Before and After: A Total Redo Brings out the Best in This 1800s Living Room

published Apr 5, 2020
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Before: Dark living room with red walls and white beadboard
Credit: Amanda Heck

Renovations aren’t always about making a space look totally new and modern. Sometimes, a successful renovation helps highlight the already-existing beauty in an older space. Amanda Heck, who blogs at Midcounty Journal, knew that renovating her 1800s farmhouse was going to be a major undertaking—but she wanted to make sure those renovations showcased the things that attracted her in the first place.

Credit: Amanda Heck

“It has SO much potential and we fell in love with all the original character that was wonderfully intact, including the beautiful moldings, transom windows, doorways, doors, beadboard walls, and unique tongue and groove wood ceilings,” Amanda says. “The farmhouse inside and out is still a work in progress and it’s going to take a lot of elbow grease and time to bring it back to life. Especially since we’re doing it all ourselves on a budget, but that just makes the journey and the destination all the sweeter!”

“My goal was to spend as little as possible with a quick turnaround that would get us the most bang for our buck,” Amanda says of the project. So, first up: fresh paint. She spent around $300 for paint, supplies, and caulk to brighten up the original beadboard wainscoting and tongue-and-groove ceiling, and give the walls a more inviting hue.

After cleaning everything and caulking and filling the cracks and gaps (hello, 200-year-old-house), Amanda started painting—bright white for the wainscoting and trim, and creamy white for the walls (Sherwin-Williams’ Natural Choice). “It took two full coats of paint and a third touch up coat to cover the red walls,” she says. “That fresh coat of white made all the difference because it lets all the beautiful natural light really bounce around the room.”

Credit: Amanda Heck

Once the painting was done, Amanda swapped the dinky old light fixture for something a little more grand—and farmhouse-appropriate. The iron-look chandelier is sizable and takes advantage of the 10-foot-ceilings. “I love the contrast and old world feel it lends to the space,” Amanda says.

The new sofa came from Sixpenny Home, but for most of the rest of the furnishings Amanda turned to Facebook Marketplace. There, she scored a table for just $60; after cutting it down to coffee table height, she painted it white to suit the living room’s farmhouse style.

Credit: Amanda Heck

The chair and matching ottoman, pictured on the left side of the room, also came from Facebook Marketplace for just $40. Amanda bought new fabric and had them both professionally reupholstered for less than it would have cost to buy a chair and ottoman new. The chair on the right was another Facebook Marketplace find, which Amanda recovered herself in a cool, deconstructed style.

It took what Amanda calls a “week of afternoons” to pull the whole living room together. While there’s more in store for this space, Amanda’s happy with how the room feels now. “My favorite part of the room is how we’ve highlighted the home’s original features,” she says. “All the character we fell in love with is really showcased, as it should be. We’ve achieved this by keeping the paint and furnishings very neutral.”

Adds Amanda: “We wanted an old farmhouse to fix up and bring back to life but one of the best parts about farm living is the country views! The big windows in this room let so much light in and the views out each one feel like their own work of art.”

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