From Cramped to Comfortable

About a year ago, my husband and I bought our first house. WE LOVE IT! But after living with it for a little while, we know what works and what doesn’t.

Our tiny dining area was driving us NUTS! Our huge table, chandelier, back door, and wall placement just wasn’t working. After one holiday season around the table with family, we could tell something had to change. Having to scoot up and squish your full belly against the table, just so that someone could walk around you to get to the kitchen, is ridiculous. The fried turkey makes you feel portly enough without the table’s help.


BEFORE. Kitchen is to the left, big wall to the right, back door right behind…CRAMPED

A few months ago we thought it was time to stop talking about it and actually do something.

Usually, if you have a tiny dining area and a huge table, common sense would tell you to go buy a smaller table. Well, in my world, common sense doesn’t always win. There was no way I was giving up my table. My mom and step dad gave it to us for our old place and it’s not a piece of furniture I had to put together from Wal-Mart, so it was staying! Well, that kind of limited us. We obviously weren’t going to move a wall, or a door, or a kitchen. So, we started brainstorming…and pinteresting (my drug of choice)…and BAM! BREAKFAST NOOK! Problem solved!

First we measured the wall on which the bench was going. Being that it was so long, we opted to make 2 smaller benches that looked like one long one. So, we built two frames out of standard 2×4’s and attached them to the wall.


Next, we attached the front boards, which are just thin sheets of plywood.


Then the front trim. We chose MDF because it was cheaper, already primed, and didn’t need sanding.


We found some MDF beadboard which was a little pricer than I had originally wanted, but we splurged because we knew it would add a nice touch. We got 2 packs of the boards, which we cut in half to make it go that much further. Then, we attached another one of the trim boards to the top to give it that finished look.


Next, we measured and laid out the top boards to make sure they lined up correctly.


Then, it was time to paint and stain! The hubby was on staining duty while I painted. Multi-tasking and teamwork is the way to go.


With a few minor adjustments to make sure everything was straight and level (which you may be able to tell in this pic, the seat was not), we were on our way toward something!


Allllmost right, but not perfect. The chandelier was still hanging semi-centered in the room…and now that wall with the mirror was boring…

Originally we thought we would create a new hole for the fixture above the table, but that seemed like A LOT of work…patching one hole, repainting the ceiling, making another hole, rewiring the new lamp from the old electrical wiring. It seemed like more of a headache than the entire project thus far.

So, to fix the chandelier problem, we decided to swag it over from its existing location. To do that, we purchased some chain, some new lamp wire, and a swag hook from Lowe’s. The existing chandelier chain and wire was not long enough to reach the new center of our dining room. So, thankfully the ole’ hubby knows a little bit about electrical wiring. With a little time and a few choice words, he got it done.

All that was left was some finishing touches.

So I found some inexpensive “chicken” artwork on one of my many Ross outings.


I picked up some white plates from the Dollar Tree, some napkins from World Market, and my mom found some great yellow glass chargers at a thrift store, to complete the place settings.


(For some reason I can’t get the picture to stay horizontal…oh well :P)

And, finally, I recovered the chairs with a little fabric and a staple gun.


TAH DAH! Finished product for around $250.


We absolutely LOVE it and could not be happier. We have had people over for dinner a few times since then, and it is SOO much more enjoyable. Plus, we have a better view of the backyard when we’re eating – perfect for watching the dog play.


3 thoughts on “From Cramped to Comfortable

  1. nice! could you add some dimensions of your framing for an idea for our size area? looks about 8′ on one side so as not to have to cut the plywood seating?? hard to tell from picture. bye ice to only have to rip the plywood. How deep is the seating?


  2. This is a remarkable transformation. I have a tricky corner in my kitchen which could benefit from a custom built bench like this. I’ll definitely be showing this to ‘the hubster ‘.

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