Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cabinets, Shelves and Windowseats

The conversion of the dining room into a dual- or multi-use space entails, in part, the installation of some cabinets for hidden storage, shelves for "books and looks" and a window seat.  The window seat alone serves three functions in my mind.  These are:  1) Storage.  I'm hoping I can get my vacuum cleaner in it so it's one less thing in the closet;  2)  A seat for a dinner guest when the dining table is fully extended; and 3) help soften the dining room look that's normally all hard surfaces.

As much as I would probably never sit in a window seat, I've always loved their allure.  They just look like a place one would want to hang out, relax and read a book.  If I had this view, I might never want to get up.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the dining room from last season's Sarah's House.  As much as I loved the room on the show, this is the first time I've noticed the drapes hang in front of the window seat.  I like that detail.

This is one big wall of cabinetry but I love the cloud-like cushions on these window seats. 

Love the fabrics and colors on this window seat.  I'm secretly attracted to the balloon shades too.  They're often very opulent but they don't feel that way in this fabric.

I decided to sit down and sketch out what I'd like to do but the perfectionist in me wanted to see everything in perfect scale.  I don't have any design software so I used Microsoft Excel setting up each of the cells to be a perfect square.  I used each square as an one inch and I just blocked out the space for each element I measured.

I'd like the shelves to be backed with some kind of beadboard but not the traditional and ubiquitous Home Depot kitchen cabinet kind of beadboard.  I think a house the age of mine would have had something handmade and unique.  Maybe just a V groove between boards.

I'd like the cabinet doors to be inset and very simple so I can use a cabinet latch like this.

I had these kind of latches on the circa 1920s kitchen cabinets in my last house.  They were painted a hundred times but they still worked and I loved them.

I'm kind of infatuated with Farrow & Ball's color Arsenic.  I love the name and the color is just too much.  

I'd love to paint the back of the shelves in this color but I'm not sure it's a color I pull off.  But that challenges me so I'll give it a try.

I just bought their "colour book" and I'm really loving the colors.  They're perfect shades for an old house.  Arsenic is a spot-on match with the paint on this old stool I keep in the kitchen.  I'm already migrating from the reds I was adding to the house last month to the blue and green hues that I love so much.

To get this project in motion, I saved my Excel diagram to a .pdf and emailed it off to my contractor Sam.  A few days later, I noticed that he'd stopped by because something I bought on etsy was sitting on my kitchen table.  It's so nice to have a relationship with a contractor you trust to have a key!

Sam has a design background so he usually does work on the computer before he starts building.  A few days later, I got this measured elevation back by e-mail with an estimate.  There were a few conversations back and forth about materials and scope of work before we agreed on a price

The plan is in motion and I'm very excited!

But before he can start, there are a few things that need to be done.  I need to clean out the dining room,  take down the drapes, strip a few of the old hinges I bought to use around the house so they can go on the closet door.  I also notice the rug is going to be too big.

It's been a busy weekend.


  1. I love the plan! Can't wait to see it come to fruition. I have a bay window in my dining room that I always thought would be the perfect spot for a window seat. I just need to find a "Sam."

  2. LOVE it! I want to do this same thing in our diningroom/office. Can your contactor come to MY house....and even leave an etsy package on the table?

    pretty please?

    Cherry on top?

  3. I love everything! Every.single.thing. Lucky you to have such a great contractor.

    p.s. did you buy the sassy table on etsy???

  4. Adore the window seat, I would lounge there and read ( a respite) and also That Arsenic color is luscious!!

    Art by Karena

  5. Woo Hoo!! I'm so excited for you...I LOVE this plan for your dining room. You may think you won't use the window bench but I gaurantee you will...I love to sit on mine. I store extra blankets and pillows in mine because I have no other closets....didn't they need storage in the 20's!
    I love the hanging drapes in front of it...I might have to "borrow" that idea!
    Anyway, I can't wait till you're (Sam's ) done! It's going to be the focal point of the whole house ~ I love the symmetry of the plans. When does he start?

  6. hi steve,

    i love arsenic too. i was in a j. crew store the other day and behind the counter the wall was painted in a similar color and it was drop dead gorgeous. our old house had a window seat and on cold days it was so nice to sit there and be warmed by the sun. i think your architect guy sounds like a dream.


  7. Lots of great ideas! I love red, but I am really loving those blues. And the linen balloon shades...just what I need in my sunroom. When you finish your house and you are bored you might want to come down south and give an opinion on a not-so-period house. You know late 70s early 80s---bad hair,bad music and bad architecture. hum! Just thinking...

  8. Hi Steve, I totally cracked up that you used excel to draw your cabinets. I will show this to my Husband...who lives for a good spreadsheet and now make him draw every thing I need.

    Love the Farrow and Ball color too!

    xo kelley

    ps, when I saw the first phot I thought...OMG Steve can knit too!

  9. And so the fun begins once again! I cannot wait to follow this project to it's end.

  10. First of all, love every color Farrow & Ball does. They are just gorgeous, and the Arsenic would be killer used like that. The plan you have is fantastic. I think we should re-do houses together as a business! Can't wait to see it, as usual :)

  11. I love window seats. Lots of great ideas - I can't wait to see the process. I think using a dining room for dual purposes is brilliant. Let's you enjoy the space more often. - Wendy

  12. Steve,

    I'm so excited you're going with the window seat. I have a client right now that has requested built-in bookcases with a window seat. I can't wait to get started, it's just such a cozy look! I almost died laughing at your excel drawing (not AT you, WITH you!)


  13. Fun post. They add so much charm to a room. I have two window seats in my house. One in my bedroom and one in my family room. The window seat in the bedroom is between the two closets and the the family room is between the built in bookcases. You can't go wrong with window seats. Good luck!

  14. Oooh, Sam - every home should have one!

  15. Hi Steve,
    So, what color are you using for the cabinets/shelving? Maybe you can find some old tongue and groove boards for the back. And how are you treating the rest of the walls in the library/dining room? I think getting dual use out of a dining room in a small, heck, even a large home, is important. And you're really going to store your vacuum there? Interesting.

  16. Oh how I'd love a Sam of my own- this is fabulous and I can't wait to see it finished. And ps, LOVE the paint- I just did my inside armoir in FB Hague Blue and can't way enough about the paint- just so gorgeous.

  17. Sounds great and Love the color! That color also seems to match the great turquoise color chest in your dining room now. Can't wait to see it come together! You're lucky you have Sam and I'm sure you're his dream client. : )

  18. Fascinating how you used excel to draw your own blueprint...I could probably never figure that out. But, so exciting to get started on a long dreamed of project. I am a huge, huge fan of window seats and can't wait to see how yours turns out!

  19. I love the Arsenic color, too. I can't believe you did that drawing using Excel! I use Excel every day and have NEVER thought of using it for that purpose. You can bet I'll try it now, though! I love your plans, as always, with everything you do in your beautiful house.

  20. Exciting plans Steve. I have always wanted a window seat. And Arsenic is just crazy (love it). So glad you are reverting to the colours you really love.

    xo Terri

  21. I can't wait to see how this progresses. I love the idea. And the color.

  22. Gorgeous.

    I have to brag (sorry) just a bit. We have access to a blast furnace (yes, really) so all cast iron type hardware - from frying pans to intricate grillwork and cast iron tub feet - can be tossed in and comes out "clean as new."

    I know not everyone has access to a foundry but if you do, ask if they'll make a little space for your stuff :)

  23. This house has had a window seat for nearly 50 years. Nobody ever put it to much use until our present dog. She finds it a perfect command post for watching the driveway and errant squirrels.