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Another MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Happy Dining Nook (With Custom Cat-Friendly Banquette, Because Duh)



Welcome back, we meet again…this time in my dining room. This morning was the reveal of my living room, so head here if you somehow missed that but now it’s time to talk this little eating nook. Let’s get into it.

Side By Side Dining Room Before
In process, September 2017. Can you even with Daffy? THOSE BACK FEETS!

I knew immediately that a banquette in the dining “area” was the best use of space. I call it an “area” and not a “room” because it is 7’5″ x 7’7″, it has two doorways (living room and kitchen) and is the main walkthrough to the kitchen. My house is a circle so if you really wanted to, you could walk down the hall, through the master, through the laundry and come in the back of the kitchen but generally, that’s not how we get there, especially when carrying in groceries. Putting an L-shaped bench on the two walls that don’t have doorways would allow me to push the seating and table into the corner a bit, opening up more room to walk. My existing dining setup worked for the meantime but Tolix chairs, although slim and timeless, are also very uncomfortable.

Let’s talk about the green that I know a handful of you will be bummed that I nixed. In photos, even in these bad iPhone pics, the green is really striking and pretty to me, not to mention Daffy really shines in front of a dark wall. In real life, the color was striking in another way…like, we’re in this light and bright room (living room) and there was a dark pit in the corner. It was separating the space too much when the idea was to open it up as much as possible. I really like this green though so I kept it for over a year before finally putting on Busy Philipps’ This Will Only Hurt a Little and painting a million coats to cover it up. 

Before I repainted though, I convinced my brother Jacob to help me build a banquette. Look. How. Freaking. Cute:

3x1 Brother Unfinished Banquette
TA DA! (Ta-Done?). May, 2017

Ladies. He’s single. I KNOW. (also @Ryobi: let’s collab; I own every single one of your tools already!)

Basically, we (he) built two boxes with 2’x4’s and added high-quality plywood to the top and sides. If you want a tutorial, convince me to write it in the comments :). The side on the right was supposed to be storage but as we were putting it together, I was like OMG WHAT IF IT’S A CAT CAVE. He humored me. For the one Enneagram 6 reader who is concerned for the safety of the cats, the top can still fold up if the cats were stuck in there somehow.


Shop the Look: Round Pillow | Large Neutral Pillows | Rectangular Striped Pillow (no longer available) | Tray (painted, no longer available) | Incense Holder | Table (Craigslist) | Chairs (vintage) | Bench FabricRibbon Art by Angela Chrusciaki Blehm | Chandelier | Roman Shade | Paint Color

The benches stayed in that unfinished condition for literally a year. I finally painted the space and the benches the same color (Polar Bear by Behr). A few weeks after that, I had the cushions made and of course, immediately thought WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR?? It’s crazy how nice it is to basically lay down while your husband eats a late dinner and rattles on about his newest horror short film idea. We use this space so much more now that it’s so comfortable. If you look closely, you will notice that there’s a stack of wooden dice; my husband and I regularly cozy up here with our Bulletproof coffee (what’s a post by me without a shameless call out to a brand I’m obsessed with) and play Yahtzee. 

I used the same canvas as I did for the bench in my bedroom. Fun and cheap upholstery hack: upholstery fabrics can be expensive but canvas is relatively cheap (this one was $4.75/yd) and very durable. I discovered Pacific Blue Denims when sourcing for the tent fabric for the mountain house kids room and found them very easy to work with, they responded to emails and sent out samples quickly. I gave the upholsterer 10 yards and he gave me back leftovers. For reference: As I mentioned, the walls are 7’5″ and 7’7″ and the cushions are the length of the walls. The bench on the right is 19 inches deep and the back bench is 24.5 inches deep, the cushions are 3 inches thick. The upholsterer charged me $300 total for these cushions and recovering the bench in the bedroom. Honestly, I have zero money so is it weird to say it was worth it? You see how slow I move in my own space, so I’d still be sitting on plywood if I had put this on my list of things I needed to DIY.


Let’s get the vintage out of the way: The chairs are probably the coolest things I own. The best thing about them is that I bought them off our very good friends and we have so many amazing memories of games, parties and intimate dinners in them. The table is also vintage, got it for $100 off Craigslist from a Craftsman home where it apparently lived for almost 100 years.  It’s on wheels and it came with three leaves that are tucked somewhere in my garage because I have hopes of owning a home one day where I can use them!


THAT. RIBBON. ART. I stole it. I’m half kidding. When sourcing art for the book shoot this year, Velinda and Erik somehow got this beaut from Angela Chrusciaki Blehm and when I saw it I was like “I NEED THAT IT’S MINE” (I didn’t, it wasn’t). But I guess I manifested that ish because when they wrapped shooting (they used it a bunch but you’re going to have to wait for that!), I “borrowed” it for my shoot and apparently here it will safely “live” until it’s needed for another project. Basically, I stole it.

After stealing art, my current (thrifted) light fixture just wasn’t working. The shape was too oblong and was blocking it so I couldn’t see it at all times. I wanted something that was going to complement it but not compete with it…easier said than done. When I saw the Isaac Chandelier by Schoolhouse, I felt like it was the light fixture that ribbon would have chosen for itself, slightly understated but definitely in a cool not try-hard way, so they could still be friends.


You may have noticed that the gorge linen “I’M AN ADULT NOW, RIGHT??” window treatments are very similar to the ones in my bedroom reveal. That’s because they are!! Barn and Willow sent these through at the same time. Window treatments are like the mascara of decor. I mean, sure, you can live without them but should you really go out in public without it? Coming from the person who does exactly that…very often. Same for window treatments I suppose. I cannot believe I lived without them, but I did—for YEARS. For the sake of privacy, for trying to sit on the couch and work anytime after 4 pm (sun blazing through the dining window specifically directly onto the couch), for trying to watch Survivor on a Sunday afternoon with the glare of the sun (and people’s eyes judging you). They’re also great for keeping this light and bright space cool on hotter days and also for giving the finished look to the room. They are beautiful and sturdy and very easy to install yourself. I got the flat style out here (relaxed in my bedroom) in Belgian Textured Linen Flax. There’s a handy-dandy measurement finder and have free shipping. I’ve been living with them for a few months now if you have more questions, head to the comment section!

Chic cat scratcher by Mountain Pet Products.

Because who doesn’t love a little B&A (before and after), let’s take a look at the above side by side with what was happening prior to this:

Side By Side Dining Room B&a

I mean…it just feels so much more open, brighter, happier. The green was good, sure, but the white is better…in this space and for what both rooms needed.

I hope you enjoyed this journey. I’m done…for now, but you never know when I might pop back up with another treacherous story about my beloved money pit. See you in the comments!

***Photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp, design and styling by Emily Bowser

Don’t miss other posts in this series:

Makeover Takeover: An Intro to Emily Bowser’s (Crumbling) Living & Dining Rooms | New Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Refreshed For Function Living Room | MOTO Intro: How EHD Stylist Emily Bowser Tackled Her Awkward Master Bedroom | MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Bedroom “After” is Unrecognizable from the “Before” | DIY How-To: A Step-by-Step for Making Emily B.’s Wrap-Around Velvet Headboard | MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s 32-Square-Foot Bathroom is Packed With Small-Space Hacks | What It Really Costs to Buy an Income Property in LA (& Why I Thought It Was a Good Idea Even After Financial Ruin)


Fin Mark


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Wondering if you considered any sort of textured fabric for the bench cushions or if canvas was always the clear choice because of cost. I love the bench and think it would be interesting to see if it was floated instead of boxed to the floor, but I get why you did that for the cats and additional storage.

Emily Bowser

I didn’t. I have a ton of texture already and texture + food seemed kinda gross to me? The canvas is cheap, tough and easy to clean. Win all around.


Interesting point and yet so many restaurants have texture in all of their seating. Sounds like you made a great call for you (and the cats)


I agree wholeheartedly. Specifically furry fabrics ????

Leigh H

I LOVE it!! Fantastic job! I love seeing each of your home stories. Thank you for sharing. Great choice on the white, love all of it. PLEASE do a post on the benches!


Ok. Love this. Love the design and all that. Blah. Blah. Blah.


The only show we watch! Who’s your favorite this season? And it never gets old, does it?


