Linda Braden, Chicago
Linda Braden and husband Mike loved their 1890s house, despite the fact that it lacked many of the charming architectural features she had always expected in an older home. So when Linda decided to finally take the plunge and redo the dining space, a graphic navy-and-white rug snagged on clearance set the tone.
To complement the carpet, she painted the upper part of the walls navy and the rest clean white to set the stage for tall board-and-batten–style wainscot. Linda completed the look by adding preprimed medium-density fiberboard (MDF) 1x6s for the top rails and slimmer 1x2s for the vertical stiles, placing them about a foot apart. To beef up the almost nonexistent baseboards, Linda layered on MDF 1x4s and 1x2s finished with quarter-round molding. With the gaps caulked and the assembly painted, the wainscot was complete. She was so pleased with the results that she continued the look in the adjoining living space.
An electrician friend helped remove the old chandelier and install a new fixture at a discount. Finally, Linda used paint specially formulated for glass to give her window a leaded effect. Now, she says, the space seems to better fit the character of the house, "and the first thing we did was toast it with a sit-down family meal."
Shown: A fresh white board-and-batten wall treatment, a faux-leaded window, and a handsome new iron-look chandelier boost the cottage charm.