At just twenty-one years old, describing Kevin O’Gara as a true design prodigy feels apt. He started gravitating to interior design as a sophomore in high school when he started his Atlanta-based lifestyle blog, Thou Swell. Now a student at Cornell, he’s flexing his muscles as an interior designer and recently helped his mother renovate a new townhouse from top to bottom. We’re excited to share the stunning dining room reveal including the dining room paint color he chose that transformed the dated space into a bright and beautiful room for the family to enjoy.
“I love residential design, that’s where my passion is. With this family project, they all really trusted me with the entire renovation,” says Kevin. One of the first steps was revamping the dining room which he describes as rooted in tradition with an airy, modern feel. “We cook together a lot as a family,” he explains. “So the dining room was an important space for us, plus I’ve always loved a formal dining room.”
Getting inspired with dining room color ideas
The jumping off point for the design? A set of dining room chairs that have been in the family forever. He knew that this room was one space in the house that he wanted color, so in order to determine what dining room colors to choose, he took a good look at the chairs’ fabric and decided to pull an airy blue green color to inspire his palette. “I knew that there would be a lot of wood in the room so I wanted the blue to be fresh and make the space feel not too old school,” says Kevin. “Then I used the red and the gold as pops of accent color.”
Choosing the perfect dining room paint color
While he looked at dining room color ideas, it was Headspace that ended up being the color. “I used the peel and stick swatches in a few shades of blue and once they were on the wall we noticed how that particular color really changed with the light throughout the day,” says Kevin. “At night it goes very green with the mellow light and it warms up perfectly for dinner time. During the day it’s very light and blue which feels appropriate for breakfast and lunch.”
It wasn’t only the walls that got painted with Headspace; he also used the color to paint separate shelving units they had. Using the color as a unifier, it gives the shelves a built-in look and adds a unique architectural detail to the room. He really wanted the shelving to blend and not feel like they were closing the room in.
Creating a transitional dining room
From there it was all about balance. While the chairs and the buffet (another family heirloom) feel more traditional it was important to Kevin to balance the room using more modern touches for a transitional feel. The chandelier and the accent lamps’ clean lines strike the perfect balance. He also created his own modern artwork to go over the buffet that perfectly accents the dining room paint colors.
“I knew that I wanted something that felt lighter and more contemporary. So I went to my local craft store picked up some acrylic paints and a canvas that was on sale, and just started on this painting, it was an inexpensive investment,” he says of his DIY art project. “It felt good and fun to be creative in this way. If you want to try it on your own, I’d recommend just paying attention to composition. Go slowly, I think a lot of people should try their hand at this. You can end up with a piece you really love!”
A bright space for the family to enjoy
Working with traditional family pieces and then adding a bold color and more modern accessories allowed Kevin to create a space that truly incorporated his and his mother’s style all in one room. Instead of a stiff, formal space, the playful color and design elements let it feel approachable—making it the perfect spot for their busy family to all connect over a meal.
Related article: A dining room that reinvents the subtle statement ceiling.