A Colorful $100 DIY Makeover of an LA Dining Room
By Kristen Flanagan
Photography by Meghan McNeer
For German-born muralist and artist Thomas Rodehuth-Harrison, home is where the art is. Over the years, the Studio Rodehuth founder collaborated with his husband, interior designer Jake Rodehuth-Harrison, to personalize the LA apartment that the couple and their two cats share. Neither Thomas nor Jake—who was a partner in AD100 firm ETC.etera and recently launched his own venture, Hubbahubba—shy away from color in their personal or professional lives, so when Thomas suggested that he transform their dining room with a 360-degree floor-to-ceiling mural, Jake happily handed over the creative direction to Thomas. “I had a very clear vision of it,” Thomas says. “The whole idea of this room is that you sit on a pergola on a little platform in the garden in the countryside, and this is your view.”
Usually, Thomas says, he’d lean into a room’s lack of natural light with a moody hue to create a cocoon-like effect, but in the couple’s not-quite-sunny dining room, he decided to go bright and bold. “The blue definitely reflects more light, but it’s not really that much brighter in there now,” he explains. “It’s still the same kind of vibe when it comes to the light, but way more fresh and a little bit more alive.”
While Thomas wasn’t able to renovate his way to bringing more light into the dining room, the mural’s punched up color palette revived the once-sleepy space.
The process only took Thomas a few days—20 hours in total. “Everything is free hand. I listened to multiple podcasts while painting, so I basically counted how long it took me in podcasts,” he says. “I love working really late at night. I remember one night, my husband had gone to bed at midnight and he was waking up and I was still painting. When I’m really in my zone, I just keep going.”
Location: LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood
BEFORE: Previously, the dining room’s terra-cotta paint color was soft and subdued—a quiet backdrop to the low-light space.
The before: “Our dining room is very dark even though it has two windows,” Thomas says. “There’s not a lot of natural light coming in from either one.” Because the apartment is a rental, using paint to brighten things up was a landlord-friendly decision.
The inspiration: Thomas’s muse for the mural motif was vintage cartoons. “I’m always very inspired by Eastern European midcentury animation,” he says. “I have big memories from when I was a kid of one show that’s called the Little Mole, from the Czech Republic. The style is just beautiful—vibrant colors and gorgeous shapes.” For this particular project, he also cites an animated show called Asterix, circa 1960s France. “The landscape that is shown inspired this one a little bit.”
Budget: The real expense would have been the custom mural work, but since Thomas was DIY’ing it he didn’t really consider the budget. “If you’re creative enough, whether you’re good with freehand painting, or stencil, or a projector, you can do something like this,” he says. “Paying someone to do it would be expensive, but the material costs for that aren’t really high.”
Square footage: 120 square feet
The artist and his husband, Jake, decided to limit the amount of artwork hung in the dining room post mural installation. Now, the dining room’s colorful walls provide a vibrant contrast to the bright white living room walls.
Paint: Thomas had seen the shade of blue that he used on the ceiling and the wainscoting—Backdrop’s Early Stuff—at a friend’s house. “Every other blue tone that you see in the mural is mixed with that shade,” he explains.
Chandelier: The 1950s Italian chandelier, designed by Stilnovo, features 16 bulbs with perforated white metal shades and a brass frame, hanging from black wires. Jake sourced the striking piece through an antiques dealer.
Bar: The 1940s French bar with a mirror inlay was a 1stDibs find.
Jake sourced the dining room furniture—a mix of vintage finds via 1stDibs and artful accents.
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Table lamp: The burnt orange color of the three-globe table lamp by Entler Studio picks up some of the original warm tone the room was painted. “When you see these negative spaces in the mural, like the bright orange, the bright pink, that is the original paint color it was before,” Thomas says.
Chairs: The dining chairs are IKEA “from the ’80s or ’90s” and the Memphis-style accent chairs with blush velvet upholstery are vintage Italian.
Blinds: Jake and Thomas had bamboo blinds cut to fit the apartment’s irregular windows. “Every window has different measurements for some reason,” Thomas laughs.
Sneakiest save: While Thomas worked with Backdrop paint, he says, “You can get some paint samples from any hardware store and mix with those.”
Final bill: A gallon of Backdrop paint was $75, plus brushes and drop cloths. “It couldn’t have cost more than $100,” Thomas says.
Thomas included cheeky details, like grapes spilling over the wainscoting wall, to reinforce his vision of sitting on a pergola in the countryside.Location:BEFOREThe before:The inspiration:Budget:Square footage:Paint:Chandelier:Bar:Table lamp:Chairs:Blinds:Sneakiest save:Final bill: