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Learn How to DIY Renovate

Learn How to DIY Renovate
Learn How to DIY Renovate

DIY Tutorials

DIY Tutorials
DIY Tutorials

Going DARK In The Dining Room

Farrow and Ball Downpipe Paint

I've showed you our new kitchen, but I haven't yet shown you our new dining room and it's certainly changed quite a bit since I last showed it off properly. It's had parts of it re-plastered, a whole new paint job, the floor's been sanded back, we've uncovered some gorgeous victorian cupboard doors and we even built a giant floor-to-ceiling floor stack. Not to mention repairing floor joists, ripping out an old back boiler and knocking a wall down. Basically, it's changed a lot.

Dining Renovation 'Before'

This is what the room used to look like. H-i-d-e-o-u-s! You can check out all the updates on the dining room renovation right here, but after a year long battle with the room, it was finally ready for a lick of paint!

I wanted the room to tie-in with the new open-plan kitchen, so for the most part I kept the walls matching in the same colour of 'Strong White' by Farrow and Ball. It's a gorgeous off-white colour with a hint of grey, which really only shows up when it's paired next to bright white, which I've used on the windows and skirting. It was the perfect choice for both of these rooms and I really couldn't be happpier with it. It's cool, calm and being neutral means it allows the items in the room to sing on their own. Our dark kitchen for example, pops out against the contrasting light walls!

Farrow and Ball Strong White in Kitchen

However when it came to the chimney breast in the dining room, I wanted to add a punch of darkness. In fact, I had already picked out and bought a different colour 'Downpipe' again by Farrow and Ball, when we installed the Log Burner months and months back, even before deciding to go dark in the kitchen.

Downpipe is dark, moody, modern, sophisticated and drama-tactic! However it also matched massively with our Graphite coloured kitchen - So it took me a while to decide whether to go ahead and use the paint or not. Would it look too matchy matchy? Or would it work?

Is Farrow And Ball Paint Worth it?

Well Farrow and Ball paint does not come cheap, so obviously I had to go ahead with it. And I'm reaaaallly glad I did. I'm pleased to say, it works. If anything, it ties the two rooms together even more and whilst it's a bit 'themed' in a way of matching colours - it totally works.

Downpipe in dining room

If you haven't used Farrow and Ball paint before, I do recommend giving them a try. Their paints are incredibly rich and pigmented in colour - coverage is amazing (if you apply carefully, you can even get away with one coat!) and I'm a real fan of it being water-based too. I also really like the fact that all their colours are specifically selected, meaning they don't offer 1000s of colours, but only the best ones. And let's face it, their selection of paints are trend-setting - there are no 'wrong' picks.

Downpipe paint on chimney breast

To the left of the chimney we have a teeny tiny alcove. It's so narrow that you really can't use it for its floor space, it's just far too small. These kind of spaces are completely pointless unless you use them for their wall space, like a cabinet or shelving. But with a new log burner installed and nowhere to keep logs, it made sense to use it for a log stack.

A giant stack of logs is going to be verrrrrryyy heavy - so, much like a bath or a grande piano, you need to make sure your floor is up to the job. We have floorboards in here and whilst our joists are pretty chunky ones (and one is partially resting on a brick pillar beneath), we're Cautious Carols and decided to add additional supports anyway. I really didn't want the logs sat on the floorboards either - obviously with a stack of wood comes insects and other creepy crawlies, and some of which may potentially eat away at wood. Anything eating into floorboards or joists is disaster, so having a good barrier between the two will help to ensure nothing structural is damaged.

So we decided to add a plinth between the floor and stack. It's made from a frame of C16 Structural timber (you can find this at Wickes or any timber merchants) and it's bolted into the walls either side. This provides the additional support - so the stack isn't just resting on the floor and joists, it's being relieved by the support of the walls too. A similar idea to how we repaired the rotten joists earlier in the year here.

Building a plinth for a log stack
raised plinth for log stack

We then used plywood to cover the frame, filled the screw holes, caulked the edges and I then painted it to match the wall so it didn't stand out. And voila - we could then begin building the mammoth log stack! If you are going to store wood indoors, do make sure they're properly dried out, otherwise you'll be causing yourselves all kinds of problems. Unseasoned wood can actually take up to 2 years to dry out and if you're buying seasoned wood, I would always check it's fully dried before storing it indoors. You can buy moister meters in local DIY stores - and you'd be looking for less than 20% moisture content.

Alternatively, you can Kiln Dried wood, which is a kind of 'quick dried' log that's been in a kiln, although they do cost a little bit more. We actually buy this kind of wood - so I'm happy to store it indoors, knowing it's been properly dried out.

Building a wood stack
Log Stack in dining room
log stack with downpipe paint

The alcove is pretty deep so we've been able to build it two logs deep, which means we have a rather large amount of wood on it! It's managed to keep us going for well over a month so far and I'm also pleased to report neither the supports or the floor have caved in yet - so I think we did an acceptable job on that front too ;) I love how the logs pop against the dark wall and it's also added a hint of scandi-style interiors into the room, which makes it feel all the more cool and trendy.

On the other side of the chimney, we have a giant built-in cupboard. Despite this looking absolutely hideous thanks to those doors, it is actual original to the house. Since moving in and inspecting the doors, we realised they had been boarded over (like many things in this house!) and I've been dying to rip the boards off ever since.

Victorian Cupboard boarded over

We set off removing the boards carefully by scoring a gentle line between the board and original door. You want to be super careful not to gauge the actual wood when doing this! We then used a couple of flat head spanners to get in-between the board and gently pry it off. If you can see where the nails are on the front - you want to be aiming to get the screwdriver into the board, close to nails. We have a few other doors to uncover in the house, so I'll do a more in-depth photo explanation then. But - behold the beautiful original victorian doors!

