Create A Refreshingly Traditional Dining Room

Your dining room is a room made for gathering, and enjoying company and food. A dining room with traditional details can be very beautiful, and does not have to be stuffy or overly ornate. Combining traditional and contemporary styles in your dining room work together to create a refreshingly new, yet traditional dining room.

Start with the Background Although warm colors work well in a dining room, you don’t want to feel suffocated. One way to do this is to keep the paint colors light and airy. By combining a more refreshing and contemporary color palette with your traditionally detailed furnishings, you can achieve a beautiful and enjoyable dining room.


  1. WHITE: When combined with interesting details and some wood accents, there is nothing more refreshing then white walls and ceiling. Of course, even white is not simple since there are so many various shades. Benjamin Moore, for example offers a decorators white, which is a cool shade of white, as well as a linen white which is a warmer shade. As always, test a small 2’0 x 2’0 square of color either on a board or on the actual wall in the room in order to see how you specific lighting works best with certain shades.
  2. GREENS: Fresh, green tones can be beautiful and crisp looking. They also accent cherry wood furniture very nicely. Try Benjamin Moore’s Classic Colors collection. More specifically, number 1513, 1514 and 1515 has a nice range of greens that are crisp, but not harsh. If you have architectural details in the room like wainscot’s or moldings, try using a darker accent on them like #1516 for a bit of a punch.
  3. YELLOWS: Just like with the greens, the yellow color range can also add a bright, uplifting look to an otherwise dreary dining room. Try Benjamin Moore’s Classic Colors collection in numbers 918, 919, and 920.

The goal for drapery in a room with rich detail, yet light in feel, is to combine the elements of sophistication with subtlety. If privacy is not an issue, you may choose a sheer fabric with a rich color like a clay or caramel color. This creates a balance when the deep color is combined with a light, gauzy material.
If privacy is an issue, try a white washed or a distressed painted wood blind with the sheer material over it. This combination of layering materials that are light feeling will add to the interest of the room, without suffocating it.

Now that we have a fresh, bright background, we can begin to compliment the dining room with the appropriate furnishings. This is where we begin to ground the lightness of the room with some richer colors and materials. The important thing to remember when using color contrasts or different materials is that we want the tone and ‘weight’ of each to be similar. If we are using a muted, fresh green on the walls, we will want to make sure that our wood accents on furniture or other fabrics in the room are also fairly muted or distressed.

    Since we have begun to bring in some rich colors on the wall, we can balance it out in with a wood table. Using a natural wood color instead of a white wash is nice in order to ground the center of the room and begin to bring in our more traditional elements. Make sure the tones in the wood compliment the background colors you have chosen. The style and details of the dining table should also be more traditional in feel without being overly ornate. Look for more stylized details that have clean lines and compliment the light feel of the room. (dining_simple_woodtable)
    The dining chairs can combine our light elements with our rich details as well. The chair can be a heavier feeling material like a wood or wrought iron, with clean, traditional details. (dining_simple_chairs) If there is upholstery on the seat or back, try a fabric that is a bit lighter in feel. When selecting a fabric for a dining chair, you want to make sure that it is durable and easy to clean since they will be around food and drinks. (link to article on fabric protection) A white fabric may look nice as a contrast, but make sure you are up to the high maintenance up keep it will take to have it look good. If the chair has a back and seat upholstered, you may want to try a lighter color on the back and a darker, more forgiving pattern on the seat.
    Lighting is one of the nicest parts of design and decorating. Lighting in a dining room creates a great opportunity to really accent your space with something special. Again, being that this dining room is mixing traditional style with clean contemporary lines, we want a light fixture to do the same. You can achieve a light feel with a thin, clean lined dark iron fixture or you can choose a more ornate and complex one in a very light material or color. For an extra sparkle, try a crystal fixture with a bit of a contemporary twist, giving your dining room that elegant, yet updated and fresh look. (dining_simple_lighting)
    For the rest of the furniture and accessories in the room, remember to apply the same balance to either the individual item, as well as the overall space. For example, if you have chosen a sideboard or buffet with a whitewashed finish, try placing a small collection of wrought iron candle holders or rich clay pottery as an accent. Make sure to step back once and awhile and envision what the space will need to keep its fresh light feeling. When in doubt, keep most of the background light, and bring in your traditional details and accents in the accessories and smaller furniture.

Your final result will be a dining room with the traditional look you love, but with a fresh, light twist that will be inviting for people to gather and dine.

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