Before and After: A Beige-on-Beige Living Room Gets an Energizing Transformation

published Mar 24, 2021
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About this before & after
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Before: Tan living room with beige carpet, multiple closets, and entry to a laundry room

Here’s the truth: Neutrals are nice, but they can also be a little… boring. That goes double when a room is filled to the brim with them, like this beige-on-beige living room from designer Natalie Papier’s own home. Natalie, of Home EC., is all about colorful, eclectic interiors — the exact opposite of the space she found when she and her family bought their new home in North Carolina after moving from Chicago.

“It had badly stained carpet, beige EVERYTHING, and zero personality,” Natalie says of the space. It also had some quirks: a double-doored entry to the laundry room, plus three separate closets on the opposite wall. “It was important for my kids to have their own space in their new home, in their new city,” Natalie says, and the current living area wasn’t going to get them there.

Natalie hired out pro builders for the construction of the new space, which involved first ripping out the old carpeting (to be replaced with wood) and then tearing out the three closets. She’d use the wall instead to hold a dramatic display of built-in shelving.

Once hardwood was installed in a chevron pattern, Natalie set her sights on the custom built-ins. She designed them herself, while her builders pieced them together. The ceiling-height shelves feature an arched accent at the top, plus a rail for a sliding wood ladder, and plenty of open shelves and enclosed cabinet space at the bottom.

The look-at-me hue (Sherwin-Williams’ Hyper Blue) was a tough call for Natalie. “I changed my mind on it up until the very morning it was painted,” she says. All of the family’s books, toys, and mementos pop against the bold color.

On the adjacent wall, Natalie installed a funky green-and-white snake wallpaper. The rest of the furnishings are a mix of vintage shapes in colors that complement the blue shelves: orange, gray, cream, and more. Overhead, Natalie replaced the humdrum ceiling fan with a globe chandelier that feels right at home with the rest of the room’s eclectic personality.

Now, the room’s a stylish and cozy hangout that stays plenty organized, too. “I love that it solves toy-and-game storage issues with a fun, funky design that our family can grow into,” Natalie says.

The best part? The space feels completely personal. “We incorporated my kids’ favorite color into the vibrant built-ins, hung my husband’s concert posters, and styled the shelves with a combo of the kids’ books, toys, and things that make us happy,” Natalie says. And as far as family hangouts go, focusing on things that make you happy is pretty hard to beat.

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