Before and After: A Living Room Stuck in the ’90s Gets a Gorgeously Dark & Modern Makeover

published Oct 30, 2017
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We showed off Timothy’s remodel of his inherited childhood home in a tour recently — it’s beautiful, modern and it perfectly illustrates what can be done with a limited budget. Timothy was kind enough to contribute family photos from the early ’90s showing the front room — or parlor — in its original state, complete with drab carpet and lackluster furniture.

Timothy has spent the last 27 years (on and off) in his San Jose family home, which he inherited two years ago. Though he had an idea of the look he wanted to achieve, it wasn’t easy to commence the remodel. “It’s hard to ever feel like the house is yours, and that makes it rough getting started,” he says. “There are so many memories associated with what the house was like before, and changing the house can feel like you’re taking those away.”

Though Timothy has a ton of cherished memories associated with the home, he wasn’t a fan of the decor, which he describes as “2001 Macy’s home catalog sponsored by Kirkland Signature. The bones of the house weren’t an issue, but the design needed an update.

When Tim inherited the home, the walls of the parlor were an “awful phlegmy green” that he couldn’t stand to look at. At first, he thought about painting all of the walls white, but ultimately decided it wouldn’t achieve the feeling he wanted in the room: something warm, cozy, and unique from the other rooms in the home. He wanted the parlor to be inviting and rich in texture — a place where he and his guests would actually want to spend time in.

He ultimately decided to go dark and moody — a direct contrast to the white, light, and airy walls that would eventually be found in the rest of the house. He struggled to find the right balance, but after rendering some paint options, he went for it and painted every wall (including the ceiling) with Cracked Pepper paint by Behr.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Today, the parlor is beautiful, serene, and tranquil without looking too sterile. Timothy strived to add texture wherever possible via a patterned area rug, brass hardware, chopped wood, vibrant art, and a hanging plant. And what’s most impressive about the remodel is that Timothy did most of the renovations himself on a real-life budget, which required a ton of time and patience. Two years after he inherited the home, there are still more projects in the pipeline.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Timothy said one of the hardest parts about the parlor remodel was getting started. “It’s hard to change something that someone else did and put a lot of effort into, someone you care about, without feeling a bit of guilt about it,” he says. “But you’ll always have the memories, and the nostalgia will always be there. Once you get through the hardest part of just getting started, the space will begin to feel more your own.” In Timothy’s case, he’s happy he will never have to look at the “phlegmy green room” ever again.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

See a side-by-side comparison of the parlor before and after the remodel.

Thank you, Tim!

See more of Timothy’s house in San Jose → An Inherited Childhood Home Gets a Modern Makeover