Apartment Therapy Editors’ 6 Favorite Before and Afters of 2021

published Dec 28, 2021
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After: Vanity with two white-framed mirrors and matte black light fixture in bathroom with geometric yellow wallpaper
Credit: Kelly Bryant

Apartment Therapy’s editors see a lot of great ideas, brilliant tips, and inspiring photos throughout the year. But which of these are the most memorable after a jam-packed 12 months? Every day this week, we’re sharing the best hacks, advice, homes, and more that we saw and heard in 2021. Check out all of our picks here!

There’s nothing like a good before and after home makeover. These stories have the ability to surprise, delight, and inspire. And sometimes a good transformation is just so satisfying — and maybe even a little magical — to witness.

Before and afters can also give people a bit of hope. If these underwhelming spaces can look fresh and modern, then so can the most dreary, bland, or run-down parts of any home. Here are the before and after projects that helped Apartment Therapy editors keep the faith this year.

Credit: Bev Wilson

This Perfect Little Patio

Many apartments come with a standard-issue patio that’s not much to look at. That was the case when Bev Wilson of Room Sauce moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn, New York. She started with a tiled floor and a small patio with a fence on one side and absolutely no privacy on the other. Real estate editor Madeline Bilis was impressed with the way Wilson secured a bamboo curtain and faux greenery to the fencing to create an intimate city patio space, then added sleek furniture, potted plants, and twinkly lights. “Just a couple of easy swaps and additions made this outdoor space really shine,” Bilis says. “It’s patio goals for me… if I ever have a patio, that is.”

A Guest Room That Guests Will Never Want to Leave

“If a friend invited me to stay in this guest room — which is equal parts cozy and luxurious — they might have trouble getting me to leave,” says special projects director Alison Goldman. Homeowner Carla Isolano took a dingy attic bedroom with good bones and transformed it by stripping the floors and beams to the natural wood and adding slate blue wallpaper, a bed with a velvet channel headboard, and glimmering pendant lights.

Credit: Kelly Bryant

This Retro Bathroom That Blends Old and New

Sarah Everett, Apartment Therapy’s editorial assistant, was immediately drawn to this retro bathroom redo. As dated as the space was, owner Kelly Bryant of Street Flea Style knew there was something delightful about a pair of matching yellow sinks. So she saved them and paired them with black base cabinets and a fun mid-century-modern-inspired wallpaper. “I think about this retro bathroom reno a lot because I truly believe the homeowners found the exact perfect wallpaper to match their existing gold sinks,” Everett says. “Plus, I love a black and gold color combo.”

The Ultimate Upcycled Cabinet

“Something about this glass cabinet redo really spoke to me,” says Apartment Therapy managing editor Terri Pous. “I’m obsessed with the blue paint and the idea of storing trinkets and keepsakes like that in a cabinet.” This transformation is particularly impressive because it started with a vintage breakfront cabinet that was just sitting in an apartment hallway for a week. Sabrina Saucier snatched it up, sanded and primed it, gave it a few coats of Benjamin Moore’s Old Blue Jeans, and added fresh hardware. Now the cabinet adds a soothing pop of color in Saucier’s bedroom.

Credit: Agnes Lopez

This Little Slice of Tuscany

“The way artist and writer Virginia Chamlee mixes old and new is total design goals and so approachable,” says Apartment Therapy home director Danielle Blundell. Chamlee managed to turn her dull Florida backyard into a chic terrace that feels like a Tuscan garden. She achieved the glamour with a simple color scheme: neutral checked pavers and timeless CB2 furniture in black and creamy white. Strategically placed ornamental trees and twinkly lights add to the vibe. “I can’t wait to read her book next year on shopping and styling with vintage finds,”Blundell says. “The tips in this redo felt like a nice preview of what’s to come.”

The Dreamiest Sunroom

“I DREAM of one day having a sunroom — a place where I can enjoy the outdoors WITHOUT being around bugs — and this once-dreary, now dreamy sunroom makeover is in my inspo board forever,” says House Tours editor Adrienne Breaux. But while Mary Vincunas was blessed with a sunroom in her 1950s house, the space initially was dreary and “sad-looking” thanks to textured wallpaper painted white and boring beige tile floors. But creamy orange walls, a clear acrylic coffee table, quirky peel-and-stick carpet tiles, and plenty of plants finally did this sunny spot justice.