Update a traditional dining room?


I would like some ideas to update my traditional dining room using the same furniture. It is Pennsylvania House and I have been told it’s timeless. Just don’t know what to do to make it more up to date. I have removed everything but the furniture as you can see. Help!!

q update a traditional dining
q update a traditional dining
q update a traditional dining
q update a traditional dining
  17 answers
  • Dmholt4391 Dmholt4391 on Mar 07, 2021

    You could paint the whole works w/ chalk paint or other type of paint.

  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Mar 07, 2021

    AHA! I recognize that china cabinet from your other question! If this were my room, I'd decide it's time to go wild. Strip the table and chairs with CitriStrip. Glob it on and cover the surfaces with cheap plastic paint drop cloths. Closing the stripper in like this helps it work harder which makes you work less. Scrape the gunk right into a plastic-lined garbage can. Sand to bare wood.

    Decide what kind of look you're going for. Hollywood Regency? Gold dip the legs, leave the wood top stained and paint the rest black. Black and gold print upholstery. Swap out the light fixture for sure!

    More industrial? Paint the set black in a satin finish and randomly gold leaf. Choose a print upholstery that is geometric and merely textural.

    Decide if you want a matte finish (chalk paint), satin or semigloss? Choose paint and topcoats appropriately.

    Make or get 1 gigantic piece of artwork in your chosen style for the blank wall.

    A large area rug in your style under the table and chairs.

    Modern window treatment - plantation blinds, print curtains (your chosen style) on industrial rods made of galvanized pipe painted black, etc. If the room is private, you could even leave the windows without a treatment and focus on styling the seat.

    Gorgeous windows! Paint the trim and window seat black? Make a cushion for the window seat that coordinates. Remove the ottoman and entry mat rug.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 07, 2021

    Your furniture looks to be in very good condition, a natural beauty that could be stripped and refinished or painted. Stripping would involve a lot of work, sanding and then refinishing.

    Was thinking the room could stand some color, if you want to go subtle, add accent color to the chandelier shades, or change out the curtains.

    Have you considered covering the chair backs? Then a matching table runner?


    for more creative looks:


    • Jane Vargo Jane Vargo on Mar 07, 2021

      I’m thinking on your lines. What if I just remove the shades from chandliers. Trying to a little farmhouse look to the room to play down the traditional look

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 07, 2021


    I would not touch it! Sell it if it is not your taste, there are others who would love it as is and buy yourself some that you will like! You have been left some very Classy furniture!

  • Judy in Canton. Judy in Canton. on Mar 07, 2021

    Embrace it. It's beautiful. If you are only looking to update it I would change out the seat covers and possibly making slip covers for the backs. A runner on the table would be nice and a more contemporary center piece. Change out the shades on the chandelier. Keep in mind that this is a dining room when choosing your colors or patterns. You have a lot of nice features in this room, choose a focal point and go with it. As for the hutch I would consider a contact paper over the mirrors ( that could be easily removed) with a textured look. The long open wall would be stunning with a mural wall covering. Have fun. You have many options that don't require painting the furniture.

  • You can always strip off the old finish to see if you like the wood underneath.

  • Jane Vargo Jane Vargo on Mar 07, 2021

    Thank you!

  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on Mar 07, 2021

    How about finding an area rug with colors you love - then choose a fabric to cover the seats of your dining chairs with some color and pattern. The walls will be much more interesting with some color and texture too. Pull a color from the rug that you find beautiful. Maybe a wall treatment? We have lots of DIY wall treatment ideas: https://www.frugalfamilytimes.com/category/crafts-and-diy/wall-treatment/

  • Change out the light fixture above to something more modern and add a rug underneath the table. Add a very

    large piece

    of art on the wall

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 07, 2021

    Hello again,

    If you just want to change the look of the room, why not Recover the chair pads, or maybe cover the table with a tablecloth, change the shades on the light fitting to farmhouse style. Add a nice rug or runner. Change the curtain too to fit in with your scheme. ( Check or Floral) etc. Hang a large Picture and or a Mirror, Family Photo's????? Pictures of country item, add some country Ornaments too. Add the moment the room is crying out to be styled! Upholstered Chair or to would also be good. Even in the old Western films, they had grand furniture along with the Cowboy stuff!! The secret is in the mix...

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 08, 2021

    Paint the walls in a cool color like Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. Add a rug under the table. Add some color in your centerpiece and in the china cabinet. Update the globes on the overhead fixture. This will update your room without having to paint your furniture.

  • Debi53 Debi53 on Mar 10, 2021

    Slip covering the chairs would give them a completely different look. You can put padding over the backs to change the shape. If you can't do this, an upholsterer could create these. Slip them over the backs and then put your slip covers on. I had chairs that were very well made and really comfortable, but I hated the wood. I had an upholsterer pad the backs and seats and upholstered not just the seats, but the back and seats. I changed the shape of the back. The only wood left showing on the chairs was the legs. I painted mine, but you could leave yours to tie in with the table. Now they look simple and modern. The chairs that I use to hate, I know love. Putting a table runner down the middle that brings color and pattern in would draw the attention to the runner instead of the wood. You don't have to settle for a runner from a store. Go to the fabric store and buy a fabric you love. Use iron on tape to "hem" the bottom and sides.-So easy and can be changed seasonally.

  • Dee Dee on Mar 10, 2021

    That set is timeless. I would not paint, but if you decide to do so do NOT use chalk paint. It will scratch and not hold up on a dining room table. I would put a nice table runner on and a centerpiece. If you want to update the seat cushions, you can use an ubeat fabric. I would change the shades on the hanging lamp.

  • The dining set is gorgeous and can definitely be married into more updated decor. A new light fixture would make a world of difference as well as a live plant. Create a bar cart, an accent wall with round decor to bring in shape and a carpet for texture.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 11, 2021

    Hi! Dramatic color on the walls and a new light fixture and area rug will give you a fresh start!

  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Mar 11, 2021

    Beautiful furniture and it looks like it's in very good shape. Do not paint the furniture. Think you need some colour. I'd get a rug with a middle Eastern design or similar with rich tones to ground the space. You can recover the chair seats easily. Maybe pick up a colour from the rug. ] Wallpaper is also making a big comeback - don't be afraid. It's easy to remove. You could wainscott with paint above and wallpaper below or vice versa.

  • Jennifer Jennifer on Jun 01, 2021

    Your brown wood furniture is about to come back into favor. To update it you could redo the seat cushions, hang pretty fabric or paper at the back of the hutch, and rotate your hutch display items so it looks fresh each season. Good luck!!

    Interior Designer 20+ years.