A Color Conundrum (aka: wanna help me redecorate the breakfast nook?)

I mentioned last week when I showed you my awesome “industrial chic” shelf that I’ve finally gotten most of the rooms in my house pretty much how I like them.

Buuuuut…I’m also a perpetual tweaker.

Which is why we’re returning to the breakfast nook today to take another look at something I’d love to change/fix.

Here’s what the view from the kitchen looks like at this point.


This picture is fine. I’m happy with the colors on the walls. I like the rug. I like the shades.


I’m not as thrilled about the super-dark chairs.


I do like the pattern, and they’re in perfect shape (I scooped them up, newly reupholstered, for $50 each from an antique store that was going out of business).

But they’re just a bit too somber and traditional for the vibe I want for this room. Plus, I would really love some contrast with the ultra-dark stain on the wood of the chairs/table/benches.

A while back, I decided the easiest fix would be to take down the shades (that I sewed 4 years ago) and use that cheerful fabric (Pottery Barn’s Bettina…long since discontinued) to recover my chairs.

But when I finally got around to testing it out, I discovered two things:


1) Holy COW is there a lot more light in the room without the shades (even though they have a white background)


2) I’m not convinced that the Bettina fabrics works super well right up against the rug.

So, now I find myself with a bit of a conundrum, not to mention several different permutations of things I could do to solve it.

Do I…

Leave the shades down to allow more light in, recover the chairs with the Bettina fabric, and find a new home for the rug?

Put the shades back and find a different fabric to recover the chairs?

Leave the rug, trust the Bettina fabric to work better on the chairs once it’s actually shaped to fit them, and find a different, sheerer fabric for the windows?


I just can’t decide. And while the actual execution of any conclusion that I come to will probably take months, I still like to have a plan for a room in the back of my brain whenever possible.

Which is where you nice folks come in.

I always love enlisting your decorating help and am so grateful that you’re so generous with it.

Just to give you an idea of a few things I could do and a few fabrics I like, here are the same pics as above with some fabric swatches.

jo jo option

This fabric is called “jo jo” in aquarius by Premier Prints, and I love that it’s playful and light but not crazy busy. I also think it works fairly well with the rug. If I were a photo shop pro, everything would be to scale, etc., but just so you know, the dots on this fabric are approximately 1 1/2” across.

Another option is this:


This one is called Morrocan Lattice in Clementine by Michael Miller. Obviously, it would NOT work with the rug, so that would have to go, but it would give the rest of the space a whole lot of punch. I’m not sure it would lighten up the chairs as much as I’d like, though.

And then there is this one:


Yup, that would be the neutralest of the neutrals. Since I want a lighter look for the chairs, I could, of course, just go with a natural-colored burlap or linen. The fun thing about this one is that, although you can’t see it in the pics, there’s a sparkly gold thread running through the burlap, so at least we’d get a bit of sheen to fancy things up.

On the flip side, if we assume that the Bettina fabric is going on the chairs, these are some options for the window shades.

window shade options

The burlap is the same gold sparkle that I just showed you above, and the yellow is Duralee’s Stockholm Sungold fabric—definitely more expensive than the rest of the options at $20ish/yard—that I already have a yard of. It’s a really nice weight, and those big, mustard-colored flowers are HUGE.

I could definitely keep going with different combos of chair and shade fabrics until all of our eyes were crossing, but instead, I’ll just leave you with this Urban Outfitters rug to consider throwing in at least one of those mixes (I personally think the Jo Jo + this rug + the Bettina on the shades would be pretty awesome).

uo rug

So, now that I’ve thoroughly overwhelmed informed you about the options, would you pretty please do me the favor weighing in on what you think?

The options I’ve given you are to establish a look I’m going for, but I’m not necessarily stuck on any one of them, so if you have an alternate version that you think would work great, fire away. I’m open to any suggestion as long as it’s not: I don’t like anything and think you should just scrap everything and start over. (Believe it or not, I have gotten that suggestion before about other rooms, so if that’s how you feel, that’s fine; just don’t tell me. : )).

So,  what would YOU change?

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69 thoughts on “A Color Conundrum (aka: wanna help me redecorate the breakfast nook?)

