20 Amazing Living Room Makeovers
Before: Dark and Confined
To make this Nantucket cottage’s small footprint feel larger and the ceilings seem higher, designer Stephen Theroux brightened the walls, ceiling beams, and trusses with linen-white paint.
After: Open and Light-Filled
"Painting the interior, including the architectural elements, made a huge impact," he says. "It was like a night-and-day difference. It now feels clean, airy, and beachy."
Before: Dingy and Outdated
Homeowner Sherry Klein’s mission was simple—to transform a sad 1950s Malibu beach shack into the light and bright family-friendly jewel box that she and partner Catherine Williamson had always wanted. Klein's first order of business was to replace the foggy, filmed-over windows with new versions that allowed water views to truly shine for the first time in years.
After: Fresh and Family-Friendly
New driftwood-finish oak flooring and a few gallons of white paint on the walls and hearth give the living room a modern face-lift. The furniture's thick denim slipcovers ensure that the space is ready for anything—a must with kids and dogs in the house.
Before: Stuck in the 70s
Part Hamptons, part The Brady Bunch rerun, this Santa Barbara house had great views but was clad in the most depressing gray—from linoleum-accented 1970s-style interiors to tinted windows that shadowed everything inside.
After: Sophisticated and Minimalist
Easy-to-clean white slipcovers dress every surface in the open space, from the dining chairs to the overstuffed sofa and coffee table/ottoman. Vaulted ceilings and minimal lighting overhead add to the airy feel.
Before: Total Disrepair
The living room was in disrepair, so homeowner Trish Becker and her team put in new cedar walls and reclaimed heart pine floors.
After: Authentic and Cozy
Inside, cypress walls and reclaimed heart pine floors anchor the rooms, and new doors were constructed in the exact shape and design of the sole door that remained when Becker and Chinitz bought the house.
Before: Distracting Elements
After: Simplistic View
Fresh white paint, lush seating cushions, and a downsized fireplace allow the beach view to be the focal point of the room.
Before: Closed-In Space
After: Bright and Exotic
Painting the dark beams white dramatically changes the room and creates a more open feel. Fun, exotic prints add interest and color.
Before: Run-down Room
After: Complete Transformation
With lots of elbow grease, the homeowners turned a lowly shack into a gorgeous, earth-toned living room. The raised ceiling and striped rug add chic personality.
Before: Conflicting Style
After: Classic Mix
Before: Empty Space
A lack of furniture makes this drab living room hard to utilize. Lots of empty space does not work well for relaxing or entertaining.
After: Rejuvenated Living Room
A pale wall color plus fun and comfortable bamboo furniture gives this room character and an inviting atmosphere.
Before: Bare Bones
After: Easy and Casual
Neutral colors mixed with natural touches give the room a calming feel. A collection of smaller pictures forms a larger piece of art that adds significant interest to the space.
Before: Lackluster Fixer-Upper
When two sailing enthusiasts had to temporarily table their dream of building a boat in order to raise their young crew of four, they set about looking for a new adventure. And that's exactly what they found in an aged, lackluster house on Galveston Bay in Texas. While the home's dated tile, dingy walls, and cobbled-together furnishings (which came with the house) were a far cry from the picturesque home the family envisioned, they were up for the challenge of making it their own.
After: Clean and Comfortable
Designers Elizabeth Munger Stiver and Amy Munger transformed the living room by bringing in warm pine for the floors, statement-making shiplap walls, and well-curated furniture that is both pretty and practical. "We skipped anything too formal," Stiver says.
Before: Perfect Potential
Interesting shelves, a vaulted ceiling, and wood floors provided great opportunity for a gorgeous living room.
After: Inviting and Organized
The L-shaped couch and glass coffee table serve as anchors to the eccentric collection of movies, books, and accessories on the shelves. A unique color palette of dark grays and bright pops of orange add character.
Before: Dark and Cramped
After: Light and Airy
By completely covering the wood paneling with bright white paint, this living room feels open and comfortable. Simple, plush furniture finishes the look and enhances natural light.
Before: Lacking Space
After: Cool and Calm
The driftwood coffee table is a bold focal point that references the natural environment outside. Neutral colors with accents of cool blues and green create a calming coastal atmosphere.
Before: Outdated Living Room
After: Polished and Modern
A fresh, clean palette mimics the outdoor surroundings of this modern beach house. Sleek white furniture adds a touch of futuristic style while a woven rug keeps it coastal.
Before: Disjointed Space
A cabinetry partition blocked natural light from entering the kitchen, so the design team extended the cook space to be closer to the view. The extension also made the kitchen and living room a more connected, fluid space.
After: Uninterrupted Views
The living room side of the island is outfitted with built-in bookcases and serves as an anchor wall for the sofa. “My primary concern here was function,” says Dunham, who created a seating area that faces the fireplace “to make the living room feel less like a place to pass through and more like a destination.” To help maintain uninterrupted beach and ocean views, he chose low-profile pieces like a pair of 1960s-inspired armchairs (upholstered in a muted leaf-pattern linen), along with custom linen sofas and a woven wicker ottoman with a leather cushion.
Before: Lacking Character
Call it women's intuition, but when Jenny Cook walked over the threshold of an aging Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida home, she saw something her husband, Kevin, didn't. "It had this terrible wallpaper, and he said, 'No way!'" she says with a laugh. "I instantly loved it, though. I knew it was going to be a project, but it had a lot of potential. I could really see our family there."
After: Statement-Making Ceiling
Creative ceilings are Howard's go-to device for bringing an element of surprise and excitement to interiors. In the living room, he raised the ceiling and had it covered in pickled wood for an Old Florida feel. "I wanted the ceiling to be the first thing people saw when they came into the home," he says. "It had to make a big impact."
Before: Gloomy and Peeling
With its terra-cotta roof, board-and-batten siding, and livable floor plan, this little cottage near Savannah (and once owned by Henry Ford) oozed potential. All it needed was loads of TLC. Rotten windows and peeling paint proved the living room was no exception.
After: Warm and Welcoming
The stripped original poplar tongue-and-groove boards, heart pine flooring sealed with a clear polyurethane, and beeswax-polished pine mantel lend a warm, welcoming glow. The off-white trim is a crisp touch.
Before: Chaotic and Loud
This Morehead City, North Carolina, living room’s palette was too frenetic and the furniture too fussy for homeowners who prefer soft blues, whites, and natural tones.
After: Soft and Subdued
Layering two blue paints created a soft wash for the room’s trim and molding, resulting in a beautifully aged look. Clearing out the clutter made room for thoughtful accessories and completed the laid-back vibe.
Before: Dark and Dated
When homeowners Tiffany and Fred McWhorter bought their Bald Head Island cottage, they knew that it needed major renovations. The couple tackled the project together, starting with the home's dark Ponderosa pine-clad shell. "It looked like an old hunting lodge inside," says Fred. Adds Tiffany, "I don't think anything had been updated since the '80s, but the structure wasn't necessarily in bad shape."