A One-Wall Makeover Cozies Up This Once-“Bare” Living Room

published Mar 21, 2024
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
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

Sometimes, completing one home project builds momentum for checking off another. After Nicole Pankopp (@simplyalignedhome) completed her kitchen renovation, her living room looked lackluster in comparison. 

It “just looked bare,” Nicole says. “We simply had a television hanging on the wall and some furniture. The space was not well-defined, and I wanted it to match the style of the kitchen.” Number one on Nicole’s wishlist was a fireplace for the living room — perfect for family gatherings. 

An electric fireplace made for easy installation. 

Nicole started by building out a frame for her new feature wall that extends out to where the partial wall once was on the right side. She used 2x6s for her framework and left openings for a long rectangular fireplace, a TV above it, and shelving to the right and left. “

“Once the framing was installed, I added drywall to the exterior of the framework,” she explains. (You can see her full process here.) Then she installed the TV and fireplace. 

“I opted to install an electric fireplace in our living room based on the ease of installation,” she says. An electric fireplace simply requires an outlet.” (Hers is a 5-foot remote-controlled fireplace from Amazon — the perfect size for her wall that’s just over 13 feet long.)

The shelving is made mostly from plywood — here’s how to get the perfect light oak look.

After the fireplace and TV were in place, Nicole worked on the built-in shelves, noting that she wanted to “incorporate the warm and timeless wood elements” from the adjacent kitchen. 

“I made each shelving unit as one solid piece and constructed them out of mostly plywood,” Nicole explains. “After I set and installed the shelving units in the framework, I trimmed the opening with oak boards. I stained the wood to match the wood in the kitchen.”

Landing on the right color stain to minimize the red undertones of oak is something Nicole says she’s “mastered” after lots of woodworking projects in her home; hers is actually a combo of Behr’s Golden Pecan, White Wash Pickling, and Early American water-based stains. 

For projects like this, Nicole starts out by lightly sanding, and then she applies her stain in the direction of the grain with an old sock. “Water-based stain dries really quickly, so when I use this stain I work fast and only apply as much as I need,” she writes on her blog. Because it dries quickly, she immediately wipes off any excess. Once dry, she seals it with a poly seal. 

The seating completes the warm minimalist look. 

One of Nicole’s favorite parts of the after is how inviting the room feels, in part thanks to the seating and textures which match the overall streamlined but comfortable look. The rug is a Chris Loves Julia x Loloi collab from Amazon, and the furniture is from Article. 

“I wanted to make it a cozy space where we all enjoy spending time,” Nicole says — and she definitely nailed the look (and feel!). For more ideas for cozying up your living room, check out these seven simple DIYs that might make a big difference.