How Designer Amalia Graziani Transformed a Dreary Living Room Into the Perfect Dining Spot

Neutral dining room with woven rug.

Design: Amalia Graziani; Photo: Ryan Lahiff

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.

“Our intention was to take an unassuming mid-century cottage near the beach and transform it into a bright and airy space while still maintaining the home's character,” says Amalia Graziani, a NYC real estate developer and designer. "We were faced with structural challenges and layout issues, including the fact the home lacked a proper dining room.” 

Meet the Expert

Amalia Graziani, an interior designer and residential real estate developer for Noor Property Group in New York City, likes to blend contemporary and classic styles while maintaining as many of the home’s original details as possible.

Before:

Before shot of dark living room.

Courtesy of Amalia Graziani

"We opted to transform the existing living room into a warm and welcoming dining space," Graziani notes. "The general proportions of the room were good, but beyond that, everything had to go. Among the less-than-ideal design elements were heavy drapes, a single sliding door, wall-to-wall carpets, and low ceilings."

After:

Bright living space with exposed wood beams.

Design: Amalia Graziani; Photo: Ryan Lahiff

"We first removed the sliding glass door and installed three sets of French doors, which bring both light and symmetry to the space," Graziani says. "The dated furnace was replaced by a gas fireplace, and on the walls, bold paneling and prominent chair rails add depth and dimension. When we removed the ceiling’s sheetrock, we discovered exposed beams, which we covered in natural pine.”  

What Changed:

  • Color theme: Soft whites are offset by neutral and organic shades and materials, including wood, concrete, and unpolished marble.
  • Ceiling: White shiny beadboard, overlaid with custom pine beams, helps to extend the ceiling height.
  • Dining table: A grey concrete tabletop will darken over time and sits on top of salvaged pine timbers. 
  • Chairs: Sloped arm side chairs are covered in a durable Belgian linen and provide a beachy vibe.  
  • Chandelier: An off-white linen drum is supported by a brushed bronzed frame to produce ambient light. 
  • Fireplace: The marble mantel anchors the room with its bold black and gray motif. 
  • Curtains: Custom off-white silk shades create privacy while blending into the walls. 
  • Floors: New oak flooring is covered in a brown jute rug to add warmth and texture to the space.
  • Walls: Custom paneling and a chair rail painted in bright white create interest on the walls. 
  • Side table: Handcrafted of salvaged pine timbers, the coffee-colored console table adds dark color and some texture to the space.  
  • Three-legged table: A whimsy three-legged antique wood table holds a vase filled with rustic sticks. 
  • Wall art: A silver framed abstract painting over the console blends into the wall, while an accent light highlights a neutral-colored Modigliani print over the fireplace. 
  • Hurricane lamps: Candles provide an extra source of light during the dining experience. 

Shop the Look:

Side view of dining room decor.

Design: Amalia Graziani; Photo: Ryan Lahiff

Salvaged Wood Dining Table
Restoration Hardware Salvaged Wood & Concrete Trestle Round Dining Table $3,065
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'Horizon' by Susan Hable
Soicher Marin 'Horizon' by Susan Hable - Picture Frame Painting Print on Paper $573
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Belgian Slope Arm Chair
Restoration Hardware Belgian Slope Arm Slipcovered Side Chair $565-1,050
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