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How One Designer Took This Dining Room From Bland to Bold

Black and white sophisticated dining room.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

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.

“The dining room is what you see when you first walk in the door of this charming Colonial-style home,” interior designer Karen Wolf says. “With three kids and a close-knit extended family living nearby, my client wanted a usable, timeless yet elegant space to host family get-togethers.”

Meet the Expert

Karen Wolf is the owner and creative principal of Karen B. Wolf Interiors in Short Hills, New Jersey. She believes every project deserves a little sparkle along with layers of color, pattern, and texture. 


Bland white dining room with marble and silver table.

Courtesy of Karen Wolf

“The dining room is very narrow with a low ceiling, but luckily, it has lots of natural light thanks to the French doors and bay windows,” Wolf shares. “Prior to the renovation, it lacked any carpeting, window treatments, or color on the walls. All the space had going for it was the beautiful 1904 crown molding, paneled wainscotting, and charming window seat.”


Black and white dining room with large orb chandelier and acrylic chairs.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

“To keep the room’s sunny feel yet create a modern look, I incorporated a light neutral color palette and added a chic patterned rug, dynamic artwork, and accessories with sculptural interest,” Wolf notes. “Acrylic chairs make the room feel less dense, and the glass globe ceiling fixture opens everything up.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Cream, white, navy, and wood tones create a classic yet modern color palette.
  • Table: The ten-foot cerused oak dining table seats eight and has a stylish hand-forged stainless steel base. 
  • Wallpaper: A buff-colored wallpaper has a small herringbone pattern to add interest and movement to the walls.  
  • Chairs: Striped cushions on the Lucite side chairs balance out the busy crocodile print on the end chairs. 
  • Credenza: A slim tone-on-tone buffet sinks into the cream and white wallpaper and fits in the narrow space.
  • Windows: A bluish-gray woven shade and curtain panels provide privacy on the bay windows and French doors.
  • Rug: The rug’s large blue and white pattern grounds the space. 
  • Lighting: An overscaled globed chandelier, made of opaque glass, adds a little European flair. 
  • Window seat: Navy and white pillows pop on the window seat’s neutral-colored base cushion.
  • Wall art: Dark navy paint swatches project a simple yet stylish design within the framed art. 
  • Table accessories: White multi-armed candlesticks and a large glass bowl create visual interest without cluttering the table.

Shop the Look:

Close up of orb chandelier above wooden dining table.

Design: Karen Wolf; Photo: Raquel Langworthy

Tiered Chandelier Ceiling Light
Visual Comfort Tiered Chandelier Ceiling Light $2,099.00

“This fabulous fixture reminds me of something you’d see in a Parisian bistro,” Wolf notes.

Winfield Wallpaper
Decorators Best Winfield Wallpaper $116.00

“This neutral wallpaper provides a hint of texture yet reads like paint,” Wolf shares.

Ghost Chair
Interior Icons Ghost Chair $139.00

“I love that these acrylic chairs can work in both formal and informal settings,” Wolf shares.