How to remove boarding on doors
removing boarding from doors
uncovering victorian doors
Victorian cupboard in dining room

Whilst it may *look* as though it's in its original raw wood form - don't be fooled. This is actually a weird varnish paint effect that makes it look like raw wood. It's actually varnish over white paint, and rather cleverly done I have to say - from a distance you could certainly have fooled me!

Victorian cupboard doors

The previous owner left behind a bag full of keys; more keys than the house needs - some old, some new. A quick look through and boom - we found a matching key for the original lock, which was thankfully still attached on the back! Obviously, I couldn't have been more excited about it, which you'll have seen if you follow me on Instagram. I'm still yet to get the lock free from being painted rigid, so it's not quite 'working' yet - but it's a start!

original victorian key for cupboard

The plan for this cupboard was to go full-on dark to match the rest of the wall, although I did originally think I would want to strip the wood right back it's original raw self. But with a lack of time - I took the easier route and actually having spent a while thinking about it, a whole dark wall was really very appealing.

In order to paint the doors up, I needed to deal with the glossy peeling paint along the sides of the doors, where it had flaked from removing the glossy board. I used a blunt chisel to scrape as much of it off as I could, leaving a smooth transition to the glossy paint on the back of the door. You want to make sure you hold the chisel close to the tip when doing this, for more control and being more gentle. Obviously it's a chisel and we don't actually want to be chiselling anything - hence why you must use a blunt one! A scraper would also be ideal. This removed really quite easily and whilst you could use a heat gun, you may end up removing more than necessary.

preparing a victorian cupboard for paint
smoothing peeling paint

I then gave the doors a quick sand and a clean up before going on with the primer. Glossy paint can be hard to paint over and whilst some wood paints have a "built-in" primer, like the one I use on the skirting, the expensive Farrow and Ball one recommended priming first. You all know how expensive F&B is, so I didn't want to be wasting any of it, if all went wrong.

If you intend on painting the cupboards with emulsion (I didn't do this as I wasn't sure how hard-wearing it would be?!) then you'll guaranteed need to use a primer as well. The one I've used is the Zinsser BIN Primer, a brand I've seen HIGHLY recommended from Instagram. And this one in particular one (they have a few!) claimed to offer "unparalleled adhesion to glossy surfaces" very strong words!

Zinsser bin primer review
using zinsser bin primer
priming a cupboard for paint
Zinsser primer on wood

And I can definitely confirm it adhered rather well indeed. In fact, I had no less than 20 messages on Instagram from other renovators saying how much they loved this product too! I gave two coats to both the doors and the outer bits before filling the nail holes where the boarding had been attached. I know you might think it makes more sense to do this before painting the primer, BUT I find a full coat of one colour helps to actually display the holes better. If you fill them first and then paint, you'll usually find you missed a few anyway. This way, you can't miss any.

filling nail holes in cupboard

And then on went the Farrow and Ball paint, in the colour 'Downpipe'. I'm using a wood eggshell paint which is a little more shiny/glossy than the matt wall, although I actually think this helps to define the cupboard a little more, rather than completely hiding it into the wall. It took three coats for a full coverage and then I had a couple of spots I had to go over a fourth time. I did however only use a paint brush to apply the paint - a roller would definitely have given a better coverage.

Downpipe on cupboard

Built-in cupboard downpipe paint

And here we have it - full feature drama wall (as Grant likes to call it!). If you're wondering whether I love it? Yes yes yes! We also have a feature vintage ladder (£7 from eBay) which is actually there for practical reasons in order to reach the top of the giant stack of logs - ha!!

Farrow and Ball Downpipe in Dining Room
Victorian Cupboard Painted Dark
Going dark in the dining room
Log stack with dark wall
Garden Trading Ash Bin
Feature Log Stack in Dining Room

I think the whole thing worked out really very well - I love the pop of colour from the log stack, although I have to admit it does take a bit of work filling it up every time we buy a bag or two of woods. The log burner also looks incredible offset against the dark wall when it's on too. And the cupboard just makes the room feel so much more sophisticated and grand! So yep, I'm darn pleased and now in love with this room.

We'll be building a new dining table in the New Year - if you can't tell those chairs don't actually fit under it properly - but all will be revealed soon ;)

What do you guys think? Is the darkside for you?


(rounded to the nearest pound)

New Tools Purchased:
Roller £3

Materials Used:
Plywood - free from previous jobs
C16 Timber - free from previous jobs
Caulk, Filler etc - free from previous jobs
F&B Wall Paint £43
F&B Eggshell Paint £24
Primer £20

Total: £90

(YIKES - I told you that paint was expensive!)
Home Etc


  1. That paint looks great on the wall, would you be risk a whole room in such a dark colour now that you've tried that? contemplating it myself, I just don't know. I've trid some farrow and ball testers and they are certainly better than the average. I thought there would be diminishing returns on spending a lot on paint, but i also tried some testers from paint and paper library, based in manchester, and the consistency and pigment density seemed noticeably better than the f+b to me, colours have a different feel to them though, not so traditional.

  2. I love it, what a beautiful space. What a find witht he doors, it amazes me when people have covered such features. I lvoe the log idea.

  3. It looks incredible you have done a fantastic job, absolutely unrecognisable from the 'before'! It's making me want to go to the dark side too! xx #HomeEtc

  4. I know I say this quite a lot over on Insta but you two are insanely clever. I'm so inspired but know at the same time Pete would have kittens if I ever tried to do anything other than paint!! Fantastic job on the makeover and I do love a bit of dark too X #HomeEtc

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