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The family that owned our home previously preferred a country theme in the home, and in the six years we have lived here, our dining room had reflected their tastes. Our dining set was a country blue with pine top and seat bottoms, and the color of the room was a country blue below the chair rail and a tan on top, with a border of horses and weathervanes. Though we preferred a more formal dining room, I kept putting off the project because it required 1) stripping the border 2) repainting the room 3) replacing the builder's quality chandelier and 4) buying new furniture. All good reasons to wait for another day. Well, the waiting is over, and I repainted the room with white under the chair rail and red on top. However, it just didn't look very finished; like something was missing, and it was the wainscoting. You can't have a plain white bottom and not dress it up with some molding.

Our home is a modest home, so I didn't want to overdo the molding and look too formal like you'd find in a large executive home, and I didn't want the effort and expense either. So I turned to the January 2006 issue of Handy magazine. Here I found an article for faux wainscoting; basically, just building frames out of molding and leaving it at that. It gives the illusion of real wainscoting without the effort and expense. The whole project cost less than $200. However, you do need a compressor and nailing gun to construct the frames. I couldn't imagine doing this project without both.

The three pictures to the left pretty much sum up the look of the room prior to painting the frames. The job is a meticulous and tedious one, requiring exacting measuring to get the frame sizes and positioning consistent. And I always find caulking and painting to be tedious exercises as well. In addition, whoever built the home accidentally punched a hole in the bottom of the wall and simply covered it over with a phone jack cover. The cover was in the way, so I removed it expecting to remove an active phone line, while also wondering why anyone would run a phone line into a dining room, when I then discovered the hole. Fortunately, you can buy the adhesive squares to patch holes really easily. You can see the drywall that yet needs to be painted in the middle picture, second frame from the left where the white joint compound is a different color from the white paint.

The pictures to the left are after the frames have been painted. What a difference some white paint makes! It really brings out the chair rail and I think makes the room pop. My only hesitation was what to do with the cool air return vent. Should a frame go there or not? I think putting a frame there was the right choice, even though the vent isn't centered. It would look worse I think without the frame.

So once the cherry furniture set comes in, we'll finally have the dining room we've wanted for some time.

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