These are my columns before the extreme home makeover:
We painted the columns mainly because they had a shiny shellacked finish on them that we couldn't get off.
And here is the dining room before:
We pulled the wallpaper off, got a different chandelier, took the carpet out and replaced it with brick floors, and put up an old tin ceiling from a 100 year old building. Also, the china cabinet in this picture is covering louvered doors to the kitchen. We replaced that with a screen door.
And the dining room now: