Oh, that wallpaper! We understand if it leaves you momentarily spellbound. The same goes for the oversized beaded chandelier, the boldly striped chairs and the gleaming brass fixtures. Mesmerizing details flourish throughout the dining room of this Holladay home recently remodeled by Cara and Tom Fox, principals of The Fox Group

Faced with the room’s original 8-foot ceilings, red oak floors and stuffy ‘80s décor, the homeowners gave Cara and Tom free reign to reimagine the outdated space, requesting something classic yet fresh, timeless but not overly traditional. “No problem,” said Cara, who opened her bag of design tricks and infused the dining room with joie de vivre, one element at a time. 

Cara and Tom Fox
The foyer’s black-and-white marble floor inspired the classic palette of the adjoining dining room, where white chairs surround a high-gloss black table and contrasting striped fabrics abound. Photo by Lindsay Salazar.

The dining room sits off the large entry and leads to the kitchen, where the Foxes broke through the home’s second level to give the kitchen a soaring, two-story ceiling. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option for the dining room, so they used the room’s elements and décor to visually raise the low overhead surface. They began with the walls. 

“We added a chair rail midway up the wall and placed Schumacher’s “Citrus Garden” wallpaper above it,” Cara says. “The paper lifts the eye and visually heightens the wall.” It also fosters the room’s spirited style, as does a surprisingly heroic chandelier. “I love it,” the designer says. “Many people would be afraid of putting a massive, eye-catching chandelier in a room this size, but it actually draws your attention away from the low ceilings.” 

Cara and Tom Fox
Cara Fox teamed with husband Tom to remodel and redesign this Holladay home. Photo by Lindsay Salazar.

For paint, Cara chose a tone of white—Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee—to help make the ceiling appear higher and to dress the walls and trim in a classic hue. “It’s a warm white that complements the wallpaper’s yellows and oranges,” she says. Brass does the same, adding elan to gleaming sconces and a thick drapery rod that accents the window wall. There, French-pleated draperies frame the window in a print identical to the wallpaper’s. “Matched fabric and wallpaper is a very custom look that is making a massive comeback,” the designer explains. 

The entry’s marble floor inspired a classic black-and-white color pairing that plays throughout the strikingly cheerful dining room. Chair cushions bring to mind wide-striped, black-and-white awnings that shade the windows of sun-drenched Mediterranean villas. Greek key carvings detail white, lattice-back dining chairs surrounding a glossy black table. At each end, single black stripes dramatically embellish winged host chairs. “Choosing host chairs that don’t match the side chairs makes the room feel less formal and predictable,” Cara explains. 

Cara and Tom Fox
To prevent the 8-foot-high ceiling from appearing low, Cara eliminated recessed can lights and painted the surface white. A surprisingly large and showy chandelier also draws attention away from the low ceiling, she says.The table seats twelve. To promote a bright, airy feel in the room, Cara chose lattice-back side chairs that allow light and views to flow through them. A pair of lemon topiary arrangements add immeasurable panache to the tabletop. Photo by Lindsay Salazar.

New white oak flooring, with planks measuring ten inches wide, reinforces the room’s fresh, casual style. “They modernize the room,” Cara says. The floors team with the room’s other carefully considered elements to fill it with fresh, classic style and ambitious shots of charm and whimsy. “This room just makes you smile,” she adds. And for her clients, that was what they had hoped for—and more.  

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Brad Mee
Brad Mee is the Editor-in-Chief of Utah Style & Design Magazine.