One Room Challenge

Before and After: A $300 One-Wall Upgrade Luxes up This “Boring” Living Room

published Dec 7, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Living Room
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

When you move into a home, especially a relatively new one, it’s easy to think that all the grand ideas you have will come together rather quickly. (After all, the challenges that come with updating decades-old houses and apartments — like removing decaying insulation, knocking down unnecessary walls, or tearing out bad pipes — don’t exist.) 

But even a new brand-new house takes time to finalize, and that was the case for Roxanne Flett (@roxy_home_living) — especially in her living room. “My living room has always been a little boring, and creating a feature wall has always been my goal since we moved into our home nearly three years ago,” she says. 

Flett’s farmhouse property was built in 2013, and while the living area had plenty of natural light, she thought the space lacked character and felt slightly disjointed. “The TV wall and the baseboards were not to scale with the 11-foot-high ceilings,” she says. “I was always trying to figure out ways to photograph that room without showing the wall because it never photographed well.”

After three years of brainstorming (and strategic photography), Flett got the push she needed to make a change by participating in the One Room Challenge. Her plan for the eight-week DIY challenge was to add more personality to her living room by installing picture molding. 

Skim-coating the walls created a smooth surface for picture frame molding.

In order to have a completely flat surface on which to attach molding, Roxanne needed to remove the existing texture from the walls, which was no small feat. “​​I had never skim-coated a wall or hung picture frame molding before,” she says. “I spent a lot of time researching online. The skim coating was not easy!” 

The TV wall is 11 feet high and 17 feet wide, and the first skim coat took Roxanne about four hours. As that first coat dried, she realized the plaster she’d used straight out of the container actually needed to be thinned before applying. The mistake resulted in a too-thick coat.

Roxanne was definitely learning as she went, and her experience can likely help others who hope to do the same. “I ran out of paint in the middle of the second coat,” she says. “When I purchased more paint, I thought I might as well do another full coat and go a little heavier for good coverage.” The result was some drips that she needed to clean up later. The lesson? Stick to thin coats!

Chair rail molding adds grandeur.

When the walls were finally smooth and ready for molding, Roxanne carefully applied a chair rail across the lower portion of the focal wall, and then five subsequent rectangles around it. Each rectangle has a secondary one within it, for a hint of dimension. She used the same color that was already on the walls (Sherwin-Williams’ Agreeable Gray).

Roxanne’s baseboards, door casing, crossheads above the windows, sconces, and swivel chairs were all gifted, which is why the total for the entire living room came out to about $300. “My expenses were paint, materials, picture frame molding, TV frame trim, and drawer front materials,” she says. 

A few final DIY upgrades make the whole wall look polished.

The last piece of this makeover puzzle: the DIY details Roxanne added to her TV and TV cabinet. She made her own frame for the screen, and she also added a small door to the top of her existing console to cover an opening once meant for a cable box or DVD player; she stained that to match the new TV frame. Roxanne also installed sconces on either side of the television.

These living room upgrades may just be along one wall, but they make the entire living room feel more luxe — and now, Roxanne is more than happy to show it off both in photos and in person.