  1. I like the coral or aug old on the chairs, is the rug round? I feel like it’s the wrong shape for the area. You could also paint the chairs

  2. I’d keep the existing window teatments – if you choose something more monochromatic you really limit the other colors you can bring into the room.
    Have you considered painting the chairs??? It sounds like it’s not so much the fabric that’s not working as it is the dark wood of the chairs.

  3. Okay, I’m going to weigh in here. I would do the gold sparkle burlap for the shades, the Bettina for the chairs, and the Urban Outfitters rug. Smacks of perfect to me! :)

  4. Wow, you got a lot of help! Hopefully it’s helpful and not overwhelming :) I vote that you KEEP the current shades. I love them and think they compliment the walls and chandelier so well. I would keep the current rug, I love the contrast of color that it bring to the room. And for the chairs, I would go with the jo jo teal polka dots. Excited to see what you choose to do, I know it will be great no matter what you choose.

  5. Hi!
    That’s the first comment I leave on your blog [even if I have been following your blog for year], so please bear with me and my poor english :)
    I read some of the comments, mostly brilliant ideas, my personal favourite is:
    -Leave shades as is during summer [that fabric is lovely and complements the wall color perfectly], and maybe sew something new and lighter for winter [thinking about an otmeal color with some fun color accent? oatmeal and teal, maybe?]
    -Paint the chairs and the legs of the table white [I would also distress them a bit, but I distress everything I paint so maybe that's just me.]. I’m not totally sure about this one, because they seem really nice chairs and maybe it would be a pity covering them up in paint..BUT I would totally love the lighter color! And if you painted them you could leave the fabric as is and change it in some years, when it will be in need of change anyway :)
    -I’m not a big fan of the rug, I would look for something white and teal and more geometric, like the last rug option you posted in teal instead of yellow.
    Hope not to come out as rude, I always have the impression of not expressing myself properly when I am writing in a foreign language! I love your blog and your house is so beautiful, colorful and stylish! Keep up the good STYLE :)

  6. Ooooo! Options! :) So much to choose from. I think that the burlap sounds fun – but not on the seats. I don’t know if burlap in Australia is as rough as burlap in the US, but sitting my bare legs (wearing shorts of course) on a hot day on something like that just isn’t appealing. Neither is cleaning food out of the little holes in the burlap. But that is purely from a practical side of things. In saying that I’m going to totally go back on what I was saying about the food, and say that I think it would look awesome as placemats! (Roll eyes! I know.)

    I LIKE the Jojo teal dots – but I’m not sure about the scale for them fitting with the rest of the room. And I like the clementine, but I’m not sure it would work on the chairs either.

    86 the rug to somewhere that has the right feel for it.

    Now I’m going to move to something that you didn’t have on your list of choices… the yellow flowers. I think they’d potentially look good on the seats, but they’d suck to keep clean looking (Hello can’s of scotch guard!!!). They have a lightness about them.

    I didn’t really help you at all, did I? Sorry.

    I’ll email you some thoughts on rugs in a bit. ;)


  7. I would leave the shades down and use them for the chairs. That’s my favorite for the chairs. And such gorgeous light streaming in! Why cover it up? (I am from Canada ,so I love sunshine ,we don’t get nearly enough.)

  8. Keep the shades- the fabric is too amazing and I love the color on the wall. I would go with the jojo fabric on the chairs. The white and “teal” “polka” dots will bring more a lighter contrast to the darker chairs.

  9. I’m just not sure that the table and chairs are the right fit for the fun, modern look you want. But they definitely need reupholstered. I think the “jo jo” color is good, but I think the scale of the dots might be just too big. I would decide on a rug after you do the chairs and definitely keep the shades you have…love that fabric!

  10. I personally think the dots, as pretty as that color is, are going to look… well. clownish. :( i do like them.. but not on so many pieces in one space.

    I do LOVE LOVE the linen with the gold sparkle. LOVE LOVE.

    With either rug, honestly.

    I do LOVE LOVE the moroccan in clementine. *swoon* but really… it doesn’t really work with anything… the pattern is too similar to the yellow rug… it’d just make your eyes cross. patterns can be mixed. but too similar a pattern is going to look, imo, like you tried to match and missed the mark…

    does that make sense?

    in other news.

    that giant yellow print…

    how big *really* is the sunflower? My little sister is looking for a HUGE pattern to use on her windows… we’ve had no luck. Duralee has this one and a cinnabar one very similar in the same size range (it says 27″…but what is *in* that 27″? the flower but what else? I’m trying to get an idea for her… )


    I do so wish you could come up here and do my house for me. you’ve got amazing taste.

