Modern Cottage Dining Room Makeover

I have a reader who emailed me with a photo of their dining room and she wanted to completely change the look.  She described the look or design style she’s going for as modern and cottage.  Her color palette is green, black and cream.  


dining room before

When you start working on a space think about which pieces of furniture you like and want to keep.  She liked her buffet and wanted to incorporate that into the new space, but was open to chucking all of the rest.  

Here’s a look at the before and after along with all of the steps to get to the final look.  I hope this inspires you to transform your space by following these simple steps.  You can do it on your own, but if you want help, I’m happy to share ideas.   

Find Inspiration

Pinterest is the first place to go for inspiration ideas.  I asked my reader to give me a few dining area shots that she loved.  

You should always look at the inspirational photos you like and ask yourself if what is you is the architectural features or the design elements/decor.  It can be both, but often CAN’T duplicate the architecture in your own home unless you want to spend a lot of money.    

Importantly, she described her style as “Modern Cottage” and not modern farmhouse style.  These styles are similar, and words don’t matter that much, but her inspirational photos don’t have a farmhouse vibe.  

She liked the darker walls but wanted to use green instead of blue. She loved the beaded chandelier and a round table.  Both dining areas have lots of plants and dining chairs with touches of black with a wood table.  She wants a round wood dining table because most of the time there are just four people, but with a leaf, they could add a few more places. She loved the casual wooden bench but preferred to add more storage instead.      

Step One – Color Palette

The space is open to the living room, which has a neutral color scheme.  When you’re completely changing a room in an open floor plan, you have to think about whether the style is cohesive.  

color palette

With a color palette, there is a 60/30/10 ratio that can help you to make sure that you get the color distributed around the wall.  You can read more about that here.  The 60% color in this room is green.  We used green on the walls (from white walls to green), in the rug, and in the prints. 

The 30% color is black, which is in the chairs and the china cabinet.  

Step 2 – Soft Surfaces

In this room, our soft surfaces are the rug, the curtains and the shades.  When you have an open concept it’s a good idea to an use area rug to define the spaces.   Since she wanted a cottage look, we used a traditional rug with muted tones, similar to the inspiration photos.  

For the curtains, I used cream linen drapes and bamboo shades to give the room more texture.

Step 3 – Lighting

The lighting in the inspiration photo is a statement chandelier.  This chandelier is a focal point in the room.

I would also add a few sconces on both sides of the prints above the buffet instead of one lamp.  Every room needs three sources of light, which doesn’t include natural light.  The room needs a few more light fixtures.    

Step 4 – Furnishings

In the inspiration photo, she loved the round wooden dining table and she did want to get a new table.  The pedestal base makes it feel more like a cottage-style dining room.  Adding mix-and-match chairs (the chairs don’t match the table) also helps.  The chairs add black elements, that work with the color palette.


A round dining room table works well in a small space because it has a smaller footprint, but you can seat a surprising number of people around it. You can see photos of these items below.

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If you enjoyed this post you might like how to choose the right sized rug for your dining room or how to choose a chandelier for above your table.

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