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This Designer Turned a '70s Dining Room Into a Modern Space for Entertaining

Modern dining room with tulip table, glass light fixture and navy built-ins.

Design: Libby Rawes; Photo: Rebecca McAlpin; Graphic: MyDomaine

If there’s something we never get tired of seeing, it’s a great makeover. Whether it’s transforming a retro bathroom into a modern oasis or giving a lackluster bedroom a fresh look, pros perform these design miracles all the time.

To give designers a chance to showcase their favorite makeovers—and to bring you plenty of inspiration for your own home—we’re sharing the best before and afters we’ve seen in our series, Makeover of the Week. Take notes for your next renovation.

“When my clients first purchased this house, they filled their dining room with dated hand-me-down furniture that didn’t speak to their taste,” interior designer Libby Rawes says. “They decided to renovate to reflect their modern design style and create more storage space.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Libby Rawes is the owner and principal designer at Sharp and Grey Interiors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She strives to create inspirational designs that work and function within real-life scenarios.


Outdated pink dining room with heavy maple furniture.

Courtesy of Libby Rawes

“Prior to the makeover, this room felt and looked like a preserved time capsule with its pink carpet, satin drapery, thick striped wallpaper, and Victorian furniture,” Rawes shares. “The space was very formal, and it hadn’t been updated in years.”


Modern dining room with gold and glass light fixture above marble table.

Design: Libby Rawes; Photo: Rebecca McAlpin

“I created a more modern feel by creating a tone-on-tone style, adding black custom cabinetry, a black soapstone countertop, and a graphite grasscloth wallpaper,” Rawes notes. “To add color to all the darkness, I added a piece of graffiti artwork to the wall.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Black, gray, and neutral shades combine with brass elements for moments of warmth and darkness. 
  • Table: A classic yet modern white tulip table has a Carrara marble top with gray veining for movement.  
  • Chairs: Natural-colored cane backs and seats tie in with the white oak in the cabinetry.
  • Wallpaper: A deep graphite grasscloth wallpaper adds texture to the built-in area.
  • Cabinets: Rift white oak bookshelves lighten up the shaker-style cabinetry, painted in Off Black by Farrow & Ball. 
  • Sink: A sink is used for entertaining as well as for hand washing before weekly Shabbat meals.
  • Ceiling pendant: A glass globe and brass chandelier creates drama over the table without adding any visual weight. 
  • Sconces: Modern library sconces punctuate the tops of the cabinetry to illuminate the shelves and artwork.
  • Curtains: Graphic black and white curtain panels play with the light and dark in the room while mimicking the lines in the artwork.
  • Floors: Natural white oak floors and a vintage style blush and dark brown colored rug adds softness. 
  • Wall art: The bold graffiti art features blue, green, white, pink and black pops of color.
  • Accessories: A mix of wood, white and black accessories add sculptural interest.

Shop the Look:

Close up of blue built ins with wooden shelves and modern decor items.

Design: Libby Rawes; Photo: Rebecca McAlpin

Fairfax Chandelier
Lightology Fairfax Chandelier $2,619.00

“I love that this fixture is modern and funky, yet dainty at the same time,” Rawes notes. 

Modern Painting Abstract
RonDeri 55" Contemporary Art 'Composition' $1,850.00

“An oil and acrylic abstract painting will add movement to any wall,” Rawes says.

Teak Serving Bowl
Terrain Teak Serving Bowl $58.00

“This bowl is organic, warm, and unique. The fun shape keeps it from feeling ordinary,” Rowes says.