Before and After: A “Basic” Dining Room Gets a Makeover with Must-See Wallpaper

published Dec 22, 2023
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About this before & after
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In the age of open-concept floor plans, homes with dedicated dining rooms are a rare treasure. It’s difficult to find one in a new-build home, and the dining rooms in older homes might need some TLC before they’re ready for the big time (dinner parties, family meals, holiday get-togethers, long nights of homework, and more). With all the possible memories to be made in a “formal” dining room, it’s no surprise Lily Olssen and Oren Pollack wanted one for their family when they were in search of their forever home.

Lily and Oren landed on a home in a neighborhood with Colonial-style homes from the 1920s and earlier. These older homes can have a lot of character, but can also be in need of serious work. The couple knew this, so when they finally chose their home, they hired interior designer Julia Epstein (@jse_interiors) to help their visions come alive throughout. One focus was the dining room, which started as a “very sparse, dated, and basic” space, Lily says. 

Credit: Lily Olsson
Credit: Lily Olsson

The goal for the dining room? Start out with a bang.

Lily and Oren (with the support and design vision of Julia) wanted to take the dining room from basic to bold. “Because the client was adventurous and loved color, my goal was to create a neutral yet moody first floor that went from dark to light as you proceeded from the dining room to the sunroom,” Julia says.

For this room, Julia was able to carry out a dark and moody look without the room feeling overbearing. “Dining rooms can handle a lot of drama, because they … largely sit as eye candy in the background,” she says.

Credit: Lily Olsson
Credit: Lily Olsson
Credit: Lily Olsson

The wallpaper adds bold color.

Julia, Lily, and Oren selected a forest green, black, and red botanical wallpaper and designed the rest of the room (and some of the other rooms in the house!) around it. “The palette inspiration came from the dining room wallpaper selection, which worked quite well because there were several shades of the primary color and a single pop,” Julia says. (For example, the pops of color from the wallpaper were used as accents in the foyer runner and banister directly adjacent to the dining room.)  

For the rest of the dining room, Julia, Lily, and Oren chose very muted and simple elements to balance out the pattern on the walls. 

Credit: Lily Olsson

A new light fixture brings the dining room out of the 1990s.

The other piece of eye candy in the space, in addition to the wallpaper, is the new light fixture, which replaces the brassy one last added likely in the 1980s or ‘90s. The new chandelier has tulip details and ties the room all together. 

As for the after?  “It reflects our spirit,” Lily says. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and wanted something that would make us smile every time we entered — something with personality, something brave and welcoming.”