Or perhaps I should name this,  “Dining Room Before. And After: Prepared for a Dinner Party”. That’s too long for a title anyway. But that’s the gist of these pictures. I was going to do before & after pictures of this room anyway, and then during preparation for my husband 30th party I snapped these pictures. And no, my dining room is not set up for a dinner party every day! :)

It has been SO FUN to decorate this home on a budget. Other than blinds/shades for the windows, and light fixtures, I tried to not buy much at all to decorate with in this house. Unless I made it myself, then I allowed myself to buy items to make it with. Or found it at Goodwill, or a cheap antique shop, or something. You know, where I could justify it. :)

I was thinking the other day, and wondering what this house would look like if I would have had unlimited resources to work with. But then I thought some more, and said to myself that I think it would not look much different. I might have shopped at high-quality, high-dollar antique stores, maybe. But I think the basic look would be the same. But then that’s today. It seems like “my style” [whatever that is] is always emerging, developing, changing… :)

Because, I like uniqueness. Originality. I like it that I didn’t just walk into a store to buy my stuff, and that a lot of things here are unique to me, and to this house. I like to make a lot of things, because that makes it more unique. More one-of-a-kind. That’s just what makes me tick. :)

So, not sure why I said all that before a dining room, because there’s only so much a girl can make for a room like that!

But here, it is.

Welcome to Room #2 of the house tour.


There were walls everywhere. These were the first to go. The rooms are quite small even without the walls now, but it makes everything *feel* so much bigger. If you can trick your mind like that your comfort level is much higher. :)

Dining Room Before 4


Behind that wall in the first picture – in the tearing out process.

Dining Room Before 3


Fireplace #2 of 5 in the house. Blue paint is not original to the house, so I didn’t ruin historic value in this century-old house by painting it!

Dining Room Before 1


Lovely blue trim. And I didn’t get a picture of the ceiling, but it was a light sky blue too.  Someone really liked blue, is all I can say!

Dining Room Before 2



[if you remember from the living room post, this is opening from one side of that room]

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I found the bike/bakery shop/flower pictures before we got married at Michaels or A.C. Moore. My grandmother framed it in an inexpensive frame, then had a friend glaze it to make it look like an oil painting, but it’s really a cheap poster.

We painted the fireplace mantel and brick under it a pure white, and I love the fresh look that it gave!

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A few antique-joint finds on Saturday…

Dining Room 4

These paper balls were hung especially for the dinner party. My theme in decorating was “Garden Party Indoors.” I looooove outdoor parties, but it’s just not possible here most of the year. 100 degrees and 100% humidity for an outdoor party just isn’t very enjoyable. I tried it one year, and dripping sweat and buzzing mosquitoes just wasn’t very pleasant. Trust me on that one.

This was a little challenge for me to know how to pull off my theme without it being too girly for my husband 30th party! Afterward I kept asking him, “This wasn’t too froufrou for you, was it? It wasn’t too girly?” And he kept assuring me that no, it was good. :) Although when I mentioned keeping those paper balls up there permanently he got a little scared and said he might have to find another place to stay. :)

Martha Stewart gets the credit for the instructions on how to make these balls. I had read tutorials online, but was thoroughly confused. Martha Stewart to the rescue. In three easy steps I had made these balls and was so delighted! I would have made hundreds of them by now if I would have known how easy they are!

This girl has made something similar, only in flower shape, that are so beautiful. She was a main inspiration for me wanting to make these in the first place!

Dining Room6


These window panels were inspired by Pottery Barn Teen. A few friends and I were looking at a catalogue one day and said, “We have got to make these!” I found fabric on clearance for $1.50 a yard, so spent about $20 for fabric and thread. I made these with a different twist than the ones Pottery Barn sells, but got my idea from them.

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The Pottery Barn price was $68 per panel. Unbelievable difference. :)

The wide trim was present in the house when we bought it. I LOVE it.

I cut bamboo rods for curtain rods for these panels, like the ones in the living room. This saved me about $50 doing that, because these were free from our old backyard. I did have to buy the brackets to hold the bamboo rods, which ended up being about $10 at Home Depot.

The bamboo Roman Shades come from Kmart. I love this purchase. I think it really dresses up the room, and I love the different textures and media.

This old door was in the house as a laundry room door when we bought it, but in too poor a condition to actually use. I couldn’t  bear to throw it away, and one day had the inspiration to put it in here. The chalkboard dresses it up a bit, and is a fun place to write notes, menus, or inspiring quotes.

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[yikes, should have pulled the dead leaves off my “friendship plant!”]

