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Sylvia’s Makeover: Dining Room




This dining room makes me so happy, so joyful. We had to cut a lot from the video to make it bite-sized for the digital audience, but one of the things that got edited out was Ricky saying that he really wanted to have family dinners around the table. It’s not that Sylvia and Riccardo rejected this idea, they just hated their dining room, it was a dumping ground for papers and mail but that was about it. They never ate there and while it was a cute room, it was lacking the love it needed.

Sylvia Makeover Target Dining Room_Before

The table was too big, and it was one of those high tables, like at a weird airport restaurant, that I find really uninviting. I understood why they chose not to hang out here. So, they sold their table and chairs and organized their paperwork so when we came in it was completely empty. The flooring was bad linoleum which could have been worse, but when Floor and Decor said they would donate the wood flooring for the project I jumped at the chance to make it wildly better.

Sylvia Makeover Target Dining Room_Construction

We put paneling in the dining room, as you know, which is officially my favorite thing to do to an older house to add character. DO THIS. I explain the whole process in the master bedroom post. Additionally you might be noticing that there was indeed wood flooring under the linoleum but we didn’t find that out until it was too late and the new flooring was on site. The original floors were far too damaged to keep and would have needed days of repair work that we didn’t have. I explained more about this in the living room post (check it out).

Once the paneling was up, it was such a pretty room. It has great windows and light and pretty moulding and architecture.

Syliva_Dining Room_Emily Henderson_Blue_Dining Room_Empty_Paneling Syliva_Dining Room_Emily Henderson_Blue_Dining Room_Empty_Paneling1

We painted the walls above the paneling a wonderful blue, (Newburyport Blue by Benjamin Moore) which is also my front door color and I LOVE it. I like to go darker in a dining room, since it’s more of a temporary space (meaning you don’t spend as much time in there as other rooms) you can do something bolder and cozier.

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Emily Henderson_Target_Makeover_Nanny Suprise_Process_Behind the Scenes_24

After that, it was just a matter of decorating that room with furniture that was more proportionate, stylish and functional.

Here you go:


I go back and forth on what my favorite room is in the house, but right now this is the winner. Everything is pretty simple in here – that Parsons table and classic windsor style chairs are a great match that feels both a little unexpected and yet not risky. The curtains (by Nate Berkus for Target) added so much to the space – their thick texture, and classic pattern elevated it to look modern and fresh.

There was a bit of a curtain debacle, however. We hired a seamstress off of Taskrabbit to hem all the curtains in the house and I was busy filming in the back room when she did all the measurements. It seemed like a no-brainer since all the curtain rods were in the whole house were hung at the moulding, but the moldings were at different heights in the various rooms, so when she brought them back, the day of the final install they were way too long in the dining room (thus the puddling). No big deal, but, no, that is not intentional. We ran out of time to have them re-sewn and these are too thick what with their open weave to be properly held up by hemming tape.


We cheated it in this photo but you can see the big old puddle in the first photo. I don’t hate a puddle, but I prefer a kiss. Should that be the name of my first album? Or just on my gravestone? The room had a few smaller pieces of furniture – this parsons bar/cabinet which was great:

Dining Room Redesign Nanny Makeover Sylvia Emily Henderson Design-261

I love that marble/brass lamp so much – it has a classic deco/modern feel to it. I had to, obviously, put in a framed photo of my kids in their house somewhere. That piece of art is an original collage that I thought was just so happy and fun (I’ve hoarded it for a while) and I thought it gave the dining room a lot of life.


I love the view of the living room from the dining room – its so inviting and that archway is so pretty and special.

Dining Room Redesign Office Space Nanny Makeover Sylvia Emily Henderson Design-267

Dining Room Redesign Office Space Nanny Makeover Sylvia Emily Henderson Design-270

The chandelier is from Target as well, which is great and so affordable, and the sisal rug was a last minute buy because the color of the wood table got lost on the wood flooring.


We needed something to break up the two dark tones, plus that rug has pretty metallic strips running through it.


This might be my favorite shot of the whole house makeover. It really shows how open it all flows and how the two spaces worked with each other to be inviting, fun happy and cohesive.

Wait. Strike that. This is my favorite shot:

Sylvia Makeover Target Dining Room_Emily Henderson_Reveal 2

I will forever hear her voice when I see this image – she was laughing and crying and it was so infectious. Her voice was full of such shock, joy and gratefulness. It will truly be something that makes me feel happy. Forever. Like tears kind of happy.

