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A Stunning Traditional Living Room Makeover

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Come see how we transformed my in-laws’ old and outdated living room into a bright, beautiful retreat over just 6 short weeks! This traditional living room makeover will give you simple and affordable ideas for updating your living room too!

This post is sponsored by FrogTape, but all opinions are my own.

I’m so excited to share this living room makeover with you all!

Chris and I teamed up with his parents to completely transform their dark living room into a bright and lovely space.

In today’s post I’m going to walk you through the entire makeover process, from before pictures, to our initial plans, to each major step in the transformation.

I hope this tour of our 6-week project is inspirational for you!

We did this project as guest participants in the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge – click here for more information on the ORC.

This was a series of posts that were originally published between October 3, 2018 and November 7, 2018. They have since been consolidated into one post.

My Deserving In-Laws

Before I dive into the “what” of this makeover, I want to spend a minute explaining the “why.”

When my husband and I were brainstorming what room we wanted to tackle for our next ORC, we both felt called to bless his parents with a room makeover.

My in-laws are honestly some of the most deserving people I know.

My mother-in-law is truly gifted with children.

She’s always serving the children in our community in some capacity – whether it’s through foster care, children’s ministry at the church, daycare in her home or business.

This couple has had seasons with over 10 foster children living under their roof!

I am continually blown away by their humility and hearts for serving others.

My children went to my mother-in-law’s in-home daycare for over five years and it wasn’t too long ago that their prior home’s HOA started bullying them about the daycare.

As a result, they were forced to buy a new home quickly in order to move their in-home daycare out of the HOA.

They’d lived in the new (to them) home for about a year when we completed this project, and while the house has a lot of potential, but with the transition to two houses (one for the daycare and one for them to live in) their time and resources just hadn’t been available for renovations.

It was our hope that with this traditional living room makeover, they would feel like they had a place of refuge.

A beautiful space to relax and reboot from the day.

Somewhere peaceful amidst the chaos of life.

And, spoiler alert, it gave them exactly that!! πŸ™‚

But before we get started, I want to take a minute to introduce you to FrogTape, our official sponsor for this project!

Be sure to head over and read about their innovative painting tape – it is seriously AMAZING.

I mean, talk about perfect lines!

And if you’re doing a painting project that requires taping, grab a roll of FrogTape – trust me, you’ll never use any other brand of painting tape again.

We use their tape all the time!

The Living Room Before

Let’s start with the before tour!

The front door to the home opened into a “faux foyer” with stairs and a closet to the right and the living room to the left. When you walked into the door, you were presented with a wall and a small opening into the living room.

Straight ahead (where the wall separated the living room from the entry/hallway area) there was a really awkward space to furnish.

The living room itself was rather large (15′ x 19′) but the furniture they brought from their prior home just wasn’t the right size for the space.

From this angle you can see how the stairwell and closet were tucked into the corner separated from the living room.

The Pain Points

Ok, now that we’ve seen the space, let’s talk through the characteristics of the room that my parents wanted to change.

I mean, the purpose of our traditional living room makeover was to fix all of them, right?!

  • Too dark – the windows on that front wall are underneath a covered porch, limiting the natural light that flows into the room.
  • Ugly ceiling fan – they didn’t need or want it!
  • Too closed in – they wanted more of an “open concept.”
  • No fireplace – they really missed the coziness of a fireplace in the living room.
  • Floor trim gap – the prior home owners replaced the carpet with luxury vinyl, but didn’t lower the base trim so there was a 1/2″ gap between the flooring and trim!
  • Wood trim and flat doors – they are fans of white trim and six panel doors.

Sounded like some fun items to fix, don’t you think?

The design we came up with was fantastic – so let’s walk through its transformation!

Our 6-Week Traditional Living Room Makeover

The Plan

The first step to solving their pain points involved removing the wall separating the entryway from the living room.

See it in the picture below?

That baby was going bye-bye.

It was going to be great to have the natural light from the stairwell move into the space as well as giving the room more of an “open concept” feeling.

The next step was to lighten up the space with creamy white walls, all white trim and new white six-panel doors.

My mother-in-law chose Swiss Coffee for the walls and Polar Bear for the ceiling and trim (both by Behr.)

The process of painting the floor trim involved removing it from the walls and then reinstalling it down against the flooring so there was no longer a gap between the trim and floor.

