It's kind of hard to believe we have lived in this house for nine years. In that time, this dining area has changed a lot. We moved in pre-kids, and now we have three! That certainly changes the way we use the space. I've made my share of mistakes and tried a few different looks and configurations in here, but I'm really, really happy with how this latest iteration has turned out.
I wrestled with whether I should even spend the time, energy, and money to rework this space. I had been living with some great hand-me-downs from my family, but I was craving simplicity and a different look. I had always wanted to try bench seating against the wall, and I just couldn't get the idea out of my head. In our previous setup (see below), we had a round table centered in the space, and the chairs banged against the wall as we pulled them out, leaving marks on the paint. By using a bench against the wall, we don't need to allow room for the chairs to pull out from the table. It maximizes the space and opens up the whole room.
But finding the right bench was what took me so long. Years ago, we got a bid for a built-in bench spanning the entire length of that back wall, but cost held us back. For a long time, I looked for a freestanding bench. I wanted something modern and simple. And not upholstered. And the right dimensions. It was a tall order, no wonder it took a long time! I was so thankful to find this midcentury beauty at World Market. And guess what? I bought the floor model at a deep discount.
After finding the bench, that design momentum started rolling. Well, I should back up and talk about the wallpaper! Photowall Sweden reached out to offer me their product. You can read more here. And that walnut-toned bench against the wallpaper was just two thumbs up.
I tried an IKEA Norden table first (bought on Craigslist), but the legs didn't work well with bench seating. A bench works best with a certain type of table if you want to be able to slide into the bench and not bang your knees—something like a pedestal table. This option from IKEA did the trick, and the oval shape is great a toddler. No sharp corners right at forehead level!
The two vintage chairs were pulled from the attic. They were one of my first home purchases as a newlywed and if I remember correctly, I paid about $25 for the pair. All they needed was a quick recover of the seats with navy vinyl. I have learned my lesson that wipeable is best with kids. I also recovered our counter stools with the same vinyl.
My parents had two mismatched chairs they passed along—I upholstered one and the other has a wood seat. That's where we put Ford's booster, and that chair slides between the table and the kitchen, where he sits and eats off his tray when the girls and I eat lunch at the counter. His spot is at the empty end of the table and because his booster is rather slimed, I opted not to include it in these photos. I'm sure you understand. :)
The art on the big wall used to be bright and bold, but with the wallpaper there, a simple wreath does the trick. Kate and I made it last fall.
This layout is just so livable. A friend commented that the space looks much bigger this way! With young kids, floor space is important. Whether paging through a book or lining up animal figurines, a lot of life happens on the floor. Having the table over to the wall gives us more floor space. At one point after we made this change, our girls and two neighbors were all spread out on the floor with coloring books and markers. It made me happy to see our little house able to accommodate that kind of play.
And when we have guests, a bench works well for squeezing in more people. We can slide in...and the girls usually do well sitting next to each other without poking too much. ;) We can sit close for coloring and crafts and Legos and eating and all the stuff you do at a kitchen table.
And that table! I have been so pleased with it. The top cleans up like a dream. Anything that doesn't wipe up with a rag has come off with a Magic Eraser. I know there is a lot of wood tone mixup going on here with the floor/chairs/bench/table, but for some reason, it doesn't bug me.
I feel like this space marks a new direction for me. I scaled back big-time on color. The pattern is still bold, but much simpler. Simple is the name of the game for my home these days. I'm excited to bring that concept to other rooms.
Truly, three cheers for a new, functional space, especially because it was nine years in the making!
Table: IKEA // Dining bench: World Market (no longer available) // Wallpaper: Photowall Tracks in Black (provided by Photowall) // Dining chairs: Vintage, recovered in navy vinyl // Plant basket: IKEA // Wreath: DIY, instructions adapted from here // Wood tray: Target