What Started as ’90s Conference Room Chairs Are Now My Dining Room’s Conversation Starter
The eBay-ed travertine table competes for the spotlight.
Published Dec 10, 2023 1:10 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
Moving from our compact London flat to a more spacious house in Brighton held the promise of a dedicated “adults-only, except on holidays” dining area—a haven free from the aftermath of toddler feasts. The anticipation of liberating my cherished Brutalist travertine dining table, formerly tucked into a tight corner, filled me with excitement. Finally, this sturdy centerpiece could shine and even accommodate the toy car chases that leave me breathless each time a sharp corner of the glass tabletop is narrowly avoided.
The total cost of our eclectic dining room ended up just shy of $1,900, including the cost of our existing table. Thanks to savvy money management and creative problem-solving, we even had extra funds to indulge in a unique, well-deserved splurge. Ahead, I’m sharing my tips and tricks for curating a room filled with distinctive collectible objects without breaking the bank.
Score a Bargain on a Stone Table
The sole relic from our previous apartment within this room is my stunning Brutalist travertine dining table—a treasure I acquired during an eBay quest years ago. While it was technically too big for our flat, I couldn’t resist the allure, especially when the owner agreed to part with the pristine base for a mere $125. All that remained was the task of locating a glass tabletop to restore its functionality and moving to a more spacious home to give it the place of pride it deserves.
Jazz Up a Basic Plywood Chair
Every interior narrative I craft demands a sprinkle of DIY magic. In our dining space, the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the chairs. You’d never know it now, but they started out as lackluster 1990s bentwood conference room chairs with coffee-stained upholstery. Yes, they were another serendipitous eBay discovery at a mere $20 each. My husband and I wielded a jigsaw, sander, drill with a hole-saw attachment, and surplus paint to conjure chairs that embody the essence of my design fantasies.
The evolution of the design drew inspiration from my extensive collection of sculptural chair images, yet the final form was shaped by both the inherent structure of the chairs and the array of tools in my arsenal. Noteworthy elements include the custom striped upholstery fabric sourced from Colours of Arley and the whimsical terracotta wood balls playfully resembling earrings that add a hint of anthropomorphic allure.
Make a Grand Statement With This Wallet-Friendly Art Hack
While swapping out the pendant lamp above our dining table proved to be a straightforward task, we found ourselves grappling with the dilemma of two picture lights that adorned the walls, seemingly meant to illuminate sizable artworks we didn’t possess. Faced with the impractical options of investing in art that might not fit a future space or settling for more generic light fixtures, I turned to Belarte, a Swedish company offering mural wallpaper, for a more affordable alternative. To transform the wallpaper into two oversize art pieces, I affixed them to MDF panels I ordered online and completed the presentation with DIY frames fashioned from precut moldings.
Treat Yourself to One Splurge
Being thrifty has its perks, and sometimes it means having extra funds to invest in that one standout piece that elevates your room’s aesthetic. In my case, I indulged in a pair of artisanal squiggly metal-wrought chairs from London-based vintage furniture dealer Oculus. Handmade and each uniquely crafted, these chairs feature two distinctive round balls atop the backrest, echoing the design of the dining chairs I envisioned, bringing the entire scheme full circle. Currently adorning the wall alongside the artwork, the chairs not only serve as functional art sculptures but double as convenient extra seating whenever the need arises.