How to Make a Traditional Dining Table Look Modern? 7 Easy Solutions

Do you have any traditional dining table that doesn’t match your dining room decor anymore but still want to keep it? How about modernizing it?

A friend of mine, Joy, was planning to modernize her traditional dining table, so she asked for my advice. I offered her 7 solutions, and she leveraged one of them to transform her old dining table successfully. (Read until the end, and I will tell you which method Joy adopted.)

Here are the 7 solutions I came up with; check one by one to see which works better for your old table. I will also share Joy’s case and my other clients’ dining table makeover examples to inspire you.

Without further undo, let’s get started!

1. Buy a Tablecloth/Runner to add a Modern Accent

This is one of the easiest methods to change the table in no time!

One of the homeowners insists on not making too many changes to her tables, and she wishes that her kitchen could get a modern-look feeling without refinishing her table.

So I recommend she buy a tablecloth or textured runner to bring farmhouse charm or modern accent at quite a low cost.

The materials don’t matter. Linen, cotton, or polyester are good to choose. However, the color should be taken into consideration. For example, if your dining table is a light color, choose a bright color cloth to match; if you have a traditional dark brown dining table, use a cloth or runner of a familiar color tone.

Well, if you really like the white or light color cover for dark table, use it as a runner instead of tablecoth, otherwise the table legs seems not fitted.

2. Use Wallpaper to Freshen the Tabletop

Still have unused wallpaper for the kitchen or living room wall? Use it.

A female client Clare sent me this picture, saying she couldn’t find a satisfactory tablecloth for the old dining table. However, she accidentally found the wallpaper for her kitchen, which is perfect!

The chairs are optional; you can warp them with sticky wallpaper or just leave it alone. Use cushions to decorate.

Well, one thing you may not like about the wallpaper: the color and pattern will fade, and the paper on the edge will tear a bit for long-term use.

If you have a pet, using wallpaper is probably not a idea, beause the scratches are inevitable.

3. Repaint Traditional Dining Table in a Light Color

Many people feel their traditional dining table is outdated due to the color. Our parents’ old table are mainly brown, dark red, or something like that. So, if you want to make an obvious transformation of your dining table, repaint it in light color!

Or, if your old table has damage or doesn’t have gorgeous color and luster, paint it. You can also:

(Tutorial videos for each one are attached at the end of this part.)

  1. Bleach it
  2. Try washing of color
  3. Paint and Lacquer it

Refinishing is trickly work; if you are not confident about doing the job yourself, ask for a pro’s help. Why not try it if you want to enjoy the DIY process or do not value the flawless final look?

Here are some successful before and after examples of my clients:

Tutorial video 1: How to bleach your old table?

Tutorial Video 2: How to do furniture color washing?

Tutorial video 3: How to paint and lacquer a kitchen table?

4. Get a Slipcover for the Table Sets

The large area of the dark table and chair colors set the tone of outdated furniture; let’s think out of the box: how about making your dining table less dull by adding some modern style color to the chair, like, white?

The slipcover can visually reduce the dark brown color and move your attention from the table. Therefore, you can use a white slipcover for your chair and place a white runner on the table. Problem solve.

To enrich the white elements, you can also use white flowers, silver candle holders, and white plates.

Creamy white slipcover is more fashionable and modern. It look good for almost any space.

5. Pair Old Dining Table with Upholstered Chairs

There couldn’t be only one factor that affected the old dining table’s traditional accent. So, still, forget about redoing the table; let’s try something else for the chairs.

One of the simple ways to do that is by adding upholstered chairs. The new match of your dining table set will give your room a new look, and you won’t feel the antique table is demoted.

The challenge is: how should you change the fabric or upholster chair if you don’t have them?

The first solution is using a bench on the side and a slipcover, as we mentioned before.

The second solution is to keep your traditional chairs but upholster them from scratch.

Tutorial video: How to upholster a dining chair?

6. Hang a Chandelier for Shining

One of the reasons that Joy dislikes her traditional dining table is that she feels the table looks weird under the warm light. It happens since the uneven table top reflects the warm light, making it dusky.

So I suggest she change the chandelier with incandescent bulbs. I am sure your dining table will look less dim. You can update your light with a modern ceiling light. Or you can take off a little shade for a simple look.

Choose a bright light instead of warm light.

7. Style with Modern Accessary

The last solution is to add some decorations with modern elements to bring your table to the next level. You can try it when you don’t want to put too much effort and money into transformation.

For example, you can use the following items for an old dining table makeover:

  • Vase and flower bouquet (check my dining table vase decor post)
  • Potted plants
  • Simple table lamp
  • Contemporary candle holder tray
  • Centerpiece bowl

So, Which Solution Does Joy Adopt Finally?

Joy is talented in and passionate about DIY, so she wants to change her dining table by upholstering the chairs and repainting the table!

Yes, she uses solutions 3 and 5. These are her final work:

  • This is the table she repainted:
  • This is the chair she upholstered:

She later abandoned the chairs in the picture above and used another old chair with a beautiful back design. And this is the picture she sent me:

At Last

If you have a traditional dining table and don’t know what to do with it, try the methods in this post!

I am looking forward to seeing your before and after table transformation. Welcome any case, and please contact us; your ideas or pictures will be shared in this post to help more people!

Photo of author
Romona is a sophisticated interior designer and artist with the goal of improving your home styling. She shares cutting-edge ideas and advice in this field here to give your home a new look.