Also here for the Survivor talk! Those judgy eyes can keep their opinions to themselves 🙂 I was really liking Elizabeth, but last night left quite the sour taste in my mouth on that front. I’m rooting for Elaine or Janet to win!

Both these rooms are gorgeous. I LOVED the green, but definitely agree with you, painting it white was the right way to go.

Emily Bowser

Honestly, my favorite season is probably Gen X vs Millennials mostly because David is my all time favorite player – which also made me enjoy last season a lot as well. I also LOVE Christian from David vs Goliath.

This season, I’m not sure yet. I also haven’t watched last night’s episode yet though…

Zoe P

ughhhh! I love all of this SO MUCH! feels layered, intentional, modern yet also an eclectic mix with beautiful vintage elements. Also…very pleased that I had the same cat entry banquette idea for our teeny rental (the dining nook is in the same room as the living room set up, prob an 11×11 space, no joke) and we painted ours GREEN! You can see the pics in my bf’s IG highlights: I still don’t have cushions bc custom cushions just seemed like they’d be a million dollars but $300 sounds pretty reasonable! Did that price include the foam? Is… Read more »


I can’t speak for Emily B but I’ve had great success for affordable custom cushions via artisans on Etsy! I had a cushion for my banquette seat made with a fabric I picked out for <$300 and another set of 4 cushions for my Room & Board dining chairs (retail cost for their cushions was $100/cushion, I paid $50 each including the fabric!). My experience working with several different shops was excellent all around and much more affordable than you might expect.


I had two bench cushions done by an Etsy vendor in an indigo sunbrella denim fabric (so a much more expensive fabric than Emily’s canvas) and the total for the cushions with shipping was about $400. To be clear that price included the fabric, fabricating/sewing the cushions and shipping. The vendor I used was NC Patio Cushions.

Emily Bowser

First of all – good job on the benches! Those are way higher tech than mine and you should build them custom as a side gig. The box is great for renters because you don’t have to put big holes in the wall (something I didn’t want to deal with). The most expensive thing about cushions is just that, the actual cushion inside. It was $300 for that AND reupholstering a bench in my bedroom. I say save up and splurge. It’s way more comfortable!


BEAUTIFUL! Yes, pretty pretty please share your upholsterer connection! I live in Eagle Rock and have been planning on a making a similar banquet for our nook, but find the cushion part SO DAUNTING. Also your expert banquette opinion: If I don’t have walls to nestle the banquette in between like you do, will it look weird floating on two walls in the room? It would essentially be in an L between two doors, and one end of the banquette would need to be far away from the door for it to swing all the way open. Is that going… Read more »

Emily Bowser

oh geeze that sounds like a design agony question! You should submit! Without seeing the space it sounds *kinda* weird. Maybe if the banquette was more of a piece of furniture with a back like this?:


My friend has a banquette that floats. It provides a natural barrier between the kitchen and the living room. Works great and we LOVED it.


I bought custom cushions on Ebay!


I love, it is so effortlessly cool. I love the mix of modern and vintage. Those chairs are awesome and I wish I could pull something like that off, but don’t think it’s going to work in my suburban family house. Haha 🙂


Are you going to post about your kitchen or your back house?

Emily Bowser

Yes, my kitchen/laundry will be next to reveal, hopefully early in the new year. I don’t have a ton left to do in there but I’m going to attempt a DIY countertop over the washer/dryer and won’t have time/money for a little while to do it. As far as the back house – maybe soon. I currently have renters back there so it’s something I would need to clear with them or I could wait until they leave and before the new ones move in? Timing is up in the air but yes, that’s on the list.


PLEASE give me a tutorial for those benches. PLEASE. I trust your measurements more than anyone else on ther interwebz

Megan Lec

Love and V ready to see that kitchen! Hexagon tile is my love language.


While the green paint color is beautiful, I agree with your decision to paint over it with white. It clearly makes the room look bigger, brighter, and more cohesive. Great job overall! Plus your cats make great models


LOVE the dining room redo but am obsessed with your LR light fixture – can you tell me where you purchased?


Check yesterday’s intro post – the details for the LR light fixture is in there.

