before & after: dining room turned library

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

  1. Sydnee says:

    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?

  2. ronald baeren says:

    lovely! love the wallpaper at the ceiling so much!

  3. Marie says:

    I love the wood floors, dark walls and hints of green. :) I wish my library looked like this!

  4. wow! I love this redo. It is fab! Well done.

  5. Jennifer Meredith says:

    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.

  6. celia says:

    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!!!

  7. 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!

  8. love the texture the tray ceiling adds.

  9. Eileen says:

    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!

  10. Tina says:

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

  11. Ambrya says:

    This is an amazing redo!!!! Beautiful and stunning! Love the transformation.

  12. Nanajosianne says:

    Wow, i wish i knew how to style like that ….sad face….

  13. Danielle says:

    I’m kiiiiind of in love with this. Scratch the “kind of.”

  14. Kaleena says:

    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 :)

  15. Briar says:

    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!

  16. Kalani says:

    What a credible use or space. Great job on an amazing vision!

  17. Veggie says:

    Great! Beautiful!

  18. Maegan says:

    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!

  19. Tarryn says:

    I literally gulped when I saw this! Amazing. Great job.

  20. Holly says:

    Thank you for posting the source information!

  21. Tora says:

    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!

  22. melmahoney says:

    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!

  23. Dianne says:

    Are there more bookshelves on the camera side of the room or is it open plan

  24. Stormy says:

    Who would have thought black walls could look so warm? Love it!

  25. Jena says:

    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. ♥

  26. kim says:

    This is just gorgeous. Does anyone know where the UK & Ireland print is from?

  27. kally says:

    Looks great but there are no very many books for a “library,” lol.

  28. Jen says:

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

  29. Michelle says:

    Where did the tilted shelf come from? LOVE it!

  30. Jen says:

    Michelle–bookcases with tilted shelves and ladder are all IKEA.


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