Designing Our Ideal Dining Room: The Full Refresh

DESIGNING OUR IDEAL DINING ROOM: THE FULL REFRESHThis dining room refresh has been in the making for a few years (to say the least). If you read our post with the dining room before photos,  you're aware we had a phase even before this dining room refresh.

The house has been in constant renovation status  for the last 6 years and we have been working hard in 2016 to #finishthatspace.

That being said, nothing ever seems fully complete, but projects we have been wishing and dreaming about, or desperately needed to complete, have been.

Designing Our Ideal Dining Room : The Full Refresh

Dining Room Refresh: The Steps We Took

1. Keeping with the Era

We have always tried to think about the timeframe in which our home was built when making design decisions. Sadly for too long we believed this home was originally built in the late 1800's and was just a cabin/cottage originally. In Mid- 2015 on our fifth Anniversary we went on a deep hunt for more information and stumbled upon the truth.

We have one of the first pre-fabricated (brought in from the train station with horse & buggy) bungalow catalog homes in Hadley, Ma. Listed as a MA Historic Commission home; named the Benjamin Denio Home.

Our craftsman window and door casings were always something we believed had been added to the home in the 20's. It didn't have enough of a traditional bungalow look (enclosed porches added in the 50's, and no front entry to speak of).

Needless to say, when taking down the wall between the enclosed porch and dining room, we made sure the opening mimicked the current 9' opening in the household.

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2. Add Something Bright & Shiny (or two or three)

You can read the full tutorial on our DIY sputnik light here.

I really wanted a light fixture that would really brighten up this space and provide adequate light when working on projects. We hit the jack pot with this fixture and made it at a price we could afford, the fact that Haverly calls it "bubble light" is just icing on the cake.

3. Bring in a Signature Color

Its no surprise to our neighbors that we like blues, teals, and greens. The exterior of our house with its bright paint job and almost matching 67' Chevy Bel Air Station Wagon have explained who we are and where we live too many times to count.

"O yeah your the one's with the teal house... your kinda obsessed with that color huh?"

Or " Yes! You have a matching house and car, with like 5 dogs right?"

Haha, yep thats us. Sadly, minus 2 dogs in the last 6 months....

We decided our artwork would need to be a giraffe print somewhere along the line, apropos of who we are as giants. When we saw this teal giraffe print it was a given! What a great way to brighten the space, in our opinion.

4. Putting our money where it counts

When discussing our designs and subsequent purchases we tend to lean towards making sure things are made ethically. By no means are we perfect and only purchase ethically made items, but it is a large factor in whether or not we purchase something.

Putting our money where it counts by sourcing local, small business, USA made, and/or ethically produced products just seems like the right thing to do in our current economy. If that means that we just can't have everything we ever dreamed of, well we have a feeling we will live, and live a more fulfilling life.

In the case of the dining room this meant DIY-ing a light fixture we could afford because the only ones we found were out of our price point. Ordering the print through and re-using so many vintage finds or heirlooms. It makes us feel great to know the history behind our finds.

I originally picked out this bowl on Etsy because it is so gosh darn cute, but then remembered I had hidden this crystal bowl safely away a few years back. The marble is from a local reclaimed building materials yard and is perfect for serving drinks on top of.

I have an obsession with these antique blue jars my sister used for her wedding center pieces (its a good thing she let me steal hoard like all of them after her big day).

Before & After's

It feels very nice to finally have this room back in order. Of course it will only be a hot second till Mitch, the toddler, or one of the dogs makes a mess of things. Thats just life in a small crazy household.

That white blob on the wall is actually our door bell. When our electrician asked where I wanted it and told me he couldn't get it into the entryway for various reasons. I told him right above the baseboard, he looked at me like I had three heads.

At the end of the day he comes back to me and says "okay it's all finished and I'm never installing another one of those suckers up near the ceiling ever again! It's genius!"

I of course didn't think it was genius at all, just made sense. Why have that ugly thing up high on the wall it doesn't really make it louder?"

Reality Check

The really hard part about having an open concept household is that you can see all the unfinished spaces. So until all the big stuff is done (like closet doors in the entryway), most of the rooms still feel unfinished. Thats why the big push to get a bunch of projects done in 2017, so we can move on with new adventures.

What do you think of the refresh?

Create a sputnik light that will rock your space

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When we found all our inspiration for the dining room it became clear a Sputnik light was a must have for the space.

A Sput-What??? Wasn't that a Russian Satellite? 

Our biggest problem was the budget, although we did find a few great looking lights on Etsy for a pretty decent price, we still couldn't swing it and afford some of the other items to be checked off the list for this room. We've been working so hard to #finishthatspace this year and really didn't want to pour all of the funds into one piece, however wonderful it may be.

So, DIY seemed to be our best avenue, and Mitch has some experience with electrical so we soldiered on.

**Disclaimer** We are not electricians and have no prior experience with lighting design. This post gives you a general outline and parts list for this light fixture; you purchase, assemble, and install at your own risk. If you are running a dimmer switch, ensure that your total wattage does not exceed what the dimmer switch can handle. Nine bulbs x 60 watts per, put us well over the dimmer's rating and we ended up changing it out.

