42 Before-and-After Living Room Makeovers

Designers take these living rooms from ultra-dated to dreamy. You won't believe these remarkable living room transformations.

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May 18, 2020

Photo By: Lambert Home

Photo By: Amy Bartlam

Photo By: Amy Bartlam

Photo By: Amy Bartlam

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

Photo By: Rennai Hoefer

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Mali Azima

Photo By: Julie Soefer Photography

Photo By: Julie Soefer Photography

Photo By: Claire Paquin

Photo By: Regan Wood Photography

Photo By: Claire Paquin

Photo By: Regan Wood Photography

Photo By: Claire Paquin

Photo By: Regan Wood Photography

Photo By: DiMauro Architects

Photo By: Warren Jagger Photography

Photo By: Jeff Herr

Photo By: Phoebe Chuason

Photo By: Michelle Gage

Photo By: Kyle Born

Photo By: Claire Paquin

Photo By: Regan Wood

Photo By: DiMauro Architects, Inc.

Photo By: Nat Rea

Photo By: Marie Flanigan Interiors

Photo By: Julie Soefer Photography

Photo By: Ashley Ausland

Photo By: Marisa Vitale

Photo By: Ashley Ausland

Photo By: Marisa Vitale

Photo By: Caitlin Jones Ghajar

Photo By: Aubrie Pick

Photo By: Thurman Design Studio

Photo By: Daniel Christopher

Photo By: Thurman Design Studio

Photo By: Daniel Christopher

Photo By: Ryan Garvin

Photo By: Ryan Garvin

Photo By: Ryan Garvin

Photo By: Ryan Garvin


Photo By: Chad Mellon

Photo By: Bailey Austin Design

Photo By: Emily Hart

Photo By: Studio Jaki Photography

Photo By: Michael Hunter

Photo By: Traci Connell Interiors

Photo By: Michael Hunter

Photo By: Michael Hunter

Photo By: Choeff Levy Fischman

Photo By: Choeff Levy Fischman

Photo By: Choeff Levy Fischman

Photo By: Choeff Levy Fischman

Photo By: The Ranch Mine

Photo By: Roehner + Ryan

Photo By: Alyssa Rosenheck

Photo By: Alyssa Rosenheck

Photo By: Rob Wright

Photo By: Joe Bernado

Photo By: Bridget Beari Designs, Rob Wright

Photo By: Joe Bernado

Before: Tired Traditional

This traditional living room features a dated mix of warm yellow and red hues. Deep marigold walls, heavy red drapes and bulky, brown leather furniture give this space a dark and cluttered appearance.

After: Revived + Refined

Designers at Lambert Home transform the dark and dated traditional living room into an airy and enviable transitional design. A crisp paint lightens the walls and a set of creamy barrel accent chairs add fresh seating for friends and family. The dated drapes were replaced with neutral, geometric curtains, and the cognac sofa is energized with three ivory toss pillows.

Before: Beautiful Bones

If you can look past the floral sofa, cluttered sewing station and tacky built-in bar, you’ll see that this historic home is full of charm and potential. The ceiling is adorned with substantial wooden beams that bring architectural interest to the design and visually expand the space.

After: Crisp Contemporary

Never underestimate the power of paint. Interior designer Lucie Ayres revives the dated living room with wall-to-ceiling white paint that both calms and enhances the original ceiling beams. A leggy wall sconce and sleek gray sofa bring a contemporary look into the space, while yellow pillows and a cobalt blue built-in bookcase add personality to the design.

Before: Dusty + Distracting

Dingy, dusty walls and bulky, espresso-stained wood trim diminish the beauty of this expansive family sitting room. Dated, warm-toned furnishings bring additional darkness to the design, and create an almost cavernous appearance.

After: Elevated Design

Interior designer Lucie Ayres coats the walls and ceilings with bright-white paint to create a clean, cohesive slate for cool, contemporary furnishings. An oversized chartreuse painting creates an electric focal point on the wall and coordinates with the cobalt blue sofa and neon yellow pillows.

Before: Distracting Contrast

This expansive living room appears unfinished and overwhelming. Collected knickknacks clutter the mantel and walls, while the furnishings appear too small and leave the space feeling empty.

After: Airy + Fresh

This space is transformed from cluttered and messy to crisp and contemporary. Designer Lucie Ayres replaces the mantel tchotchkes with a chic vignette of abstract art and yellow blooms. A striking blue sofa appears proportional in the grand space, and provides homeowners with chic and cozy seats for late night fireside conversations.

