before and after

before & after: vintage farmhouse dining room

by Kate Pruitt

This lovely dining room makeover has made the blog rounds a bit — you may have seen it on Poppytalk last week — but it was too beautiful a transformation not to share. Abbey and her husband purchased this 1800s farmhouse in upstate NY a mere four weeks ago, and already they are hard at work turning it into a cozy, vintage-style space with tons of light and character. I love the copper details, including the vintage light fixture she found for $7 (!) and the circle of stamped pennies on the wall. If this is what Abbey can accomplish in just four weeks, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the house turns out! Great job, Abbey! — 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 Abbey’s gorgeous vintage-style dining room makeover after the jump!

Time: 4 weeks

Cost: Just over $1,000 — $500 to refinish all of the floors in the house, $100 to replace the wall, $250 for paint (the whole house). The only real splurge was $200 on a new rug (from a local store called Nasco Home).

Basic Steps: In the dining room, we tore out a faux stone wall and replaced it with sheetrock, primed and painted the walls (Behr Ultra Pure White), sanded and refinished the floors, switched out the overhead light, and replaced all of the electrical outlets. We still have to paint the radiators and finish the cushion for the window seat.

Tape your to-do list to the front door, line up good babysitters, always have cold beer on hand, and don’t listen to the naysayers who stop by to comment on your project and drink all of your cold beer. — Abbey

Suggested For You


  • Pretty, but the “vintage-style” room they created is more mid-century modern looking than true to the vintage of the house. Seems to rather belie the point of buying a 200 year old house

  • I have a boxful of those “pressed pennies” my children collected while traveling. I’ve played around with different versions of displaying them; this one is charming.

  • The white made the beautiful lines of that great window disappear. BAd, bad.

  • Congratulations, what a job! It really looks beautiful and fresh. Could you tell me where you got the highchair please?

  • I just love everything about this, you made some bold decisions. Starting to feel a bit like a slacker though; I too just moved into an old house in Upstate NY- about 3 weeks ago, still unpacking!

  • I am in love with this makeover, Modern Vintage Style to its best, the combinations of old and new add great character to the space, mixing what you love best, and the white walls make those floors pop. Simply beautiful and in such a short time- i wish I could accomplish that. Thank you for sharing

  • LOVE your pressed penny display!! Are you willing to share instructions? I’ve been trying to do a shadowbox display for mine. This is so much better.

  • I don’t think just because you buy a 200 year old house means you have to decorate that way also. I think filling your house with things you love and enjoy are what make it a home. Bravo to you Abbey, it’s stunning, white paint and all.

  • i’m an avid smoooshed penny collector; so much so that my husband made a special smooshed penny for our wedding! that said, i’m dying to know how Abbey affixed the pennies to the wall. this project is right up my alley!

  • I love the chic look of a clean, white palette, but does anyone else’s heart break a little with all of these historic homes’ painted trim? The character that is held within those kind of details is one of a kind-I love the challenge of incorporating design, color, and personalization while maintaining the original splendor. Modern, vintage, and shabby chic furniture, accessories, and such can still work!

  • I hope they decided not to paint the radiator – maybe it’s just the picture, but I think it looks great in it’s shabby old coat of chipped paint. What a great transformation!

  • I totally think it’s ok to paint all trim white, and I used to work for a historic preservation commission! The white is clean and bright, and sometimes the “historic” choices can look dingy and jarring. Sometimes they work, but if the owner wants subtle trim, why not?

    And I think that rug is awesome.

  • i love it! Abbey, I dont think you should paint the radiators, the peeling paint looks great against the super white walls! i am saving this to my home inspiration folder!

  • Nothing like a fresh coat of white paint and a newly refinished wood floor. I also like the quirky mix of furnishings and the blue cabinet.

  • Lovely transformation, so happy and bright! I personally like the mixture and juxtaposition of mixing styles. You can do an older home justice without feeling you must always give a nod to it’s original era. The window looks great, really standouts now with all that great light pouring in. I’m envious of your $7 light and the turquoise cabinet! Love the farmhouse floor contrast with all the white and a touch of distressed items here and there.

  • It’s light, bright, and airy. I LOVE the windows and think the paint showcases them wonderfully. The incoming light creates the shape. Definitely beats my crappy aluminum framed windows.

  • Beautiful accomplishment – so well done!
    Regarding the beer:
    Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day;
    Teach a man to fish and he will sit on the porch and drink beer all day.

  • So gorgeous! I have an old house, too, and only one room had the original woodwork while the rest of the trim was painted white. I love the white trim (in both of our homes) and the freshness it brings to a room! Beautiful work Abbey!!

  • I like the white! I also think there’s no reason why you can’t decorate your house in whatever style/time period that works. Think of all the people who have 20th-century homes styled to look old with antiques so if you have an old home you shouldn’t be obligated to make it like a museum. (I have a George Nelson bubble light in my 1850’s house and it looks fine.) Euro shelter magazines show the juxtaposition between old and new constantly and it always looks smart. Also love the penny display :-)

  • Please, please, please give us instructions for the circle of pennies. I can tell there’s wire or something behind them, but would love the detailed steps. Lovely makeover.

  • I love everything. I’m crazy for the light fixture (and the price) and the wall color! Stunning!!

  • The turquoise cabinet and the pressed pennies are my favorite details. It looks amazing – I want to linger there!

  • Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. (one for the result, one for the attitude, and one for the small $$/Big change)

  • Personally, I do think painting all the trim and walls white hides a lot of the beautiful character of the home. It is a beautiful transformation, nonetheless, and I do really love the refinished floors!

  • I love the before! it was such a gorgeous room (at least in a tiny photo). The makeover is lovely as well, but it feels like it could be anywhere. I wish you could have maintained some of the original farmhouse character!

  • Personally, I don’t like this transformation…if its such a nice old house, why would you paint it all white?! And cover up the floors with a huge rug? The after pic could have been taken in any hipster apartment vs a real old gem of a house.
    Kudos for bringing the wood floor into the kitchen though.

  • i am so perplexed by the posters who are talking about whether the trim should or should not have been painted. in the original photo, it is clearly already painted.

    at any rate, it went from depressing and dreary to bright and pretty. (i need a shot of that in my own house!) thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you all for your comments! With regard to the pressed pennies, I used a large embroidery hoop to trace a circle on the wall with pencil and then hot-glued all of the pennies to the circle. You could also use museum putty if you were worried about damaging the wall. :)

    The brand of the highchair is Guether- we found on Amazon.

    We’ve lived here for 4 weeks, so I’m sure the space will change over time. There are always going to be varying opinions about the way a house is decorated, but at the end of the day, this is what works best for our family. The floors are covered with a big rug simply because we have two children under the age of 4- it’s a layer of protection so we don’t have to refinish hardwood floors again anytime soon. :)

  • I think you guys did an amazing job!! It looks so inviting. I’m sure that the before pictures don’t really give you the full picture… oh the smells of an old, run down house. You need the fresh paint, you need the floors worked on. Well done!!
    PS…. I also collect pressed pennies. One of my favorite things to do when traveling.

  • Although the old room looks run down and neglected, and in need of a makeover, I think this makeover has killed it’s character. Bland and generic – such a pity. Maybe some interesting plants would liven it. Hope you get more inspiration as you grow with the space.

    On a side note, DS – how did old Rattan Furniture get through in comments above?

  • Abby I love it especially because you didn’t stick with the period of the house. I live in a house that has been owned by 4 generations of my family and am struggling with the keep it because it is a old farm house and Great Grandma might be disapointed up their somewhere or make it ours. With my husbands help we are making it ours. I think Grandma would be more upset if we kept something we didn’t like. We have a lot of thoes nay sayers also on our little project also so have fun making your own history in your old house.

  • In the before picture there looks to be a linoleum floor leading up to the dining room. Was there a bonus wood floor hiding under it?

  • I love this transformation. The house may be old and have a character of its own, but I say you create the character you want/need for your lifestyle and what makes you happy. I have a room in my 1880’s farm house with all knotty pine. I am soon going to paint it all white despite what everyone keeps telling me. Going with your tastes and what you like is what makes a house a home. Great Job Abbey!

  • I think it looks clean and fresh. And you are so very right, it’s what works for your family and what makes you feel at home. Love the pennies, I have a large collection I keep in a bowl. Hope you take a little time to enjoy before you tackle the next project, because if you did this the first 4 weeks of living there, you probably have many more ideals to complete.

  • Thanks again, everyone. I couldn’t find a tag anywhere on the rug, so I’m not sure what brand it is. Sorry! Re; kitchen floors- we knew they were hardwood (in really bad shape), but the appraiser insisted on a floor covering before we closed. Cheap temporary floors were installed until we could refinish them. :)

  • I love the school chairs for the dining chairs. You’ve done a great job. I also really like the turquoise cabinet. I live in a huge 1800’s farmhouse that we are renovating, but ours is about 10 years in the making. The outside looks amazing, but the inside is just bare-bones. Hopefully it’ll someday look this fantastic.

  • I actually really liked the vintage farmhouse space before, but good job, the renovation looks great! The turqoise bookshelf is very creative and inventive and the lighting,Wow, its a major transformation!

  • When I looked at the pictures I thought the radiator being left the same was intentional. It looks great with the highchair! :) I think it would be awesome just left the way it is. What a beautiful room. I’m really digging white nowadays. Its so simple but so clean, and looks great with lots of colored accents. Great work!!

  • LOVE IT. I like keeping things original too, but considering the “before” I think you did a FAB job freshening up the space without losing the existing character of the room (as someone else pointed out, the woodwork was ALREADY painted). I think it would look awesome to someday strip the window frames (especially against the white) but it’s also great as-is. Terrific job!

  • looks so lovely and fresh. thank you for inviting us into your new home and sharing the goodness. down with the naysayers, I say! I’m quietly fascinated by the whole squashed penny concept which is a mystery here in Australia… however I’m in the loop thanks to a little machine I encountered in Chinatown in San Francisco in 1996.