’ve never offered suggestions, but will go out on a limb- since you said the dining room rug is a little large, how would it look layered on the living room rug? Then add a rug you suggest for dining to balance that room? The wallpaper with red accents in dining means she could use a natural weave rug and bring red to living room by moving the oriental in there.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:32 PM

      The rug might be too large to layer. But, I’m not sure since I don’t have the measurements of the living room.ReplyCancel

  • Alisa - January 30, 2019 - 9:35 AM

    I love these types of posts. I like to play “How would I improve this room?” before I see what you would do. Great suggestions on this one. That chandelier alone would lift the space.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela - January 30, 2019 - 9:17 AM

    Okay. I’ll ask the amateur’s question (and because I also have a small dining room that connects with every other room) Wouldn’t adding that chandelier and wallpaper, especially with all the brown furniture, make the room feel even smaller? maybe too full? Each element by itself is lovely. But I am always concerned with scale and … well, clutter.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:31 PM

      Hi Pamela,

      I think it will make the room feel more balanced.ReplyCancel

  • Peg Mumbower - January 30, 2019 - 9:06 AM

    You always write great posts, and timely too. I was struggling with a window treatment for a room in our house and got some great ideas from suggestions you gave Susan !

    As always Laurel, thanks !ReplyCancel

  • Penny - January 30, 2019 - 8:55 AM

    Such an informative, detailed post with awesome ideas for her to work with. She has such a lovely home. Makes me want to spend a Sunday afternoon there followed by Siunday night dinner with that lovely chandelier you selected. Thank you for sharing with us.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah McDonnell - January 30, 2019 - 8:53 AM

    The slipcovers are brilliant! What a great idea! And the chandelier will look like jewelry sparkling over the table! Susan’s home is lovely and she is to be praised for saving it from remuddling! Those floors! Ooooooo!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 3:25 PM

      You know when she sent me pics 2.5 years ago, I told her that her home was gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Allen - January 30, 2019 - 8:51 AM

    The house is lovely. What about moving the rug in the dining room in the living room. Adding a few touches of red in there too and take your fab ideas for the dining room with touches of red. I love the blue and white pottery and would add more of that too. Just some thoughts from a non professional .❤️ReplyCancel

    • Paula Rennie - January 30, 2019 - 3:40 PM

      Love the idea of switching the DR rug to the living room. It would enliven the LR, as would the addition of more blue and white pottery. I like a more orangey-red for the DR, maybe with some orangey-red accents in the LR. A very beautiful house, Susan, and if you ever think of replacing the DR chandelier…. I love it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 3:23 PM

      Thank you Susan!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - January 30, 2019 - 8:48 AM

    Laurel!! Thank you so much for mentioning my dining room and blog. What a thrill! I miss Eileen so much, as well. I think about her often and only knew her for a short while. Like Kristin Hannah said in The Great Alone, she’ll continue to age and exist in everyone she touched.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:44 PM

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m so happy that you got to work with her! Eileen was an amazing woman, mentor and friend and I will cherish her memory and everything she did for me, forever! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Christine Plante - January 30, 2019 - 8:41 AM

    I say wallpaper in the DR. If she doesn’t want to do an upholstered skirt on the chairs seats, she could just reupholster the seats (same fabric as wallpaper if she picks a pattern).ReplyCancel

  • Bill - January 30, 2019 - 8:39 AM

    Are there too many chairs around the dining room table making the area darker and heavy? Could two chairs be removed and worked into the living room, maybe one in front of a window or one in front of each window(might be two many pairs in the room)? Then putting the two upholstered chairs in front of the sofa with a small table between them or coffee table? Chair rail in dining room, tone on tone colors? Lighter or hidden curtain rods in living room? Maybe a house plant(s) in addition to the orchid which adds life.
    Just some puzzle solving attempts on this cold and snowy stay-inside day.
    Thank you for your blog Laurel. And CT lady for sharing.
    Best wishes always, B.ReplyCancel

    • Jane - January 30, 2019 - 6:23 PM

      All of your ideas sound spot on to me, Bill.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:41 PM

      Hi Bill,

      I like your ideas a lot! Thank you for that.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 30, 2019 - 8:37 AM

    Great post Laurel. The house is beautiful. You never cease to amaze in terms of your thoughts for a space. I never would have thought of that wallpaper in the dining room but agree it would really bring it to life. Also, when I started reading your sentence on painting the chairs, I expected some shade of white or ivory – love the idea of black. I painted chairs graphite by Annie Sloan and they are great. Thanks again… always look for your post on Sunday a.m. and it was a fun surprise to wake up to one on Wednesday.

    KimReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:40 PM

      Hi Kim,

      I’ve been posting on Tuesday evening, but then one week posted just after mid-night like on Sunday and it seems that the posts do better when posting at that time.ReplyCancel

  • Melanie B. - January 30, 2019 - 8:35 AM

    Laurel- I think the idea of adding white (via pillows) into the living room was spot on. The photo you show with the suggested chandelier also shows a blue sofa with similar pillow effect. It would be much lighter and more inviting.

    Now, these are just my opinions, but … I think they could pull a blue shade out of the dining room rug, and recover the chairs. It would tie the rooms together as well as her blue/white ware on the buffet. I think the red is too heavy and dark.

    The shade for the window is perfect.

    I also like the skirt slipcovers on the chairs, with a coordinating table runner to break up the large expanse of dark wood. And really, although beautiful, if she doesn’t need 8 seats on a daily basis I’d take a leaf or 2 out of the table. Put a newly brightened chair on either side of the window, and maybe a pillow on one or both that echos the new ones in the living room.

    Again… Just my opinions. I absolutely love antiques and old wood, but they can be tricky to decorate with. I love her house- it reminds me of some where I grew up in Ohio.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:39 PM

      Hi Melanie,

      Yes, that’s my work with the dining room and little sunroom. And the fabric is the Chiang Mai Dragon in Porcelain by Schumacher which is so beautifully colored with different shades of blue and some turquoise and black.ReplyCancel

  • Ina Jones - January 30, 2019 - 8:31 AM

    Loved your home! It needs a bit more color, (felt chilly) and I liked the Nanjing wallpaper in coral very much. Laurel is right on target.ReplyCancel

  • GL - January 30, 2019 - 8:22 AM

    Dear Laurel & Susan, It’s a lovely house, and after seeing the post this morning I’ve been thinking about it. I think there are two questions here which will help to show the way: how is the room used, and are all the furniture pieces antique? (Room use: formal or less so? Antiques: painting the chairs if antique is perhaps not a good idea.) As Susan wants to avoid any fuddy-duddy aspect, I assume this means a less rather than more formal look.

    Here are my thoughts, but of course they’re dictated by my own taste. When I first started looking at the photos and Laurel’s ideas, I reacted sharply against the red walls idea. To me, this was confirmed when I saw the pictures showing the view through to the next room, after the chandelier comments, with which I entirely agree — much as I love the iron chandelier, the one Laurel proposes goes better with the furniture.

    The touches of blue in the dining room pick up the blues in the sitting room, and I think this could be reinforced. So another yes to the white curtains with blue trim suggested by Laurel, perhaps in both rooms.

    My own instinct would be to repeat the look of the sitting room by putting a similar rug into the dining room. (I’m sure the beautiful Oriental rug could go somewhere else in the house.) That implies removing the red upholstery on the chairs (which I think is rather dated, but that view is influenced by all the dreadful cherry-red velvet on gold-brown wood that is so commonplace in rural France). Replacement fabric could be blue, grey or pale neutral — again close to Laurel’s suggestion, although I’d rather see new upholstery than slipcovers.

    I agree that the walls “need” something. Two ideas: a pastel-coloured (or grisaille) mural such as those produced by Susan Harter, enough to give the room a lift, without being too assertive. Or a chinoiserie look as done by Veere Grenney, who uses grey walls, a huge display of plates, and applied plaster moulding to do chinoiserie columns in a dining room, you can see this (a pic from his 2018 book) on a blog:
    The walls don’t have to be grey, the plates don’t have to be brown, the columns could be trompe-l’œil paint!

