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How to Update Your Dining Room Decor for Less than $500

The challenge: Bring a young family's dining area decor to life using only a few new elements, and pull off the whole project on a budget. The solution: Introduce new lighting and furniture that give new meaning to the term "low cost and high impact" in your dining room decor.
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A young family's dining area, "Before the Magic"

I love a good before-and-after, don't you? Especially when we realize that the project in question didn't cost a lot of money! My lovely clients were in desperate need of a little dining room refresh, but they weren't interested in paying a lot of money. We got creative and focused on elements that were not going to cost a lot, but would make a huge impact.

 

After spending a few dollars and making a few changes, we were able to totally transform the dining room decor.

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The family dining area after.

1. New Paint

The dining area used to be a light yellow, which was hugely popular about 20 years ago. It's pretty, but through our modern lens, the color can look a little dated. We decided to modernize the walls with a soft, neutral gray (I chose Benjamin Moore's Pale Oak). With that one change alone, we were on our way to totally new dining room decor.

 

2. New Lighting

Lighting is the single biggest change you can make to completely transform your dining room and kitchen decor. And the fun thing about this room? It's one of the few rooms in the house where you can get a little edgy and whimsical! In our case, we opted for a modern, clean-looking chandelier from West Elm. Reasonably priced and with this one change, the dining area was suddenly brought up to "today."

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Swapping out your dining room lighting for something more modern can completely transform your space.

3. New Dining Room Table

To save on costs, my clients decided they wanted to keep their colorful chairs, but we definitely needed to do something about that table. Enter the only breakfast table any family will ever want or need, the IKEA Docksta. It's one of my favorite, go-to decorator secrets. This table looks like a high-end, wildly expensive designer table, but the price can't be beat. It also fits in with literally any decor.

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The IKEA Docksta -- one of my favorite decorator secrets

4. A Gallery Wall

If you have the wall space, a dining room is a nice place to hang a gallery wall, filled with intimate family photos (I often dissuade my clients from putting such gallery walls in their entryways or more public living spaces as it can feel a little too "personal"). In this case, we took regular black-and-white photos and had them blown up to larger sizes at the local Costco (you can obviously also choose from a myriad of online vendors). We purchased inexpensive photo frames in a nice modern chrome color, and injected some color with the heartwarming "family rules" wall hanging that we discovered on Etsy.com.

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A gallery wall in the dining room can feel cozy and intimate.

So there you have it, a dining area refresh in a few easy steps. If you're looking to revamp your own kitchen dining space and you don't want to spend a lot of money, here are some tips you can bring into your own home:

 

1. When in doubt, paint the walls. They always say -- it's one of the cheapest ways to completely transform a room. I would venture futher to say, "When in doubt, paint your walls a light, warm gray!"

 

2. Swap out your breakfast table for something fresh and modern (NOT clunky and traditional and dark wood).

 

3. Keep the rest of the decor clean and easy. A few family black-and-white photos are often a perfect design solution.

 

4. Think about swapping out your light fixture for something a little edgier. CB2, West Elm, and Target are all great places to find modern, funky lighting for less. In decorating, the kitchen (and the bathroom!) is the place to let loose a little with your lighting.