Before and After: A Sophisticated ’20s Rental Living Room Makeover

published May 24, 2019
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(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson )

Emily Henderson’s editorial director, Arlyn Hernandez, just revealed her “Bright and Happy” (rental) living room Makeover Takeover over on the site, and it’s packed with design inspiration and great advice for renters and homeowners alike.

(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson)

The living room “before” was so relatable: quality pieces that didn’t fit the new living space. The “after” is a beautifully styled—duh, she works for the Beyoncé of design, so girl knows how to style—and extremely chill living space that strikes a successful balance between sophistication and being the perfect place to binge your favorite shows.

Arlyn (who used to be an Apartment Therapy editor!) and her husband Charles relocated to Los Angeles from South Florida and searched for quite a while before finding their dreamy 1920s apartment. After signing the lease, they shipped their furniture cross-country, but it never looked quite right in the space. The 100-year-old Mediterranean unit had gorgeous oak floors, a fireplace (a thing of legends for the Florida native), and the coolest coved ceilings.

All that charm begged a makeover, and after a year of the new owners living there, it finally got one.

(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson )

When considering paint colors, Arlyn knew whatever she chose would need to go on both the walls and the ceiling and decided against anything bold. After much (much, much, much, much) deliberation, she circled back to white and went with White Dove by Benjamin Moore.

(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson )

Her next challenge was figuring out the room’s layout. For those who haven’t lived in a 1920s building, here’s the deal: You get a whole lot of charm… but aren’t left with many layout options. Arlyn’s living room was long and narrow and didn’t offer a lot of wall space, so her challenge was determining where the big, comfy Maxwell sofa from Interior Define and 55-inch flat screen would go in a space designed without modern amenities in mind. Her solution for the TV is pretty impressive (check out the original post to see the articulating pivoting wall mount in action). A room where the TV isn’t forced to be the focal point? Praise be.

(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson )

Arlyn’s big DIY for the room is this beautiful bench and cushion that sits below the picture windows. It’s made from 3⁄4” birch plywood that has been cut, stacked, and glued. So simple and so beautiful.

(Photo Credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp for Emily Henderson )

No matter how charming your rental apartment might be, landlords often opt for cheap lighting fixtures—a small decision that can make a big, bland impact. Arlyn took charge and changed out the very basic (and blah) existing sconces with these beauties from Hudson Valley Lighting and plans to reinstall the originals once—if ever—she moves out.

Kudos on a beautiful makeover, Arlyn! Thanks for the inspiration and enjoy your gorgeous living room!