This chandelier was a bargain I found on craigslist. (I know, right?! Who could even bear to part with this kind of beauty?)  It’s the Pottery Barn ‘Celeste’ which was selling for far less than store/catalogue price. I was one happy girl to pick this baby up! And I was trying not to appear over-eager as I handed her the money and drove off, totally beaming!!! This was one deal I couldn’t BELIEVE I actually found on craigslist. I loved the bit of glamor it added to the older historical elements in the room.


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Dinner Party Details:

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The centerpiece was three simple green arrangements. This was just an elephant ear leaf in a milk glass vase. I love milk glass. My Aunt Grace has collected them for years, and the past three years I’ve picked up pieces as well when I find them cheaply.

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This potted arrangement was given to me after a dear friend’s wedding. Isn’t it beautiful?!

The vase in the background is filled with magnolia leaves and an old magnolia flower pod.  Also in milk glass.

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More paper balls:


Dining Room 2


Dining Room 1


Place settings:

Silver chargers were found at garage sales and discount stores, for around $1-2 each.

White place settings: Pottery Barn outlet, on sale. They’re called “Suppertime.” I purchased a set of 10 dinner and salad plates with a gift card given by husband a year and a half ago. I LOVE these. They feel special for everyday, but for a more formal dinner they look the part as well. And they hold up splendidly with years of use.

Goblets: you can find these for $1 each at Dollar General. Walmart, Pottery Barn, and other places sell them as well, for a bit more money.

White cloth napkins: found at garage sales, goodwills, re-use-it shops.

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Mix-matched chairs. The table set was a wedding gift given by my parents, but for a larger party I have to pull out every chair I have around the house!

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Before & After 0411

And can you believe that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual party?! No food or people pictures. Sad sad sad. I was feeling very scatterbrained at the last minute. That’s my excuse. :)

Here’s the final before:

Dining Room Before 2

and after:

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Dining Room6

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Wishing you all a lovely day, wherever you may find yourselves… Feeling a bit somber this week, thinking of my sweet friend who suddenly lost her father a week ago. Tragedies like that always remind me to hug a little tighter, tell people that I love them more often, and just put life in perspective so much. I ache for my friend, who has to find a new normal, and learn to live without someone who has always been part of her life.

And while I hurt for her, I’m reminded, for myself, to treasure today. Even if my kids are cranky. If they spill pink nail polish all over the floor. If they cry over every little thing. If they won’t take long naps. If they put flour in the sugar container and sugar in the flour box. If it feels like I just can’t sweet my floor enough, it’s always dirty from kids’ crumbs.

Because those are all just inanimate things. Just things. And these years of raising children are such a small part of the time span of my life. So love them well, Mrs. Yoder. Kiss them, and hug them, and laugh instead of getting upset, and take time to read that same book for the hundredth time. You don’t know how long you will be able to hold them, and cuddle and kiss them. You don’t know, so treasure today…



43 thoughts on “Dining Room {before and after}

  1. Elizabethmarie_1

    Awwww, that little bit at the end…..=( I wish I could stop time!!!  Thanks for the reminder this morning.  Sorry to hear about your friends dad. You are right, when someone dies, it always puts things into perspective.

    Ok, now about your dining room……I LOVE IT!!!!!  I love when people put up pictures of their houses, they are so fun to look at.  Your dining room looks like a picture in a magazine!  I am so jealous of your 5 fireplaces!  I like how you opened up the room, very nice.  The party decorating is great too, I bet your guests loved it! Love the silver chargers.  Our immediate family is so big (44 of us with just parents, siblings and their children) that we usually end up going the lazy route, and just use paper plates! Plus, I don’t think I would have enough dishes for everyone!

    I too have wondered, if I had tons of money to decorate, what would my house look like.  I think I’d still be bargain shopping, Ok, well, maybe not!  I probably would be in Ethan Allen and all of the antique stores in the city(Chicago) that I love and can’t afford!  I think if I had a ton of money, my style wouldn’t be much different, but I would be changing things around a lot more than I already do! 

    A little side note, and then I’ll be done writing up a post in your comment box here ;) ~ My husband and brother just finished building an 8,500 sq. foot house for a lady. Her 10,500 sq. foot house burned down, so when she was rebuilding, she decided to down size!  Anyway, she is very wealthy. The outside of her house is gorgeous! The inside…..well, I think with all of her money, she should’ve hired someone to help with the decorating.  Everything in the whole house is lavender.  Walls, cabinets, granite counter tops, the beautiful iron railings going up her humungous winding staircase….EVERYTHING is lavender.  Except her laundry room, where she has wallpaper covered with dogs.=/  

    Ok, well, hope you have a great day!!!  I’m going to hug my kids now! =)

  2. redladybug18

    I love every single ounce of the room and decorating. You could be featured easily in pottery barn or martha steward in my opinion. Love all your creativity. I’ve made those pom-pom balls too, they’re so fun and I love the way you decorated with them, it adds a bit of funness to the room

  3. fruitloops115

    claria…..you do not dissappoint my heart skipped a beat when I saw you posted, and I am reveling in the deliciousness of it all. I just like it. isn’t it just a thrill to do it on the cheap…the hunt…the finds….the bargains….i don’t think it would be near so fun to have all the money and just go buy everything at pottery barn. And not near so original either!
    The door is really great. we have this old garage door still on our garage, and this inside is this amazing texture of chippy old paint. My husband is so very anxious to get rid of it, but I tell him it’s going to become a headboard in it’s next life. He is not so sure we’ll see

    looking forward to your next house post meanwhile. love those babies!!