Problem solved!

The last structural change we would be making was changing out all the light fixtures.

We chose simple frosted glass and white flush-mount lights for the ceiling lights in the hallway, entryway and living room and would be replacing the ORB chandelier in the adjacent dining room with a beautiful brushed nickel fixture.

It was our goal that the ceiling lights will blend in rather than stand out since the ceiling is low and we don’t really want the fixtures to be a focal point.

As far as furnishings, one of my favorite additions to this space was the faux fireplace we installed on the right wall.

We got the fireplace at a garage sale for $50 and it burns a real flame using some sort of Bunsen-burner type fluid.

We planned to paint the cherry wood white and freshen up the black portion with some black spray paint (including painting the brass ribbon black too.)

It would be installed on the far wall with the tv mounted above, like so:

We also got an amazing 8′ credenza off of Craigslist that we were going to stain a traditional cherry to match her tables and place along the wall you see when you enter the home.

Storage is something this house lacked, so having all of this cupboard space for china and linens was going to be HUGE!

Plus, can’t you just picture it with lamps on either end and a beautiful large mirror above? πŸ˜‰

The Design

Here’s a look at the overall room design in our mood board:

In anticipation of decorating this room, my mother-in-law had already purchased the curtains and we were using the tables and lamps she brought from her prior home.

Other items would be purchased as we went!

The Project To-Do List

Let’s take a look at our overall project to-do list:

  • Remove wall
  • Reroute electrical
  • Patch sheetrock
  • Patch flooring
  • Install new ceiling lights
  • Paint all trim
  • Paint and install all doors
  • Paint all walls
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint and install fireplace
  • Install TV Mount
  • Furnish and decorate!

Week 1: Demo

The first major task for this project was removing the wall between the living room and entryway.

During the first week, we finished the bulk of this part – including getting most of the wall out and the electrical rerouted.

Then it was just a matter of patching the sheet rock and flooring!

Here is our video tour from the first week’s progress:

Week 2: Prep Work

The second week was all about the prepping – we prepped for paint and did a lot of the shopping for material and furnishings.

Work for the painting projects began – including the walls, the base trim, window and door trim, and the faux fireplace.

We go all of the base trim removed and in the garage where we would be sanding, priming and painting it.

The window and door trims were all taped off and the priming was started.

The fireplace was primed and most of the walls painted too!

We also did a lot of shopping for the space during that second week. πŸ™‚

We purchased the sofa and recliner and some fantastic ORC sponsors provided us with the rug and accent chairs.

The TV mount was delivered and I ordered the doors and bought all the fixtures and hardware – which meant we had just about everything we needed to make this room happen!

Here’s the week 2 video update:

Week 3: Painting Started & New Lights

The third week was mostly centered around one thing: PAINT.

My in-laws were out of town for about 10 days at this point in the project, so during that time Chris and I worked hard at getting a head start on painting throughout the space.

As you can see from our task list above, most of what we were doing in this space (after removing and patching the walls) was painting!

My father-in-law really wanted to do the sheet rock patch work after they got back from their trip, so Chris and I worked on other areas of the project until they returned.

We spent one day out at their house painting two coats on the walls of one side of the room and priming all of the wood window and door trim.

No matter how many room makeovers we complete, I’m always blown away by how much change comes with paint!

Painting is a fairly inexpensive way to create huge impact.

If you’re wanting a different feeling in the space you have, try paint!

Seriously. Try it. πŸ˜‰

Here are a few shots of the space from before to the half-way mark after we had painted a bunch:

Another thing we completed that third week was the installation of the new light fixtures!

Doesn’t that simple white flush-mount fixture look better than that old ceiling fan?!

We got the chandelier up in the dining room too!

Chris ended up having to buy extra chain in order to drape the chandelier to centered over the table, but it still looked SO MUCH BETTER than that awkward light that was in there before. πŸ˜‰

The last thing we were waiting on as far as materials were concerned was the interior doors.

The one thing holding us back at this point was the wall and floor patching, so the big push for the fourth week was getting those done so we can get rocking and rolling on all the painting!

A Few Concerns

One of my biggest concerns at the half-way point was the color of the walls…

My mother-in-law chose a creamy white they’d had in their prior home assuming it would look and feel the same in this space and I’ll admit I didn’t push her to do the samples like I recommend in my steps to choosing paint.

