Inside This Conversation-Starting Dining Room

Wallpaper and family heirlooms harmonize to make it a place where guests love to linger.

This historic Georgian/Colonial mansion had a lot going for it. But the yellow-walled dining room was an uninspiring place to entertain or enjoy meals.

When the young family – who relocated from Los Angeles to Shorewood three years ago – decided to make the house their own last winter, they turned to Amy Carman of Amy Carman Design. Now they have a vibrant, interesting room in which to entertain for the holidays and beyond. 


Nominations are open for the 2024 Unity Awards! 

Know an individual or group committed to bridging divides in our community? Nominate them for a Unity Award by Oct. 31.

The room’s transformation began with mural wallpaper Carman sourced from a French company, Ananbo, as it’s “moody but with plush colors,” she says. When guests enter, they often stop in their tracks, pulled into the mural’s scenic, timeless view that includes wispy tree branches, blue skies and floral arrangements atop columns. 

So as not to compete with the wallpaper’s effect, the dining room’s fireplace and built-ins were painted white. “That architectural character helped point us toward the large-scale, traditional mural, which we knew would bring all of those features to life,” says Carman.

Next came the homeowner’s vintage pieces: an area rug, cherry sideboard and Baker dining table. “[The rug] felt like it was destined for the space,” says Carman. “The size and color palette were perfect, and [its] worn-in quality gave a real feeling of authenticity.”

A contemporary chandelier, sconces and neutral-hued chairs – again, so as not to detract from the wallpaper – round out the room. Key to an inspiring dining room, says Carman, are upholstered chairs; bold colors; and “deep, rich and interesting” floral arrangements, such as magnolia branches. 

Now, “it’s a more layered, sophisticated look,” says Carman. “We like a room to unfold a little bit. Some of the most interesting rooms don’t reveal themselves all at once. There are features that make that big, first impression – in this case, the wall-covering – in combination with the architectural features, but then there are layers of interest in light fixtures, area rug[s] and accessories. They add character and complexity. … This room has a story. It’s really captivating.”

Picking Paper

Scenic mural wallpapers can make a room, establish a tone and become key focal points. Here are three options.

Photo courtesy of Anthropologie


Blossom Chinoiserie Mural (in green, navy or pink), Anthropologie.

Photo courtesy of Perigold


Cubana Floral Roll Wallpaper (in red/green/blue) by Mind the Gap, Perigold

Photo courtesy of Burke Decor


Provincial Scenic Wall Mural in Teal from the Murals Resource Library by York Wallcoverings, Burke Decor.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s December issue.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.



A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine),, and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.