before and after

Before & After: A Dreamy Dining Room With a “Budgeteer” Price

by Maxwell Tielman

dreambook_dining_ba dreambook_dining_budget

In an ideal world, we would all move into our respective apartments and houses, hire a few contractors, buy some furniture, and pump out our brand-new dream home in a couple of days. This, however, is largely out of the question for most of us—budget, not to mention time and other commitments, often gets in the way. This is why home renovation projects, no matter how completed they are in one’s mind, can often span across several years. No matter how begrudgingly we accept this reality, a beautiful home, one that you can truly call your own, is definitely worth the wait (and saved pennies). Just ask Adri and Jeremy Lentine, the adorable couple behind Dream Book DesignThey moved into their Phoenix, Arizona home earlier this year and have been tackling the renovating slowly but surely ever since. Two self-proclaimed “budgeteers,” the couple seldom buys anything new, opting instead for vintage finds, affordable DIYs, and discount steals. With this penny-pinching credo in mind, the Lentines set to work on renovating their dining room. The previous iteration was a cramped, clashing, and dismally-lit space, filled with inappropriate floor tiles and out-of-place light fixtures. The end result, a combination of budget eBay finds, beautiful added moldings, and opened up space, is stunning. And accomplished for a little over $4,000, it proves that style, thrift, and time can be a winning combination for a beautiful space. Check out more photos, plus the complete object/budget breakdown after the jump! —Max


dreambookdining_before_1 dreambookdining_after_1 dreambookdining_after_2 dreambookdining_after_3 dreambookdining_after_4


  • Schonbeck Chandelier:  Purchased on Craigslist for $500.  Retails on Amazon for $1800.
  • Vintage Krueger Fiberglass Chairs: Bought on Ebay for $300. (Originally they were $550 but arrived damaged and the seller provided a small refund).
  • Table: Craigslist find for $550
  • Card Catalog: This was a DIY (check out the project here).  Originally purchased the piece for around $300 and put about $200 in it to transform it.
  • Mirror: Estate Sale for $90
  • Books: Estate Sale for $1 per book
  • Candle Holders: Target on Clearance, all 4 for $20
  • Vintage Map: Ebay for $100
  • Driftwood Art: DIY Project (check out the project here)
  • Rug: Rug USA Marquis Ikat Knit Midnight Rug
  • Smalls: Modern Manor and Antique Mesa Plaza
Construction Costs:
Electrical: $200
Drywall Work: $150
Flooring: Roughly $900 installed
Wainscoting: $200 (DIY)
Crown and Door Trim: $120 (DIY)
Paint: Sherwin Williams Extra White (bottom), Sherwin William Olympus White (top)


Suggested For You


  • Awesome transformation! I’m a HUGE fan of the card catalog buffet, they did a beautiful job with it!

    Also, the link at the top to Dream Book Design… doesn’t go to Dream Book Design.

  • This is great – love the rug, table and chairs. Not a fan of the chandelier and the mirror, but they definitely glam things up!

  • @JTA I went and rechecked some of my numbers and $900 may be a few hundred light. The flooring we used was a Maverick Hickory Handscraped from Tom Duffy’s. It is an engineered wood. The room is around 200 sq ft and the flooring itself was around $3 psf and install was around $2.5 psf. The flooring for entire house was installed at the same time so we estimate that around $1,000 to $1,400 was attributed to the dining room. We know our floor installer from previous projects so I think we got a little break on install.

  • Can we get real for a second and recognize that spending 4k on a dining room is NOT penny pinching? This is ridiculous.

  • Nice job but $4,000 is hardly a “budget” project. We get that they were careful and got good quality but really, $4,000 on a room that size? Why the need to label? Just say what someone spent and what they used/ how they resourced to save money. Budget is a relative term. $4,000 for this room is like someone saying they got “cheap” Loubitins for $500. Seriously.

    • Hi, Jeanette and Seriously!

      You are quite right that budget is a relative term, but perhaps the price is a little bit misleading. Many of the objects used within the space (and factored into the final budget) were actually purchased and/or built over time and culled from a variety of sources. The card catalogue, for example, was a DIY project made by the couple in 2010. When considering the fact that so many of the items were purchased at deep discounts over a very long stretch of time, the penny-pinching becomes much more evident. You can find a full budget breakdown at the bottom of the post. Cumulatively, each individual item might add up, but the end product is really a result of many budget-friendly items. (Not to mention the fact that the room has been completely transformed from its original state, moldings and all, no small feat especially for that price.)

  • I’ve been reading Dream Book Design regularly for over 2 years now. These two know how to bargain shop, I can vouch for that. As Maxwell states, the transformation this room has undergone is quite impressive for around a $4000 budget. Sure you could spend less to revamp a space, fine. However, a remodel this scale is not easy to pull off on $4000.

  • The new visual is stunning, it doesn’t look the same house. The color was asolutely hideous and made the room look small and cramped,I had the feeling my head would hit the cieling!
    The molding made the room open up and the chandelier is not only a beautiful focus point. but adds visualy in hight .The dark flooring helped creating depth as well, Nice work!

  • Beautiful room, BUT I see a couple other people already mentioned that $4k for one room is hardly “budget”! I have to wholeheartedly agree with them, even if it is a relative term.

  • I agree with Maxwell and Bea — nicely done. You guys got a great deal on those floors. We did engineered hardwood at $10/sq ft (including labor). I like the way you shop. I’ve found Pinterest to be really helpful. Keeping a wishlist allows me to wait until an item goes on sale before purchase. Some patience and some planning can really save money over the long run.

  • Everyones idea of “budget” is different. $4000 sounds like a lot to me, too. However, the detailed cost breakdown is so helpful, and I’d love to see more posts like these where they are willing to be so transparent with their expenses. Plus I’m green with envy over the card catalog, and have been since the DIY first appeared on D*S. Sigh… Thanks for sharing!

  • Wow! What a difference! I can’t believe the transformation from ordinary to classy. The work you did on the wall trims, architraves,skirtings, mouldings is amazing and certainly for $4000 and the time spent you would have added so much$ value to this home!
    I am impressed! Congratulations

  • 4,000 is hardly a budget makeover. Sure, we can say it’s relative. But really it’s just a makeover WITH a budget, not a budget makeover. There are plenty of design blogs that feature these kinds of makeovers, and they feel no need to label them “budget” nor to make excuses for them. If this is the direction DS chooses to go, just own it. But, lets not insult those of us who are actually on a budget.

  • Wow, there is a lot of debate about our “budget” and whether or not the room was worth it or if the word “budget” should be associated with it. We definitely did not think that would be the controversy in our room. We merely provided that information to help readers get an idea of what we had to spend in order to make over the room. Just some honest information regarding our renovations.

    I think what Max was trying to say in his post is that the choices we made had budget items in mind (when compared to the retail options available to us). For example, we knew we wanted vintage fiberglass chairs for our dining room and Eames shell chairs are the go to vintage fiberglass chair, but those can run anywhere from $125 – $250 a chair; that would have been up to $2,500 for all 10 chairs (2 are not pictured). But instead of buying Eames chairs we opted to purchase these mustard colored vintage Krueger chairs at $30 a chair. I would say that between the two the Krueger chairs were the budget choice. I understand that we could have gone to a garage sale and found some cheaper chairs made from a different material, but we think $30 a chair is a pretty good deal for matching vintage fiberglass chairs.

    Another example is our chandelier, we purchased it for $500 when it retails for $1,800, that is a $1,300 savings! Yes we could have made a DIY chandelier or found a cheaper chandelier and repurposed it, but for a real crystal chandelier I think we got a pretty good deal. It is a statement piece and really sets the tone for the room and overall living area.

    Additionally, the renovations we did easily added more than $4,000 in value to our house and if we had to we could probably make most the $4,000 back by selling just the furniture. We can sell the card catalog alone for close to $2,000. I think if we would have purchased all the items retail and not done so much of the work ourselves we could have easily spent more than double.

    So when we are talking about money (which is always a sensitive subject and many bloggers don’t address it in posts because of the sensitivity) remember that we redid the room (with flooring included) fully furnished at around $20 per square foot; I think we accomplish a fairly economical renovation. With all that said we agree that if our budget was smaller we could have made different improvements that were not as expensive.

    Thanks for all the feedback, we appreciate it all.

  • Wow, I absolutely love the new room! Can you share a bit more about the wainscoting? Where you purchased the materials, was it pretty easy to do, etc.? I’m thinking about adding some to my home.

  • I love it. All of it! What a great Craigslist find. And I love the DIY sliding doors. You must be very proud of your achievements. :-)

  • Like it so much! Especially those DIY stuff! And I have a question here, where do the old furniture gone? I’m still an interior design student, and i’m wondering this question for so long.

  • The color scheme is gorgeous, and I love the table. I personally find craiglist so hard to use! Don’t know how anyone finds stuff on it.

    $4k is a lot for one room, but… they redid absolutely EVERYTHING. And it’s apparent they put in a lot of effort to find deals. A similar room w/o that sort of effort (like just going to restoration hardware and using a contractor, the way most of America shops) could easily double that.

  • Unfortunately, this is where Design Sponge is going . . . much less the grass roots, do it yourself, impressive on that truly shoestring budger and more the architecture, hire a designer and upper end mode.

    So the team saved some money and that makes it budget? Who are your readers? Maybe that is what will drive me away from *DS. Maybe it no longer speaks to the gritty, dogged, ingenious on a highly limited budget, do it yourselfers.

    If I had $4000 to renovate ONE room, I wouldn’t be reading *DS. I would be reading the web pages of designers. Period.

    • Amy B.

      This is one post of of over 20 we post a week. If you don’t like this one, there is plenty of budget-friendly content to read. I don’t think it’s fair to say one post (which speaks to one end of our readership, which is indeed varied) casts that light over the entirety of the content.


  • Hi, Amy!

    We greatly value your input and will certainly take your comments into consideration. However, I need to point out that the space in question was not completed by an architecture firm or an interior designer. The couple behind the space created this space largely with their own hands, DIY-ing most of the space from the wall moldings to the card catalogue. I know that $4,000 is way beyond most room renovation budgets (mine as well), but I think given the scope and grandeur of the final design, it could have easily been five times that with an interior designer or architect.


  • the dining table off of craigslist (!!!!!!) is the highlight of this room for me! does anyone have advice on how to score ridiculously amazing pieces like this off of craigslist? constantly check? i want your wisdom!

  • Wow! What an AMAZING job! I actually found y’all by searching our paint color. Did you end up using the olympus white for the ceiling as well? I have been debating the wainscoting DIY, but am definitely gonna do it now!! Thanks for the inspiration!!! :)

  • All thought the look from a style perspective is not my cup of tea, I am compelled to comment on the nice way the trim was added to the room. It really created some nice backdrop and depth to the room that would allow many types of style statements. As it relates to the budget, just ask a group of men how much they have ever paid for a neck tie and you will quickly see that it really is a matter of personal perspective. I personally sold a whole bunch of high quality furniture items on Craigslist at silly low prices when I was not able to take them with me. $4k is still $4k. I think it was spread effectively in this project. Keep on designing!

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.