Ariel Okin Breathed New Life Into a Dated Dining Room — Here's How

Quaint dining room with green wallpaper and traditional accents.

Design: Ariel Okin; Photo: Donna Dotan; 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.

“I knew renovating the dining room in our newly purchased Colonial would be a priority because I love to cook and needed a special place where I could entertain friends on the weekends and host extended family on holidays,” interior designer Ariel Okin says. “My goal was to make the space feel bespoke and collected through a mix of vintage and contemporary pieces, while looking equally engaging in both daylight and candlelight.”

Meet the Expert

Ariel Okin is the founder and principal designer at Ariel Okin Interiors based in Manhattan and Bedford, New York. She creates spaces that are warm yet elegant, contemporary yet livable—through the use of color, clean lines, and a mix of bespoke and antique items.

Before:

Dull drown and black dining room.

Courtesy of Ariel Okin

“With 10-foot ceilings, the grandeur of this dining room wasn’t being utilized,” Okin shares. “The space felt much smaller and darker than it really was, while much of its beauty was hidden behind dated red toile wallpaper, clunky furniture, and bad lighting.”

After:

After shot of beautiful flowers on dining room table.

Design: Ariel Okin; Photo: Donna Dotan

“We freshened up the dining room by painting the ceiling sky blue, papering the walls in a nature-inspired Chinoiserie wallpaper, and covering the windows in an ivory silk fabric with a latticed sky blue trim,” Okin shares. “Incorporating a beautiful mix of traditional and contemporary furniture and artwork transformed the room into a fresh and inviting space.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Sky blue, pale green, and crisp white hues create a fresh and airy feel. 
  • Wallpaper: A soft Chinoiserie mural wallpaper was inspired by nature, giving off a spring vibe.
  • Ceiling light: The contemporary white plaster chandelier introduces geometry and modernism to the more traditional space.
  • Chairs: The antique squared Louis-style side and armchairs create contrast with the oval table and were reupholstered in a sky blue performance velvet. 
  • Table: The mahogany oval dining table offsets the squareness of the room and elongates the space.
  • Wall art: Graphic black and white wall art add an edginess to the soft and feminine design. 
  • Sconces: The double brass sconces have a traditional silhouette and keep the space warmly lit. 
  • Side table: A marble-topped 17th-century mahogany Louis commode stores serving pieces and glassware.
  • Windows: The brass rods hang near the ceiling to emphasize the room’s height.  
  • Ceiling: The ceiling was painted in a high gloss baby blue shade (Farrow & Ball Borrowed Light) to add interest and reflect light throughout the day. 
  • Floors: The original wood floors were refinished in a walnut stain (Duraseal’s Walnut Stain) while a custom kilim rug ties the room’s green, blue and white colors together. 
  • Cabinet: The antique wood and bamboo cabinet stores wedding china and vintage candlesticks and was painted yellow-green (Benjamin Moore Bonsai). 
  • Flower holders: Vintage vases hold in-season cut wildflowers, like sweet pea.

Shop the Look:

Close up of corner with vintage sconce and wallpaper.

Design: Ariel Okin; Photo: Donna Dotan

Classic No. 1
Hudson Valley Lighting Classic No. 1
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“The pleated lampshades on these sconces cast a very flattering light,” Okin shares.

Vintage French Square Back Dining Chair
Restoration Hardware Vintage French Square Back Dining Chair $270.00
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A square backed Louis-style dining chair looks elegant and timeless in a dining room,” Okin says.

Antigua Sky
King's House Oriental Rugs Antigua Sky
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“Utilizing a thin carpet under a dining room table makes it easier to glide chairs over,” Okin notes.