    Just some thoughts, I hope to help the process along! Best wishes to both of you, Susan for letting us see her home, a great pleasure, and to Laurel for getting rid of that cold and feeling ready for more strenuous ballet! GLReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:36 PM

      Thanks so much Gilly for all of your great ideas and images!ReplyCancel

  • Susie - January 30, 2019 - 8:21 AM

    Gorgeous house! And the floors are amazing. I forget how wonderful those old east coast homes look. Susan has done a great job decorating. Hope you’re feeling better Laurel.ReplyCancel

  • Gwen - January 30, 2019 - 8:16 AM

    Beautiful, and bringing the red in with wallpaper is a great idea. I also love the art Susan has on the wall–would love to know who did it or see a close up.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:33 PM

      Thanks Gwen. Maybe she’ll pop over and let us know. That is… when she comes to. lolReplyCancel

  • Kim - January 30, 2019 - 7:54 AM

    What a lovely home! I once lived in an old stone farmhouse built in 1776, and they can be challenging. I love, love, love the Qudarille wallpaper you suggested and I think it would be stunning. I had the red walls with the mahogany furniture in. the farmhouse, and it was a bit heavy and dated. I now live in an open plan neoclassical house, and I am drooling over that picture of the dining room with the fireplace.

    You are so right about the cream and black accents. We have similar colored walls, toasted almond, with cream slipcovered upholstery, chalk black hutch in the breakfast area, along a couple of black lamp shades that really bring the house to life at night.

    Hope you are feeling better, Laurel.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:32 PM

      Thank you Kim, I’m feeling much better! Your home sounds stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Rose - January 30, 2019 - 7:54 AM

    This is a really pretty home! I’m wondering if she could remove the big mirror, as I think with all of the brown furniture, it seems heavy. Then, do a taller mirror with a simpler frame in a gold tone. Then, could she do the wallpaper in a blue colorway to try to pull out the blue that is in the rug and also help flow with the living room. I love the idea of slips for the seats!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:31 PM

      Hi Rose,

      I too was thinking of a different mirror, but didn’t want to inundate. However, I think with a wallpaper, the mirror won’t be so heavy looking.ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - January 30, 2019 - 7:32 AM

    Susan, I love your home!
    Laurel, I love your ideas.
    Susan go for it. A bit more color and pattern with pillows and either of those gorgeous wallpapers and you will have to start charging at the door as we will all be queuing up to get a look and bask in its beauty. What about really having fun and a complementary pattern for slipcovers?ReplyCancel

  • judy - January 30, 2019 - 7:21 AM

    I would remove the rug from the dining and put in a sisal or seagrass rug to lighten up the room. The rug with the antiques, dates the room. I would also add the same panels you suggested for the living to the dining window. I think the dining room needs softening. Then I would slip the dining chairs as you suggested. I would also take out the 3-drawer piece of furniture opposite the buffet and move to another room. I thought the room was crowded with 3 pieces of dark wood furniture on every wall. Then move the other piece with gathered panels to that wall, and consider changing out the framed print on this wall with something more updated, like a soft colored print in a brushed gold finished floating frame, to add some “shiny” to the room.ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Fisher - January 30, 2019 - 7:17 AM

    Laurel— that red Quadrille wallpaper would take that DR over the top! Vavavoom! Amazing how that one change would completely transform that room! You’re so talented.ReplyCancel

  • Ani - January 30, 2019 - 7:08 AM

    This is a beautiful home and another blog post chalk full of wonderful ideas.

    Susan: Thank you for sharing your space! I loved Laurel’s idea about adding a red chinoiserie wallpaper in the dining room as well as painting the dining chairs black and adding some type of slip cover element. I have a feeling if you make those changes you’ll have an answer to your window treatments.

    I have a historic home in Newport that I’m quickly pulling together for a summer rental. I happened to do something similar that Laurel suggested to the dining room – chinoiserie paper on the walls (blue not red), painted dining set and bamboo blinds. While the room needs some tweaks, it’s a timeless look that’s not too formal. I think you’ll be very happy if you follow her suggestions.