    1. I’m so sorry to only just now respond to this! I’ve had it in the back of my brain to do FORever (obviously) and kept forgetting. :(

      As far as the size of the flowers, they’re a good 17-18″ across. So, yeah. REALLY big!

  11. I love the Jo Jo for the chairs and everything else as is. What a fun, bright spot! All the patterns and color are SO you!

  12. K, I’m thinking leave the shades. Use the yellow you had as a shade option on the chairs and maybe find a rug with a smaller design or more neutral base (but not boring). It’s hard to tell, but the other rug option you had might even work… I just think it’s too large of a design to flow with your floral shades and too similar to the design on the yellow fabric.

      1. Yeah… I keep coming back and looking again… there are too many options! You COULD leave everything and redo the chairs in the neutral fabric (that’d probably be easiest) OR you could use the Morrocan Lattice fabric on the chairs but then I dont think either rug would look great. I like everything as is other than the chairs. The colors and prints of the shades and rug work fine not up against each other. I LOVE the shades AND I feel like replacing them would hold up the whole project (if you’re anything like me in the whole sewing window treatments department).

  13. FUN!!! I love opinions from others on things like this…we just remodeled 3/4 of our house this past year, so I spent HOURS and HOURS and HOURS planning and posting discussions like these on FB…loved getting all the help!!

    So, I didn’t read anyone else’s thoughts so I wouldn’t be swayed, and here’s what I think:

    My first thought was the rug needs a new home…not sure what color it actually is, but I think it appears a little drab…doesn’t complement the walls as well as the GORGEOUS YELLOW RUG you posted at the end! That was actually what I was going to suggest before I saw you posted that picture: Great minds think a like you know ;)

    I am not as sure on the window treatments and cushions as you have a lot of great ideas…if I were doing it, with the options you listed, I think I’d do:

    Yellow Rug
    Orange Lattice on chairs
    Keep Bettina shades

    BUT, I also think burlap on the chairs could be great (I can’t really picture it for the window treatments cause…well…this is YOU!! You are COLOR, and FUN and LIVELINESS…I love burlap, but don’t see them as the focal point window treatments deserve in your sunny space!

    Last, the idea of:

    Yellow Rug
    Turquoise dots as WINDOW TREATMENTS
    Bettina on chairs
    PAINT the chairs…maybe a metallic??? A muted metallic, not shiny…maybe?

    It’ll be FUN to see what you choose! I know we’ll all love it :)

    Thanks for letting us weigh in :)

    1. Megan, you’re the sweetest! Thanks for always taking the time to write such thoughtful, detailed, encouraging comments!

  14. Leave the shades up. They look so good! You need this fabric for the chairs: Sparkler in Pop by Traci Zeller designs. Tracizeller.com/shop.


  15. Let me start off with how much I absolutely LOVE this space. I love the colors and I love how everything is put together. I would leave the shades, they are perfect for that light fixture!!! And they draw attention to it. Maybe shorten the shades to let in more natural light if that is what you want…
    I noticed immediately that the chairs didn’t have the same bold punch of color as the rest of the room. I thought what if you just paint them? Then I zoomed in and decided that would be a bit risky for such amazing chairs! If it were me I would take my picture and find a simple fabric in a bold color. With the rug and the shades everything gels so well together and you have patterns on both which is why I would suggest a bold color on a simple fabric. I’d really love to see a nice gold yellow with maybe some of that orange pulled from the shades. It would stand out and compliment all the other colors in the room. I even love the pink or maybe purple found in the shades! Good luck can’t wait to see what you decide to do!

  16. My thoughts are: put the curtains back up, jo jo fabric in chairs, yellow rug & some type of burlap runner on the table :)

  17. I’m loving the Jojo with what you already have. But if I were you, I would paint those chairs white white white.

  18. I would paint the chairs yellow! The timber is too dark. You need contrasting colour against the table and I don’t think changing the fabric is it.

