Before and After: A $1,500 Living Room Reno Where the Fireplace Is the Star

updated Jun 8, 2020
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It would be pretty amazing to find a house that’s totally move-in ready, but most places require at least a few cosmetic changes. When Bret and Courtney Beatty bought their house three years ago, they knew they would need to make some tweaks to make it their own—including in the living room.

For starters, the orangey oak trim and dim paint colors weren’t their style, and the beige carpet had seen better days. Overall, the room felt dull. “We wanted to create a cozy space for family and friends to gather and feel at home,” Courtney says.

So, over the past few years, the pair has handled renovations in stages, doing all of the work themselves. They ripped out that old carpeting and installed dark wood flooring, then replaced the basic oak baseboards and window casings with crisp white trim. Both swaps give the room more depth and a fresher feel. Courtney and Bret also painted the walls and trim in clean, bright neutrals, and Bret custom built the new cabinet to the right of the fireplace. (It looks built-in, but surprise! That free-standing piece can come with the couple whenever they decide to move.)

The fireplace makeover was one of the couple’s bigger projects in the room. Bret and Courtney gave the traditional tiled fireplace new life with a brick surround and a rustic wood mantle. “During this project, we discovered we like the look of faux shiplap better than the real thing!” says Courtney. “We used 1/4-inch sanded plywood to make it, which is easier to work with and saved us money.”

The couple bought materials for many projects at once, so it’s hard for them to say how much the work on this specific room cost. Their best estimate is $1,500 for the flooring, trim, paint, and the fireplace redo. All of those details, combined with more light-colored furniture, plants, and gauzy white curtains, make the room feel airy and bright—and completely different from the dim space the couple moved into!

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