    Laurel: Thank you for another great post. You are training us all well!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:28 PM

      Thanks so much Ani.

      Did you say summer rental in Newport??? Love that place!ReplyCancel

      • Ani Yessaillian - January 30, 2019 - 12:40 PM

        As soon as I get the reshoot of photos from the realtor, I plan to be in touch.

        Hopefully that’s happening next week and I will have a lot to share with you!!!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Williams - January 30, 2019 - 7:07 AM

    Laurel, thanks for showing us how to fine-tune Susan’s beautiful house. I really love to see examples of reader’s homes where you give ideas how to “finish” or “polish” it. Your ideas and examples make me say “oooohhh…now I get it”. Although, I think I say that about every post where you educate me on the finer points of why certain decor looks great or why it’s not working. Susan, thank you for sharing your sweet home with us. What wonderful bones!! You have a warm and cozy style that just fits the antique farmhouse. I like the suggestion of the white drapes with a classic trim and the chandelier the most as giving you some real finishing bang for your buck. Sooo…when’s dinner?? Have a great day ladies!ReplyCancel

  • Laura - January 30, 2019 - 7:02 AM

    I would never have thought to do black chairs or red walls. Very clever. And I’m curious…how can we avoid the Pottery Barn millennial, HGTV look. I live on a farm…in a house…but I hear “farmhouse look” so much I want to gag. Are there things we can avoid? Do I have to decorate like a farmhouse because I live on a farm? I’m from Denver…and more of a city girl at heart.ReplyCancel

    • Fenella - February 1, 2019 - 8:57 AM

      “Farmhouse look” appears to mean “barn interiors,” at the moment – sliding doors, faux barn board, rough timbers, burlap – all that’s missing is the delightful barn perfume! It’s all so faux. We have a Victorian stone farmhouse on a working farm, and we’ve got photos of the interiors over the decades, and the last thing those farmer wanted was the inside of their house to look like the inside of their barns!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 12:27 PM

      Those are all good questions Laura. And one of the issues is– What IS a Farmhouse Look, style or whatever? It’s really a marketing term. So, maybe a good topic for a blog post.ReplyCancel

  • Terri - January 30, 2019 - 6:38 AM

    Good Moring Laurel! It’s nice and cold here in the middle west this morning! Really enjoyed this post, it represents some very common problems most of have in our homes…the blahs. I was wondering what if she flipped rugs putting the sisal rug in the dining room, then painting the room the strawberry coloryou suggested. Maybe put a chair rail up, but painting it all the same color. Paint the trim with the soft cream color you suggested. I would use the soft fabric retractable blinds for the windows, I have those in my house and they look great. I would also remove a couple of the leafs in the dining table which would give the room a sense of more space. I would also flip the mirror and buffet to the other side of the room, the wall looks like it would accommodate it better. The red rug would look great with the cream chairs and the couch in the living room. That is my armchair opinion….whatever that’s worth! Really enjoy your blog, you and Maura are my fav! Stay warm it’s coming your way! ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Nathalie R. - January 30, 2019 - 6:33 AM

    I think it is a genius idea to add pleated or scalloped slipcovers to the dining chairs and maybe even the living room ones as well. It seems to be the perfect way to add even more charm. I also highly approve of the trellis wallpaper. Green Asian accents would add that pop you suggested. So I pretty much approve of everything you said!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:50 AM

      Hi Nathalie,

      Thanks so much! I’ve always loved slipcovers, particularly in any home that’s in New England and the UK and slipcovers are like tea and scones. Right?ReplyCancel

  • Deb Tedford - January 30, 2019 - 5:38 AM

    Oh, this is terrific! I, too, live in an antique Connecticut house, and understand the joys and struggles! Your comments are genuinely insightfull, and while not a wallpaper fan (having painfully removed too much in my life) I find myself thinking your wallpaper choices are inspired and would make a huge difference in the room. One additional thought, if the beautiful dining room rug is a bit too large, how about moving that to the living room? That might brighten up the living room as well, and help tie the rooms together if red wallpaper is used in the dining room. Sometimes moving around what you already have can be transformative. Regardless, thank you for patiently teaching us all so much!ReplyCancel

    • Lisa - January 30, 2019 - 10:01 AM

      I was thinking the same thing about moving the dining room rug to the living room….switch the rugs if the size of the living room rug works for the dining roomReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:49 AM

      Hi Deb,

      I agree!

