Before and After: This Energizing Living Room Redo Features a Bold Wall of IKEA-Hacked Built-Ins

published Feb 24, 2022
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white neutral living room before renovation light blue throw pillows

Above all else, it’s important for your living room to make you feel comfortable. A space might look just fine, but if it doesn’t like you, then it’s never too late to zhuzh up your surroundings. Depending on the current state of your space, it may just need a good cleaning or a quick refresh. But if you’re like Sanda Stojakovic (@design.playbook), then you might be in the mood for a big makeover that gives your room a completely new look.

“This was not a place the family gravitated to,” Sanda says of the formal living room in her 1972 home in Chicago. Even though it’s the biggest space in the house, its all-neutral color scheme lacked personality and didn’t exactly feel like a prime hangout. “The room felt cold and not welcoming,” said Sanda — not what you want from your living room.

Before, the living room was furnished with a set of tufted, vintage-looking furniture — a cream-colored Chesterfield sofa and matching club chairs, plus a glass coffee table — that was in pretty good condition so Sanda decided to keep it around. But the rest needed a revamp, and after months of seeing the room sit unused, Sanda decided it was time to bring the space to its full potential.

Sanda had always dreamed of having a home library, and started her living room makeover there. “I always thought home library rooms looked so elegant and chic,” she says. “They’re the perfect place to get away from all technology and bustle of everyday life.” Since Sanda’s husband works in construction, he was able to figure out how to DIY a built-in look using IKEA. “I was surprised that we were able to use the IKEA BILLY bookcases and make them look so custom,” she says. The secret: moulding that hides the seams and makes the plain bookcases look like vintage built-ins.

Sanda went with a bright, bold shade of blue for the bookcase wall that immediately changed the whole vibe of the room. The couple also painted the existing chair rail molding and the wall below it that same dramatic blue — not to mention all the window frames and the room’s crown moulding — which helps tie the whole room together. “This color is bright even when the sun is not shining,” Sanda says. “I was a little worried about going so bold but it really makes the room pop, and makes me happy to see it every day.”

Above the chair rail, Sanda and her husband installed a Ruhlmann Cream Fan wallpaper around the entire room that has an old school Art Deco look. Better yet: It all complements — and even elevates — the couple’s existing furniture and gray-and-white rug.

Above, the globe-shaped light fixture was replaced by a stunning 18-inch chandelier surrounded by a new ceiling medallion. The finishing touch: floor-length coral-colored curtains and statement-making artwork. Since they were able to DIY the entire project, the makeover cost Sanda and her husband a fraction of what they would have paid pros — about $3,500 all told.

Now, the once-ignored living room is an inviting hangout that’s packed with personality. Sanda wanted a room that felt inviting “even on the gloomiest of Chicago days,” and with this reno, that’s exactly what she’s got.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.