Sylvia Makeover Target Dining Room_Emily Henderson_Reveal 3

A huge thanks to Target for supporting this project. It’s not like they had written this into our agenda, it wasn’t on our 2016 projected partnership projects. I’m so proud that they are a company full of people that see the value in projects like this and create flexibility to be able to accomplish them. Based on your comments and shares I think that they’ve officially seen that this was the right thing to do. So thanks, you guys, for showing your support and love for both Target and this project.

Sylvia and her family are so grateful – they text me ALL THE TIME with little ‘thank you’s’ or the more frequent ‘I can’t stop crying’ from Riccardo (how sweet is that? he reads your comments and texts me all the time). It’s insanely touching and so amazing to hear.

Sylvia Makeover Target Master Bedroom_Emily Henderson_Reveal 3

I’m actually bawling right now as I write this. Maybe it’s because I’m on a flight, my first of three work trips to New York in the next three weeks, missing my kids desperately. Maybe it’s because being a working mom can feel so helpless, sad, endless, exhausting and even painful at times, despite feeling so empowering at others. Or maybe it’s because I know that I have someone, Sylvia, whom they love there in my absence (which makes me happy/tearful in a different way), and now I know that she, definitely, feels how valued she is by my family. This is not a normal situation to be in because most moms don’t get to makeover their nanny’s home. The whole thing was and will forever be such a wonderful and life-changing opportunity – for them and me. In case you missed the full reveal video:

Like I said (and as you can see from the video), this project is a Win, win, win.

(P. S. Thanks for all your many comments and support. I told my team that for the first time ever they were to delete any negative comments immediately before they could be read by Sylvia and her family (just in case, as there is a lot of ugly hate out there on the internet) but I’m happy to report they didn’t have to delete ONE comment. That’s amazing. Your comments brought us all to tears. She and Riccardo are so grateful for your positivity and I truly think they they now know there is love and support for them beyond their immediate community. Thank you, guys).

Sylvia's Makeover Dining Room Get The Look

1. Woven Roller Blinds | 2. Curtain Rod | 3. Curtains | 4. Ceramic Frame | 5. Wood Grain Frame | 6. Ceiling Light | 7. Glass Vase 1 | 8. Glass Vase 2 | 9. Glass Vase 3 | 10. Mixed Metal Table Lamp | 11. Wood Buffet | 12. Dining Table | 13. Wine Rack | 14. Gold Serving Tray | 15. Wall Hanging | 16. Area Rug | 17. Bar Cart | 18. Dining Chairs | 19. Wall Paint | 20. Modern White Frame | 21. White Table Lamp

*Photography by Tessa Neustadt. Great design/styling help from Peter Dolkas, Video by Propeller Digital.

And see the rest of the rooms here: Sylvia & Ricardo’s Master Bedroom | Ricky’s Bedroom | Living Room | Bathroom

Fin Mark


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My thumbs can’t type fast enough to include all of my happy thoughts, but I have so many! One thing I must s ay is THANK YOU for seeing that a good nanny/childcare provider is a good thing. Many many people expect to get childcare for $2.50 an hour or $20 for an 8-9 hour day…in other words next to nothing. From a SAHM who does occasional care for people (the appreciative ones, not the ones who think my very reasonable prices are too high) Thank you for sending the message that a warm, loving, hardworking nanny deserves the world… Read more »

Thank you. And by the way I think we should change SAHM to WAHM – WORK at home mom. It’s soooooo much work and ‘stay’ doesn’t really reflect that. xx


This made me cry again Emily. I’m a wahm.


Good on you, Emily! Thanks for remembering the caregivers!

Katie D

I love this whole makeover! It’s awesome that this family gets a beautiful new space. Also, I feel like this design is super accessible, which is awesome. I like when the site provides really high end design but also when it’s something I could do in my own house, and this fits the bill.


This whole makeover series for Syliva and her family has been 100% heartwarming, deserving, and beautiful. Well. Done.

Kudos to Target for seeing the value, a truly ‘Minnesota Nice’ kind of company. Makes me proud to be from there.


One of my favorite design posts ever! What a beautiful family, what a beautiful home. This is a testament to the power of friendship, of caring, of working together, and of love. Such goodness in a such a short amount of time. Everyone’s a winner here.


Thank you MaryMargaret. As a reader new to this site, I was impressed by your comment. It is so important to remember the mutually fulfilling symbiosis that can occur between people who share so much. Human relationships. So lovely. And Sylvia’s laughter is wonderful! Thank you Emily for doing this for the family of the woman who takes care of your children. I live in NYC where I often see women taken advantage of, their family lives and children do not get a second thought. Also, your beautiful makeover made me grateful for my tiny, yet sweet NY apartment which… Read more »

Reading through and taking notes on literally everything – how to break up two dark objects (with a lighter rug), how to create a cohesive feel from room to room, how to be a better person… You know, the usual)) Seriously, Emily, I’ve got no words – just so much respect for you and your team. Also, I bought that same chandelier for my office, and I’m so freaking excited that I did so BEFORE you blogged about it and it was all sold out. 🙂 We all know how the brass mirror situation turned out.. 😉 Speaking of which, HOW… Read more »

HA. the round one? Yeah, its awesome. I think they come back in stock pretty often so stay on it. (and thank you for your lovely words). xx

Michelle Taylor

The BEST thing ever for weeks!! Thank you for being someone who is SO positive, kind and giving!
What beautiful families you all are!

Paige Posladek

I never comment on blogs because I’m lazy and greedy like that but I just can’t stop smiling. I actually cried watching the video which surprised even me. This is beautiful. They are beautiful people and it just all screams LOVE.

Paige Posladek

(Speaking of greedy) where is your gingham shirt from in that video? It’s all kinds of perfect.

Thank you 🙂 I cry every time, too. And its from The Great and its my #1 shirt. It wasn’t cheap but its sooooooooo goood (that ruffle hides that ‘i had two babies’ area). 🙂

Yes where is that shirt from! I love it!! This video was so beautiful but how much you care about Sylvia is more beautiful! … Still crying over here . XOXOXO


You are amazing! Your family and their family are sooo happy to have each other! Beautiful!

Cris S.

I haven’t commented on the other posts in this series, but had to at least once. What an awesome job, what an awesome donation from Target, and I’ve been looking for a chandelier like in the dining room and NEVER would have thought to go to the Target website for that. Win/Win for me too!

YAY. Thank you. xx


First of all, I love the HUMAN aspect of this makeover. There is a lot of beauty in this story and it begins and ends with love. Then, there is the beauty of the design/makeover: LOVE IT – ALL of it! I appreciate that relatively inexpensive (please note that “inexpensive” does not equate cheap or even affordable to everyone) furniture and decor that can be used to make a home beautiful, inviting, and magazine worthy. (My favorite makeovers always include items I could afford to use in my own home.) Well done Emily.


Loved it. I’ve loved this whole series. And could you please tell Target they need a pin button on that chandelier? You’ve introduced me to the furniture side of Target; something I never knew before…


Holy fabulous! Congratulations, Sylvia. The work you do is so important, and the love you give to those kiddos is something that will shape the kind of people they are for the rest of their lives. How lucky they are to have such a positive energy caring for them! Just know that your work isn’t JUST calming toddler meltdowns or changing diapers. It is an eternal gift that they’ll take with them, and eventually, pass on to their own children.

On a lesser side note, I cannot believe that chandelier is from Target. They’re killing it lately!


Whenever I read these posts, I get a lump in my throat just seeing their excitement as a family. We don’t have a nanny, but we’ve sent our two boys to Nina’s in-home daycare from when they were 12 weeks old, and I identify with the sentiment that there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for the person who loves our boys as much as she does (and who they love too). I know they are becoming good people in part because of her, so while I miss them during the day, I wouldn’t have them anywhere else. It’s obvious how much… Read more »

I got glassy eyed reading your comment. Thank you 🙂


so so so gorgeous. i love that it’s so simple but it’s got the makings just to be there forever and make people content at being there forever. these people are so deserving. and i’m glad you’re able to give them a gorgeous home!!


My God Emily… Really really Love this whole makeover. It’s really beautiful. Proud of you and your team ….


What a wonderful gift to give such a cute and deserving family. Love seeing the happy tears. Wish we could sprinkle happiness on the world.


This might be one of my favorite makeovers you’ve ever done. You are both talented and kind, and Target was extraordinarily generous. I already shop at Target (like, a lot. . .) but this makes me like them even more. You are so fortunate to have good and reliable childcare, and you are very thoughtful to both acknowledge that and recognize Sylvia and her family in such a meaningful way.

thank you. xx


I have tears reading this! Soo beautiful.. all of it. Warms my heart. I was listening to a sermon on what we do in our world that is often filled with hate, crime and sorrow and Mother Theresa said simply/ to love each other and show love to each other. That is exactly what you are doing! Not only by loving this beautiful family but by sharing it with all of us! You are spreading the message of love in the most beautiful way you know how, through design. Every single day they will feel happier in their home as… Read more »


Very nice Gina.

