before & after: dining + living room redo

It seems contradictory that painting walls black could brighten a room, but that’s certainly the result in this lovely dining and living room makeover from painter Adriane Duckworth. The contrast of dark and light, echoed in the furniture as well as the walls, works wonders to modernize and freshen up this space. I also love that the few items of color, like Adriane’s beautiful paintings, pop against the elegant neutral background. Nice work, Adriane! — 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 the full post after the jump . . .

Time: about one month

Cost: $3500

Basic Steps: I started out by replacing all of the furniture and painting the walls, then slowly added more little touches to the room as time went on. My advice is to paint each room with your other rooms in mind. Don’t randomly pick colors; create a scheme that flows from room to room so that there is continuity. I learned this lesson in our first house and will never make that mistake again. — Adriane

Paint colours: Benjamin Moore Blackberry (black walls), Benjamin Moore Cloud White (white walls)
Couch: EQ3
Furniture: Ikea (sideboard, shelves, TV bench, bookcases, area rug, curtains, light fixtures, dining chairs)
Coffee table: The Brick
Dining Table: antique find
Throw pillows: handmade
Artwork: Original paintings by me

  1. Yowza! What a difference – well done!

  2. julia says:

    I love the black, what a great re-do. Thanks for sharing.

  3. lauran says:

    oooo, i love the aqua colored lamp in the before shot of the dining room. i hope it was saved!

  4. Chris says:

    What kind of bookcases are those?

  5. That black wall is so Crisp! Sets off the bookcase beautifully

  6. Marlene says:

    Not only it looks great, but I like that the are using affordable pieces from IKEA.

  7. Wow-that’s a beautiful transformation. Love the modern look! Picking colors that don’t flow is an easy mistake to make, but easy to fix too.

  8. Diana says:

    That’s such a complete turn around! Love it!


  9. Jennifer says:

    I love the white bookcase against the dark wall. Very sophisticated and cohesive looking without spending a fortune on furnishings. Great eye for color and composition!

  10. barbara smolen says:

    Inspiringly bold. Did anyone else notice the book arrangements by color in the dining room? Subtle!

  11. TieDye64 says:

    From bland and frumpy to modern and inviting. Well done!

  12. Ali Holm says:

    I love the look of the built-in bookcases in the dining room, and would like more information about how they did that.

  13. Gabby says:

    Love the look! The two dark walls mirroring each other are so effective. There is no mention of the bookcases being built in to the wall, which it looks like they are. Was this a costly exercise??

  14. Laura says:

    Love everything except arranging books by color. This illogical fad can not end soon enough for me. Everything else is super.

  15. Bren says:

    GORGEOUS! Are the bookcases sunk into the wall? They look recessed and I can’t tell if that’s a clever trick of the eye with the dark wall or if you did build out around them. Can you share?

  16. niki says:

    I live the lamp shade (over the table). I don’t think its from Ikea- does anyone know where its from?

  17. Heather says:

    We had the same fear at our new store in Toronto, at just over 200 sq ft, our designer suggested painting the longest wall (and part of the ceiling!) black…Amazing!
    Not only does the space feel bigger, everyone who comes in comments on how cool it is.

  18. Thank you again SO much for featuring this project of mine!!!

    Chris – the bookcases are Ikea Billy bookcases with the matching glass doors.

    Ali & Gabby Bren – they are not actually built-ins! We wanted that look, but they are just the Ikea Billy bookcases side by side. We will add more as we need them (which will probably be soon, ha ha) but it’s much easier than an actual built-in project!

    Niki – that is a handmade DIY project actually! I have it on my blog here:

  19. Melanie says:

    How cool is it to visit Design*Sponge and see Adriane’s work here?!?! Answer: Very cool. Love her DIY light fixture!

  20. niki says:

    Killing me! I have tried to make that stupid string shade twice now.. both times, it just caved in when I popped the balloon. Yours is really beautiful!

  21. kcc says:

    i want the old dining room chairs!!

  22. Jill says:

    Love everything about this makeover! Really well done!

  23. meg says:

    I often wonder, is it the same people living in the after as in the before? They feel so different–a big jump style-wise. I do absolutely love the end result!

  24. Oh Niki, ha ha, ya I had some trouble with mine too! So, if you cover your balloon in Vaseline, and then don’t pop the balloon but slowly poke at it with the eraser end of a pencil (like through ALL the holes, ha ha) and THEN pop it….you want to make sure it’s totally loose all the way around. I actually let mine hang for a while and the balloon shrunk a bit and then I could actually see that it wasn’t touching the sides ;)

  25. Nadia says:

    I love it. The color combination makes the living-room look chic.
    I may remove some books to put objects instead !
    Well done and thanks for sharing.

  26. Susan says:

    Makes so much sense to combine a library with a dining room since neither gets enough use on its own (at least for me)…and talk about conversation starters at the dinner table! It creates such a warm, inviting look.

  27. Susan says:

    Makes so much sense to combine a library with a dining room since neither gets enough use on its own (at least for me). And talk about conversation starters! It creates such a warm, inviting look.


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