Dining Room Built Ins: Before and After

When we moved into our home, everything was dark. Dark painted walls, dark paneling, dark trim, and dark oak built ins abounded in our dining room. Needless to say, with our oak wood dining table and chairs in there, it felt like a cave. A woodsman's cave, maybe.

Now, I love wood and the richness it brings into a home. I even prefer wood over painted furniture most of the time. Unfortunately, it was all the same color and it was all old-fashioned 80's oak. Don't get me wrong- I love the 80's! I was made in the 80's and I loved my oversize sweatshirts, leggings, and scrunchies- but I don't want that look in my home. :)

It took some convincing on my part to bring Jake over to the light side (see what I did there?) but eventually he saw the light. (Boom! That's two in one sentence. I'm on a roll.) We first took care of the paneling- more on that another time. Second, we took care of the huge oak built ins.

Here are the befores:

Here are the afters:

These built ins are huge multi-taskers for us. They serve as a desk, storage, and occasionally a buffet table for us. They are right behind the dining table, and the dining room is central in our house, so they need to work hard and look pretty. For the chair, we simply turn a dining room chair around and use that when needed. Sometimes Jake even pulls out the poof and uses it as a seat. We keep our printer, modem, and Jake's work paperwork on the desk portion. The drawers provide a place for assorted office supplies. The left cabinet provides miscellaneous storage, and somewhat acts as a broom closet. The right bookshelves hold more files, more office supplies, and dining room necessities, like our cloth napkins. The right cabinets hold additional office supplies as well as my decorative table items, like candles and table runners.
To refinish the built ins, we first removed the hardware, which was brass. I spray painted the pulls, hinges, screws, and shelving hardware with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. They were in good condition and the shape was nice, plus the holes were already in place for them, so they just got a quick makeover with spray paint. For anyone who is wondering how well that hold up to heavy use, I can testify that it holds up very well. We actually did this project two years ago and they still are in perfect condition.
For the built ins, we sanded them heavily with a palm sander and by hand. They were coated in a heavy varnish, so we needed to be sure to get all of that off. Then, I cleaned them up really well and painted them to match our kitchen cabinets. We liked the color of our kitchen cabinets, and they are actually parallel from each other, so it was nice to match them. I took a cabinet door from the kitchen cabinets to the hardware store and they color matched the paint for me. It took about four coats to completely cover the oak.
Then, I painted the shelf backs and the top nook a beautiful dark green. The color reads more olive in these photos, but it real life it's a bit richer and darker. Once it all dried, I replaced the pulls and the shelving hardware, and put back the glass shelves. I did remove one shelf as we didn't really need it, and it cluttered the look.
All in all, it has brightened the room and the house so much. The dining room is connected to the den/living room and kitchen through a somewhat open plan, so it has affected all three rooms immensely. We both love it. And how can we not, when this is the view from the desk?
I'm so glad we took the plunge and made them our own. It now looks and feels like home.

If you have a dark room, don't worry! Some hard work and paint can change so much.

One last before and after:

It feels so good to be home!

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