Before and After: This Living Room Looks Bigger and Brighter—No Reno Required

updated Jul 17, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Cost
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Post Image
Credit: Rachel Rice

When you rent your home, you’re usually stuck with less-than-ideal design choices. They can sometimes even make the difference between signing a lease and looking elsewhere.

Rachel Rice almost went with a different rental because of how dreary her now-home looked when she viewed it. The living room was filled with tired taupe and yellowish beige walls, plus a ceiling fan light fixture that probably had seen better days a few decades earlier.

Credit: Rachel Rice

Rachel decided to move in anyway in September 2018, realizing that paint and some smart decor would highlight vintage details, like the molding, that appeared dingy beforehand. “Because the house is almost 100 years old, there were lots of little holes in the walls from decades of wall hangings that needed to be patched,” she says, “but luckily the hardwood floors remained mostly undamaged, and the classic trim on the doors gave me inspiration to build from.”

Credit: Rachel Rice

Rachel started with paint. (If you’re a renter, always check with your landlord before you break out the paintbrushes!) “A fresh coat of Crème Fraîche by Valspar brightened up the dreary, yellowish beige walls instantly,” she says, “and just popping open the blinds revealed an entirely different space, fresh and new.”

Credit: Rachel Rice

Her vision for this room also included a pretty pale pink IKEA SÖDERHAMN couch, clean and bright white IKEA VITTSJÖ shelves, and swapping out that wood fan for a much more modern, orb-filled light fixture.

Overall, Rachel says she spent about $1,200 on the makeover, including the wall paint, sofa, shelf, and lighting, and she completed it within two weeks of moving in. Even without any structural changes, it looks like a totally new room!

Credit: Rachel Rice

Later, she decided to paint her fireplace mantle in the dramatic green paint (Sherwin-Williams’ Coriander and Olive) that she had left over from another project. The bold color helps call attention to the fireplace’s pretty wood details, and helps create a natural focal point in the room, too.

Credit: Rachel Rice

Rachel’s biggest advice for others, especially those who are renting, is to begin with a vision board. “Although this space and many others in my home are constantly changing,” Rachel says, “having an overall concept of the style helped me not only when it came to paint color, but selecting big pieces and then accessorizing.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.