thank you. i sure hope you are right and honestly because of this i’m more inspired than ever to just keep doing these makeovers. Its been one of the best experiences/opportunities in my life. xx


Absolutely loved this entire makeover! As soon as I saw the new living room, I thought, “THAT is how I want my LR to look like.” (new home-owner here in the process of a gut-renovation). Who knew Target had such great looking stuff!? I found the tip about going dark in a dining room extremely helpful. I really like this one paint color but think it might be too dark for the bedroom – maybe I’ll use it for the DR instead! Love the curtains, love the lights, love everything. And especially Sylvia’s infectious laugh! It was a joy reading… Read more »

thank you. xx


Dear Emily….you made Monday Wonderful!
I hope you will
Tell me….is paneling a good fit for California 1950 track rancher?

I can do that, if so.

Than you!!

HMMM… Its definitely more traditional than midcentury. but you could do floor to ceiling (almost like 70’s vertical paneling?). I’ll think about it. You’d think there would be some way to apply it …. although honestly if your house isn’t too midcentury then it might be fine! A ranch house isn’t exactly a palm springs icon … its actually all Brian and I dream of – open space, only one story …kids can run everywhere without us worried about stairs … sorry. drinking a glass of win/watching the batch and brain is letting things out of my fingers 🙂


So wonderful of you to write


I love everything about this makeover. You made every single room look put together, stylish and full of personality. It doesn’t even look like the same house! I have a question about something. Since they rent, is there ever a worry the landlord in these situations?? With all of the upgrades, do you worry their rent will be raised at the end of their lease to reflect the way the house looks now? I know rents i the LA area are insane right now. Would a landlord in this situation take advantage and try to get a lot more rent… Read more »


I’m curious too. I also wonder what’s to stop the landlord from not renewing the lease and maybe selling the property at a profit?

YES. I do worry about this and I know that they do secretly, too. They asked the landlord before and I had to get on the phone and tell them that they for sure weren’t going to have to pay anything. I trust that the landlord (who might be reading this) knows that this family deserves this home, at the price they pay now (which is still a good payment, by the way) will stay the same. I trust that the landlord is a good person who sees the joy that this brought to the family. I also trust that… Read more »


thanks for the reply.


Thank you for the reply. I don’t even know Sylvia but after the video (which made me cry), I actually got worried for them. It’s lovely to know they have you in their corner.


GAH! So good. I said that last time, but I think it’s worthy of a second round of applause. LOVE this!!

(Also, super trippy – because I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t hang 2 colors of curtains in the same room but they look blue and black in the same photo! Are they blue or are they black?!)


They’re gold and white. 😉


They are navy and white 🙂


Bravo! Bravo! This project was fabulous in every way.


Loved this makeover so much! It’s so lovely that you made a them home that reflects them and their needs and tastes.
Kudos to Target for helping in this endeavor. Now I have to see how I can shop Target from Italy!

BTW I want to go to Tijuana to see mexican wrestling as well 🙂


Wow! I’m a ball bucket over here!! ?? Thank you Emily for blessing this precious family!!


I don’t think I’ve ever commented before (though been a reader for a long time) but I had to add my praise and appreciation to you, Emily, your team and Target (and all the other amazing companies who donated product) for this gorgeous makeover for – what sounds like – a truly deserving, hardworking and very likable family! Thank you, Sylvia, Riccardo and Ricky for allowing strangers into your lovely home and for sharing a bit about your lives. Emily – thank you for being refreshingly real and also extremely likable (while being crazy talented too!).

THANK YOU. Those comments mean so much (and thank you for reading and commenting). xx

that lighting is target? seriously? also, her sweet happy joyful tears!

Yep! It’s awesome. xx


The whole thing is just fantastic! I love how happy all the spaces are. It really seems to match the family well.

I have a question about the chandelier in the Dining Room. I bought it for my guest room, but want to hang it closer to the ceiling. Do you think it could be hung as more of a semi flush mount? Would that look weird?


Love this family! Cheers to you Emily!


Pretty please.
Will you be showing us that too?



Oh my wow. It is just so beautiful! I want to live there and have Sylvia be my nanny too :). I like the pairing of the rug with the tale with the chairs- so cute! Target is officially my favorite store.

Mine, too.


I have watched the video several times. Sylvia and Riccardo’s house looks gorgeous! I cannot think of a better way to share your talent and show love for the woman who cherishes your children. They appear to be a loving family and the light, comfort and love brought to them by EHD is awesome! Enjoy your new home sweet family!