Before: Bulky Fireplace + Bad Floors

Clunky, aged floor tiles lead the way to a bulky fireplace that features a large wooden mantel and a floor-to-ceiling stone façade. Dull green paint coats the room’s remaining three walls, and a bland ceiling fan collects dust overhead.

After: Brick Fireplace + Blonde Floors

Blissful Design Studio takes this living room out of the stone age and into the future with a brick fireplace and beautiful, blonde hardwood floors. The contemporary tufted sofa and chairs are cozied-up with rustic accents like a gingham area rug, distressed chests and floral pillows.

Before: Unsightly Stone

The earthy stone fireplace lacks subtlety and brings a dark and dreary energy into this family living room. The rough gray and brown stone overwhelms the senses and overpowers the space.

After: Classic + Cozy

Buh-bye, brown! Goodbye, gray! The once overwhelming wall is made elegant with a handsome brick fireplace surrounded by crisp, white walls. The bright walls draw the eye to the striking firebox and provide a fresh backdrop to the paintings that flank the remodeled fireplace.

Before: Dingy Colors

The beige built-in bookshelves feature ornate details and an antique finish that appears dirty and dated. The shelves are cluttered with a mismatched collection of contemporary black picture frames and random red accents.

After: Crisp + Clean Contrast

Elegant, black built-in bookcases frame a striking white fireplace and create a high-contrast, high-style look in this once overdone and outdated living room. The shelves are outfitted with gilded sculptures, marble vases and spirited graphic prints.

Before: Overly Ornate Mantel

This traditional mantel is overwhelming and tacky with its opulent columns, a faux-aged finish and a swirling vine firebox screen. Overhead, a large television and a decorative iron wall accent appear bulky and out of place.

After: Understated Elegance

Less is much, much more. The overdone mantel is replaced with a creamy cast stone fireplace that boasts a sleek exterior and a herringbone interior. Decorative fire glass glitters within the firebox in lieu of traditional gas logs.

Before: Soaring Views

Soaring ceilings are met with stunning windows and beautiful views in this outdated living room. Dark mustard walls and off-white trim surround the arched windows, dulling their visual impact on the space.

After: Striking Views

Interior designer Minhnuyet Hardy uses inky paint to enhance the trim surrounding the striking arched windows in this reimagined den. Soft gray paint brightens the walls and embraces the abundant sunshine streaming in through the windows.

Before: Sterile Style

Cold, cream tile floors, flat taupe walls and a big beige sectional make this one lackluster and uninviting living room. A red throw blanket drapes across the back of the sofa to coordinate with a large red plate above the mantel in attempts to add color to the ultra-bland, ultra-beige design.

After: Layered With Warmth

Interior designer Marie Flanigan layers neutral hues and lavish textures to create a cozy, inviting family living room. The once barren space is now abundant with depth and dimension thanks to snowy shiplap walls and a sophisticated, pillow-clad sofa. Flanigan enhances the light, neutral furniture with warm elements like the cognac hide rug and jute lamp. Subdued shades of plum and olive bring personality into the design without overpowering the space.

Before: Totally Tacky

There are hundreds of creative and beautiful ways to display family photos in your home, but not like this. The drab marigold den features heavy golden drapes, mismatched furniture and a traditional fireplace that’s working double time as a makeshift family scrapbook.

After: Total Stunner

Interior designer Claire Paquin peeled the polaroid vignette from the mantel and replaced it with a stately mirror flanked by traditional nickel sconces. The gaudy gold walls are coated with a fresh vanilla hue, and the wooden mantel and molding are painted glossy white. Golden ikat drapes dress the windows and matching, marigold pillows carry the color throughout the space.

Before: Dated + Drab

Sponge painted yellow walls appear dirty and disheveled in this family living room. The orange-stained hardwood floors and matching china cabinet mirror the golden walls, yielding a flat, monochromatic design.

After: Regal + Timeless

Royal purple accent chairs and golden drapes pop against the taupe walls and white trim in this reimagined living space. Espresso-stained hardwoods replace the off-putting orange floors in the original space and bring contrast and dimension to the design.

Before: Monochromatic Marigold

The large living space lacks the functionality necessary for a contemporary family home. Cluttered corners frame an empty floor and bring disorganized chaos to the space.

After: Decadent Royal Hues

Clever furniture placement maximizes the use of this space. A large sofa takes center stage and provides a plush place for conversation. Two velvet armchairs and a punchy, purple bench add a beautiful purple hue into the living space. Behind the sofa, two contemporary wingback chairs offer first row seats to enjoy a concert by the family pianist.

Before: Blank Slate

An empty attic offers endless opportunities for homeowners. This space is full of potential with a pretty, arched ceiling and sweet, square window.