  4. fruitloops115

    oh one more thing. those curtains. perfect! i want details of how you did them. what the ruffles are all about…can you do a tutorial, or message me? that would be perfect in abbi’s room for closet curtains.

  5. baileyandme

    INSANE! THAT IS INSANE!! I spent my whole time reading this post and shaking my head.:) that my friend, means i am blow away. i have no idea why you like my stuff- yours is WAY better! :)
    anyways- a couple things that “got” me– the mismatched chairs Love that, the pitchers on the mantle especially the old silvers ones, the curtains with the ruffles– slay me now, i will likely copy that this winter sometime. :) (try to, i mean)
    the white door with the chalkboard. whoah!! that made me feel funny inside. i had a lot of coffee this morning so i am feeling so jittery, but yeah, those both combined!! my heart feels fluttery over them.
    love the simplicity of the plates with the greenery. perfect.
    didn`t get a chance to look at the link you sent yet, can`t wait to! i thought from what you said, you must have a new post so i just rushed over here as fast i could. and never looked at it yet.
    did you see the new look west elm has going on? it`s insane– never knew i was crazy about them before. i think it`s “you” as well?? think: cool, mod prints, gray and white and tons of textures and old wood.
    never fear about the not coming last weekend and please keep asking me when you come…
    my pink life blog (don`t know i you read her or not) had a small picture tour awhile back of a place called “55 west and co.”– it`s a block from my house and if you ever come, i really want to take you there. you will die. (i think)the lady that owns it is an artist and she makes all kinds of crazy, funky things.
    ok, well happy creating today!! you`re a huge inspiration to me!


    Agghh! Where did my almost finished comment go?? It just deleted itself somehow. So sorry. What I was saying in paragraph form will now have to be said in a couple of sentences . . . . I love what you’ve done to your house!! The transformation is crazy (good!) and so inviting! Also, was saying how time is just racing by and I like your reminders about loving up on our families and sometimes esp. those little ones that aren’t always super happy from sun-up to sun-down. I need daily reminders of those things!

    Love ya!

  7. foreveranoatneygirl_n2Hisown

    be still my beating heart.
    this is just gorgeous.

    i love what you said about your style evolving…that so says it for me too.
    and decorating on a budget? yep. pretty much everything i own/decorate my house with is second hand. i was just telling someone the other day when they were complaining about not having the money to decorate (cuz i think she must have thought i do?!HAHA!!) that i don’t buy anything new. she nearly fainted. but, that’s what i love about this ‘style’ of decor. i can ‘afford’ to evolve and change when i do it for soooo cheap! and it’s so very inspiring to see people who do the same.

    woohoo! for craigslist!! LOVE that place!

    happy wednesday!

  8. mytoesareblue

    i long for a house of my own so that i can engage in beautiful decorating for celebrating people and making my home a house that God can use to just remind me of Him and encourage me and other people. that room is gorgeous. sooo beautiful. I hope that it was a fantastic time, i really loved your centerpieces and the mismatched chairs. beautiful.

  9. RICHK1200

    Love, love, love the chandelier. I have been gazing upon them in the catalog trying to justify the $$ for a very long time. In my opinion it totally makes your room! And what a lovely room it is! I have a hard time not “comparing between one another” here. :) I really like the curtains too and would love some more details about them. I’ve been collecting milk glass and silver for the last little while for “the big house” whenever we get there. Great inspiring post!

  10. lifeisadance

    @Elizabethmarie_1 – EVERYTHING is lavendar!?! Wow, too bad you couldn’t have been her interior designer consultant. :)

    @ivorykeys84 – 

    @fruitloops115 – 

    @RICHK1200 – 

    @mlt10202002 – 

    A tutorial on the panels? Well, for starters, they take a REALLY LONG TIME. On four panels, each 8 feet long, I used a total of 72 YARDS of 2” strips of torn fabric. One of my friends told me of someone else who made a simiilar design and did a tutorial about it. I’ll try to find out who that was and let you know. I’m not sure I want to spend another 2 weeks making those things. :)

    @baileyandme – I don’t get West Elm. Is it a fun catalogue to get? And can’t wait to see that house when I come to yours one day! :)

  11. deansgal

    love everything….one question.  those paper balls.  i was looking online and trying to find tutorials on some that look like that.  are they the ones you use cupcake papers for?  yours look so nice!!!!

