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How One Designer Transformed a Dreary Dining Room Into a Vibrant and Colorful Space

Bright formal dining room with gold chandelier.

Design: Jennifer Markowitz; Photo Kyle Caldwell; 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.

“The centrally-located dining room in this 1940s Colonial was the heart of the home for my clients, a large family with four kids, yet it did not reflect their needs or personal style,” interior designer Jennifer Markowitz says. “My vision for this project was to create a room that was happy and bright, something that captured the homeowners’ energetic personalities. Given they were planning on spending a lot of time in this space, it was important for the design to be both functional and stylish.”

Meet the Expert

Interior designer Jennifer Markowitz is the president of JNR Designs in Great Neck, New York. She likes to mix traditional with modern elements and is never shy about using color and pattern when bringing a space to life.


Drab dining room with busy floral drapes and rug.

Courtesy of Jennifer Markowitz

“The dining room is traditional in its architecture, yet was filled with dated fabrics, furniture, and accessories,” Markowitz shares. “It had drab beige walls, a too-fussy brass chandelier suspended over an old wood table, and a busy oriental rug that just added to all the mishmash. Prior to my design, the client opened a sidewall to add flow from the dining room through to the kitchen, necessitating the removal of the built-in cabinet.”


Bright wallpapered dining room with gold chandelier.

Design: Jennifer Markowitz; Photo Kyle Caldwell

“I added millwork and a bright orange and teal paper to the walls, then pulled colors for the drapes, rug, and ceiling from the wallpaper,” Markowitz says. “Keeping the furnishings neutral was important to offset all the bright colors, while a brass and glass chandelier—with clean lines and lots of personality—matches the vibrancy of the room.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Teal + bright orange + light blue + white = a happy and energetic space. 
  • Wallpaper: The wallpaper is filled with fun and upbeat colors yet they don’t overpower the room.  
  • Window treatments: Faux silk orange curtains are suspended from black rods for visual contrast. 
  • Chairs: White leather side chairs have unique brass legs and are paired with bamboo end chairs. 
  • Table: A glass-topped neutral-colored wood table has brushed silver ferrules legs. 
  • Ceiling: The ceiling is painted a soft blue—Benjamin Moore Glass Slipper—adding a fun design element to the space. 
  • Mirrors: Dual floating glass brass mirrors frame the windows, allowing light to bounce around the room. 
  • Ceiling pendant: The midcentury modern brass chandelier, with its irregular rectangular glass, ties into the other metal items in the room. 
  • Rug: The low-maintenance blue and white striped rug is a mix of natural and synthetic fabrics, perfect for under a dining room table.  
  • Floors: Oak wood floors are stained in dark walnut, grounding the space. 
  • Wall sconces: The sconces have a black floral motif that works well against the wallpaper. 
  • Buffets: White sideboards are covered in faux Belgian linen and fashionable metal studs.
  • Lamp: The white earthenware lamp is adapted from a Chinese design and topped with a blue and white Schumacher fabric shade. 
  • Walls: The millwork is painted in a clean white paint—Benjamin Moore White Dove—to offset the busy wallpaper pattern.

Shop the Look:

Bright wallpaper in dining room with orange curtains

Design: Jennifer Markowitz; Photo Kyle Caldwell

Alpine Medium Chandelier
Circa Lighting Alpine Medium Chandelier $5,029.00

“I love the futuristic look of this midcentury modern pendant, which works even in traditional spaces,” Markowitz notes.

Maddy Rectangle Wall Mirror
Kathy Kuo Home Maddy Rectangle Wall Mirror $1,805.00

“I love mirrors in a dining room, and this one—with its floating glass and unique brass frame—is simply gorgeous,” Markowitz says.

Slope Vegan Leather Dining Chair
West Elm Slope Vegan Leather Dining Chair $269.00

“This comfortable sloped leather chair has a graphic metal base, adding a vintage flair to any table,” Markowitz says.