Emily Bowser

The Maison Craft on Etsy! It’s linked in the last post I think. Originally this was one huge post but Arlyn was like OMG EMILY SHUT UP and made it 2 probably because no one would read the whole thing in one sitting.


I love the hidden cat cave! So perfect!


I spy the horse shoe above the door. Are/were you a horse girl?! I’m always curious to hear why ppl put the shoe on the wall up or down, why did you do yours down? Lots of legends for why you should do one or the other.

Emily Bowser

Good catch! I actually did ride a bit as a child! I love horses. I thought I read something about it going that way when it’s over a door inside? I don’t know, I’m not superstitious I’m just a collector/curator of junk 🙂


I’m so curious about the inside of the Cat Cave! pillows? blankets? toys? So fun!
Loved this entire makeover, thank you for sharing!

Emily Bowser

haha right now it’s not very pretty! It think it’s just an old cozy blanket folded up! Daffy likes to bring her wine corks in there so there’s probably 100 of those. You’re making me realize it’s overdue for a clean out

Amy KS

That ribbon art by Angela was made for that wall. It needs to stay there!!

Emily Bowser

Thank you for justifying my thievery.


The whole room is so good and the ribbon art definitely belongs there. A++ theft!

Ellen Switzer

I just absolutely love the aesthetic appeal of *small* places. There is so much opportunity for clean, fashionable organization that just MAKES SENSE functionally. Bowser, your house is truly REFRESHING!!!!! i absolutely love it and i couldn’t wait for the part 2 today!


Totally beautiful! And completely relatable (ie. seeing you be so honest about money, cost, gifts, time) makes me feel so hopeful as a designer wannabe who treats my home (rented apartment with my H and three kids!) like a magazine shoot will happen here any day. It’s great to see that works in progress as well as some good old fashioned pressure can work together to create something beautiful. Yes bench tutorial please! And I spy that gorgeous kitchen just hanging out in the long shot of the dining nook. DO TELL AND SHOW PLEASE! Brava on all of it… Read more »

Emily Bowser

Thank you! From one designer wannabe to another – you got this! I’m very excited to share the kitchen in the new year. It’s galley kitchen which will probably be a struggle for Sara to photograph but at the same time there’s a lot to say about it for sure.


Also: Yahtzee dice FTW!! Looooove that game. And those dice make it art!


Looks so good! Bench tutorial, PLEASE!


Your house is amazing! And please come back soon, we need you!!

I’ve loved reading your posts (because you are super talented and hilarious), but also because of the honesty. Making a place look good is a combination of at least skill, experience, time, money, and effort and it is less interesting to me when only one factor (like lots of money or a billion hours of DIY effort) is used. Your honest writing reveals a happy mix of factors to create your amazing home, and it ends up being really interesting!

Emily Bowser

Milo and EVERYONE – I read every single comment and every one of them matters so much! Thank you!


ribbon art, swooooon


Ugh so good!! I’m loving everything about this! I’ve debated a built in banquette in my dining space since it’s kind of tight and it would let me shift things over too. This is fuel on the fire! I always wonder if it’s comfy to actually sit at to eat. It sounds like yes!

Emily Bowser

it is very comfy and makes the most use of the space, I think there’s a reason we are seeing more and more of them.

Karen Anne Murray

I really enjoyed your post/story and I love, love, love the white dining area and everything in it. Thanks for sharing.


Oh how I love your style


PLEASE do a tutorial on the benches!


Lovely dining room, etc., etc., but THAT CAT CAVE!!! My cat would absolutely love that…and I would hate it because she would be able to disappear in there when I just want to squish her.

I hope you have many more rooms to show us because I need more pics of Puck and Daffy!




Love it! I liked the green but get why white works best.

So harsh that you can’t work on MOTO’s during the work day! They are great blog content and you should be remunerated for your work! Not just by a few ‘free’ items (which should be job perks regardless)

Emily Bowser

well, there’s a lot of other things to do during a work day I suppose, but thanks for the support! I feel like it evens out pretty well, as a stylist I get an amazing platform for my work as well as the connections to companies and products. I don’t want to come off like I’m not very very very thankful for that, just the opposite in fact. I want to communicate to the readers the reality of the situation, of how much work it actually is, because in this space people can make things look very easy breezy and… Read more »


I understand your points. Respectfully, I still believe you are undervaluing yourself and deserve to be paid for your work, creating blog content = work.


