How to unite dining room and kitchen?

worldmomApril 6, 2009

In my earlier thread about whether or not to paint the 99+ year old woodwork in my dining room, several people suggested I look at different wall colors to lighten up my dark dining room before I resort to wiping out the stain. I don't think I mentioned this in the original post, but we consulted a wood restoration specialist, and she told us that there isn't a cost effective way to refinish it to match the other woodwork. We have to take it all down, have it re-planed (down past the penetration of the stain), and then restained and finished. That just isn't in our budget right now - time-wise or cost-wise. For people who haven't read my other post, I hate the woodwork in our dining room because it is different from the reddish-gold of the other non-painted woodwork, and it makes our north-facing, very dark dining room even more dreary. A second issue is that we need to find a way to tie our dining room and kitchen together. Here is a photo of our home, and it's the bank of three windows to the left of the door that are in our dining room. From Last Import

Our kitchen remodel involves knocking out the wall to the awkward mudroom/laundry room to enlarge the space (we've already relocated the laundry room [here and here] to the previous powder room location, and the powder room to a little used and rather large coat closet location. We're also moving the north wall of the kitchen forward into the dining room by 30", and opening up the wall that separates the two rooms. To do this in a sensitive way, we're installing half-walls and columns in the opening, the design for which is coming from our original blue prints. (There was a columned opening to the living room, which was replaced by french doors in the 30s.) They will look something like this shot of our previous 1910 home, but "snazzier" and more colonial to match the style of this home. From Last Import

As for finding a good color, the dining room looks like a patchwork quilt for all the paint samples on the walls! I really have been trying. :o) The walls were white when we moved in, and it was awful. We painted them a brick red, but the dark color really makes the room like a cave. I have no window treatments in there, and even though the windows are big, it's still dark.

If I'm not going to paint the wood, I have to find a unifying color that will work with our kitchen, and I also have to figure out a way to treat the columns and half-walls that will separate the two rooms. Any ideas there? The kitchen will have white cabinets (inset shaker style, just like the original kitchen cabinets - also white) with soapstone countertops, and an oak stained island with a carrara marble top.

Here are some pics that might help:

Color of dining room now. (Please excuse the remodeling mess!)

From Last Import

Very dark window seat (sorry it's so hidden!)

From Last Import

This shows the dark stain in contrast with the stain that is present on the rest of the non-painted woodwork throughout the house.

From Last Import

This shot shows the wall that is coming out in between the two rooms. The new opening will be forward 30", and will have half-walls and columns inside it. To the right is the beginning of the framing that will house the new china cabinet. It will be a direct copy of one of the two originals that were ripped out of the house in the 30s. From Last Import

And finally, here are some renderings of our new kitchen. The opening between the two rooms is not like what we are planning, but it gives you the general idea.

From Last Import

The oak door in this view leads to the butler's pantry.

From Last Import

The oak door visible in this shot leads to the laundry room, which is a pass-through to the center hall. From Last Import

And here is an aerial view that shows where everything is in relation to each other. From Last Import

So, if you've made it this far, my problem is two-fold - finding a paint color for the dining room that won't look bad with the woodwork and will work with the white of the kitchen, and figuring out how to handle the half-walls and columns in the opening.

The hutch in the kitchen is planned to be a pale green, and I'm OK with using a green of some sort in the dining room. I've tried a few options, and I definitely want a fresh-looking spring or celery green, as opposed to a sagey or muddy one.

For the columns, I've thought about having the columns and trim on the kitchen side white, and the cap piece and trim on the dining room side in stained oak. Maybe I should just do it all in oak? I have a picture of a Christopher Peacock all-white kitchen that is open to a pine (I think) paneled room, and the columns in the opening to the two rooms match the pine room. I'll see if I can scrounge it up.

Any thoughts?

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To come up with a strong statement "I hate the woodwork" then I would do what you would want. Sure someday if you sell there will be some that will think I wish they never painted this woodwork but others will see it blends the kit and brightens the room I seriously doubt anyone that likes the house wouldn't buy it because one room has the woodwork painted. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 7:39PM
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worldmom- I love the photos! Your house is beautiful, your remodel is really fantastic, it sounds like you are doing a really great job finding that 1910 original.

I'd again say, when it comes right down to it, this is your house, and you need to do what makes you happy. If you really think just painting your dining room white would do that, then you should do it.

However, I think it is really beautiful the way it is. I don't mind the dark stain at all, I think, in fact, that it rings historically true. The dining room was a formal space that during that time would be very dark. Painting woods dark to make them look like more expensive woods was very common- our pocket doors are painted a dark walnut brown, and this is original (the edges are painted white- kind of frustrating). So, although it was done in the 70's, it's not historically inaccurate. For me, painting that amazing mirror would be painful, I don't know that I could do it. However, I'm having the cabinets and shelves in my kitchen stained almost black (a deep mahogany), so I clearly love dark wood.

