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Dining Room Makeover

Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.

Dining room after makeover.

Dining room after makeover.

Project Brief

I’d renovated the dining room just seven years previous so the décor was still good; and we liked the colour scheme. Albeit I didn’t use lining paper last time so the walls weren’t quite as smooth as they could have been.

However, my wife and I decided we wanted to add a side extension to the corner cupboard unit. Normally that wouldn’t have been a problem, except there was an electric socket right where we wanted to put the cupboard extension; and relocating the socket would damage the décor.

I didn’t have any wallpaper to match to make the repairs good, but if we could have matched up the paint then I would have been able to do a patch-up job to blend in; which I’ve done successfully in the past in other rooms. Unfortunately the paint we used when we last decorated the dining room was no longer available in the shops, and the nearest match we could find was a shade or two darker. So it was obvious that after I’d relocated the power socket in order to build the cupboard I would need to redecorate the whole dining room.

Therefore, as we were going to redecorate anyway, before embarking on this project we thought about what else we wanted to change. The itemised list we created formed the basis of my ‘Project Brief,’ as follows:

  • Relocate the electric socket where we wanted to build the cupboard extension.
  • Reposition the electric socket by the radiator to a more convenient height.
  • Make repairs to the window surround; following having new energy efficient double glazed units recently installed.
  • Replace the old dining room door with a solid wooded door.
  • Wallpaper the room with lining paper and Anaglypta.
  • Build the cupboard extension to match the existing work.
  • Paint and decorate the room to finish.

In this how-to guide I shall be covering everything in my project brief except for the cupboard extension, which I will cover in detail in a separate article.

The Electrics


Under UK law, you can do the electrical work yourself if you’re competent; but it has to be certified by a qualified electrician before it’s connected to the mains power. The main advantage of doing most of the work yourself is that saves on the labour costs. Before doing anything else I needed to do the electrics first, as the messiest job. To minimise the time the downstairs mains power was off I did all the preparation work first; so all the electrician had to do was check my work and then turn the power back on.

Chasing and Capping the Cables in the Wall

In the UK all house walls are normally brick, so for rewiring it’s not as simple as moving a few pieces of plasterboard and replacing it afterwards. Unless you surface mount, which always looks ugly, the only way to rewire in a British home is to chase the walls e.g. cut a channel in the brickwork deep enough for the cables and capping. The capping being a specially designed length of plastic or metal that slips over the top of the cable for added protection. The professional have purpose designed electric chisels for chasing the walls, but an amateur like myself couldn’t justify the cost of such expensive tools for what little use they’d get. So for me it was a case of the slower and more laborious route of doing it by hand e.g. chisel and mallet. Although fortunately for me the plaster was predominantly over half an inch thick, so for the most part I didn’t need to cut into the brick itself; except for where the sockets would go, and just above and behind the skirting boards.

Splicing Cables

In the past, just extending the cables in the wall (without completely rewiring) would have been more challenging as there are strict regulations on splicing cables together. However these days, with a wide range of ‘push-in’ wire connectors on the market to choose from (that meet the regulations) it’s a lot easier.

The sockets only needed to be repositioned higher up the wall, easier than moving them elsewhere. Especially with the solid oak floating floor that can’t be taken up, to gain access to cables, without damaging it. Once I chased the wall, and before capping the cables, I extended the cables using the ‘push-in’ connectors. I could then just place the connectors inside a modern junction box (designed for this type of task) and slip it behind the skirting board.

Plaster Repair Around Window

When we recently had the house re-doubled glazed, with energy efficient units, I specifically requested in the contract for any interior repairs to be my responsibility. The reasoning for my decision is that rather than making good with plaster the standard procedure is to use uPVC strips. The uPVC strips do look good, and they can give a good neat finish to the job; I allowed them to be used around the new interior porch door. However, for the windows I specifically wanted to make good with plaster.

Therefore, while I was plastering over the cable for the two electric sockets that I moved I also made the plaster repair around the new window.

