Before and After: A “Dark, Muddy, and Uninspiring” Living Room Is Now Filled with Vibrant Colors
There’s nothing that completely transforms a space like paint. So if you’re looking at your walls and thinking landlord off-white or builder beige just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, take inspiration from Seattle resident J. Rycheal’s living room redo, a color-filled “mid-century haven.”
“Color has a significant effect on the way we feel on physical and emotional levels, and it’s a great way to shift the energy of a space,” J. says.
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When he first moved into his rental, the beige-y yellow living room was “dark, muddy, and uninspiring,” J. recalls. “The colors made the space feel gloomy and dated.”
But J. believed the room had great potential. “I looked past the colors and used my intuition and imagination to transform it,” he says.
J.’s first step was creating a moodboard. “I brought the modular sectional from my last condo, and I knew I wanted it to anchor the layout, and I pulled in additional pieces to work around it,” he says.
Next, J. chose paint, which he says was the easiest and most fun part of the transformation. “I made at least seven or eight trips to Lowe’s to make sure I had the right shades, but it was worth it once I found the perfect swatches,” he remembers.
J.’s goal was to use color to add a bit of spark to dark, gray Seattle winters at home. “The first shade of lavender wasn’t bright enough, and I wasn’t crazy about the matte finish,” J. says. “So I went with a more vibrant shade and a satin finish which turned out perfectly. I knew I wanted the wall framing the two large windows to ground the palette and bring the greenery outside forward, but didn’t want to go jet black. So I went with a bluish-black tone and satin finish that feels a little more inviting even in its contrast.”
J. is proud of the way the colors turned out. “I had a lot of fun bringing my color theory into play,” says J., who is an artist and creative director by trade. He also loves all the different shapes are textures working together to create a rich, mid-century vibe.
For furniture selection, the coffee table was the first big purchase. It was important to J. that its edges were round to help create an open flow through the space, especially given the size of the sectional. The bookshelf, the final piece J. added, was “a great way to anchor the corner of the living room without interrupting the flow from the hallway.“
J. added shag texture to the space with the rug, which he wanted to use to disguise the existing wall-to-wall carpeting as much as possible, given that new flooring wasn’t in the budget. “The terra cotta shag rug was the perfect solution to complement the different wall colors as well as the teal sectional,” he says.
Lastly, J. hung his art collection in the space to make it his own. “I love it when my personal spaces feel like cozy little galleries that I get to live in,” J. says. “I chose to hang art by legendary artists like Romare Bearden as well as art by brilliant local creators. I’m also very intentional about hanging my own art in my spaces. It’s been a great way to affirm and encourage myself as an artist and to celebrate and embrace my process and creativity.”
J.’s whole redo showcases the power of color and the creative process — from the moodboard to the final frame hung on the wall. With an all-in budget of approximately $3,800, his one-of-a-kind living room is a far cry from its beige beginnings.
Inspired? Submit your own project here.