  19. Definitely the jojo fabric for chairs and leave the bettini for shades. Not sure which rug but I’m leaning toward the new one. I do however think the old rug would work. Love, Love, Love the jojo fabric.

  20. take down those shades! If you must have something on the windows (I love the light without!!) go for something super neutral-sheer/white/plain. Use that great patterned fabric from your shades on those chairs. A great modern twist to your beautiful, traditional chairs. Also, I love the suggestion of adding something ‘natural’ feeling on your table top. Some twigs or flowers or a succulent plant.
    Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  21. Too many patterns! You’d want to be careful not to make it look like a clown threw up in there. And a light color on chairs with five kids? Eek!

  22. I would leave the shades on the windows, and def replace the current rug with the urban outfitters one (love that) I think the chairs would look great white (if you’re willing to paint them) I would stay more neutral with the seat of the chairs, maybe pull a color from the shades like that coral color or even that burlap you have shown (or you could do burlap on the seat and a solid coral on the back side)

  23. So fun! I pick the chairs in “Jo jo” and leave the rest as is. The only other thing I would add is som greenery to the table & maybe a linen burlap runner to break up the dark brown. I gave these quandaries too,……I see things easier when it isn’t my space ;) .

  24. Oh this is fun ;) I think a combo of fabrics on the chairs would liven them up for you. I also think they could by dry brushed white, so a little of the dark shows through. I think they should have the burlap/linen fabric on all parts of the chair except for the back which should be the Jo-Jo. Leave the shades as-is and maybe opt for a larger jute rug under the table?

    1. I like the idea of the jute rug. Several others mentioned that as well. I’ll have to see what I can come up with.

      1. You know, we have 4 kids and my friend (an interior designer) took me RIGHT to the jute type rugs…it is a lot softer than it used to be and they can do some great patterns…but I’m still hanging my hopes on that yellow rug you posted :)

  25. I Hope this doesn’t fall under ‘… just don’t tell me…’. I love the room, the rug, the shades. But I d paint the chairs white, the table legs, too. And then see if you need to reupholster at all.

    1. Nope. Definitely not under “just don’t tell me.” I’ve considered painting them several times. Just not sold yet. The “just don’t tell me” was only for people who had nothing to say but, “Yuck!” without anything helpful to accompany it. :)

  26. I think the window fabric doesn’t belong on the chairs… or on the windows. They let in so much light without the curtains! I think a neutral rug and the yellow print fabric (that you had in the windows) on the chairs, will go with the wall color and the room will look cute, light, and bright!

  27. 1. I love your nook and think you’ve done amazingly.
    2. You’re right about the chairs – they are a bit dark. I love the curtains remaining as is though – it adds such a fun presence to the room. I think the jojo pattern for the chairs would add the right amount of “joi de vivre” but lets the rug still make an impression, as well as the curtains…plus the jojo pattern highlights the turquoise accents already on the table.

    Love this Abby!

    Also I never remember to comment, but yours is one of the first blogs I read every time. I love your writing style and all the random and wonderful things you right about. Keep up the good work!!
    Cheers, Tara

  28. I like the shade fabric on the chairs. rug gone perhaps replace it with a more neutral with almost no pattern. leave the shades off the windows

  29. I think the fabric you will ultimately use will be “Secret Option E” or “None of the Above.” You’ll probably end up using chiang mai dragon fabric or something equally as attention-grabbing on the chairs and bamboo shades on the windows.

    Or the fabrics you provided, I like the sungold curtains with bettina chairs and a new rug. Good luck! I can’t wait to see what you choose!

  30. I love the curtains/shades. I also think the rug works well with them (as curtains.) I think you should think about selling the chairs and getting some thing that you could paint fun colors. They are just too serious in there. The dark table and benches could be lightened up a lot with a couple of fun chairs!

  31. I like the reupholster the chairs with the blue polka dots fabric. Please don’t cut up those beautiful shades. I’ll take them if you don’t want them. :)

  32. I can so relate to this! I’m currently contemplating what to do with my dining room area–the house we rent has tan/brown walls in the dining room (totally not my colors, but oh well–we’re only here for 10 more months!) and although I have a blond mid-century dining room table and hand-me-down chairs that kinda match, it’s all too dark! My first instint was to suggest painting the chairs. I know that’s anathema to some, but it would lighten up everything a lot, and you may find you don’t have to change out any of the textiles! I’m planning on painting my chairs cream this month–all the brown is making me feel like I live in a hole. haha!

