Before & After: Two Living Rooms Transformed with Color

The Color Cure

One of our favorite parts of The Color Cure has been our reader involvement. We're getting tons of great submissions, so we wanted to end the week by sharing two different Before & After projects that were submitted by two different readers. Go ahead, read on to see just how Marlee and Julia overhauled their spaces and what advice they have for Apartment Therapy readers!

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The Color Cure: How long after living in your home did you overhaul your space?
Marlee: Within the first weeks we painted the walls. It was very dark in the space and I made it a priority to brighten things up. As soon as the primer was up, even before the paint, you could see what a difference replacing the old paint and dark trim was going to make.

The Color Cure: How long did it take?
Marlee: The initial planning took about a week or two. All of the trim and cabinetry had a dark stain that had to be transformed to a glossy white. Then, over time, we added the sofas, decorated and placed the TV above the fireplace.

The Color Cure: Where did you find your color and design inspiration?
Marlee: I look in so many places for design inspiration. The house was a 1980 traditional colonial, so I knew I wanted to keep with that style. I am a daily reader of Apartment Therapy (really!) and other design blogs. I am a huge fan of Domino (RIP), Elle Decor, Lonny, Southern Living, and other magazines. I also look to such sites as the Purl Bee, the blog from Purl Soho's sewing, quilting, crafting store. There are so many inspirations when you look at colors and textiles. I knew I wanted to use a neutral paint color, so I did quite a bit of research on favorite neutrals from sources like Remodelista and Martha Stewart.

The Color Cure: How much planning did you put into the project?
Marlee: When we were considering purchasing the house, I was already considering a lot of the improvements I wanted to make. I probably spent about three months, between contract and closing, making plans.

The Color Cure: What was the most challenging part of the project?
Marlee: Deciding what to do with the paneling on the back wall. We went back and forth on dry walling over the wall, but in the interest of budget, we decided to paint and see how it would look. Once it was painted, and the trim was also painted, we liked the way it looked. Since it was on the wall with the built ins and the fireplace, it wasn't overwhelming. Also, challenging was the placement of the TV. We wanted it over the (wood burning) fireplace, but the components, cords, etc. had to go left or right due to the chimney. My father helped build a concealing shelf on the mantel to snake all of the cords and wires to the side.

The Color Cure: Did you learn a new skill during your home improvement project?
Marlee: Painting over wood paneling can work and look well!

The Color Cure: Are you happy with the outcome?
Marlee: Yes. We were very happy. It was a completely different room when we were finished. When we subsequently sold the house, our realtor received many compliments on the color and we sold in a matter of weeks during a tough market competing against a number of similar homes in the neighborhood.

The Color Cure: What, if anything, would you do differently next time around?
Marlee: I was very happy with what we did with the budget we were working with. If anything, I might introduce another color into the room through the use of a different rug or other textiles. But, I think the room worked well for the home.

The Color Cure: If you had one piece of advice for Apartment Therapy readers, what would it be?
Marlee: Live in your space and see how you are using it. We moved last summer into a new home quite different from our previous one. We are now in a Southern neighborhood featuring Charleston, Craftsman, and Georgian homes built with a nod to traditional details found in historical neighborhoods. We have the quintessential front porch and a light-filled home abundant with architectural detailing. Although I quickly set up my children's rooms, we are still working on plans for the living areas. I keep an Evernote file on my Mac and have collected many files/ideas for our planning.

Thanks for sharing, Marlee!

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The Color Cure: How long have you lived in your home?
Julia: We bought this home, our first, in April, just 4 months ago.

The Color Cure: When did you overhaul the space?
Julia: 10 days after we moved into our home, we already had the living room painted and a plan set out.

The Color Cure: How long did it take?
Julia: Last month I was still tweaking things, and I am sure it will continue. It took 3 months to get to the point it is now.

The Color Cure: Where did you find your color and design inspiration?
Julia: The main color inspiration, the purple accent wall, came from a dining room inspiration picture. Although I have adapted the color for my space and went with Behr's Violet Evening. The soft gray paint that we painted the majority of our main floor was a mis-tinted find. $25 for 5 gallons of Banjamin Moore's Cape Hatteras Sand color matched to Valspar...mis-tinted. Score! Because it is the very first thing you see when you walk in our front door, we wanted it to reflect our personalities and be inviting.

The Color Cure: How much planning did you put into the project?
Julia: A lot of things fell into our laps...err home. The shag carpet and the 5 gallons of mis-tinted paint were both incredibly discounted and we knew we wanted to work them into the room. The deep purple paint I didn't think about too much, only because I didn't want to talk myself out of it. I even told the guy at the paint counter how nervous I was. The big art of the wall is from IKEA and I have loved it for about 2 years. We finally had a wall large enough to buy it and we ran to get it.

The Color Cure: What was the most challenging part of the project?
Julia: The most challenging part was/is creating a room that looked good, reflected our personalities and was also kid-friendly. We have a 17 month old daughter and I wanted this home to be her home, too! The white couch is 100% slip-covered, the ottomans I reupholstered serve as storage for all of our daughter's toys.

The Color Cure: Did you learn a new skill during your home improvement project?
Julia: The ceiling on the main floor is vaulted and I do all the cutting in for our paint projects. So, although I have ben cutting in forever, facing my fears and climbing up a tall ladder to get the job done was a completely new experience. Scary, but liberating.

The Color Cure: Are you happy with the outcome?
Julia: Yes, absolutely! It has been a great launching pad for the rest of our home. We aren't afraid of punches of color and really make the spaces come to life.

The Color Cure: What, if anything, would you do differently next time around?
Julia: Eventually, we want to add better lighting (the lamps we had, I just recovered the shades) and a few other things, but that's down the road. We love our living room and wouldn't change the way we did anything.

The Color Cure: If you had one piece of advice for Apartment Therapy readers, what would it be?
Julia: Take a risk. I still like to drool over layered white rooms, but for us I am so glad I went bold. I don't regret it, and if I did...it is just paint.

If you want to learn more about how Julia has overhauled her home, check it out here!

Thanks for sharing, Julia!

Do you have a Before & After or a Color Inspiration Story to share with The Color Cure? Go ahead and get your entries in soon. We can't wait to hear from you!

The Color Cure, Week 2: Warm and Cool Colors
Week 2 Video: Warm and Cool Colors
Add Color to Your Kitchen Even if Your Backsplash is Tiled
Before & After: A Kitchen Overhaul Complete with Painted Cabinets
Color Quiz! Are You Warm or Cool Colored?

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The Color Cure

Landis is a ceramic artist who hand-makes heirloom-quality pottery for the kitchen, table, and home. She writes about tabletop design and entertaining for The Kitchn and lives in Maplewood, NJ with her husband and toddler.

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