Before and After: A 1950s Dining Room Gets a Modern Refresh with a Trendy 2022 DIY

published Jun 2, 2022
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About this before & after
Project Type
Before: View of dated dining room through doorway
Credit: Sav Gordon

Nothing says “dated” like yellow-y beige walls. Pair that with frilly lace curtains, a shiny chandelier with a traditional silhouette, and brown-orange trim, and you’ve got the dining room in Sav Gordon’s 1957 ranch as it looked when she bought it.

The house “had been owned by only one family and had only been minimally repaired over the years, meaning it was almost completely original,” Sav explains.

Credit: Sav Gordon

While this meant the home would need a lot of aesthetic upgrades, it also meant the floors were original — and long-lasting. “I sanded down and re-stained the original hardwoods throughout the house,” Sav says.

With the floors refurbished, a fresh coat of white paint on the walls (Behr’s Bit of Sugar), a new window (plus new paint on the trim, Behr’s Ultra Pure White), the room was already beginning to look brighter and more contemporary. But Sav wanted to play up the visual interest in the doorways, too, by giving them 2022’s trendiest silhouette (that’s also a timeless classic): the arch.

Credit: Sav Gordon

“The arches were a bit of trial-and-error,” Sav says. “What they say is true: When you start renovating an old home, every wall you open has a surprise.”

At the top of both doorways in the dining rooms, there were support beams that couldn’t be moved, Sav recalls. “So initially when the contractor framed them out, they were still too square,” she explains. “I was really adamant about wanting a perfectly rounded shape. I felt like it was going to be a very memorable feature inside the house! So we had to redo it two or three times to get the perfect arch shape.”

In terms of actual process, the initial shape of the arches was framed out with wood first, then drywall was custom cut to match and installed, and the arches were mudded and sanded to perfect the shape. If you’re a renter and can’t actually cut your walls, you can still add visual interest to your doorways with funky trim or peel-and-stick silhouettes.

Credit: Sav Gordon

Sav says her idea-turned-time-consuming project was “totally worth it.”

“Stay true to your initial vision, even in the midst of construction when you just want to take the easy way out to get it done,” she advises. “You’ll be really glad you did on the other side.”

Sav installed a more contemporary white hanging globe light, added a vintage dining table and chairs, and laid a new rug down to complete her minimalist, modern space. For more inspiration for going big in the dining room without adding too much stuff, check out this guide to minimalist dining setups.