5 Things Designers Say Make Your Dining Room Look Dated

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Some design choices are dead giveaways to the decades they were installed: Wall-to-wall shag carpet? We know that was you, ‘60s and ‘70s. Orangey-stained, beveled oak cabinets? The ‘90s called, and they want their kitchen back. But there are other decorating moves that may date your home in ways far sneakier and more subtle than your mom’s once-beloved avocado-colored range. When it comes to prematurely aging your dining room, Southern designers say these five things are the culprits. Take note!

Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lizzie Cullen Cox

Poorly-Scaled Pieces

“Something that can make a dining room feel dated are postage stamp rugs,” says Aileen Warren of Jackson Warren Interiors. “You want the four legs of each chair to still be on the rug when they’re pushed out from the table.” 

Bad Lighting 

“If you’re not ready to let go of your light fixture or can’t pull the trigger on such a big ticket item, try swapping out your old and dingy chandelier candle covers for fresh white ones,” says Raleigh, North Carolina, decorator Maggie Dillon. “You can get them off of Amazon or the local hardware store, and it’ll bring a brightness to the space that you didn’t know you were missing.” Giving your dining room “layers of light” is another way to update the room, says Warren:  “Dimmable light makes the space feel contemporary and elevated.”

Primary Colors 

“Deep primary red walls and chippendale chairs with a crystal chandelier screams ‘80s to me,” says Jessica Davis, founder of Atlanta-based studio Atelier Davis. “I think updating with something less primary, like a terracotta or plum, and mixing eras keeps the look more ‘now.’” 

Matchy-Matchy Furniture

“Sideboards, china cabinets, dining tables and chairs all in the exact same suite are a thing of the past,” says Jackson, Mississippi, designer Betsey Mosby. “I love using an antique table and mixing in a different wood or even a paint color on a sideboard to add interest and to keep everything feeling collected and planned versus purchased together.” Tennessee decorator Lauren Sullivan of Well x Design agrees: “Consider mixing things up for a look that feels layered yet fresh—antique chairs with a newer table, or even mixing different types of chairs for side and end pieces.”

Lack of Contrast

“I love a dark and saturated color in a dining room, but balance that with different textures and brighter accent colors to avoid dragging the space back in time,” advises Louisville, Kentucky, decorator Bethany Adams of Bethany Adams Interiors. 

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