My comments aren’t posting again :'((

Emily Bowser

I deleted your first one for you xo


This MOTO series is the best mix of attainable (DIY, Craigslist, target) and aspirational (prettty things I can’t afford yet). Would love love love more content like this! (And more of the behind the scenes on the DIY’s in each of the posts!)


I’d love a bench tutorial. I’m all about environmental enrichment for the cats!

Emily Bowser

Alright. HEARD. Over the weekend I’ll measure it out and post about it on my stories. It’s not really enough of a thing for a whole post


Uh, and maybe include a few more pictures of your brother with that…


I absolutely love it. Don’t ever give that art back.

Emily Bowser

ok 🙂


Absolutely love the kitty cave! My two boys would sooo be into that. How does the canvas hold up to your cats’ claws?


Learned a lot


I just love all of the furniture together and individually, and I love that you pieced everything together bit by bit (which is how normal people design their space :p). Lately I have been really into not having all white walls, but I can see what you mean about the green creating a black hole in your living space…


I very much enjoy your writing! Also those chairs are TO DIE FOR.

Angela Blehm

Beautiful, fresh space! And love the idea of keeping Yahtzee at the ready. The kitties, of course, seal the deal–how clever to make them a little cat cave. And, the ribbon looks perfect there–thank you!


Wonderful upgrades! and please please please yes to the bench tutorial


I lurve your ‘voice’, Bowser. So real, for real. Loving seeing how you’re making the most of your money pit, AKA: gorge home! You. Must. Keep. That. Art. Looks like licorice. ???? Also, how’s that book idea coming along. I would seriously buy it! Wondering if you ever tracked the book from Australia I shared with you…not that you have time to read for leisure! Ha! ???? BTW: I used to only be a cat person, for ever. Then nearly nine years ago I got a dog and thought that was me done with cats. But, Daffy and Puck!!!! Wot… Read more »

Roberta Davis

The dining space is perfection. I love the new light fixture and the ribbon art, and the table, and the chairs and the banquette and the kitty hole and the colors and the use of space and…..

emily jane

so, so, SOOOOOOOO darn wonderful -what an incredible, cheerful & inspiring transformation!!! Congratulations : ) PS. LOVE hearing from everyone on Team EHD.

[…] post Another MOTO Reveal: Emily Bowser’s Happy Dining Nook (With Custom Cat-Friendly Banquette, Because… appeared first on Emily […]


What I love about this, and many other posts like this on this site, is you show a room that is just fine, and that most people would look at and think is just lovely … but then show it even better. And its done in a way that regular folks can look at it and see for themselves what elements make it “better” and then apply the same to their room. It doesn’t have to be the same exact pieces, or colors, or anything … just the idea of what can make it better, take it up a notch.… Read more »


100% behind the DIY tutorial. After looking for the right size bench for 2+ years, I now know I have to DIY, but have been putting it off, this post however, is great inspiration to get on it! Also, it would be great if it answered some questions like: What depth bench is most comfortable? If you did it again would you add a back?


I’m an Enneagram 9, but I was immediately concerned about one of the cats bringing a small animal into the bench and leaving a smelly mess of bird/mouse/baby squirrel that you couldn’t reach. I will sleep better at night knowing that you can access the inside of the bench : )


emily b. – i’m commenting for the first time ever to say that:
a) your house looks fantastic and
b) i have enjoyed your writing style immensely, thank you for sharing your process with us.

another emily

Régine from The 256 Project

I think you did a great job making these two rooms seamless and, while I love color, I absolutely love this room painted white instead. Also, I’m a huge fan of Angela’s artwork.


Your cats are shockingly cooperative for your photo shoots! Love the idea of incorporating the cat cave into the banquette!


Love, love, love this. (And was prepared to be mad about losing the green paint- hah). Really like the repeating black in both amazing light fixture and the ribbon art work. Super cool.

Julie S

This is super beautiful, just on point. Reminds me of my own home’s vibe which is surely part of the reason I love it! I love the choices you made as you freshened up this corner to be friends with the rest of your home.

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