Window surround needing plaster repair after installation of new energy saving windows.

Window surround needing plaster repair after installation of new energy saving windows.

Replacement Door

The door from the hall into the dining room was just a hollow wooden door; very fashionable in the 1970s. However, both I and my wife prefer real wood and have a preference for panelled doors.

Therefore, after taking careful measurements and shopping around we ordered a new one of about the right size from B&Q (one of the local DIY stores) for just £34 ($44). The new door was a perfect width, but just 10mm (half an inch) to high. All I had to do before fitting the handle, catch and hinges, was just to trim about 5mm from top and bottom.

I used appropriate size drill bits to cut the hole for the door handle spindle and recess for the corresponding catch. Then I used my Sonicrafter to cut the recesses for the hinges and catch plates.

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I often use my Sonicrafter in DIY jobs, as I did for fitting the new door in our dining room, because it’s such a versatile tool; as demonstrated in this demo I did a few years ago when I was modifying shelving in our living room.

Demo of Sonicrafter

Wood Staining the New Door

Once the new door was properly fitted, and before painting and decorating the dining room, I applied three coats of Ronseal ‘Rosewood’ wood stain. Allowing four hours between each coat and lightly sanding the door before the final coat.

I’ve used other quality wood stains in the past, including Sadolin and Sikkens, which have been more than satisfactory. However, their drying times have tended to be far too long e.g. 16 hours accoriding to the tin; although in practice it’s often been 24 to 48 hours. Whereas the Ronseal wood stain states 4 hours on the tin; but is usually dry within two. Likewise the Ronseal coloured varnish (which I often use) states 2 hours on the tin, but is usually dry within the hour.

Door Hook

For Christmas I bought my wife the ‘HoMedics ShiatsuMax 2.0 Back and Shoulder Massager’, which she had been using in the conservatory. However, with the dining room makeover, my wife decided she would prefer to use the back massager there. Therefore, I fitted a sturdy coat hook to the back of the new door to hang the back massager from when not in use.

Painting and Decorating

With all else done, except for the built-in cupboard extension which was built afterwards and will be detailed in a separate article, it was just a matter of painting and decorating.

This phase of the project was straightforward and was completed in the following sequence:-

  • White emulsion on the ceiling.
  • White gloss painted the skirting.
  • Cleaning and washing the walls.
  • Putting up the lining paper.
  • Wallpapering over the lining paper with Anaglypta.
  • Painted over the wallpaper with coloured emulsion.
  • Touch up e.g. spot painting where any of the wall emulsion had got onto the skirting or ceiling.

Type of Wall Finish

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Your Comments

Arthur Russ (author) from England on May 04, 2017:

I’ve learnt something new again. I’m surprised paintable wallpaper isn’t so popular or well known in America; but then again thinking about it I’ve never seen paintable wallpaper used in any of the American DIY programmes we’ve watched on TV.

Yes, most wallpaper doesn’t look right when painted over, but Anaglypta is designed specifically as paintable wallpaper. The beauty of Anaglypta is not just the wide range of designs (to suit all tastes), but once it’s up next time you want to redecorate you only need to repaint it with emulsion paint. For example the Anaglypta wallpaper on our stairs has been there for over 30 years, and all we’ve done so far is just freshen it up with a fresh lick of white emulsion once every five or ten years.

So while ordinary wallpaper may go in and out of fashion, Anaglypta always stays popular in British homes because it’s so good at covering less than perfect walls, while also offering a wide range of embossed (raised patterns and designs), and can be repainted anytime you want to change the colour theme of the room.

This Australian video about Anaglypta shows the wide range of designs and versatility in colour schemes (it also features a bar in New York at the end): -

Jo Miller from Tennessee on May 04, 2017:

I believe DIY projects are much different in the UK than in the States. But it's all very interesting to me. I love watching DIY programs on TV. I found your explanation about your steps in painting very interesting. Wallpapering goes in and out of fashion here (it's currently out of fashion), but it's almost never painted over and never looks right when it is.

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