After: Cozy, Coastal Sitting Room

The attic space reaches its full potential after being transformed into this cozy sitting area. The ceiling sports white planks, while the navy hardwood floors bring a coastal touch underfoot. A small table and chairs provide a place to eat and play beneath the trimmed window, and plush armchairs provide snuggly spots to curl up and read a good book.

Before: Uninspired Traditional

Arched windows, substantial molding and handsome hardwood floors provides this traditional living room with plenty of design potential. The cloudy, yellowed walls and outdated furniture distracts from the architectural bones of the space.

After: Vibrant Transitional

A little paint goes a long way to enhance the original beauty of this transitional living room. The previously yellow walls are covered with an airy white hue and adorned with custom moldings for added flair. Spindle-style armchairs with pillows trimmed in tassels add a youthful energy to the space. A luxe, tufted gold ottoman pairs with a gilded floral chandelier, bringing a touch of drama and glamour to the design.

Before: Dreary Midcentury

Dark, dreary and dysfunctional — this midcentury modern living room is begging for a full-blown facelift.

After: Fresh Facelift

Interior designer Natalie Meyers knocks years off this space's look with fresh paint, updated furniture and a captivating color palette. The original stone fireplace remains intact and is enhanced with a slew of natural textiles seen throughout the space.

Before: Bleak Corner

It may not be much to look at now, but this disheveled space has great bones. The two windows have unmatched views of the backyard and wash the space in natural sunlight.

After: Colorful Corner

Cheerful aqua paint coats the walls and white trim surrounds the windows to create an enlivened and polished look. Espresso-stained hardwood floors are a nice contrast against the airy blue walls and anchor the space beneath the patterned armchairs. An oversized abstract painting and brass sconces add warmth and personality to the design.

Before: Full of Potential

This charming sunroom features a wall of arched windows that captures striking views of the lush backyard landscaping. The dated yellow walls and tattered carpet cloud the potential of the space, distracting from the architectural character.

After: Captivating Contemporary

Gold, be gone! Pale gray paint coats the walls and allows the Schumacher’s “Chiang Mai Dragon” print curtains to shine. A funky chandelier illuminates the family room from overhead, while pops of teal and chartreuse energize the charcoal sectional and armchairs.

Before: Historic Fireplace

The historic fireplace in this Rhode Island living room is beautiful, but doesn’t fit the needs of a contemporary family home.

After: Classic Cottage Facade

The team at DiMauro Architects reimagined the historic brick fireplace and created a traditional and inviting focal point for this coastal cottage home. Blue walls and blonde hardwood floors enhance the whitewashed millwork and highlight the pastel tiles surrounding the flickering hearth.

Before: Distracting Arches

An arched entertainment center distracts from the beautiful wall of windows and cozy fireplace in this dated, traditional living room. The center features dark-stained wood shelving and a trio of unnecessary burgundy arches overhead.

After: Transformed Transitional Entertainment Center

Designer Marie Flanigan removes the overdone arches and installs a single, sophisticated built-in entertainment center in their place. Heather gray grasscloth wallpaper lines the back of the built-in and a bold navy cabinet extends the length of the unit.

Before: Dark Den

Cramped and cavernous, this uninspiring living area needs a complete makeover to fit the needs of a modern family of five. The stained carpet and drab yellow walls make the space appear messy and grimy.

After: Sun-Drenched Sitting Room

Dove gray walls meet the white planked ceilings creating an open and airy aesthetic in this family room. Interior designer Ashley Ausland adds a built-in media cabinet for storage and rips out the stained carpet and replaces it with honey-toned hardwoods.

Before: Poor Function

A cramped media unit is positioned oddly against the corner of the room. The piece covers a window and is overflowing with clutter.

After: Plush Window Seat

Designer Ashley Ausland reimagines the space and accounts for the homeowners’ growing family with a custom window bench and cabinet storage. The stylish nook offers additional seating for friends and family during movie night, and the cabinet and drawers keep the distracting clutter out of sight.

Before: Lackluster Living Space

The quirky layout, ill-fitting rugs and dysfunctional storage make this living room dreary and bland.

After: Open Floorplan + Opulent Views

Interior designer Caitlin Jones Ghajar turns the drab design into a dream pad by embracing its wall of windows and using neutral furnishings, luxe texture and sleek lines throughout. Warm wood built-ins provide storage for booze, books and board games, while an expansive area rug anchors the design and adds airiness underfoot.

Before: Unaligned Design

The design direction for this open-concept family room is unclear. Weathered wood beams loom above a confusing mix of rustic accent pieces, a French Country sofa and a pair of rich leather armchairs flank an awkward, glassed-topped end table.

