Before and After: Living Rooms | Midwest Living

Before and After: Living Rooms

These 12 updates show how to make sure your living room is a warm embrace, whether it's small or large, formal or informal.
  • Before: Weekend refresh

    Nothing pops in this living room awash in shades of brown. Click ahead to see how the owner redid this space—in just a weekend!

  • After: Weekend refresh

    Gray walls maintain a neutral backdrop but other changes enliven the look. White paint brightens the outdated wood trim and makes the fireplace surround pop. Dashes of black in a new sofa table and blue accessories inject energy. 

    Read more about this makeover.

  • Before: Tiny charmer

    Dark wood trim, beams and furniture paired with dark brick made for a dismal room. Click to the next slide to see how paint gives it new personality.

  • After: Tiny charmer

    White paint on the ceiling and wood trim opens the space. A full surround of crown molding and fluted pilasters provide architectural interest. Antique shutters function as the fire screen. Paint treatment on walls and the modern ceiling fixture keep the look lively. And new wood floors draw all eyes to the focal point hearth.


  • Before: Step out

    A bland and a tight living room takes a step out as part of a remodel. Click ahead to see. 

  • After: Step out

    Moving the front wall 3 feet into the porch made room for a light-promoting box bay and an entry with closet. The expansion also gave the family pyschological elbow room in the small house.

  • Before: Vintage styling

    You'd never know this living room was in a charming 1875 cottage. The next slide shows its return to its roots.

  • After: Vintage styling

    Gleaming wood floors and a brick hearth set the tone for the now-cozy living room. An area rug defines one of the seating areas in the long, narrow space. Touches like the reproduction lighting fixtures above built-in shelves add vintage style. 


  • Before: Extended views

    Adding on to this house meant it was time to revamp the living room, too. Click ahead to see. 

  • After: Extended views

    French doors replaced windows and open to a new family room. The refaced fireplace melds with the pale scheme of this Colonial. Textures comes from the sisal rug and ottoman.


  • Before: Singular elegance

    Pink tones in the fireplace surround battle with the yellows in the wood. Click to the next slide to see how a monochromatic palette added elegance.

  • After: Singular elegance

    A limestone surround updates the fireplace. Painting the honey-stained wood mantel further streamlines the look. Change out accessories for bursts of seasonal color.

  • Before: Lacking luster

    The only sensation this 90-year-old living room evokes is one of weariness. The pine walls are dated, the subway tile around the fireplace has lost its shine, and the finish on the floors is worn. The next slide shows its dramatic renewal.

  • After: Lacking luster

    Red-raspberry laquered walls create a dramatic background for pops of black and print fabrics. Black ceramic tiles—a few with Chinese figures—add sparkle. The crown-shape chandelier really does "crown" the scene. And a lovely rug graces refinished floors while unifying the look.


  • Before: Craftsman update

    Plaster walls are charming in this modest Craftsman home, but the fireplace is lost on the wall. The next slide shows one solution.

  • After: Craftsman update

    The new look is softer and lighter. A limestone surround replaces the smaller wood one, making it merit being the focus of the seating area. Paneling on the built-in bench adds architectural interest. 

  • Before: Eliminate the negative

    Many remodels begin with an addition. This one started by removing elements. Click ahead to see it.

  • After: Eliminate the negative

    Removing two bookcases smoothed traffic flow and added a sense of more space in this Colonial house. Tailored seating and a bronze table have classic geometry. Accessories and the dark fireplace surround keep the look from being staid.

  • Before: Added interest

    This living room was spacious and light-filled, but still lacked warmth. Click to the next slide to see the makeover. 

  • After: Added interest

    Floor-to-ceiling bookcases flanking the bay window break up the expanses of wall. Tongue-in-groove paneling on the backs adds subtle texture. 

  • Before: Break it up

    Long rooms need to be divided, but without walls. Click ahead to see one way to accomplish that.

  • After: Break it up

    Breaking the long room into two seating areas creates a sense of intimacy; rugs define each area. Graphic checks, oversize patterns and sink-in furnishings deformalize the architectural features in this 1925 home.

  • Before: Radical revival

    Click ahead to see how a budget-friendly coat of paint transforms a room

  • After: Radical revival

    A coat of eye-catching red on the walls is a budget-friendly makeover. Black at the back of the bookcases balances the brightness of the white trim. And the color combo keeps the comfy neutral furniture centerstage. This bold change would work with any bright hue. Too much color? Just paint one wall. 

    More details about this room

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