How One Designer Turned a Blank Canvas Into a Serene Dining Room Perfect for Entertaining

White dining room.

Design: Maureen McDermott; Photo: Nicole Franzen; 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 homeowners are empty nesters and wanted the dining room in their beach house to be a place where they could host friends over long, intimate dinners,” interior designer Maureen McDermott says. “The intent was to create a sophisticated yet relaxing space.”

Meet the Expert

Maureen McDermott is an interior designer and the owner of Winter McDermott Design in Sag Harbor, New York, which specializes in designing casual yet stylish coastal homes.

Before:

Empty dining room with unfinished walls.

Courtesy of Maureen McDermott

“As part of a new construction home, the dining room lacked any type charm,” McDermott notes. “It was a blank canvas that needed a whole lot of wow.”

After:

White and bright dining room with white pendant light fixture.

Design: Maureen McDermott; Photo: Nicole Franzen

“I transformed the room into a dramatic yet calming space that’s the perfect spot for a quiet cup of coffee in the morning or an elegant dinner party at night with friends,” McDermott shares. “The bluish-gray wallpaper evokes the water outdoors, the white oak floors add an organic and calming feel, while the lighting creates some drama and sophistication.”

What Changed:

  • Color theme:  Light blues and grays, warm woods, and whites reflect the outdoor bay views.
  • Table:  Simple and elegant, this white oak dining table has a polished nickel base and provides a neutral backdrop.
  • Chairs: Comfortable and curvy white upholstered chairs add a sculptural element to the room.
  • Sideboard: A shagreen-embossed sideboard provides storage and a spot to display artwork and accessories. 
  • Chandelier:  A handblown white glass and German silver chandelier became the room’s focal point. 
  • Wallpaper:  A subtle geometric repeat stripe contributes to the room’s calm vibe. 
  • Floors: Lightly stained white oak floors ground the space.
  • Window treatments: Gauzy white linen roman shades allow in light while providing privacy. 
  • Sconces: Frosted glass cylindrical sconces have brass fittings and tie into the room’s ceiling fixture. 
  • Accessories: A marble bowl is paired with dark wood candlesticks for simple yet elegant tabletop styling.

Shop the Look:

Close up of white orbed light fixture over light wooden dining table.

Design: Maureen McDermott; Photo: Nicole Franzen

Kingdom Chandelier
Lindsey Adelman Studio Kingdom Chandelier $Price Upon Request
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“I love this chandelier with its 75 bulbs because of its drama and beauty,” McDermott notes.

Float Wall Sconce
Articolo Float Wall Sconce $Price Upon Request
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“These cylindrical-shaped sconces are simple yet make a stylish statement on the wall,” McDermott shares.

Saunderson Shagreen Sideboard
RH Modern Saunderson Shagreen Sideboard $5015
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“This neutral dove shagreen sideboard is both functional and chic,” McDermott notes.

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