After: Fresh Contemporary

Ivory paint provides a fresh backdrop for this updated family room. An airy, oversized sectional offers plenty of room for family members to connect and unwind each day. Slate pillows pop against the creamy sofa and coordinate with the smoky kitchen island in the background. The coral accent pillows mirror the lively hues featured in the patterned area rug.

Before: Awkward Angles

This dysfunctional family den features a slew of competing elements that overwhelm the design and shrink the square footage of the room. Bulky built-in cabinets flank the imposing and outdated fireplace at the center of the room. A large oil painting sits above the dusty brown mantel, and the television blocks sunlight from entering the room.

After: Sleek + Centered

The designers at Thurman Design Studio swapped the built-ins for baskets and stripped the fireplace of its sponged façade. It was replaced with a simple whitewash finish enhanced by a stained wood fireplace trim and mantel. A sleek, flat-screen TV tilts towards the sectional and sun streams freely into the space via the new French doors and transom windows along the far wall.

Before: What View?

The jaw-dropping seascape visible beyond the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows is buried beneath the weight of dated wood planked walls, ceiling and floors.

After: What a View!

Bright walls painted white and a matching, sloped ceiling work in tandem to frame the expansive windows and draw guests’ attention to the brilliant ocean views.

Before: Dark + Distracting

The sparkling seascape is hardly the focal point in this beige beachfront family room. A rustic, cabin-inspired fireplace steals the show with its painted wood paneling, tiled bench and commanding black chimney. A boring, beige sofa and a pair of equally bleak upholstered chairs sit opposite the hearth.

After: Coastal Cool

The designers at Blackband Design transform the fireplace from cabin to coastal cool by painting the walls and ceiling white. A neutral sofa is piled high with plush toss pillows in vibrant, beachy hues and two contemporary chairs offer family and guests prime seating in front of the television for movie nights or the morning news.

Before: Panels Aplenty

Beige paneled walls create a dated and cluttered backdrop to the family room in this coastal home. A bulky, wooden beam at the base of the stairs feels out of place and adds dysfunction to the design.

After: Beachy Built-Ins

The drab wall panels are replaced with smooth, white walls and a bespoke built-in bookcase tucked beside the freshly remodeled fireplace. Coastal vases, tropical coffee table books and a fish figurine add seaside personality to the design. Below, a custom upholstered bench nestles neatly into the staircase wall and provides homeowners a plush spot to curl up with a book.

Before: Obscured Seascape

The drab wood ceiling weighs down the open-concept dining room and detracts from the scenic ocean views.

After: Unmatched Ocean Views

White walls and ceiling create a crisp frame that draws guests’ eyes to the floor to ceiling windows that provide an uninterrupted view of the beach and aqua horizon.

Before: Raw Potential

This unfinished room may be bare, but it’s easy to see that it has the bones to become a truly remarkable space for family gatherings and relaxation. Four sizable windows usher sunlight into the room and a fireplace sets the stage for cozy evenings.

After: Realized Potential

The finished fireplace sizzles with a smoky tile façade and a wooden mantel. A gray sofa shines against the espresso-stained hardwood floors, while metallic accents play well with the earthy textures and woven storage baskets, creating a beautiful and balanced design.

Before: Enveloped in Shadows

Dark wood built-ins and mustard walls envelope the grand stone fireplace in this family den. The deep shades and heavy materials shrink the space and take away from the stately focal point at the center of the room.

After: Bursting With Color

The design masterminds at Baily Austin Design lighten and brighten the space with white walls, dove gray cabinets and vibrant, abstract art. Cool aqua pillows, navy upholstered sofa and lush green accents enhance the neutral undertones of the stone and breathe youthful flare into the sophisticated space.

Before: Drab Stone Surround

A grand stone fireplace offers rustic, farmhouse appeal to this open floorplan family room. Though beautiful, the natural stone façade weighs down the space and distracts from the walls of windows that frame the space.

After: Sleek + Streamlined Design

Designers at Wake + Loom replace the heavy stone with a smooth, stark-white minimalist façade. The ultra-sleek design allows the surrounding wall of windows to shine and aids in creating a sundrenched family den.

Before: Sleepy Shades

The dated color combination of seafoam green and chocolate brown are at play in this tired living room. A simple, red brick fireplace with white grout serves as the room's focal point, yet clashes with the heavy, stained wood finishes used throughout the space.

After: Energized Family Den

Yesterday’s trendy hues are replaced with cool, contemporary colors and sleek, updated finishes. Slate blue built-in units enhance the whitewashed fireplace at the center of the room and create a cozy contrast against the ivory walls. A stained wood mantle plays well with the ceiling fan overhead, while mossy green accents bring vibrant color into the otherwise neutral space.

