Refresh your look with rich new colors, a fireplace facelift, natural light, and more
Before: Santa Monica cottage living room
The small, rather dark 1930's living room gave way to a light-filled, loftlike space (next page).
The living room is now a colorful new gathering area. Light floods into the room and reflects off the white walls and mantel.
For contrast, the wooden floors are stained in a custom mix of ebony and dark walnut shades; the high-gloss polyurethane top coat reflects even more light.
Designer Julie Hart sparks the interiors with colorful accent pillows, throws, and pottery that she coordinates with a rotating collection of art.
See more of this airy cottage makeover
Despite a lot of tight spaces in this 1900s Oakland Craftsman, the owners saw potential.
Next, see how they took advantage of the home's natural light.
Filmy white shades diffuse sunlight through the sitting area—helped by pale fabrics and rugs.
This nondescript living room felt dark and cramped. It had little presence of its own.
Bright red colors and opened walls made an ordinary house special.
This living room's previous incarnation included a massive gold-veined mirror that concealed the unfinished double-sided fireplace.
Plantation shutters blocked an enormous expanse of floor-to-ceiling windows.
A team of workers had to chip away for days on their hands and knees to unearth the original terrazzo floors.
A handful of dramatic pieces stand out against this room's quieter elements. A pair of towering vintage majolica lamps (Carl's
Lamps & Custom Shades, 323/651-5825) creates a yin and yang effect atop an understated low credenza of wenge and white CaesarStone
(a quartz-polymer material).
The mix of items from another era with midcentury classics and some contemporary pieces keeps the overall look anchored to the home's origins while adding individual style.
Read more about this midcentury remodel
This cramped, dead-end living room in a 1940s tract home had little light and no drama.
Now the ceiling soars. Tall glass doors replace the small windows flanking the fireplace. A striking stairway leads upstairs,
and ribbed cast-concrete fireplace create an inviting gathering place.
The dark mantle on this fireplace was too heavy for the small space, and the low ceilings contributed to the room's cave-like atmosphere.
A lighter hearth, new windows and a coffered ceiling add more light and brighten this room.
This 1950s house on a down-sloping site was 14 feet wide, boxcar-like, and offered no private outdoor space.
The remodel reorganized the main floor and sandwiched it between a new front courtyard and a rear outdoor room overlooking
the slope. The ceiling was given a gentle pitch over the original beams. The result resembles an airy garden pavilion.
For those of you who worry that your family room could win a drab decor award, then we have a treat for you--a super stylish room makeover that proves a little cash can go a long way.
We spent only $200 on paint, new pillows, rugs and other accessories to give this space a major style boost.
Limited light and gray walls conjured the feeling of a submarine more than a sailboat in this benighted beach house.
From dark and dismal to bright and breezy, this living room seems twice as large with the addition of new doors; wider openings
to neighboring rooms; and a crisp, unifying coat of white paint.
A dark brick fireplace and paneling made the old kitchen/family room seem gloomy.
Removing the fireplace wall allowed the living area to extend into what had been the garage. Flanking windows flood the room
with natural light.
When these home owners needed a space for their office they decided on a small butler’s pantry. The underutilized space between the kitchen and dining room would have to pull double duty as a home office and kitchen storage area.
A simple, inexpensive redo transformed the 8- x 13-foot nook into a cozy library-like home office that really works.
A hodgepodge of inherited traditional antique pieces was holding back the true style of this modern home owner.
The traditional furnishings got new life by painting the walls a warm, rich blue, and filling the room with meaningful accessories.
Previously, the furniture was centered on the fireplace, the focal point of the room, but the homeowner didn’t know how to accommodate a new TV in a natural way.
By rearranging furniture, eliminating clutter, and bringing in accessories from other rooms, the space was reinvented.
A white-painted fireplace of slump-block adobe made this family room seem dated.
Building up the façade to make it thicker and covering it in vibrant tomato bisque-hued plaster turned the hearth into a showpiece.
The goal: to update the tired existing brick fireplace surround and to transform the space into a warm family area.
By making a few quick changes to colors, fabrics and rearranging furniture you can update your living room in a weekend.
A perfectly livable space was suffering from a case of the blahs. However, new fabrics, paint, and adjustments to the layout
have turned it into a showplace.
Ready for a change? Washable slipcovers in lighthearted new fabrics perk up old upholstery.
We painted this sitting room in three different shades to compare: cheery yellow, tangerine orange and shown here in chocolate