A French Impressionist Dining Room…..or not

My dining room is difficult. It’s always been difficult. Like, one of my very first blog posts was about these lamps I painted for the dining room. And pretty much everyone in the world was like, “Gretchen, those are not good lamps,” even Dave, who has few opinions on such things. And I stuck with the lamps for awhile, probably mostly out of stubbornness, but then finally I had to admit that everyone was right and the lamps were no good, and I think those lamps are STILL in my basement. Because no one likes them, so I can’t even GIVE them away.

Behold! Ugly lamp and bad photography from early days:


Okay, so, things haven’t gotten much better. Generally I’m a fairly confident decorator. I know what I like. Except in my dining room, I guess.

Let me explain.

So when I moved the Sad Pilgrim picture into the den awhile back (Sad Pilgrims visible up there next to ugly lamp), I was left with a big, empty space over the buffet. Here’s what I’ve done in an attempt to fill said big empty space:


I picked up an old book of “French Impressionist Masterpieces” (affiliate link) from the National Gallery of Art at the thrift store (that link will take you to Amazon, where you can pick up a copy for $5). That’s what it’s called, although they’re not all actually French. Maybe French modifies impressionist and not masterpieces? Like the French invented impressionism, so it’s THEIR impressionism even if the artist is American or whatever? I don’t know. Anyway. It said “suitable for framing” right there on the cover, so I knew it was okay to rip all the pages out of the book.

But I didn’t frame them; I hung them up with black masking tape.

Now. Here is the thing.

I have no idea if I like this thing I’ve done or not.

First Dave, my usually not at all harsh critic, expressed doubts, which always gives me pause. “I wanted it to look more casual,” I said. “It definitely looks casual,” he agreed.

Then Gus, my 10 year old who is generally adorably enthusiastic about all my decorating decisions, said, when I asked him about it, “uhh…that looks….nice.”


I had pretty much decided it must just be terrible, except then I keep walking by and sort of liking it. NO. IDEA. I feel very out of sorts about the whole thing, and I blame this vexing dining room.

I do think the black masking tape looks like cartoon villain eyebrows, which is not what i was going for.

But, yeah, I think I might need a hipster city apartment and white walls and a green velvet sofa to pull this off. Not sure.



So really what I need is to come up with a plan for this dining room. Instead of just putting random things in here and seeing if they work. Which is why I’m not so much worried about my French Impressionist wall at the moment. It’s a place holder, and it only cost me a thrift store book and a roll of masking tape, so no big deal.

I have many dining room thoughts, which I’ll save for another post. But I will say that my mother just told me she’s getting rid of this picture that used to be above her mantel and asked me if I wanted it, and of course I said yes, and now I wonder if it’s the inspiration piece I need to get things rolling finally in this dining room:


Dog pictures in every room!



A French Impressionist Dining Room…..or not — 12 Comments

  1. so my thought is that because they are not in a “random” gallery and are in more of a grid arrangement the casual feel doesn’t suit them as much. i think i would prefer them all framed in similar black or white frames. that’s my honest feedback! 😉

    • Yeah….I thought about hanging them more randomly, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the randomness to look right. Ah well! I’m thinking when I get to the dining room (this summer? as soon as I find some new chairs?) I’ll go with one big piece over the buffet instead.

    • That’s actually a photo from my mom’s house….I don’t have the picture in my possession quite yet :). I believe it’s just canvas, not metal. I asked my mom and she thinks she got it at Homegoods, but it’s been several years now.

  2. I think it’s the masking tape that’s out of place. Call for peacock duct tape! I’m pretty sure the French Impressionists would love it, although the wall wouldn’t. I’d be more comfortable with them hung from strings, which is a method that I usually don’t like much. The black just screams too much.
    As for the future, dog pictures in every room, yes!

    • ha! yes, peacock duct tape can come out right before I’m ready to repaint the wall anyway. And, yes, I think you’re right. The black doesn’t stand out QUITE as much in person, in the context of the whole room, I think, but it does stand out in a bad way.

    • I don’t think I’m devoted enough to them to frame them….although actually some of them might wind up in the den as part of the gallery wall. I think I may have an overabundance of gallery walls anyway and need one big piece above the buffet. Someday I’ll figure it out!

  3. Frank is generally enthusiastic about my decorating too and like you it give me immediate self doubting pause when he is not jumping for joy at every little decision I make 🙂 But hey… the creative process and all that jazz. Here is an idea: Instead of adding two pieces of tape to the upper corners, how about simplifying it with one horizontal piece along the upper edge in the center? Maybe a lighter color too.

    • That’s actually what I tried first–the horizontal tape–but I only did it with one before I decided to switch it. In retrospect, I think it definitely would have been better and less eyebrow-y :). And I thought the black would look cool and sophisticated, but then it didn’t. Maybe if the walls were white….anyway, things are happening in the dining room, and I don’t think the pictures are staying long 🙂

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