Dining Room Design Agony: How Lea Plans To Design Her Walk Through Dining Room To Feel Cohesive

Dining Room Design Agony: How Lea Plans To Design Her Walk Through Dining Room To Feel Cohesive


Hiya! It’s been a while since I’ve been on here and the truth is, I’ve been enjoying some much-needed downtime and since there’s all of these project and product delays well…it seemed like a good time. Earlier this year, I revealed my living room that Em and I worked on–sort of. I mean it’s a third of the way there – it is an open concept after all! 

The holidays are approaching and in the Midwest, that means it’s time to hunker down and get ready for the long and cold winter. To me, it made sense to finally tackle the dining room – the two-thirds of the open concept part. Holidays usually mean more gatherings indoors with family and friends and a slower living lifestyle where my own family sits down and shares more meals together – even if they are delivery or take-out. Side note: Since the pandemic last year I have really enjoyed NOT cooking! Ok, I digress.

Anyway, since the living room got a glow up, the dining room was looking a little lackluster and not as functional and flowy (yes, that’s my professional term) so it was time. 

To start, measuring the space I had to work with made the most sense.

Our dining room is tricky because it’s a walk-through to both the living room and kitchen. I’m sure like many open-concept homes this is the challenge many of us face. With my floorplan, I wanted to try to maximize the space but also really complement the living room that Em and I worked so hard on.

Here’s a look back at the living room to reference for how I want to bring some of ‘this’ into the dining room:

design by lea Johnson | photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s living room reveal

Sofa | Rug | Coffee Table | Drink Table (similar) | Curtains (custom) | Table Lamp | Swing Arm Lamp (similar)

What I love most here is the coziness of the warm wood tones.

design by lea Johnson | photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s living room reveal

Table Lamp | Sideboard  | Arm Chair | Throw Blanket    

To start, I looked through my Pins and this one became the sole inspiration for my dining room.

design by amber interiors | photo by tessa neustadt

It’s by none other than Amber Interiors. While this looks nothing like my floor plan nor living room, what it did do is give me the cozy vibes I was looking for. It looks comfortable and enjoyable to sit in and collected over time. I was really into the color pallet as well, very earthy. I’m a Virgo and I think that explains a lot, especially my love for earthy hues.

This is another Pin that completely inspired me, even though it’s food. When thinking of cozy and home, doesn’t food always come to mind? Ok, maybe I was hungry that day of Pinning but it’s the rustic and earthy colors that spoke to me.

I was recently out in California a couple of weeks ago and one of my most favorite things to do is thrift. I found a beautiful vintage textile out there (I wish I had snagged more of them) but it was completely also inspired by this image I found.

Again, nothing says cozy more than like a cozy blanket or an heirloom quilt am I right? Even in the dining room. For me, it’s about layering and surrounding ourselves with pieces we love and found together. 

design by jake arnold | photo by michael clifford photography

This image and design by Jake Arnold also really spoke to me, this one was all about aesthetics. The whole space just feels good, right? Pass me that burrata salad, please. Light some candles and play a record and it’s a whole mood.

Pictured below is my dining room as it currently sits.

design by lea Johnson | photo by sage e imagery

Chandelier | Dining Chairs | Bench | Sheepskin | Bookcases (3 shown) | Dining Table Pear Basket

*since writing this, I sold that corner hutch and removed the bookshelves.

design by lea Johnson |photo by sage e imagery

Yes, I’ll admit, it’s not bad. Like the previous version of my living room, there are many parts of it that I like. But as a whole, when I stand back, I just don’t LOVE it like I should. Or like I want to. And now with the living room finally in a place that we all do LOVE, I really want it to flow into the dining room. I want that cozy, cohesiveness that Em often talks about. Even in the dining room. I mean…who says dining rooms can’t be cozy? And shouldn’t they? It’s a place in our homes where meals are shared with family and friends, where tough conversations are had and celebrations take place. A place for morning coffee and reading the paper, at times – a classroom or an office even, and a place of gathering and sharing gratitude.

Ok, so I suppose you’re asking yourselves, so how is it that I plan to tie the two spaces together in a cohesive way that doesn’t look like I matched tone for tone from the living room to the dining room??

Here’s a little mood board to show what I am envisioning:

It is not an exact list that I would shop from but I love working from a mood board because this helps me visualize the tones and colors and how they will look together instead of seeing them individually.

I would say after looking at this mood board things have changed (A LOT).

Here’s a peek – excuse the crappy iPhone pic:

Dining Cabinets

How does this tie in from the living room? TBH if I look at this board, it doesn’t do much tying…(insert nervous lunatic laugh). But what I will say (while keeping this a semi-surprise) is that I love how black instantly grounds a space. With all of our walls and ceilings and trim in white (Snowbound by Sherwin-Williams), it feels good to see statement pieces like these two cabinets cozy up this side of the room.

Also, I’m a big believer in wood tones not needing to match but they do need to at least complement one another and since we have warm wood tones in the living room and the floors, I felt the wood tone inside this cabinet gave another variation without matching tone for tone. I like how the black framed art, wood sculpture on the wall, and black leather on the chair play nicely with the black wood on the cabinet while on opposite walls of the room. Balance. 

design by lea Johnson | photo by sage e imagery | from: lea’s living room reveal

Speaking of art – additionally, the wall in the living room here visually holds weight so to complement this, the cabinets on the adjacent wall in the dining room do the same. Same but different. The goal is to keep colors in the same tones or family to help keep both spaces feeling connected but not identical.

You already know I sold the corner cabinet in the dining room so what else will change? Well…I’m debating putting a rug down in the dining room and I have this super amazing antique rug that would look gorgeous but sigh…cats. So, it will probably remain in storage as I’m typing this out. I may leave the floor bare – like it currently sits (it sure makes it easier to clean).

But with fall and winter in the Midwest it always feels good to have something cozy underfoot.

Stay tuned…

We currently go back and forth on the dining table too. I had recently sold my table in the basement that I use for work and now I need one again (sometimes I move too fast) so our current dining table may be relocated down there. If you’ve forgotten what that space looks like you can check it out in this reveal post. I love this dining table but I’m ready for something warmer. Something cozier. For now, we’ll table the table. Ha! Cheesy, I know, I couldn’t help myself.

While I begin to work on this space of ours and as we move into the cooler months, I’ll be keeping this post tethered to me so as not to distract myself from wandering off into something completely different. Who else can relate? With product delays and timelines pushed, I am leaning more and more into slow living. Who’s with me?


Opening Photo Credits: Design by Lea Johnson of Creekwoodhill | Photo by Sage E Imagery

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