Before and After: This Living Room Redo Has Three (!!!) Designer-Level Furniture Hacks

published Dec 10, 2023
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Moving in with a partner can mean that both parties have to compromise a little bit on style. This is how the story goes for Katie Unicorn (@katieunicornofficial), in which her husband’s one-time bachelor pad totally transformed when she moved in. The result is a space that reflects their vibe as a couple. 

In 2017, when her husband, Eisaiah, moved into this condo, he set up a “bachelor pad” with the help of his mom. Katie met Eisaiah in 2018, and then later moved in with him in 2020. “It wasn’t bad for a bachelor pad,” she says of the condo. “But it didn’t suit our needs as a couple or reflect who we were.” In fact, Katie says that the living room was “an uncomfortable beige box.”

Katie changed the layout — and the color palette — so that they could comfortably host friends, work when needed, have a spot for their dog to relax, and display decor pieces that felt sentimental and personal. The result was a technicolor wonderland that feels equal parts mid-century modern and on-trend for today.

Credit: Natalie Goff

The color palette of the room reflects the hues of a sunset.

Katie had a vision when designing the living room of capturing the colors of a sunset. She started with a mood board and intended to “bring the sunset into the room,” especially since the sunlight pours into their high-rise windows at dusk. The main color that Katie chose to represent the sunset? Coral, specifically through a punchy sectional, which Katie says was the project’s jumping-off point. “We took a risk in getting a bold, coral-colored fabric,” she says. 

The paint on the ceiling is also sunset-inspired; it’s Benjamin Moore’s Conch Shell, a coral-y pink. “I searched and searched for a color that would complement the coral couch and give that sophisticated, elegant, warm sunset tone I was after,” Katie says. “Once I found the ceiling color, I designed the rest of the room palette around it.”

The pink on the ceiling is paired with a bright white (Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace) on the walls. “To add drama to the room, I brought the ceiling color down the walls by 18 inches,” Katie says. 

Credit: Natalie Goff

Furniture DIYs add designer-looking pieces for a fraction of the cost. 

In keeping with the pop of color on the ceiling, Katie says that she “went vertical” with furniture in the room to balance the low-profile coral sofa. The chandelier that replaced the ceiling fan and Katie’s desk area behind the sofa that’s part of a built-in open shelving system both draw the eye upward.

“I applied gold spray paint to standard Rubbermaid hardware, made my own shelves from pine boards and oak plywood, stained the shelves, and hung them using drywall anchors,” Katie says of her desk-meets-shelving unit.

She also created a plant shelf (it rotates!) out of our wooden shelves and gold spray-painted plumbing pipe and a side table that consists of three travertine pieces glued together.

Another smart DIY: the floating TV unit, which is made with a two-door IKEA BESTA and a wood countertop.

Credit: Natalie Goff

Hanging heavy items required extra heft.

Katie says that throughout this process, she learned how to hang really heavy things, like the cool plant shelf, on drywall. “I live in a high-rise condo that doesn’t have wooden studs,” she explains. “We have steel studs. That created unique complications. I learned how to drill into steel studs when needed. And how to use drywall anchors where there are no studs, which was most of the time in our situation.”

Credit: Natalie Goff

The result is a cozy, colorful “conversation pit.”

The other hardest part of the redo, Katie says, was choosing the right rug. “I panicked when I unrolled the wool rug,” Katie says. “ It seemed too small, too bold, too vibrant?” She solved her conundrum with layering — setting the vibrant yellow Moroccan rug on an angle, placing a large neutral jute rug underneath to anchor, and adding one more accent rug with contrasting color in the corner. 

“There are now three rugs in our living room, which make the floor part of our cozy lounge area,” Katie says. “I’m glad I pushed my boundaries and went out of my comfort zone.” She says her rugs, in combo with the sofa, have “a ’70s sunken living room vibe.”

One other pops of yellow not to miss in the room? The peel-and-stick wallpaper in the corner. Katie’s best design advice, in addition to not shying away from a steep disco ball quota (this room has 25), is to not be afraid to mix styles and patterns. “Have fun with it, and don’t take it too seriously!” she says. “Color is your friend!”