I love this family! What wonderful people and I love, love, love all the changes you have made in their home. The paneling is beautiful and I loved the arched doorways. It must have been so hard for Sylvia to work all day in your beautiful home and then go home to a home that didn’t fit her warm, loving personality. Now she can go home and recuperate in a beautiful space of her own….not that taking care of your two would be exhausting or anything! Sweet, sweet husband and son and their story is heartwarming.

That’s what I thought all the time – even before I saw it but definitely after. Sooooo glad thats not the case anymore. xx


I have commented previously on what an amazing project this is, but man, I LOVE this dining room. Like, I want the whole thing in my house. Also, it warms my heart to hear that there have not been any negative comments on this series. There is way too much real hate and hurt in the world to bring it into something so lovely.

I agree. I was so happy and surprised in such a good way. xx


I love this makeover, but I cry every time I read a post. And the video? Sobs. So happy you have a wonderful woman to help you raise your kids, and so happy you could give back to her in this very special way (in addition to compensating her well, of course).


Love posts like this! Making people happy within their own homes is for certain the best place to start. From there you can only spread joy!


This is such a beautiful series. I love what you have done for this family. The house looks amazing! Target’s decor is crazy awesome! I couldn’t believe when I read the chandelier was from Target. And the paint colors are perfection.
What color white did you use for all of the trim and ceiling?


Emily — your kindness abounds, thank you for continuing to inspire me.


This is such a refreshing and beautiful thing you guys have done. I never comment here but just want to hug you and say what a blessing you have been to this family. And what a beautiful thing that they are such a blessing to you in return. It does my heart good to see people truly caring for others, especially in our hurting country today. Apart from the beautiful work you did, I will always remember you now for your generosity to this much deserved family.

Thank you. that makes me want to cry.

Super cute! I love how happy she is!

This is just so amazing. I think you successfully brought us all to tears.


Emily, this is by far, my favorite project you’ve done and not just for the feelies ( and they are some good feelies), but also for the design, which is a vote for affordable beauty if I’ve ever seen it and cause’ I want to move in, even thought it’s not my style. It’s wonderful. I’ve already got my husband primed for the fact that the paneling will be happening in our den. As a working mom, I feel all the same conflicts as you and while I’ve told the women at my daughter’s Montessori school how important they are… Read more »

That comment gave me chills, and then smiles (re the masks :)) thank you and congrats on your lovely daughter. xx


Best use of an ad budget. Way to go, Target! This series of posts is incredibly inspiring.


I’ll say it again – hands down, one of my most favorite makeover posts ever. The before and after was breathtaking but I also loved it because it was accessible, warm and friendly and so full of color! You truly made a pretty bones house into a lovely home. I loved it! I can’t even watch the video again because so many tears but I absolutely loved the reactions, the laughter and the crying. SO many good emotions – which is SO needed! I sincerely hope that Target sees the WIN in this and wants to do more. I could… Read more »


YES, THIS!!! With Emily at the helm, obviously. I’d read the hell out of that!

YES. I would do that in a heartbeat. We have fun things in the pipeline – and hopefully this informs them. xx


I have enjoyed every post in this series. There is so much value here – styling a small space, working with color, balancing family coziness & good design. I love every single room. Bravo! Posts like these help inspire my own creativity. This was such a smart partnership – I was quite impressed with the quality and design of the Target items, and if I could I would go buy them all.


WOW! Emily I thought you were just the cutest thing when you won Design Star and now I know you are, without a doubt, the coolest designer out there is blogland. Many kudos to you, your team, Target and Sylvia and her family for their willingness to have this makeover revealed on the internet. It’s absolutely fantastic what everyone has come together to do for an amazing family. I wish them many happy years to come in their beautiful home and much success to you and the fine design team you’ve assembled. And I’ll keep visiting my local Target!

Emily, this makeover was truly special. I am so blown away by the whole story! Ricky’s room is my favorite because….luchador masks!!! He is one awesome kid! Thanks so much for doing this and for sharing it with all of us. You shined a light on a very special person in your life who so many would take for granted. Sylvia is such a joyful person and now she has a joyful house to reflect her personality.


Have been reading your blog for 4 years, and this is the first time I’ve cried. What a lovely family. And now they have a lovely home that fits. Well done!!


I wanted to reserve my comments until this series of blog posts was complete, but you guys knocked it out of the park with this one. Just one correction: I would call this a win/win/win/win (for you in the beautiful design, for Sylvia’s family in their gorgeous new space, for Target and their sponsorship of such a great use for their beautiful products, and for us – your readers.

yea!! win/win/win/win indeed. thank you for commenting 🙂

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