The 11 Best Living Room Makeovers of 2023 Are All About Cozy Vibes

published Dec 22, 2023
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Living room with pink walls and arched thresholds

When it comes to home renovations, there’s one space that can be focused less on practicality or productivity and more on vibes: the living room. Compared to kitchens and bathrooms, which prioritize functionality first and foremost, living rooms are all about crashing on the sofa and chilling out. So the most important thing to ask yourself when it comes to your own living room is the following: What type of decor makes you feel like you again at the end of a long day?

In a living room, you can truly relax into your personal style and make the design all about aesthetics — whether that means installing a new fireplace, weaving in houseplants, or creating a beautiful mural. That’s why some of the most impressive living room transformations are the ones that start with ho-hum spaces that are turned, through clever DIYs and smart buys, into cozy and inviting dreamscapes. We saw a lot of great living room makeovers like that in 2023, but a few stood out. Here, find our 11 favorite living room makeovers of the year.

1. A Rustic-Themed Living Room Gets a Minimalist Redo Filled with DIYs

Sometimes, when you tour a prospective new home, it’s hard to envision what it can look like with your own spin on it. That was especially true when Preethi Nallalaguraja (@thenomad.studio) moved into her home. Faced with a rustic cabin theme in the living room that just wasn’t her style, she decided to make it look more open, airy, and bright, thanks to some DIY projects. This included removing the metal ceiling, doing away with the texture on the walls, and painting the walls white. “The design reflects our personalities, and the DIY elements add a touch of uniqueness and personality to the space,” Preethi says.

2. 3 Changes Make an All-White Living Room Color-Drenched and Cozy 

Arches are certainly having a moment right now, as demonstrated by this project from designers Savannah and Kaitlyn Stone (@ainslie_design_studio). In their living room makeover, they added a third arch to the existing two to help create better cohesion and flow. The new arch opens up a wall for a glimpse into their green home office, but the true color superstar in this redo is Benjamin Moore’s Mauve Mist, which is used on both the walls and ceiling. The other big change in the living room is the added fireplace, which the couple built themselves.

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3. A “Secret Garden” Redo Makes This Plain Living Room Feel Cozier

There are many ways to make a living room look cozy. Feeling like you’re at the beach, or like you’re at a spa, or like you’re in the woods might give you the warm fuzzies. For homeowner Mehr Niazi (@blueorchidliving), it was a lush garden vibe that struck her fancy. The wall-to-wall woodlands “secret garden”-esque mural looks hand-painted, but it’s actually a peel-and-stick wallpaper from Milton & King. “It set the stage for the room, and everything else followed,” Mehr says.

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4. Plants and Checkerboard Are a DIY Dream Team in This Living Room Redo 

Plants and living spaces go hand-in-hand — especially if your living room has lots of windows to let in light. DIYer Carrie Kline (@honeydohoney_home) wanted her houseplants to steal the show in her living room, so she crafted an incredibly cool checkerboard wall to show them off. She didn’t want “typical plant shelves,” as she says, so she cut lumber into squares and created small planter boxes as well.

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5. Bespoke Wall Treatments Give This Living Room a “Vintage Feel”

Wallpaper can be expensive at times, and it can be tricky to hang, too. For an alternative, consider stenciling your “wallpaper” instead, like Krista Wells (@georgestownonmymind) did in her living room. She used Benjamin Moore’s Weimaraner, the slightly darker Farrow & Ball’s Mouse’s Back, and a William Morris stencil to create her look. “While I assumed the stenciling would be the most difficult part of this project, it wasn’t at all,” Krista says. “With patience, it was easy to do and made a huge impact on the overall feel and visual appeal of the space.” The result was a tone-on-tone “wallpaper” pattern that looks like leaves.

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6. A Lifeless Living Room Gets a DIY Fireplace Focal Point 

Not everyone is lucky enough to move into a home that comes with a fireplace, but if you love to curl up by the fire, and you have enough woodworking savvy, you can make it happen. This DIY version from Adaeza (@adaezenoelle) and Chad Brinkman is sheer brilliance — and it totally transformed their blank-slate living room. The couple built the fireplace with a plywood framework and faux black stone and added an electric insert for the full effect.

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7. A Plain Living Room Gets a Chic Redo That’s Fit for Game Nights

Bringing a few trends here and there into a living room is always a good idea to keep things fresh. One way to do this is by switching up your color palette. In her living room, Ellie Baer went with a soothing (and very trendy!) shade of sage green for the walls. “The green is perfect during daylight and cozy at night,” she says. Picture frame molding adds additional definition to the green-hued walls as well.

8. A 1924 Sears Kit Living Room Gets a Respectful Redo Full of Charm

Sears Kit homes (the ones that were essentially “homes in a box” and popular from 1908 to 1942), certainly come with lots of charm — and a cool story behind them. But Adaena and Chris Tray’s living room makeover doubles down on the charm. They worked with a designer and painted the walls, created an eye-catching gallery wall in the stairwell, and sourced vintage and antique furniture for the room. “I was very mindful of the pieces I sourced,” Adaena shares. “I wanted to bring in lots of wood tones, antiques, and unique items that would reflect our personality.”

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9. $1,200 Later, a Stuck-in-the-’80s Living Room Has a Vibrant, Victorian-Inspired Look

What was once covered in patterned wallpaper and carpet (and other 1980s remnants like clunky curtains and a faux stone fireplace) is now an emerald beauty in Jake Wilkenson’s (@jakewilko) home. The emerald paint color is Leyland Trade’s Forest Storm, a U.K.-brand paint; the tile in the restored fireplace shares the same vibrant green color.

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10. A $450 DIY Accent Wall Project Livens Up a Plain Gray Rental Living Room

Accent walls are a great way to give a big living room a single focal point. In Adrian Ye’s (@solaceinteriors_) apartment, the living room wall was just gray and nothing else. “It was begging to become an accent!” Adrian says. To create her abstract accent wall, Adrian basically turned a favorite wallpaper pattern into a peel-and-stick format to make it renter-friendly. Ingenious!

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11. This Living Room Redo Has Three (!!!) Designer-Level Furniture Hacks

This living room redo, although it was just shared in December, is already an editor favorite of 2023 — and a fan favorite with a whopping 39 (and counting) comments! It has loads of color and three smart furniture hacks, like using an IKEA BESTA and countertop to create a floating media console, using plumbing pipe to create a plant shelf that rotates, and using three separate pieces of travertine to create a cool side table. The shelf desk in the back is an honorary fourth “hack;” condo owner Katie Unicorn (@katieunicornofficial) zhuzhed up the hardware with gold spray paint.