Before and After: This Living Room-Turned-Bold-Bedroom Is a Risk That Paid Off

published Oct 31, 2020
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About this before & after
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Before: Empty room with fireplace
Credit: Conor McFarland

It’s easy to look at a room and design it as it was intended: a kitchen as a kitchen, a bathroom as a bathroom, an office as an office. It’s a lot gutsier to look at a room and envision something else entirely—but that’s a risk that can bring lots of rewards.

Conor McFarland saw potential in the living room of this 1880s house to be something more. “It was now closed off from the dining room, but with lots of natural light from 9-foot windows that seemed like it would be better suited for a sumptuous dark bedroom,” Conor says.

Credit: Conor McFarland

While light-and-bright was the name of the game for this living room, Conor says, “I just really needed to be surrounded by color! Deep, rich, enveloping color.” So over about six weeks, he worked mostly by himself to give this space a totally new identity.

Credit: Conor McFarland

Conor started with a deep, rich blue-green on the walls, ceiling, and all the trim. The all-over color gives the room a dramatic feel. “Painting was probably the hardest. It took at least four coats to go from beige to that dark blue-green,” Conor says.

For furniture, Conor relied on a mix of vintage and vintage-looking—a smart way to save money on the project. The bed, for instance, looks antique but is a Wayfair buy, the rug is from West Elm, and the bedside lamps are from IKEA. But the chandelier overhead is a vintage find that Conor’s mom thrifted.

Credit: Conor McFarland

To help give the bed even more pop, Conor splurged on wallpaper from House of Hackney, which he applied inside the molding that frames the headboard.

Freestanding clothing stands from IKEA take the place of a full closet—easy and budget friendly.

Conor was able to do almost everything himself—bringing in an electrician only to add track lights above the fireplace mantel—and kept total costs at about $3,000 to fully furnish the entire room.

Credit: Conor McFarland

“I love how it feels simultaneously cozy and expansive,” Conor says. “The same dark color on the trim, walls, and ceiling create a sense of being either underwater or a night sky.”

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