before & after: blair’s dining room + matthew’s planters

While it’s certainly true that dark, dramatic rooms can be breathtaking, I must admit that more often than not, I support anyone’s decision to lighten up a room. I accept that this feeling is probably biased by the cave-like apartment in which I currently live, but it seems right to say it, nonetheless. Blair’s dining room is a perfect example of a lovely lightening. Taking inspiration from Scandinavian design, Blair decided to break up the all-black furniture with a fresh coat of white paint on the walls to give the room a more peaceful and cheery ambiance. I love that she left a few dark elements in the room and that she brought in some bright bits of color and pattern. The new room looks artful, modern and beautifully bright. Great work, Blair! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

I’d like to consider myself an inventive thinker, but after looking at these file cabinets, I have to say that I never would have thought to transform them the way Matthew did. Matthew had been looking for minimalist metal planter boxes for a while and when he spotted these file cabinets for 50 cents a piece (!) at a local thrift shop, the answer was clear. This project is so simple to recreate and I love the clean and simple results. You can read about his whole process here, and if you’re lucky enough to find a similar steal on file cabinets, you should definitely consider this a great way to put them to use. Great job, Matthew!

  1. Wow, that planter is fabuloso! Love the dining room too, that rug is so great, but it was lost in the space before. Now it really pops!

    *Tania @

  2. andrea says:

    i love the before of the dining room so much better! but that’s probably just personal taste :)

  3. I love the changes to that dining room! It looks so different! Beautiful and unique…lovely!

  4. Danielle says:

    I actually think the dining room looks just as good in the before picture as the after. Just different versions of lovely.

  5. Caroline says:

    those file cabinets/ planter are an amazing up-cycle! Wow!!

  6. BmoreKate says:

    These are both beautiful! That planter transform is amazing.

    Note: Grace, both of the planter pics say “before”!

    1. grace says:


      sorry about that, i’ll fix it :)


  7. @Tania – Great call on the rug, I didn’t even notice it in the first picture.

    I really like the planter idea as well. I have a ton of these old filers, and I think I may have to give that a shot.
    Could also be neat to waterproof the inside below the roots, replace a section of the metal with say a round piece of plexiglass, fill the cabinet with water, and grow your plants hydroponically. Could be neat to see the roots reaching down into the water through the plexiglass. You could also put some waterproof LEDs in the bottom of the cabinet so the water lights up at night.

  8. Jackson says:

    Sorry, other than the chair style, I like the before dining room a lot better than the after.

  9. Quatre says:

    The before picture is quite comfortable, too, in a more reserved fashion.. certainly looks more lively now, though.

    Preference to taste, I think :)

  10. sera says:

    the dining room’s a bit like night and day, even down to the before (night) having candle sticks on the table and the after (day!) having flowers in a vase… love the embroidery hoops on the wall, have something similar in my front room, its nice to display some vintage fabrics, no?

  11. Jackie says:

    Ironically, the original dining room chairs were Gustavian–definitely Sandinavian.

    Love the idea of the embroidery hoops with fabric! Cheap, kid-proof, each to change out. Much more fun than plates!

  12. Sugar says:

    That first picture is the poster child for how to lighten and brighten a room. Love what they did.

  13. Ummm, how amazingly clever is the planter?!

  14. hena tayeb says:

    that dinning room transformation is just that.. a complete transformation!

  15. erin says:

    Wow! I love the “after” of the dining room! When I looked at the “before” I didn’t think it was terrible and knew the after would really have to rock…and it does!

    I noticed the rug right away in the 2nd photo and didn’t even realize it was there in the first…cool!

    And the planter? Super clever…and think about how much money a planter like that would actually cost if you went to the garden store. Sweet deal. :)

  16. The planter idea is fantastic!

  17. Ban Clothing says:

    I do am a fan of the ‘before dining room’. The after is definitely a change but I guess I didn’t think the original really needed an uplift.

  18. Corinna says:

    Oh, I just thought “oh why destroy so wonderful file cabinets “- but as a librarian it is probably some kind of tunnelvision. I like the planer but I do not like the idea of the file cabinets as a planter – sorry…

  19. Calli says:

    Love the dining room after… where, may I ask, is that rug from? I’m in love.

  20. dustin says:

    I love the plant idea too, but I have to admit that it took me a few minutes to figure out the scale of the AFTER photo. LOL! At first I thought whoa….giant planter, but cool. Then I looked at the BEFORE and thought those looked kind of small…how are those the before? Now I got it! Nice work!

  21. Liz says:

    Love the planter. I’ve done something similar with a larger filing cabinet turned into a planter box. Cool!

  22. love the after dining room. light and happy is always better! just wondering how you hang plates like that on the wall, without any framing showing? i have a vintage collection of enamel ashtrays i would love to arrange on a wall, but am at a loss…

  23. Sara L. says:

    LOVE that after dining room. Wow. The colors really brighten and cheer the place up. Fantastic!

  24. ecuadoriana says:

    I like the dining room better as before! The table & chairs went better with the sideboard. And the rounded corners softened the room. The new table & chairs not only make the room too boxy, but the color does not match the sideboard at all! In both situations I’d replace the stick lamps on the sideboard with wall sconces, and that lampshade above the table has got to go! All in all, though, I prefer the before look.

  25. E says:

    I actually prefer the first dining room picture. The second one seems a bit unfocused and cluttery. sorry.


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