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Before and AfterDecorating Advice

Ask Maria: How Do I Style my Dining Room Built-ins?

By 06/30/20228 Comments

David Jiminez

Today I thought we’d have a little styling lesson because when all else fails and you can’t paint because the beautifying-other-areas-of-your-house-list is long, accessories are what you need to distract the eye from colours you don’t like. Okay here’s the question from one of my stylish readers:

“These built ins were in our home when we purchased it. The storage is fantastic however I’m having the most difficult time trying to “style” them. Hubby says I can’t paint them (I will one day regardless, but I have Higher mountains to climb right now)
I definitely need lamps!!!!
Though with the upper cabinets installed, the clearance is less than 17”. I tried a mini lamp but it looks so sad! What kind of lamps would look “right” here?”

We definitely need some styling to distract the eye from the pink beige tile and green grey cabinets. Since the builder laminate countertop will always make this millwork look like it’s part of the kitchen and never like it belongs in a dining room, the first idea I might try, is faux finishing or even just painting it the same colour  as the dining table. After all, this will not be a heavily used countertop so that could work.

The lamp is the right idea but we need a slightly bigger one.  We could also add some white drapery here with white dishes similar to this inspiration photo (below).

Source image  | Lamp | White pinched pleat drapes

If you want styling inspiration for this buffet, David Jiminez Studio feed is a good place to look:

We need some faux flowers, a pedestal bowl with faux lemons, a serving plate and/or a small piece of art propped up against the backsplash.

The coffee station in my studio needed some love, in addition to that there’s a broken piece in the window frame (this window was recycled from another project). 

I propped up a piece of art to hide the frame, added a tray with mugs and other items, and a lamp (of course) and a few other accessories I had around the house (below).

My artichoke lap was turquoise and it didn’t match anymore so I spray painted it gold.

I love my sheer roman shades, they filter just the right amount of light.

Styling doesn’t end with the lamp but that’s definitely a good start! Hope this inspires you to make that area fabulous!

Terreeia and I are flying to Los Angeles today, send us some good vibes that we get onto our flight here in Seattle! My latest video is up, part 5 in my 10 Ways to Immediately Date your New Build series on Instagram here.

PS. love this hot tip for keeping track of paint colours:

Related posts:

10 Styling Necessities to Transform your Home ASAP

How Cutting Boards Saved this Kitchen; Before & After

The Best Way to Store your Coffee Pods (before & After)

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  • Patti Wright says:

    The styled coffee bar is very pretty, but it renders the counter useless. Would fewer larger decorative items work or is it the variety of items that create interest and a styled appearance?

    • Benesse says:

      Agree. Fewer bolder items of varying heights might come across as cleaner and less cluttered. A black Tizio lamp with a planter head/bust would be a nice start IMHO.

  • MM says:

    Wondering if your client could simply pop that laminate countertop off and place a wood top instead? Easy inexpensive fix? They could likely do it themselves given that there aren’t any appliances/sinks to cut around or secure in. Butcher block (which is inexpensive) might be stained a little deeper color to coordinate with table? It doesn’t need to be anything super fancy but could transform the cabinetry. The very first inspo photo has a top like this (might be a walnut or some other upgrade) but a less expensive wood could be a great placeholder.

  • Paige says:

    I like built ins so I’m definitely filing this post for future reference. The coffee bar looks great too, love the pops of green color. I think changing out the cabinet pulls would update it a little more or paint them green if they are permanent. Cute studio Maria, I want one of my own! 😀

    Sending good vibes for your and Terreeia’s trip!


  • OK, I’ve definitely got to style my own kitchen! I’m too busy designing my client’s homes to do my own home!
    Love your styling tips, keep ’em coming!
    Safe travels.

  • Cari says:

    Interesting. I find under counter lights effective but not pretty. However, the David Jiminez Studio image you shared is nicer than usual because the lights are reflecting on the copper pans and the stainless steel countertops. I like glow from the reflections!

  • Jennifer Johnson says:

    Love it!! Love the lamps as always, too!

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