Did you have a clear color in mind for the dining room while you were thinking of painting the woodwork white? I think having it a green would be really nice, I actually think several of the colors you have next to the mirror would be really lovely. I would say that you could use the exact green you are planning for the hutch in the dining room, I think that woodwork would look great with just about anything. You can also try SW Shagreen, in our old house, we used it in my boys' room and I really loved it. It's a few shades darker than celery green, so I think in the right family that you are looking for.

To deal with the darkness, I think the ideas of working with lighting as suggested in your previous post is the best idea. You can paint the woodwork, walls, and all the furniture white and because it is on the north side of the house, without more lighting it would still be dark. Another idea could be lightening it feeling-wise by putting up your children's framed artwork. Sometimes countering a somber feel is best accomplished by dealing directly with the somber-ness.

For the columns, I would make them oak. I think having the one side white and the other side oak would look strange, and your island is oak, so it would be fine.

Good luck with your choices, I think regardless of your choice your home is amazing and will look even more so when you are done.

Out of curiosity, where did you find the original blueprints for your house? I think our home is pretty much the same, but it would be so neat to see the original blueprints. Thanks for showing the pictures!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 9:38AM
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I would think a green color would look very nice with the woodwork in the room. Add some light colored window treatment and I think your room would look quite nice. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of woodwork in the room so I'm not sure painting it would make such a dramatic difference. I would however paint the crown your ceiling color. Also you can put up a picture rail which would be in keeping of your house and paint the wall above a lighter color than the lower part of your walls.

My dining room has mostly northern light and I'm going with a SW bamboo shoot (medium yellowish green) on the walls. The kitchen will have SW white raisin (light goldish yellow). And light cream on the ceiling and above the picture rail. Have you considered pocket doors or french doors from the kitchen to the dining room? That way you have a way to close off the dining room if you would like. If you keep with the columns stained all around is the way to go. Doors I think you can get away with one side stained the other painted, but not columns.

You might want to pose the paint color or how to lighten up the dining room in general question to the home decorating forum. There are some very talented folks there who know alot about color.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 3:20PM
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Here is a link to a discussion on color. Part way down they talk about colors in north exposure rooms.

Here is a link that might be useful: color discussion

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 4:57PM
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autumngal - I'm really leaning toward a green or yellow for the dining room, but if I painted the woodwork white, I think I would go with a french gray because it would look gorgeous with my very veiny carrara island top. I think you saw our new powder room, and those walls are the most amazing shade of blue-grey. I *love* that color, and I'm not usually a blue person1

You asked about our blueprints, and we are very fortunate that they have been passed from owner to owner. I have a huge portfolio of giant blueprints of every detail of our house, and it's been so helpful as we've embarked on this project. I think I mentioned that our new hutch is coming straight from those plans. All of the dimensions are listed, and even the profiles of all the trim pieces are shown. Even the design of our new pantry shelves is coming from the plans. :o) We also have 4 smaller framed blueprints which normally reside in the entry of our home. People are always fascinated with them and they're a great conversation piece. The best part is that we are still in touch with the families who lived here from the early 50s on, so we have some nice photos because of that (as well as one from 1914, which we got from our town's historic society).

mom2lilenj - I just wanted to clarify that I didn't mean I would stain one side of the columns and paint the other. I agree that that would be a strange thing to do, indeed! :o) I just thought maybe I could get away with having the trim of the opening on the kitchen side be white. I do think it will look OK being oak since I will have the oak island.

I do love SW white raisin and even have a quart sample of it lying around here somewhere as we're considering it for our hallways and stairwell. Two of the swatches on the DR wall are BM Hawthorne Yellow and Castleton Mist (green), and they are from the Historic Colors collection. I like them both and they both look fairly good with the wood.

Thanks for the tip about asking the home dec people. I'm also doing a consultation with a designer, so hopefully I can get this all sorted out before the cabinets start going in! I really want to have the painting done beforehand...

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 5:37PM
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Ok honest opinion? Paint on the wood wouldn't stop me from buying (I think it's lovely) but honestly....the fact that you're taking out the wall between the kitchen and dining room....that would be a deal breaker for me. Half of the charm of old homes is their formality. Dark dining rooms, intimate and closed off spaces....that's a big deal.

I guess if that was in the original house plans I'd not be so upset about it, but if it's just part of a new design...I think it doesn't matter what color you paint the woodwork. What matters is what is happening to the space.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Honest opinion from me, also. Removing a wall between the kitchen and dining room would be a complete deal killer for me. To me, this says 'contemporary house,' and it's noisy, to boot. I like being able to hide the mess in the kitchen, and to have peace in either room, no matter what's going on elsewhere.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 5:32PM
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I have a swinging door (I've wanted one since I was a kid!) between my dining room and kitchen - when not "in use" it's hooked to the wainscoting in the dining room. Maybe you could do something like that.

It looks like your wood is quartersawn oak (guessing), honestly, if you are going to paint it, you may want to find out if it is valuable first.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:44AM
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