The first photo would be keeping the room as it was; a formal dining room. However, not too many people these days use a formal dining room except maybe twice a year for a holiday dinner! So, if preparing to redecorate a rarely used room, another option would be to 'repurpose' it. In other words, redecorate to make it into a room that could be used year round.
One thing I found interesting is that the designer who redid this room chose to put a 'too formal' chandelier in, in place of one I think worked much better in the 'before' photo with the new room. Other than the lighting I feel is wrong for the new re-purposed room, I can see where they were going with it and it's really a budget friendly way to add another 'usable' room to your home.
Gone is the fussy formal dining room that no one used. In it's place is a round table to be more family friendly and encourage active conversation. Adding an every day rug and comfy chairs invites kids to do their homework or a place for you to work on your laptop. Dinner around this table every night is a possibility while the hutch in the background provides a place to keep your 'good' dishes to bring out and use for those holiday meals.
Personally I like the first photo as well. I can see with the laid back 'country' theme a happy dinner time could be had. Adding a valance, a different rug that fits the table and room better and cleaning out the buffet to be less cluttered, I love this room and think it had potential to stay 'country' and not be fussed up. I can totally picture a couple children comfortably doing their homework on the long table with the family dog laying at their feet.
I do believe the room has to fit the personality of the family living in the space. In this case I'm seeing a lot of 'gray' area - it's not a black and white makeover.