Dining Room Updates + Fall Break

By Kate Riley September 22, 2014

I like to switch things up around the house so recently I made some changes to our dining room. I replaced the plain cream silk curtains with patterned window panels and the light fixture with a white beaded chandelier I’ve been crushing on for a year.

Our dining room looks out to the rear courtyard and plays both a formal and casual role in our home. It’s also a space we walk by 100 times a day so I prefer it to be decorated with soothing neutrals. I’ve always loved a soft green and white combination paired with mixed seating and varied wood tones in here so that palette continues even with the new accessories.

green white mixed wood tones dining room

I had a store credit for winning the Lamps Plus Best DIY blog of 2013 and with it I ordered a new chandelier in our dining room (source below) and I think it’s just perfect in this space.

maarid white beaded chandelier

The window panels you see are the Scribble in Leek curtains by West Elm – they popped up on clearance two months ago so I snagged four 96” panels for $29 each and sewed two together on each side for fullness. The midnight blue and gray versions are still available, this green is not. :( 

tab scribble

I believe it’s best to double up 48 – 54” wide panels on windows over 5 feet wide or on French doors, that way the window treatments are fuller and can be functional too so when you close them they’re not flat.

I loved the price but I still had two problems with these store bought curtains, first, even at 96” they weren’t long enough to fall to the floor from the existing rod so I pulled out the top hem with a seam ripper to add a few inches and also removed the rear tabs. Second, like most store bought curtains, these are not lined and I like my window panels lined so I sewed inexpensive $4/yard drapery liner to the backs of both panels so they’re white when seen from the outdoors and heavier in weight so they drape nicely.

I’m a big fake when it comes to pleated window panels, I don’t follow all the formal steps. When professionally done, pinch pleated drapes have special header tape and drapery hooks that attach to the rings and look something like this.  

proper pleats

I don’t bother, it’s the inpatient imperfectionist in me when it comes to curtains. Instead I wing it and pinch three pleats every 8 inches or so and sew them together with my machine about ¾ of an inch from the edge and then attach the rings above by hand with a needle and thread. Again, imperfect, but that’s good enough for me. 

faux pleat technique


sew 1 inch inside


faux pleats in window panels


I’m a lover of any decor that is curvaceous and white and I think this chandelier which retails here, here, and here is so so very pretty, BUT…

walnut built in buffet hutch

I was disappointed with the cost of the fixture given the materials that make up this piece which are… bum bump bummm… metal and plastic. I discovered that when I removed it from the box. I used a store credit so I paid nothing out of pocket, but know this fixture retails for $650 (ouch) and at that price I was expecting glass beads. But then I realized glass beads would make it extremely heavy so I understand the use of plastic, but hello with plastic beads the fixture should be a heck of a lot less money.

Despite that, I really do love the shape and size of the fixture in the space, it’s a fresh modern accent coupled with the new window panels.

centsational girl dining room


Find all the information on our trestle table I love but agonized about here. To answer a FAQ, the table has held up so well, it still looks great, and I’m still crazy about it!

white beaded chandelier dining room


The table runner and block print napkins are from World Market, the linen pumpkins are from sponsor Love Feast Shop and add an elegant seasonal touch.

white linen pumpkins on table


** Also, as I mentioned in the title, I’m taking the remainder of the week off to catch my breath like I do every few months. I’ve been burning the candle at both ends with all the remodel projects we’ve taken on lately (and I haven’t even shared two other Alma Project related spaces I’m working on right now) so I’m going offline for a few days to rest and recharge my batteries. I’ll be back this Friday with some favorite links for weekend reading, until then, thanks for understanding and enjoy your week ! .


  1. Such a refreshing room, I’d love to have morning coffee in there. Love the light fixture but agree, seems a little steep! Thanks for sharing :)

  2. The curtains are awesome and add a lot of great color and interest. Enjoy your rest and I look forward to weekend reading!

  3. LOVE your thinking and ALL you do! When you sew the sides of the panels together, do you undo the hems, just sew them together at the inside edge of the hems, how do you do that? THANKS!

    • Hi Joel, I undo the top hem first, then sew the long side of the curtains together, then sew the two lengths of the liner, then I attach the liner, first to the top to create a new hem with the liner then to the sides. Hope that helps!

  4. Hi, Kate! I’m in the process of adding wooden curtain rods to my living room, but I’m not sure what size to buy them at (the thickness of the rod and the diameter of the finial)…I like the way yours looks, would you mind telling me what the diameter of the rod and the finials are?

  5. LaLaLove the look, so clean & FRESH! Just curious, where did you get the green glass jug olive branch is in? W A N T!!!!

  6. I hope you spend your days off sitting in that completely serene and calming DR! Yowza! Beautiful!

  7. Kate, thank you so much for your honest review of the chandelier. Sooooo many times it feels like products are raved about and it feels fake – because it’s sponsored – even though that’s not what reviews are meant for!! It’s nice to hear for once that $650 is NOT worth it!

  8. Your dining room turned out beautiful and you managed to work wonders on your store bought curtains. I have some that I hate to this day. I didn’t appreciate custom made draperies until I purchased store bought “draperies” that don’t drape and weren’t properly measured for the windows (but measured as instructed by the store I ordered them from) requiring me to tie them back to have a view outdoors. Knowledge is power and I don’t have to worry about making the same mistake again. By the way mine are still ready for the next flood : ) I’m not much of a seamstress. Sometimes it just pays for the less talented to save for the real deal. I definitely got what I paid for!

  9. I love the chandelier you chose but, I understand your issue with it being plastic.

    I fell in love with a ceiling fixture that looked fabulous in the store – it was the perfect size and shape for my bedroom. I too thought it was glass – the price wasn’t cheap. Imagine my surprise when I opened the box! It DOES look fabulous and unless someone stands up on my bed to touch it, they won’t know it’s plastic but, it still irks me a little knowing that I paid that much for plastic.

    I also bought a gorgeous chandelier for my dining room. It was expensive and I KNEW it was plastic and I couldn’t justify knowingly spending that much for plastic. So I waited, and I waited – over a year. Managed to nab the store display when the style was being liquidated – at about 75% off.

  10. I have those same curtains, but in midnight blue. I love all the customizations you did to them! Ours are also over doors and now I feel like I’d really like them better fuller. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Love everything. Have you seen any benches that would work with your gorgeous table? I have six kids and would love to get that table but need a bench for it to maximize seating.

    • The end chairs are from Marshalls Kim (sister store of HomeGoods). The paint color is Camouflage by Benjamin More cca. My rods are 1″ wood rods (forget from where, they’re so old!) and rings from Bed, Bath & Beyond Marlene. Kimber, the jug is an old bottle of cheap wine someone gave to us years ago, the wine was meh but I loved the big bottle so I kept it ! And thanks so much Codi :)

  12. I absolutely love this room! The natural colors work so well in all the natural light this room gets. The greens of the curtains and the runner bring the outdoors right into the room. Very well done indeed!

  13. While I really look forward to your blog every day, Im glad to see you take a break and take care of you! I often wonder how you do it all!!! Enjoy some very well deserved time!

  14. I have often avoided certain panel curtains because I didn’t want 4 panels on a window. I guess this is why you have a blog and I don’t! Sewing the panels together = Brilliant!

  15. Kim take a peek at this World Market Bench: http://www.worldmarket.com/product/francine+dining+bench.do?&from=fn
    this kitchen bench at Wayfair:
    and this long bench at Crate + Barrel:
    Do a search for “kitchen benches” or “dining benches” and lots of choices turn up!
    Note with this table, the trestle below spreads out wide so I’m not sure you’d be able to tuck a bench in all the way, I have to maneuver my chairs around the base but I’m okay with that because they’re so good lookin’. :)

  16. Hi Kate,

    THANK YOU so much for your quick reply! Now I’m on a mission for an old jug!
    Have a nice vaca and again thank you for sharing your inspiration, talent, and realness..
    Replying back to our questions is HUGE, no wonder so many fans follow ur blog!
    Kimber from Sacto♥

  17. So pretty! I don’t think I’ve ever not liked anything you’ve made or changed, everything just looks so good when you get your hands on it. Thank you for the tip about the french pleat, I think I could do that one! I still love your table too and keep eyeing it but I don’t have a need for a table so I’ll just keep admiring yours! Enjoy your break, and happy fall!

