before and after

before & after: dining room turned library

by Kate Pruitt

The lesson I’ve learned from this Before & After is that if formal dining isn’t your thing, you can turn your dining room into an awesome home library — that’s a valuable lesson in my book. Jennifer enlisted the help of her friend, interior designer Autumn Clemons, to revamp this beige box and turn it into a dark, dramatic and ultra-modern space. Splurging on key pieces like the curtains and the sculptural light fixture was a wise decision; they really stand out and pull the entire look together. I’m sure this room will see far more use than it did prior to the redesign. Great job, Jennifer and Autumn! — 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.)

Read more about Jennifer’s dramatic converted library after the jump!

Time: one month

Cost: $5,000

Basic Steps: This project was tricky, in that it involved convincing my husband that painting the space black was not going to make the room feel too dark. I had a mood board of magazine tears taped to the walls for about two months before he was convinced. After that milestone, we ripped up the carpet, had the flooring installed and then painted. We assembled the shelving, applied the wallpaper to the inset ceiling and put up the chandelier. Then came furniture, drapes and finishing touches.

My advice is to consult with the pros. I collaborated on this room with my good friend and interior designer Autumn Clemons. I knew what I wanted, but she took my vision to the next level. Wallpapering the tray ceiling never occurred to me, and now it’s one of my favorite parts of the room. Having someone with the training and design eye in your corner can keep you from making costly mistakes and really make any project a show-stopper. I think there’s a misconception that hiring a designer is a huge expense. But these days, there are so many talented designers offering e-services, it’s really affordable for any budget. — Jennifer

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  • I always loved that peacock chair from Anthropologie. And the wallpapered tray ceiling is fantastic. Beautiful work on this room!

  • Wow! This transformation is beyond amazing. Black is a bold choice but it was def a good one!

    And I have been noticing a trend in young adults who do not need or want a formal dining room space in their house. Our methods of living and using our homes has changed greatly since the 50’s and 60’s. Our family dinning is different and so is our method of entertaining so a formal dinning is not really necessary….so good move on your part to do something different with the space.

  • I love how proud the pug is. I’ve always dreamed of having a library dining room! This is beautifully done.

  • I love this ideas and room. i am in the process of turning my family room area into my studio. This gives me new inspiration.

  • LOVE this space! I’m the one who always worries that a darker color will make the room smaller, but I always see these posts where rooms are painted dark, even black, and it looks GORGEOUS!

  • I love it! I’m trying to figure out how our dining room/formal living room (currently it’s neither) can be a dining room AND a library. Because even though I love formal dining, I don’t do it that often.

  • I am loving that shade of paint! It looks sort of off-black which doesn’t look too dark, especially with the window light. Can you share the brand/color?

  • Looks fantastic!! I love the darks walls and warm floors. Our new apartment has a dining room and I’m still worried it’ll be a wasted space if we use it just for that purpose. I want to stick a piano in there, but not sure it’ll fit up the stairs. It’s a great excuse to get creative, though!!

  • Love, love, love it. Wow, what a transformation. Who’s to say you couldn’t slip a big table in there if the occasion for a big family dinner warrant it.

  • The black was a brave choice, but it looks like you have plenty of light to pull it off. Beautiful space!

  • This is *fantastic*! We just bought a new home (relocation) and as it has an in-kitchen dining area (perfect for our 1950s table) and a dining room, and as we have no formal dining set…Darn, we’ll have to use the dining room for a library. This is a great example of how to do it super-stylishly…the layout is even very similar to ours. :) Thank you, I can’t wait to show this to Hubby!

    No, I’m not giddy or anything…

  • As a librarian, let me just say I stopped breathing for a second when I saw the awesomeness of this room. <3

  • Gorgeous! Though I could never live with such a tiny desk. eeep! Really love the crisp white and green drapery!

    Also, thankyou thankyou for painting over the beige…beige walls make me nauseous!
    I got similar push back on my dark chocolate family room. But everyone who sees it now talks about how much they love it (I just roll my eyes since several were the same people who tried to talk me out of it).

  • any idea how one can get their hands on the ladder or something similar!? we have wall to wall bookshelves and are looking for something like this!!
    thanks in advance :)

  • Definitely having that bay window is key to the room not looking dark and hemmed in – I love it.

  • The wall paint color is my favorite black, called “onyx” by benjamin Moore.
    Thanks for all the *love! Jen and I had a great time working on tius room together.

  • Oh my gosh. I love the transformation. I just forwarded it to a client to see. She is about to paint her room black too. We’re in the middle of reupholstering two chairs for the soon-to-be black space. She is going to love what you did. Nice job!

  • I love the dark moodiness, and a dedicated place to read/write/study. But where’s a big comfy chaise to read in?? I love the shell of the room, and the chandy, but none of the furniture looks comfortable enough to spend the day immersed in a book with peppermint candies.

  • What a transformation! I love everything about it. I’m also looking for a library ladder. This one is so chic and minimal! Where did it come from?

  • Thanks, everyone!!
    For those asking about resources:
    Light is from Robert Abbey (available through Lumens or Shades of Light, among others)
    Shelves AND ladder are IKEA (my favorite part is the corner piece, and the tilted shelves)
    Curtains are Imperial Trellis fabric, custom made with brushed nickel grommets.

    For Molly, the room looks great at night–we have the chandelier on a dimmer, so we can change up how bright it is.

  • I’ve been trying to convince my husband that darker walls actually make the room bigger because they recede. Congrats! on the convincing part. Congrats! on a fabulous room!!!

  • That is absolutely the best re-design, such a beautiful & functional space! I love the grey walls, why are husbands usually the ones who resits the dramatic changes?
    I remember having to convince my husband that we could use 3 different colors in a poolside cabana, coral, periwinkle and lime! turned out great!! He loves it too!
    P.S. I have pinned this great makeover!

  • Absolutely love how Autumn managed to turn what looks like a builder’s basic room in a newer home into something refined and bespoke. Also, so cool to see IKEA basics used in such a gorgeous way–I assume they were laquered with a spray gun? If I had finished out the room with furnishings, however, I would have put a much larger table in the center of the space (perhaps this one has leaves for expansion?), and I would have added a pile of stackable industrial cafe chairs in a corner ready for the big family dinner…

    Yes, this room is a great advertisement for involving a design professional in an important project!

  • yes, LOVE the library ladder! so simple and sleek. is it on wheels? can you share where it is from?? beautiful space!!

  • I’ve always talked about doing this if I ever had a formal living room or a dinning room (as long as it also had an eat in kitchen) in a house. My husband is a PhD so you can imagine the amount of books we own :)

  • Looks great! I’d love to be able to collect all my books in to one space like this instead of having them fragmented around the house. There’s nothing better than being surrounded by a wall of books!

  • I have always thought painting walls black had the tendency of making a space cave-like but in this case it does the complete opposite. Here the before looks small and cave-like and the after feels open and airy. Plus a library ladder has been on my “One Day” list since I was a kid.

    Great job!

  • This is an amazing transformation! The room looks bigger and brighter with the wood floors and black walls! I love the wallpapered ceiling as i didn’t even notice that detail before. Stunning! I am sharing this with my in-laws to show them how much more usable their dining room could be if they just got rid of the large table as the centerpiece!

  • how insane that the room looks 10 times larger with that dark of a color…very inspiring use of space…thanks SOOO much for sharing!

  • fantastic! dining area was so boring, I agree best ‘after’ I’ve seen in awhile. DH should be proud :)) bookcases/wall look so good, even look recessed. ♥

  • Kelly–map us from the Future Mapping Company–futuremaps.co.uk
    Kally–give us time! We’ll get more books. :)