Sputnik Light: Making a Plan

Once I had my inspiration pictures in-hand, I went on a virtual search for parts; where does one actually find brass fixture parts you ask? Having never built or thought of building a fixture like this took a bit to figure out. Alas, I found Grand Brass Lamp Parts and they fit my criteria, USA company located close to us in West Haven, CT.

I even found a couple of designer DIY kits you can purchase through them with all the supplies you need to build your own!

When we started adding up all the pieces needed for the project, it became apparent the cost was going to put us up and over $200 for the lot. Thats when the real designing started, my favorite part.

We couldn't afford everything to be brass, so how do we get a high quality piece with some compromise to reduce the overall cost? We started thinking about what it would look like to do both brass and steel like in our mood board inspiration.

Although we really liked the look, it didn't seem like we could find the right male steel rods for the brass center body. We really liked the mix of metals, and how it added some depth to the fixture without becoming too flashy.

In the end, we figured out a huge part of the cost was going to be the brass socket covers (with 9 of them) and the bare porcelain sockets lent the same depth to the fixture. So it was decided the white porcelain would work well with our cafe stools.

porcelain light sockets

porcelain light sockets

We got the overall aesthetic we were looking for because of the budget constraints we had, now we had our very own light.

Sputnik Light: Ordering your parts

unassembled sputnik light parts

lighting wire

Sputnik Materials List & Pricing


  • TOTAL:       $   183.31


Sputnik Light: Assembling the Light

Putting all of the brass together is fairly straight forward; male threads to female threads. Before you connect anything to the main body, get the porcelain sockets wired and the wires run through the piping. Make sure you get all of the wires connected consistently, and leave yourself about an extra 20" of wire that will extend out of the main body. You can trim back later, but don't leave yourself short.

  • Wire Porcelain Sockets (white wires to silver screws, black wire to gold screws)
  • Run the socket wires through 13" male piping
  • Connect the three small tapered cluster bodies (Picture below)
  • Connect all male pipes, and small tapered cluster bodies to the main body

small cluster body

putting arms on light fixture body

wires wrapped in body

top cap on large cluster body

Once you get to the end, you are going to have two wires for every bulb sticking out of the main body. Keep this in mind while designing and adjust for a bigger body, the more bulbs you have. For us, 18 wires was a lot for this size body. We had not a millimeter to spare.

We had so many wires, we could not group them all together. In the end, we ran four total wires to the box, two black and two white; this way we could split the total number of wires we had to group in half.

  • Connect wires as mentioned above, close top of cluster body
  • Run the four wire's to the ceiling box
  • Hang from the crossbar hanging kit
  • Mount your canopy and optional medallion

Hyper lapse Video's of Assembly

**Disclaimer actions do not happen as quickly as hyper lapse depicts**


Reveal Pictures

finished sputnik light

finished sputnik light

finished sputnik light

Reality Check

You may have noticed the medallion on the ceiling in these picture's, that became a solution to a "problem" that couldn't have been avoided. Our light was never centered, on anything; not the original opening to the living room, not on the room in either direction, and not on the original window, nothing. So when we decided to spend this money (not to mention time and effort) on a grown up light fixture, we knew it would drive us crazy to not have it centered on the window in the dining room.

Of course this conversation didn't come up until we were ready to order all the parts (which were already adding up above the budget) and the solution ideas were seeming very complicated and therefore expensive.

  • If we filled the hole in our ceiling after centering the light fixture you would see the patch job. The current ceiling's have a distinctive swirl finish which looks great and adds a bit of character.
  • Building some type of cover would result in more holes into the ceiling and we really didn't want the plaster falling down on us (talk about a project getting bigger)

So if you can imagine, things got a little tense, Mitch and I sitting across from one another at the dining table. (Yeah we do argue about this stuff just like your average homeowner).

A ceiling medallion would seem an easy solution, but generally speaking they are very ornate, or tend to look like your covering something up. I was really, super unsure about putting more detail in such a small room. But in an effort to #finishthatspace, like we said we would this year, I sucked it up and ordered the simplest medallion I could find. We love it,  especially what it cost us!

I sucked up drywall and blown-in insulation dust to move the damn light over 4". Although, I am glad we noticed this before going through all of the effort of getting the light up on to the ceiling....I HATE doing things over. So, two trips up into the attic, one to assess how the box was affixed, the other to pull the wire through the old hole and into the new. 

light medallion

ceiling medallion

Do you think it needs a coat of trim paint? Mitch seems to think we should leave it as is, I'm worried it looks too plastic...

Want the Sputnik look but not the DIY work? Check these out...

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  1. 9 Socket Mid-Century Brass Sputnik
  2. Large 36" Modern Gold Brass Starburst Chandelier
  3. Industrial chandelier light, 18 lights pendant light
  4. Midcentury Modern, industrial lighting, Sputnik Chandelier