Before: Blank Canvas

An ornate doorway frames a bare wall in a shadowy formal living room. The empty space is brimming with design possibilities thanks to the handsome hardwood floors and dramatic soaring ceilings.

After: Built-In Glamour

From lacking to lovely — this once bare living room now exudes opulence and glamour. The showstopping icy blue built-in is paired with a white settee and a polished porcelain tile fireplace. An oil-rubbed bronze globe chandelier dangles overhead, serving as a contemporary contrast to the original hardwoods underfoot.

Before: Pattern Parade

Frills, florals and plaid line every inch of this dated living room. The mixed patterns, traditional chair skirts and apple red accents work against each other and create a dated look in this family room.

After: Soft Sophistication

Smoky gray and silver hues bring refined sophistication to this newly designed family room. Opulent light fixtures, decadent textiles and unique silhouettes are sprinkled throughout to ensure this living room is anything but boring.

Before: Bulky Built-Ins

An outdated media wall makes for an eyesore in this drab, deserted family den. Beige floor tiles and matching beige walls add to the overall dreariness of the design.

After: Dramatic Movie Room

A custom-built media wall houses the flat-screen TV and offers plenty of storage and display space. Painted a dark blue, the walls and wall unit look sharp when matched with the olive green sofa and ottomans.

Before: Beige on Beige

Beige floors, beige walls and a beige ceiling make for one unstimulating living space. Cone pendants illuminate the bland space from above and the handsome, dark wood doors appear disjointed in the space.

After: Contemporary Color Story

Designers brighten the space by painting the walls white and bringing in sun-bleached hardwood floors. The removal of the walnut-framed interior windows and doors, brings a better flow to this living space. Bold white sofas, dip-dyed floor lamps and a marble console table create a contemporary, luxurious living room in this bayfront home.

Before: Cramped Quarters

Before renovation, the stairs in this modern living room created a cramped walkway and cut off access to the adjacent kitchen.

After: Expansive + Inviting

Dramatic fireplace detail and sculptural rings emphasize the height of this two story living room. During a renovation of the home, the stairs were repositioned along the back wall, which allowed a new opening between the room and adjacent kitchen.

Before: Forgettable Family Room

Golden walls complement red upholstery to create a cozy, warm and completely outdated living room. The traditional furnishings and old-fashioned color palette overwhelm the space and need fresh facelift to cater to a more contemporary family home.

After: Captivating Contrast

An indigo grasscloth wallpaper wraps the walls with color and accentuates the crisp, white fireplace mantel, crown molding and doorway trim. Decadent jewel-toned textiles enrich the design and buttery velvet upholstered sofa provides softness to the glamourous design. A gilded, geometric bookcase adds a brilliant pop of color against the moody walls and ties in with the other metallic details featured throughout the home.

Before: Overlooked Living Space

A small paneled sunroom off the kitchen serves as catch-all for forgotten and dated furnishings. The mismatched seating area lacks cohesion and comfort, leaving it to collect dust for the majority of the year.

After: Eye-Catching Stripes

Vernich Interiors transformed the space from underwhelming to dramatic, dreamy and demanding. Black and white striped patterned rug, draperies and artwork are very eye-catching in this white living room. A green upholstered bench and matching pillows accent the greenery in the room and add a punch of color.

Before: Fizzled Out Fireplace

Although this traditional mantel is rich in timeless charm, the stately surround is lacking in edge, novelty and contemporary appeal.

After: Sizzling Chic

Fresh pink patterned drapery, a stunning wool Moroccan area rug and a modernized mantel make this living room a happy and elegant conversation space. The new mantle was achieved with drywall and white plaster, which reflects natural light into the room, creating a fresh and modern feel. Designers emphasized the area with a chocolate brown accent wall above. Flanking the mantel with matching cabinets brings balance and added storage.

Before: Old Fashioned Finishes

This oversized brick fireplace serves as the anchor for this open-concept living room design. The basic materials and uninspired masonry work leave the fireplace short on charm and desperate for a facelift.

After: Reimagined Rustic Focal Point

Replacing the heavy brick mantel with a hand-carved washed wood mantel and ledge stone hearth creates a contemporary, cozy and inviting room. A stylish bar is perfect for entertaining and the bar top repeats the ledge stone from the fireplace mantel, creating visual continuity and connectivity. The lucite barstool backs keep it light and allow the eye to move easily throughout the space. A blue sectional and comfy club chairs are perfect for entertaining.

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