I fell in love with our house the first time our realtor took us to see it. I walked in the front door and knew I wanted it to be ours! Not because it was perfect – it’s far from it! – but because of the potential. Part of the house is original, built in 1899, and the other part was built in 2006. The majority of the house is in really good shape, since most of it is new! But the office, dining room, second bathroom, and two bedrooms are in the 1899 part. It could be a lot worse, and structurally it’s fine, but cosmetically it is a little rough. Take a peek at the original house pictures to see what I mean!

I immediately had dreams of how I’d decorate this house, and the dining room was my biggest challenge. One look at the before pictures and you’ll see exactly why… Out of all the rooms, the dining room was in the worst shape. I’m not sure what the original goal with this room was decorating wise, but when we bought it, it was pretty bad. There’s definitely a chance that the previous owner was trying to cover something up, since it’s from 1899, but it wasn’t at all the way I envisioned my future dining room looking!

None of the walls are perfectly straight, most of them have curves and bulges in the middle, and the bottom part of wood was just weird. We never quite figured out what the idea behind that was! Some of the wood was sticking out past the drywall and some of it was sunk behind it. The house also came with all the dirt, dust, and extra wood left in the dining room. And then there was also a random fireplace mantel?? 🤷🏼‍♀️

The only option was to cover up the bottom part. It was way beyond saving! We decided to create a faux wainscoting, and I absolutely love the way it turned out! You’d never know the mess that was behind it!! Chris figured out all the measurements (you know that it something I will never be in charge of), and we got all our supplies.

Most wainscoting tutorials online just tell you to buy the boards to create the effect. But since we had all that stuff to cover up, we had to also find something that would resemble a wall! We landed on a white hardboard, and it worked perfectly! Chris rabbeted out the boards so the hardboard would slide right in.

First things first, we have to remember where we started…


We started the process by getting the room entirely cleaned out, and removing the pieces of wood that stuck out past the drywall.


Chris nailed a board to the bottom to be the trim piece, and then nailed a board to the top to be the chair rail. Both of these boards were rabbeted out, and the hardboard slid right in!

See how much the wall bulges?? Thankfully, the caulk filled it right in and you only notice it if you’re looking for it. And the electric box… Oh boy, that was a challenge. Chris had to do some rewiring because none of the outlets in the dining room worked! Then there was the mess of what to do with the empty pieces behind those boards sticking out. There is no drywall, just exposed wires! We finally figured out a solution, and it looks SO much better!


After sliding the hardboard in place, Chris nailed the upright boards in between them!

One wall done, lots more to go!


The hard part is done! We also put in crown molding to match the rest of the house, and clean it up a little! And see the little wall that juts out? The bottom part of the ‘wainscoting’ isn’t quite straight, because the wall is much wider at the top than it is at the bottom! But thankfully, once we get a table in there you won’t even notice it!

Whew, see that mess of wires and insulation? NOT good.



And here’s what it looks like now that dad has painted everything!

A MILLION times better!!


Oh that janky wall just cracks me up 🤣


The drywall is not very smooth at all, but the red paint was very high gloss, making it even more noticeable. In person, you can barely tell that it’s uneven now, but the pictures definitely highlight it more!


Ignore the folding table, it was too big for me to move, and Chris was at work when I took the photos 🤣 We decided to leave the beam overhead, and the paneled section of the wall the natural wood. I really love wood colors, but just not nearly as much as there was originally 😉


Our original plan was to put a piece of 1/4″ plywood around the box, since it’s almost exactly the same depth as the drywall. But it’s a 5′ section, and the plywood we had was only 4′. We ended up just using a leftover sheet of the hardboard, and caulking and painting it. We view this whole electric box (and honestly, the entire dining room!) as putting lipstick on a pig 🤣 We knew it could only be so good, given what there was to work with! But the box is SO much less noticeable now, so I’m happy!!



And now for some before and afters:

The dining room turned out absolutely beautiful, and I’m so proud of it! But mostly I’m proud of Chris, and all his amazing skills. I can’t wait to have guests over once our dining room table is all finished. I’m also super excited to share more home projects like this! Hopefully we’ll have some more coming soon 🙂 

A Tale of the Ugly Dining Room

January 24, 2019

3 Comments on A Tale of the Ugly Dining Room

  1. Veronica

    January 28th, 2019 at 1:54 am

    This looks PHENOMENAL! Chris is insanely talented. Kudos!

  2. https://newhomedesign.bid

    January 29th, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment.
    I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook.
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  3. Belle

    March 26th, 2019 at 1:24 am

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Regardless, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

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