Well, I wasn’t sure they were going to be what she was wanting…

The section we’d painted as of the third week looked a bit buttery (with too much yellow undertone) under artificial light.

The difference was that their prior home had lots of natural light and that area of the home rarely saw artificial light.

You can see the color of them behind the chandelier above.

We were hoping once all of the space was that color and there was no opportunity for yellow tones to be reflected around the room that the paint would be perfect.

If it wasn’t, we would just have to repaint.

I’d encourage you to use my post on how to choose paint colors to make sure you get the right color the first time!

Another issue we were working through at this point was the painting of the sofa and recliner feet.

When we purchased them, they had black feet and we weren’t really doing any black in the space so we figured we’d just paint them to look like dark stained wood!

Well, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a furniture painter…

I figured I’d just prime them and then paint/stain them a dark wood color. Easier said than done!

Chris eventually figured out how to make them fantastic, but at this stage they were definitely still a work in progress. πŸ˜‰

Lastly, Chris was also in the process of staining the credenza to match their cherry wood furniture.

We started by applying a traditional cherry gel stain and it turned it somewhat orange so we’re adding a layer of a rich mahogany to give it a deeper color. We weren’t quite sure how the credenza would turn out at this point!

Week 4: Patchwork Complete & More Paint

We got a bunch of things marked off of our to-do list during the fourth week, so let’s start by looking at that:

  • Remove wall
  • Reroute electrical
  • Patch sheetrock
  • Patch flooring
  • Install new ceiling lights
  • Paint all trim
  • Paint and install all doors
  • Paint all walls
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint and install fireplace
  • Install TV Mount
  • Paint cradenza
  • Furnish and decorate!

A big shout out went to Chris and his parents – it was only because of their hard work and long hours that we were able to finish patching the sheet rock and flooring and get all of the trim painted!

First, let’s look at the floors.

Chris and his Dad used the box of left-over vinyl flooring the prior home-owners left after installing these floors to patch the section where we removed the wall.

They started by removing about 3 rows around the row where the wall was and then carefully cut pieces to fill the gap and glued them in with carpet glue.

Honestly, they did such a good job that I couldn’t even tell where they patched it!

Check this out:

Can you spot where they patched the section where the wall was?

I can’t! πŸ˜‰ They seriously look awesome.

Another major achievement that week was the sheetrock patching.

My father-in-law had to float like 5 layers of mud in order to get it to sit flush with the existing wall before blowing texture.

And with dry-time in between, it was a long process!

But, he did a really nice job and after being painted you could’t even tell they were patched.

Here are a few shots from the process:




These pictures really don’t do the space justice – with the floor being continuous and the walls looking uniform, the room felt huge.

You can see more details about the patch work in this update video:

In regards to our concerns from the prior week – the paint looked great now that everything was painted (phew!), the furniture feet ended up looking FANTASTIC (a tutorial for that coming soon) and we made a big decision regarding the credenza.

Originally we were trying to stain it to match her cherry wood coffee and side tables, but after much struggle, we decided to paint it RED!

We chose a beautiful deep crimson color (shown below, although it looks much more red and less maroon in person) and I knew it would be the perfect pop of color in a mostly neutral space. πŸ™‚

We primed it during the fourth week and I learned you should prime with grey if painting red so that the paint doesn’t end up looking pink!

A huge blessing from the week was the fact that we were able to sell their old sofa and love seat – which made much more space for working in the room.

The fireplace was almost done too!

It just needed one more coat of white and the black insert spruced up a bit.

Our last big achievement during the fourth week was getting all of the builder-grade floor, window and door trim painted.

I’m seriously amazed at how much nicer a space can look with white trim.

Even builder-grade trim looks extremely classy when it’s a nice glossy white.

Our big goals for the next week were painting and installing all the doors, a DIY flat door update on the garage door, and finishing all of the wall/ceiling painting.

We were also shooting to get the fireplace and TV installed so my mother-in-law and I could start decorating. πŸ˜‰

Week 5: Finishing Touches

Let’s start by looking at our project task list as of the end of the fifth week – we were just about done!