      That’s two for the rug move. I kept thinking that I was going to mention it, but was running out of steam and also wanted to see what you guys came up with.ReplyCancel

  • Jane - January 30, 2019 - 5:20 AM

    I love your idea for the red trellis wallpaper, it would resonate well with the Chinese jars and brighten up all the dark brown and darkish blue, too. And I also agree that the house would benefit from lightening up, so the half slipcovers in a pale colour would be nice, and the white drapes you suggested. I would also re-frame the pictures, which have a very dark passepartout/matt ((not sure what the US term is). And I would paint the dark areas of the long wall mirror, which is rather splendid but definitely encourages the dark brown to creep up the walls.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:48 AM

      Thanks Jane! I agree that mirror is too much as the room is now. If the walls stayed light, an all-gold mirror would be my choice too.ReplyCancel

  • Sandra Berube - January 30, 2019 - 2:32 AM

    What a lovely home … and your suggestions provide beauty and
    practicality( as usual) Laurel.

    Love the Canton ware and could see bamboo shades or curtains or fabric shades or recovered chair seats using the vibe of the Canton ware.
    What about the lonely painting on the window wall – adding another painting or a grouping gives needed visual dimension.

    The room is very rich in content – just needs a design ‘thread’ to connect it . A good inspiration ? The stories behind the furniture and accessories.ReplyCancel

  • Edna Steen - January 30, 2019 - 2:10 AM

    As for the wonderful Connecticut farmhouse dining room – it already is beautiful. But it would be out-of-this-world beautiful with the addition of the chandelier you suggested, the fabulous Quadrille wallpaper and bamboo shades. I am an armchair interior designer and love reading your suggestions and solutions. You are an inspiration for me to get off my duff and spruce up! Keep your ideas coming.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:26 AM

      Hi Edna,

      I wish I would inspire myself to get off my own duff to spruce up my place! Total shoemaker’s children syndrome. However, I have been working on sprucing up my personal life. It’s high time!ReplyCancel

  • sc - January 30, 2019 - 1:56 AM

    Gorgeous floors. That’s all I’ve got.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - January 30, 2019 - 1:23 AM

    I can see why you were tempted to create a blog post on this house. It’s gorgeous! I have some simple suggestions to add….

    There is more wall space to the right of the Dining Room window than to the left. Is there another space in the house where the clock could be moved to? Then add side panel drapes (header suggestions, top pinch or inverted pleat) on the window. I see the fabric as a blue & cream print, and would use the same fabric/treatment on the Living Room windows. (Not sure if there should be a treatment on the Dining Room door…hmmm.) There is blue in the Dining Room rug that would tie it together, and it relates to the blue & white cache pot on the buffet. I suggest changing the artwork to the right of the window to 3 smaller vertically aligned pieces, in a size that balances the wall space on the left of the window.

    Hope that’s helpful.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:23 AM

      Ha! You read my mind Catherine re: clock and window in the DR AND art!

      So frustrating, but that little wall to the left of the doorway in the living room, I think would be perfect, but there’s a vent in the floor! That won’t work for our antique clock. The only possibility is if that one vent can get turned off. Sometimes there are enough other vents that it’s okay. But, it doesn’t always work out.

