Simple Wainscot Wall with Big Impact

This is the accent wall with wainscoting and a custom fitted mirror that we added to “class up” our tiny formal dining area and make the small space feel bigger:

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My husband loves to play ping-pong. So what better gift idea (or so I thought) for Christmas morning than a ping pong table we can set up in the garage, have friends over, and play?

I even found one that was black and red to match our garage’s color scheme.

All was well until my husband decided we should keep the ping pong table inside the house….In the formal dining room. Where there wasn’t room to leave it set up, but instead folded up and pushed against the wall.

I don’t know how this situation got away from me, but I spent a full year looking at this eye sore in my living room. After about 6 months I threw a gold fitted sheet over it and tried to pretend it wasn’t there.

I SO wish I had a picture to show you. But, I hated it so much I didn’t even stop to take a picture when my husband finally agreed to move it back out to the garage – I didn’t want any hesitations or delays causing him to change his mind!

So, once we removed the ping pong table (but before we moved the cornhole set – another gift idea gone wrong) here is what the room looked like (just imagine a gigantic ping pong table filling up the wall space on the left):

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Even without the ping pong table, things look pretty drab. We had a rickety cabinet against the wall (that my husband scored for free when he lived as a bachelor in San Francisco and we’ve since painted twice) and a bar table from my college days. (Yes, we have both brought some bad decor into this home – keep in mind it’s our first!)

Now that the massive table tennis table was gone, here was the plan:

You can read about the bar table makeover here. Pretty dramatic, huh?

Once we cleared out the room, here was our wall:

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We framed out the window, added some hardboard along the lower portion of the wall, and ran some decorative chair rail along the top of the board.

(We just rested the hardboard on top of the baseboard, but in future projects we decided removing the baseboard and putting it on top of the hardboard looks much nicer.)

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The trickiest part was cutting out the holes in the exact right spots for the outlets. (By the way, if you ever cut a hole too big, you can cover your mistake with oversized switch plates).

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Next, we nailed the boxed frames to the hardboard (which we created in custom sizes to fit our wall), caulked all the edges and nail holes (ugh, tedious!), and painted everything white.

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We just love how it came out!

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Next, we had a local glass and mirror company create a custom mirror to fit the remaining space. Can you believe they mount it without smearing the glue? They just add all these dollops and somehow it holds.

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Here it is with the new Ballard Designs sideboard cabinet, updated bar table and cute gray tufted accent chair under the window (which I hadn’t planned but couldn’t pass up when I found it at Home Goods – I promise the animal print pillow on top matches far better than it appears to in this picture):

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The only thing left in this room is to get new window coverings (yes, I know they’re hideous at this time) – stay tuned!

In the mirror, you can see the reflection of our TV wall makeover.

Funny thing about the bar stools – I bought one at a Target that’s not closest to my home because I happened to be in that town one day. After bringing it home I liked it and ran to my local Target to get another. However, one has darker legs than he other and is super, super firm while the other is nice and cushy. So odd!

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It looks a little busy in the picture, but the large mirror wall makes the room feel sooo much bigger! I have to admit it cost more than I wanted, but I just love it. So much so that I’d like to add another one above the board and batten in our kitchen.

Have you ever used mirrors to make a space feel bigger? I’d love to see it!

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