  33. I think reupholstering the chairs with the right fabric will really lighten things up. Leave your blinds up and look for a fabric that picks out one of those colors then add another contrast print on the outside backs of the chairs. I agree with some of the other readers that you need a larger rug in this area – I’d go for something more neutral (a sisal or washable sisal look) that will work with any future changes you make. I’d be tempted to paint the chairs and base of the table, but being antiques, I’d rather see how much difference the other changes make first.

  34. Those chairs look very tricky to recover! For the money, I’d sell them to someone who would love them just the way they are and use the money to buy something light/fun/kid friendly to
    suit your life & style. Something fun from IKEA or an assortment of antique chairs painted in all different colors … With a different sized rug and window coverings back up to tie together the strong contrast of the two wall colors. Fun and chic!

    1. I like the assortment of chairs idea. But I will say that these chairs will be really easy to recover. Just pop the fabric on and staple the tar out of them, then cover the staples with trim. I’m still mulling it all over, though.

  35. I would do a new sisal rug (if its not to scale for the table BUT I know sometimes things photo weird and it could be to scale), leave the fabric on the windows and use that yellow floral pattern on the chairs.

    If the rug is to scale and just photo’d weird, I’d keep everything as is and use a solid yellow with a great texture on the chairs.

  36. Oh! And I agree with the poster who commented on the rug scale; it looks slightly off for the table/space. Since you have pattern on your floor, maybe a textured but neutral rug in a larger size would be the thing that helps tie the space together and, along with the new chair fabric, gives you that “just right” feeling. Good luck with your decision!

  37. I love your shades….I would put the shades back on the windows. Use the JoJo fabric on the chairs. I agree with Sarah that the rug (however beautiful) isn’t the right size/shape for the area. I would say get a new rug that fits better :-)

  38. Keep the shades that you currently have and do the JoJo print on the chairs and by the mustard rug from Anthropologie.

  39. Redo the chairs with the Jo Jo fabric (The blue dot one). I think it will look the best against the rug. Or the neutral one would work too (but I don’t think you are a neutral kind of gal). Also, I can’t tell well from the photo, but the dark red stripe fabric on the back of the chairs should be lightened too. Once that is lighter it will make a huge difference.
    I would also keep your pretty window shades but shorten them about 6 inches.

  40. Well…my 1 cent. The somber color of the chairs/table seem to be maybe more of a problem for you? It might just be WAY too much work for your life right now, but have you considered painting the table and chairs a light or bright color? However, if that is really not an option, then I would leave the shades and reupholster the chairs. I could be wrong but my impression was that the chairs were what bugged you most. Like I said, my thoughts. And I agree….the dark color is somber for that room. Not sure just upholstery will do enough but you gotta try! :-)

  41. Move the rug. The size is not quite right. Buy the new rug. Cover the chairs using the dot fabric, and leave the existing shades. I love them!

    If you are feeling move adventurous; use the nuetral fabric on the chairs, but spray the chairs in a colour from the shade fabric first. Maybe the red or coral (I can’t tell from my monitor). You will still “need” the new rug.

    I think making a few changes to the scales of the fabric patterns will make you happier with the room and how your eye rests on everything. Have fun!

  42. I’d vote for “Put the shades back and find a different fabric to recover the chairs” and for the fabrics you’ve shown I’d suggest the “jo jo” in aquarius by Premier Prints. The blinds fabric is beautiful and adding so much interest to your walls and they just get lost over the rug which again is lovely and looks amazing paired with these blinds as blinds. go for the jojo or something else that has a similar scale and is not too intricate of a pattern or a tiny teeny intricate pattern in the greens/blues shown in the blinds fabric with a neutral background but nothing in red so that it doesn’t compete with the rug and not yellow although I love it so that you don’t end up with a primary triad color scheme (blue-yellow-red) of (wall-chairs-rug) that gets boring rather quickly UNLESS your into it..

    hope that helps!

  43. I would redo the chairs in the red/coral fabric. I like the room how it is, add that pop of color and your room is perfect!

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