      I’m wondering if there’s another location for the clock. In the photo, it feels like it’s competing for attention which it deserves.ReplyCancel

  • Amy S - January 30, 2019 - 1:21 AM

    I love these posts where you help a reader- because real people have real houses and I’m much more likely to be able to get my house looking like one of these lovely homes than a Bunny Williams house. These posts are really helping me get my house to spark joy. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:19 AM

      I’m so glad Amy! There’s another one coming on Sunday– completely different type of home in a hot climate, but really pretty!ReplyCancel

  • Rosemary - January 30, 2019 - 1:09 AM

    There’s nothing wrong with any of these rooms. I’d like to add some drama and a bit of color to both. I’d start by reversing the rugs in the LR and DR. I think the traditional oriental rug would add some warmth to the LR. With the sea grass rug is in the DR, then I’d wallpaper the walls in either of the wallpaper patterns suggested by Laurel. The two rooms would each contain some pattern and balance one another nicely. I’d like to see some opulent gold accents- I think Laurel’s chandelier selection is a great one DR and a dramatic gold framed mirror would be nice. I’d consider reframing the artwork with heavier gold frames. I’d replace the 2 white lamps in the LR with something more colorful- maybe famille rose lamps. I’d add some throw pillows in red,or deep rose. Chinoiserie always goes well with traditional mahogany furnishings. I’d like to see ivory panels with a decorative red tape in both rooms.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:17 AM

      Hi Rosemary,

      Great ideas you have!

      I too, considered swapping rugs, but that was one of the things that I wanted to see if you guys thought of too. Of course, the LR rug would need to be cut down. I do love those white lamps, however, and feel that because all of the other lamps have a pattern that the solid is refreshing. But, I’d like to see lamp shades that are a couple inches longer. Argghhh… where’s that damned lamp shade post? Here’s the damned lampshade post. ;]

      There’s a formula on the post for the correct size shades.

      I totally agree with MORE GOLD!ReplyCancel

      • mrsben - January 30, 2019 - 10:22 AM

        First of all, exquisite and beautiful home! Not to knit-pick but I’m glad someone else noticed the lampshades as also note all appear to be in the family of white. That stated, I feel the addition of a piping (trim) might give at least one, a little more character which is something that the homeowner could apply herself. With respect to another minor detail; perhaps some of the glass for the artwork could be changed to non-glare (non-reflective). Last but not least; totally agree with your suggestion/choice of a new dining room chandelier and Catherine’s suggestion of possibly using inverted pleated headings for the new curtain panels provided they are going to be functional (as will require new hardware).
        -Brenda-ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 4:49 PM

          Hi Brenda,

          I like your suggestions a lot. Inverted pleats was the header I did most frequently.ReplyCancel

  • Stella Dunn - January 30, 2019 - 1:06 AM

    What a gorgeous home! I love, love, love the floors. I would love to see more of them…maybe a smaller rug in the room with the sofa, too?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:11 AM

      That’s a good thought, Stella. Since we were focused on the dining room, Susan didn’t send over as many living room shots. I’m curious what’s going on the two ends of the room. Maybe that’s where we see much more floor.ReplyCancel

  • Maryanne - January 30, 2019 - 1:00 AM

    I was also struck by how much brown there is in the room with all the wood furniture. I’m a big fan of chalky paint finishes and can see how painting the chairs might break up some of the brown. Not sure if I’d do both the chairs and another piece in the room, but I’ve used a painted piece as a focal/interest piece in my rooms. Perhaps that buffet and mirror (if not valuable antiques) might be painted a color to brighten the room if wallpaper is not used. Maybe a beautiful blue to bring in the colors from the living room that is seen from the doorways? Agree that the window is sadly off balance on that wall. Consider swapping out that picture for something larger to give that wall some heft. And Laurel, would you treat that door as a window as well and put a valance and/or panels at the same height as whatever is done on the window?
    My favorite things are the floors, and I love that rug. Yes, cream colored pillows in the LR, but add a touch of red in there somehow as well with the blue, to tie it all together since the rooms are visible to each other…? Beautiful house; nice problems to have!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - January 30, 2019 - 9:10 AM

      Good morning everyone! There are currently 34 comments in the cue, so I will get to your comment shortly. No, you haven’t been banned. It is very rare.

      And Hi Maryanne,

      Right. Nice problems to have indeed. I agree with your ideas. Yes, the right side needs different art, either two or three smaller pieces or one longer piece.

      If we could find a different location for the clock, what I would also do is a window treatment fudge with draperies extended further on the right side to make it look like the window is centered and then I’d put art on both sides.

      Usually, with a door, I’d do a Roman shade out of the same fabric or material if a woven wood shade.ReplyCancel