To Wallpaper or Not to Wallpaper: Dining Room Plans

Here’s how the dining room looks at the moment. Well, not this exact moment, but when the table’s cleaned off:

The dining room is a funny trouble spot, in that I’ve never been happy with it even though I am pretty happy with the furniture in it and, with the exception of the chairs, that hasn’t changed much since we moved in. The buffet is huge, nice, heavy piece from Lane that my mother gave us when we moved in. She also gave us the table, and I’m happy with the Pottery Barn (via Craigslist) chairs we’ve ended up with in here. On the other wall there’s glass fronted cabinet that holds lots of non-everyday sort of dishes and tableware.

So it seems like redoing the dining room should be easy, since we’re starting off with so much already in place.

And yet.

I’m struggling a bit with coming up with a vision for this room.

I’m reasonably sure I want to paint the table black. We painted it the current color (which is supposed to be Hale Navy, but after a couple of incidents at the Benjamin Moore store we used to go to and after painting our den Hale Navy and having it come out completely different, I’m not so sure it’s really Hale Navy after all) awhile back, but then I got some brown paint all over it when I stenciled curtains for Abe’s room AND we’ve never been happy with the top, which I don’t think we did a good enough job sanding smooth. Also now I want it to be black, so there’s that.

And I’ve always wanted to replace the light fixture, so this is the year for that. Sadly, I seem to have expensive taste in light fixtures. Like I want this George Kovacs one, but it’s quite pricey. So we’ll see.


After those two changes, the room could go in two basic directions–one involving wallpaper and one not.

It seems like pretty much any time I start thinking about redoing a room, the first vision I have of it involves wallpaper. And then we almost never actually put up wallpaper. I don’t know why this is, exactly but it probably has something to do with wallpaper being 1. way more expensive than paint and 2. a whole lot more trouble both to put up and to take down than paint (well. Taking paint down would be a lot of trouble. But painting over it not so much).

So I don’t know what will happen in here. But I have been looking at a lot of wallpaper:


to wallpaper or not to wallpaper: wallpaper choices


Ferns / Fairytale Terrariums / Mural Kathmandu /

Deco Peacock / Mad Dogs / Forest Animals /

Garden / Autumn in the Butterflies’ Garden


I’m trying to find some sort of common thread here, but coming up somewhat empty. Whimsy, or nature/animals, or both? Something like that. “Garden” in the lower left is one that I bookmarked awhile ago and was convinced I really, really wanted. Until I looked closer and realized and it wouldn’t really work well on our walls because of the judge’s paneling; the bottom or top of the design would be cut off. I’ve had “Mad Dogs” (right in the middle) pinned for years now, and I still love it…but it’s the only one on here that has to be pasted on the wall. All the rest are removable, and I’d really like to stick with that if I can.

But….expensive. Is a thing about wallpaper. First off it’s hard to figure out how much your wallpaper’s going to cost, because there’s so much math involved. And when you DO figure it out, it’s sad, because it’s a lot. Even with the judge’s paneling covering up the bottom few feet, it would be hundreds and hundreds of dollars to wallpaper with most of these (I think the paste kinds are cheaper, which makes me reconsider them, but….ugh. paste).

And wallpapering such a big space, right in the front of the house, makes me a little nervous. I’m wondering if I should start with one wall somewhere first and see how it goes. I still have a foyer with a bunch of stenciled squirrels I want to cover up, for example.

Another hesitation I have about wallpaper is that…I’m not sure how to deal with the walls once wallpaper in on them. How much can you hang up before things look too busy? How do you handle the emotional stress of putting nail holes in your expensive wallpaper? But you have to have something else, right?

In this case, I have a big old gold mirror that I thrifted awhile back that would go over the buffet. Beyond that, I have no idea. Downside to this is that the gold mirror was actually intended for my downstairs bathroom. But I’ve tried to keep the fancy gold mirror in mind when picking wallpapers. So I see the wallpaper option as the fancier, more glam one.

Option #2 is a lot more modern and minimalist. Still a black table and new light fixture, but then white walls and, I’m thinking, a giant print of one of our vacation photos over the buffet. Like maybe one from the Badlands:

And then aside from that, maybe some bold, graphic prints? We have one that we ordered after the eclipse and haven’t found a place for yet, for example. And I’m always up for more See America prints.

With this option, I’d also be very tempted to paint the paneling and dentil molding black. But I’m not sure I actually would, because we’re starting to have quite a bit of dark trim around here, and I’m nervous about when the day comes to paint over it. Although it wouldn’t be SO bad, right? Right? maybe.

So this is where I am. Two very different options. And I want to redo the whole front of the house–the foyer and library and dining room are all very open to each other–so what I do in here is going to have a ripple effect elsewhere. I must choose wisely!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!




To Wallpaper or Not to Wallpaper: Dining Room Plans — 14 Comments

  1. check out i think it is eclectic twist on instagram- her dining room has an amazing mural in black and white and color that i LOVE!!! but i vote yes something like wallpaper! love the woodland forest friends one!

  2. You know I’m going to vote for white, don’t you? Especially with a black table. And a giant black and white print.
    Dining rooms are one of the few places I don’t dislike wallpaper, but I do dislike the expense and trouble. (I, myself, will never have wallpaper, but I’ve helped friends. Argh.)

    • Yeah–I think putting up the wallpaper wouldn’t be so bad, because I’d be looking forward to the finished project….but then taking it down at some point–ugh.

    • The link worked for me! Very pretty–I love the look of dark trim/moulding (and we have it in several other rooms), but I really am nervous about going too far with it and spending a year painting over all of it at some point. We also have the dentil molding in here, so I feel like if I did the judge’s paneling black, I’d need to do that, too. Or maybe I’ll suddenly become very wealthy and won’t worry about it anymore because I can just pay someone to come paint for me 😉

  3. I think it’ll look really nice once you get some art on the walls. So sparse right now. I’m not a fan of wallpaper though. So limiting. Looks so dated so quickly.

  4. I love all the bold choices of wall papers and murals. I’m totally not brave enough but I want to live through you to do it. I mean, it’s just (your) money, right?

    • It’s Benjamin Moore’s Nantucket Fog. I love it, too, but it’s been up for going on six years, so I’m ready for a change 🙂

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