Before & After: A Cramped Living Room Opens Up

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(Image credit: Cate St. Hill)

Cate’s living room was closed off, outdated and the victim of some curious decisions made by previous owners. She set out to make the most of what she had, salvaging what historical details she could and making smart upgrades where needed.

(Image credit: Cate St. Hill)

From Cate: Before our living room and kitchen were two separate rooms. The living room felt small and cramped, a bit bland and unloved, while the kitchen was north-facing and dark, with bright, yellow walls, wooden kitchen units and overpowering, black tiles. They didn’t work as two separate rooms, you spent all your time going from one to another, and if one person was cooking and the other relaxing on the sofa you couldn’t connect with each other and chat.

I wanted to strip back all the ugly additions various owners had made over the years to bring the room back to it’s former glory. Unfortunately there aren’t many period details left, so I wanted to celebrate and pay respect to what was there, such as the coving around the ceiling, the lovely bay window and original floorboards hidden beneath the laminate.

(Image credit: Cate St. Hill)

The shelving was ripped out along with the old fire. The ancient boiler, curiously housed in the fireplace, was replaced and moved into the kitchen, leaving a nice clean hole for a wood burning stove. The wall came down in the first few days of work and suddenly we could see through the hole to what our new living space would look like. Already light flooded into the kitchen behind and the two rooms felt bigger.

I sought to create a bright, airy space with neutral colors, monochrome accents and a mix of old and new furniture. The walls are Farrow & Ball blackened and the original wood floors discovered under the laminate are painted in Farrow & Ball All White. Now the room feels much bigger and the ceilings seem even taller, with light flooding in from the bay window.

Thank you, Cate! You can see more on Cate’s blog.