unfinished wooden table
Courtesy of Unfinished Furniture Expo

Unfinished Business

If you’re looking to save some serious cash on a new piece of wooden furniture, go natural. Unfinished pieces, such as this dining table, are much less expensive than their painted and stained cousins.

All you have to do is customize the piece to fit your style: Paint it matte black (or even aqua), stain it, or distress it in antique white, and you’ll be saving hundreds of dollars.

Unfinished Wood Shaker Dining Table
Available at Unfinished Furniture Expo

bertil chair from Ikea
Courtesy of IKEA

Have a Seat

What seating you choose to place around your dining table can establish the mood for your dinner party. For a casual dining experience, place a bench on one side of the table, or use chairs with lots of cushion. To keep things simple, we chose these wooden, classic-style chairs. They can be painted or stained to either match or contrast with your table. The choice is yours.

Bertil Chair
$40 (each)
Available at IKEA

pendant lamp
Courtesy of CB2

Lit From Above

Create the right dining ambiance with proper lighting. When hung above your table, this pendant lamp will warmly brighten the room. The cotton drum shade comes with a matching fabric diffuser to soften the light (so you can use your CFL bulbs). Even the hardware is included.

Eden Pendant Lamp
Available at CB2

Mythic Paint samples
Courtesy of Mythic Paint

Filled With Color

Set the dining room apart from the rest of your house with a fresh color. To get the most from your effort and make the room look posh, choose a bold, and bright paint color. Or for a more subdued but still fresh look, paint the walls a soft cream and the ceiling a pale blue.

Low-VOC Paint
Available at Mythic Paint

set of 5 aluminum mirrors
Courtesy of CB2

More the Merrier

When you have an empty wall to fill in a room, look either to something large (like a painting or mirror) or several little things to repeat. This collection of five aluminum framed mirrors can be hung in a pattern or randomly to both decorate and amuse.

Budget tip: If these don't fit your style, you can also hang several mirrors you already own or find some at thrift stores. If the frames don’t match, a can of spray paint will make even the motliest of crews look cohesive.

Aluminum Mirrors
$60 (set of 5)
Available at CB2

Antique Black Two-Door Buffett
Courtesy of Target

Versatile Storage

Discreetly store all your dining essentials and have extra space to serve your feast. This buffet offers plenty of storage without being too bulky in the room. It has a top drawer for flatware or linen and a bottom compartment wide enough to hide your dishes and servers when not in use. It is also available in a dark stained wood finish.

Barossa Buffet
Available at Target

Essential Dinnerware Starter Kit
Courtesy of Crate & Barrel

What To Serve

If you are lacking a matching set of dishes for entertaining, you can be rescued with just one affordable purchase. This 16-piece set is complete with porcelain dinner plates, salad plates, bowls, and mugs for four settings. The versatile white dishes, which are microwave and dishwasher safe, can go from casual to formal with just the right mix of table accessories.

Essential Dinnerware Starter Kit
$55 on sale for $46
Available at Crate & Barrel

Aina curtain panels
Courtesy of IKEA

Framed Windows

Finish up the room simply by hanging curtains to warm the space and help everything come together. These linen panels are our pick because they offer privacy but still allow in light, they are sold two panels to a set, and have easy-iron hemming if they are a tad too long.

Budget tip: Learn to take simple store-bought curtains such as these, and make them look custom without even sewing.

Aina Curtain Panels
$50 (set of 2 available in 5 colors)
Available at IKEA

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