  • Remove wall
  • Reroute electrical
  • Patch sheetrock
  • Patch flooring
  • Install new ceiling lights
  • Paint all trim
  • Paint and install all doors
  • Paint all walls
  • Paint ceiling
  • Paint and install fireplace
  • Install TV Mount
  • Paint credenza
  • Furnish and decorate!

That’s right – all we had left to finish up was painting the credenza (the cabinet was done, just the doors needed their final coat) and decorating!

Here was a sneak peek I gave at the red paint on the credenza:

We used an oil-based paint in a semi-gloss sheen so it’s durable and honestly, it turned out stunning.

And it was the PERFECT pop of color in the space!

I couldn’t wait for the reveal so I could show everyone the entire piece with the doors on and all the decor on top. πŸ™‚

The fifth week was definitely the most fun because we were finally able to start furnishing the room.

We put in all the doors and new hardware, rolled out the rug, moved in the sofa, recliner and side chairs, put out the tables, hung curtains and even mounted the TV and sconces above the fireplace!

Here was a sneak peek at the chairs we got from our sponsor, HomePop:

Aren’t they beautiful?

I loved the charcoal grey fabric paired with the cream, velvet pillow. πŸ™‚

Never heard of HomePop?

They’re an awesome home furnishings brand that makes accent items like ottomans and benches, accent chairs, dining chairs and more.

I love that their products are fun and stylish but still livable.

Many of their items have fun pops of pattern or color too, so I’d encourage you to go check them out!

You can see more of their products in our master bedroom, kitchen and our daughter’s room!

Lastly, I just HAD to show off the DIY flat door update I did on their garage door!

Can you believe that’s even the same door?!

Painting it made a big difference too – and we couldn’t have done it without the help of our sponsored HANDy Paint Pail! πŸ™‚

So, are you ready to see the finished room?!

Week 6: The Reveal

Drum roll please… πŸ˜‰

Welcome to their new living room!

Isn’t it stunning??

The faux fireplace is my favorite part of this whole space.

I still can’t believe we got it for just $50 at a garage sale!

The charcoal accent chairs were sponsored from HomePop and, paired with the velvet pillows and blanket basket, they add the perfect touch of sophistication and comfort next to the fireplace.

On the other side of the room (where we removed the wall) you can see how much light now flows in from the staircase and how much brighter the space is with the new white doors.

Which leads us over to the red credenza!

It’s excellent storage for my mother-in-law’s china dishes and decor, and the red paint makes it the perfect pop of color in a relatively neutral space.

We added gold and red accents throughout the space to tie in the credenza and mirror.

The rug was sponsored from Mohawk Home and is perfect for the room.

It’s a beautiful cream color with hints of green, brown and deep red.

I also love that the pattern has just enough detail to create interest without being overwhelming.

Want to know a secret?

See that snake grass plant near the front door?

It actually artificial and has a hole drilled into the bottom of it so that it can sit on top of a capped propane pipe coming up out of the floor!

It was a brilliant way to hide an eye-sore!

And real snake plants are one of the indoor houseplants on our list of the best plants for low-light and low-maintenance care.

The sofa and recliner my mother-in-law chose are just the right size for this room, giving plenty of seating without taking up too much space.

Their fabric is technically grey but has some white, cream and brown tones too making it the prefect color for this space.

My mother-in-law already owned the cherry tables (entry, side and coffee) and I like that the curves of their legs along with the curve of the arms on the accent chairs add dimension to the room otherwise filled with straight lines.

The view from their front windows is AMAZING, so I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures to show it off!

And of course, we’re in Oregon, so fog and overcast weather is typical. πŸ˜‰

Now, tell me this fireplace doesn’t look like the real thing!

It came with these incredible cans of gel that burn a real flame that crackles and gives off heat.

I am seriously impressed with it.

Living Room Makeover Before & Afters

Room makeover before and afters are my FAVORITE, so here are a few so you can get a feel for the transformation:

So, what do you think of our traditional living room makeover?!

I love how it turned out!

So do my in-laws, which is even more important considering it’s in their home. πŸ˜‰

Thanks so much for stopping by to see our makeover on my in-laws’ living room! I hope this project inspires you!

As always, let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

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7 thoughts on “A Stunning Traditional Living Room Makeover”

  1. Phenomenal! What an incredible change…it isn’t even the same room, at all. The living room is bright and cozy and so inviting. You all did a wonderful job! Congratulations! (The market value of that house just up a ton!)

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