  18. Love your room, Kate, and love the inspiration. My former dining room is now my office (don’t remember where I found the term D’office but I love it). Currently looking to replace the UG-LY 30-year-old thing that hangs just above my head. Will be a working fixture but won’t use it for lighting because it’s just not in the right place. Have been thinking something smallish but dramatic and gorgeous in that utilitarian space would be ideal. Love the chandy but agree that its cost=prohibitive even if it were all glass. Their $170 wall scone would fit in my budget but not on my vaulted ceiling. Still, I love the ideas and inspiration you provide. Enjoy your break, regroup and refresh, and then hurry back to us.

  19. Love the soothing tones and the natural elements. I want to come to dinner! Adore the chandelier but I agree that at that cost it should be more substantial!

  20. I have had my eye on those curtains in grey for over a year! My only hesitation is that the weave of the fabric, it looks very open, which doesn’t quite work with my space. With the liner it looks fantastic, though! I might have to give it a try, since I can’t find anything I like as much as these. I love how you created the pleats, as well. Beautiful job and gorgeous photos, as usual!

  21. Hi Kate-

    I just bought four panels of those curtains in blue and was just getting ready to get them ready for hanging (sewing together, lining, pleats, etc.). How timely!

    I do have a question. One of the reasons I bought these curtains is they are one of the few options that look like upholstery fabric but are machine washable (which was a must for the room in which they will hang). If I sewed the rings onto the fabric like you did, could you still just throw the whole thing into the washer, rings and all?

    • Hi Cindy, if the rings are permanently attached, I’d dry clean the panels instead. One of the benefits of a rod pocket panel is you can wash them easily (assuming the fabric is washable like these). The other option is to sew the drapery hooks into the panels and remove the rings for washing, or simply use clip on hooks and remove them for when you wash. Hope that helps!

  22. So it was YOU who won the Lamps Plus contest–I wondered about that haha! (I was in the running also.) The chandelier you picked is gorgeous! And super impressed with the curtains. Looks great!

  23. Oh my gosh Kate, I love the pinch pleat cheat! I’m having a total DUH moment. Genius!

  24. How lovely, crisp, and fresh your room looks! I am so not a drapery person…the less they’re noticed the better. I have 3 sets of very tall stained wood double windows/doors with glass centers. A week before my Xmas brunch, I realized the beating sun was spoiling the ambiance of the lighted tree and fireplace. I had already checked places like RH, PB, etc and did NOT want to spend upwards of $2000, for their linen drapes, when I really didn’t want drapes. I also didn’t want lining. They needed to be kinda “translucent” so as not to be claustrophobic…for each tall double doorway, I bought brown-toned tension rods. Then I went to a place I NEVER go..JCP..and found a poly panel that was just that right (dingy) color..not too white,yellowy or pinkish and they had a bit of a ‘crushed’ texture. Hmmm.. Not too bad.
    I bought 9 of them for fullness. To hang, I pulled the lower thread from the narrow stitched rod pocket, which gave the look of a deep hem. Then I turned them upside down and used the hem for the tension rods, way up high. I can whip them closed in varying degrees of fullness to block sun, or push them totally out of the way when the day is dreary or at night..where the they (limply) hang, unnoticed. It was a stop-gap measure that has worked perfectly…all for about $200!! (Sorry..had to get this off my chest, bec in theory, it’s all SO wrong…)

  25. I was wondering where the side chairs with the cute slipcovers are from? I know this is an old post so I don’t know for sure if you even get this question.

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