  12. down_onthefarm

    Gorgeous. All of it. I kept scrolling forward. no. back. forward. back. two scrolls forward and one back. :)
    I needed to drink in each and every detail. Slurp. Gulp. And then lots of little sips. With a big aaahhhh.
    I love the character of your old house…lovelovelove your creativity that turned it into a lovely welcoming home!
    You did a great job. I just want to see more of what you do!!!

    I am so sorry about your friend’s loss…
    and the painful beginning of grief’s long journey when the new normal is hard and e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y.
    saying a prayer…for her and her family…and you too.

  13. down_onthefarm

    and that verse on your chalkboard?
    a fav.
    micah 6:8
    i pray it for my children…
    and i love Steven Curtis Chapman’s song ( are you familiar?) written about that verse.
    It all comes down to THE WALK.

  14. embracingbeauty

    I’m with fruitloops115… my heart also skipped a beat when I saw that you had posted more pictures of your house. I love seeing what ideas you come up with to decorate your house. It’s just lovely!! I love the vintage touch everywhere. I used to not really be into vintage, but it’s growing on me. I’m hoping to go antique shopping Labor Day weekend, and I can’t wait!
    I think one of my favorite thing is the pom pom balls. They are so cool! Are they hard to make?? I’d love to try making them sometime.

  15. dilafila

    yeah! more house pictures! super super job. i love that your house reflects you. i didn’t read everyone’s comments but want to say that the talent to make a house a home is certainly one of yours. its so pretty i want to stay there as a guest. you and ben should seriously think about buying houses fixing em up and reselling. sounds lovely doesn’t it?

  16. singingrachel

    Beautiful Clarita.  And the whole thing of not getting pictures of the food etc. i understand.  That is always my least favorite concern….

    Thanks for sharing all this inspiration.

  17. jnicolemiller

    When you listed ‘sanctuary creator’ at the top of your blog, you weren’t kidding! Unbelievable beauty you create, Clarita…right out of a magazine, but even better because you did it resourcefully, made it personal and did for the love of your family. Stunning.

  18. confbkkpr

    I loved scrolling through the pics of your dining room – absolutely beautiful! Like you I love to decorate on a budget using things I pick up at garage sales or second-hand or make myself and turn stuff into original one-of-a-kind pieces. I love to see other people’s ideas….keep posting! :)

  19. Hutch5

    wanna come live in it.
    the flower balls are my favorite.
    no. wait…the door is.
    no..the chandelier.
    uh…no the chairs.

    loVe EVERY detail!! :)

  20. wesnheidi

    Sorry to comment to a post that is 2 months old, but I have a question.  What do you do with all the fireplaces?  Do you have nice fireplace screens for them all, or a plant, or what?  I’m looking for creative ways to tastefully cover the black hole created by our fireplace lovely as it is.

  21. lifeisadance

    @wesnheidi – Hmmm, not sure, really, because I’m still trying to answer that question myself! I have a fireplace screen for one room, and three out of our five fireplaces are working. But as for the others… I’ve been looking in Pottery Barn magazines for ideas – and love some of what they’ve done. Screens, even big pictures, a basket full of firewood, assortment of candles, plants… I just haven’t gotten that far as to actually put their ideas to use myself, but I think I’ll definitely use some of their ideas in the future.

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Hi Michele!
      The wall colors are as follows:
      Main Living Areas (living room, dining room, music room, hallway): Tuscan Beige, by Ace Hardware
      Kitchen: Harbor Fog, by Benjamin Moore
      Boy Bedroom: Revere Pewter, by Benjamin Moore
      Attic Bedrooms: Dove White, by Sherwin Williams
      Hope that helps! :)

  22. Tracey Picasso

    I found your blog on pin it and have so enjoyed looking at your pages. I have recently bought a Victorian cottage in the heart of Kent (UK) and it too needs lots of TLC. I spend a lot of time online trying to find inspiration and ideas and I have to say I love everything you have done to your house. Your kitchen is gorgeous and your outdoor room is brilliant.
    Very well done.
    Kind regards
    Tracey Picasso

    1. The Cottage at 341 South Post author

      Thank you so much for your kind words, and for visiting my little corner of blog land! Your cottage in the heart of Kent sounds delightful! I wish you all the best as you spend time remodeling and making it home! xo

  23. Vicki

    I love what I can see…but I don’t seem to be able to get any of the photo links to work. I’m so looking forward to viewing them when they are “live” again — you have wonderful ideas and tips, and I can’t wait to share your pages with my daughters, who decorate very similarly to you.

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