Before & After: A Breakfast Nook Seriously Lightens Up

breakfast_nook_ba_header breakfast_nook_ba_form_1

I am all for exposed wood. Whether it’s a beautiful piece of antique mahogany furniture, a fabulous hardwood floor, or a vintage cabinet whose original materials speak louder than any paint color could, a good wood is always great in my book. There are, however, exceptions—times when wood, no matter how well-intentioned, is just not good. This was almost unquestionably the case in the newly purchased home of Erin Kelly, the blogger behind A New Bloom. When we first moved into our home,” Erin says, “there was dark wood paneling everywhere. It overwhelmed the small rooms and made our space feel tight and gloomy. Since we spend a lot of time in our breakfast nook, it was the first room we tackled (and was our first experience painting wood paneling…talk about a challenge!).” Erin and her husband, illustrator Rich Kelly, were certainly up for the challenge, painting and updating the room with serious panache and style—the end result is a room that is fresh and modern, but still respectful to the home’s beautiful 1932 bones. Check out the full transformation, plus Erin’s design notes, after the jump! —Max

breakfast_nook_ba_form_2breakfast_nook_ba_2  breakfast_nook_ba_1


“We painted the paneling white using Benjamin Moore’s Harwood Putty, replaced the cabinet hardware with DIY leather pulls inspired by Morgan Satterfield (of The Brick House), and changed the pendant light to IKEA’s BOJA rattan lamp,” Erin says. “We built a corner bench using 2×4’s and plywood and made the cushion using MDF, foam, and a canvas drop cloth (we used the upholstery method of stapling the cloth to the MDF). We had an old circular table top sitting around, so we paired it with a pair of IKEA LERBERG legs spray-painted white. I collected throw pillows to add colorful accents, and my favorite by far is a Kilim patchwork pillow I found on eBay for $11. “

breakfast_nook_ba_form_4 breakfast_nook_ba_3 breakfast_nook_ba_4 breakfast_nook_ba_5 breakfast_nook_ba_6 breakfast_nook_ba_7 breakfast_nook_ba_8 breakfast_nook_ba_9 breakfast_nook_ba_10

breakfast_nook_ba_form_5 breakfast_nook_ba_form_6

  1. Dominique says:

    I LOVE that niche. Also excited to discover another new (to me) blogger!

  2. Holly B says:

    Wow, what a transformation! I’d have been tempted to ditch that cutout around the shelves, but its rather beautiful once painted.

  3. Lynn says:

    fabulous! I love it. I want to sit and have a cup of tea in that lovely room

  4. Nina says:

    What a difference some paint makes! Wow! It looks so new and modern and I LOVE the banquette. So comfortable and easy. Great job!

  5. Sasha says:

    What an adorable little space! I love that they chose to work with the old paneling – keeping the spirit of the house in a frugal way that works for how they live. Great job!

  6. Bosky Belle says:

    Wow, what a great “after”! The space changed dramatically, from frumpy and gloomy to fresh and modern. I love the way the scalloped edge niche turned out-very cool.

  7. Nicole says:

    Wonderful! That curvy cutout/built-in looks amazing painted white — both clean and classic — and adds some great character.

  8. Fabulous 30s says:

    Wow, that is an amazing transformation. Love the white wood. It looks amazing.

  9. kristin says:

    love how crisp the painted wood paneling looks — and, also, the curly willow in the nook!

  10. georgia says:

    you totally transformed that space with such simple things. doing that is much harder than it looks. well done.

  11. Nina says:

    AMAZING RESULT! That white paint makes an incredible difference. Not to mention the great choices in furniture and decor! :)

  12. Michelle says:

    Amazing. It’s incredible how a couple of gallons of white paint (and a lot of elbow grease) can completely transform a space. The cutout went from heavy and dated to a cool, almost sculptural design element.

    Next time I want to win an argument with a “never paint wood” person, I’ll just send them this link!

  13. Yvette says:

    I love it! Gorgeous! May I ask where you purchased white cart/island with wheels. Looking for something similar.

  14. Jill says:

    Gorgeous transformation! The cut out around is amazing. You might even want to accentuate it more by painting the back of the shelves a pop of color. That orange would look pretty amazing and would really make the cut out the focal point of the room. Also, the leather pulls are amazing. So simple, yet unique. The handmade quality of the pulls really lends itself to the modern cozy cottage feel of the room.

  15. Wow – this should inspire many peeps. What wonders some white paint can do to a space. I love the simple yet extremely effective small decor elements such as the mirror, and the door handles. I am always looking to find the ‘ unique to the space’ element. Well done folks.

  16. I think this is one of my favourite “Before & After” so far! I love how they have turned that dark room into an airy white lovely space!

  17. Kim says:

    I love it. It’s so much brighter. I’m embarrassed to say that my husband would have loved the before and if the whole house was like that, I’d be lucky if we weren’t living in it. I told him when we were looking for homes that I was either taking down or painting wood paneling. We found a house without any after that.

  18. Bonnie says:

    Beautiful !

  19. This is beautiful and I just loved the wood work :) I am a huge fan of snow white walls with the combination of wooden interior. It looks elegant, stylish and subtle at the same time. Thanks for sharing this visual delight.

  20. amanda says:

    that built in is SO COOL!!! love it! and it’s so fresh and clean painted white.

  21. Kate says:

    I’m seconding the request for info on the white cart with wheels!

  22. Rachel says:

    I love the artwork above your table – do you mind sharing the artist? What a beautiful home you have created…

  23. Jessica says:

    Yes!! What an incredible transformation. I love the creativity behind the cabinet hardware. Leather pulls – who woulda thought?! Also a new follower of A New Bloom now!!! :)

  24. Lisa says:

    Love the cut-out! So glad they didn’t remove that!

  25. Holly says:

    Nice. :)

    I’ve been looking for EXACTLY those benches. Did you make or buy them?

  26. This is soooo good.
    I can’t get over what a bit of paint did for this space. The cut-out in the wall went from tragic to terrific!

  27. Joselyn says:

    When I saw the before photo, I thought the built in niche was going to be the first thing to go. Wow, wow, wow, what a difference a simple can of white paint can make. That’s crazy! Phenomenal transformation! The space is breathtaking.

  28. It’s amazing what some white paint and a bit of creative vision can do. Even that odd opening in the wall looks new and contemporary. You did good!

  29. I LOVE that you kept the cool scallop cutout! I think a lot of people would have ripped it out, but it looks so good after being painted and gives the room so much character. I have painted (faux) paneling in my living room and I love it. It’s neutral and bright, but the paneling gives the walls a subtle texture.

    Great job on this room! I’d love to see more of the house!

  30. Erin Kelly says:

    Erin from A New Bloom here! I am overwhelmed by everyone’s sweet compliments about our breakfast nook. THANK YOU!

    To answer some questions, we found the white cart on Craigslist last year. I’ve seen a few similar carts listed since then, so I would check there first and keep an eye out at flea markets or garage sales.

    The artwork was made by me. I knew I wanted something colorful and geometric, and couldn’t find art that matched the image in my mind, so I finally sat down in Illustrator and DIY’ed it :)

    Lastly, the bench seating was another DIY project. My husband made the frame out of 2×4’s and covered them with plywood and used Cabinet Coat paint for the finish.

    Again, thank you for loving our space as much as we do (and feel free to keep the questions coming)! D*S readers rule.

  31. Jen says:

    Hi! Love this cute little room. I was wondering if you could tell me where the geometric art is from. thank you!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, 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.