Before and After: A 1920s Living Room Is Restored to Its Former Glory for Under $1,000

published Aug 17, 2021
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About this before & after
Project Type
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Before: Empty living room with old brick fireplace and dirt and dust-covered walls

Because they were relatively quick and easy to construct, bungalow-style homes were all the rage in the 1920s, and homeowner Jessica Small’s (@fromgrittopearl) 1920s home is no exception. Its Craftsman details, such as the unique windows, thick wooden trim, beadboard ceilings, and original hardwood flooring, sold her on the home the minute she walked in, but they needed some major restoration work.

“There were gigantic holes in the plaster walls and peeling paint throughout all of the trim and windows,” Jessica says. “It was such a shame to see all the charming original features clouded by grime and falling apart.”

The room was covered in dust that made it hard for Jessica’s family to even breathe in the space. To make it beautiful (and livable) again, Jessica started by removing that thick layer of dust, then had the peeling paint beneath tested for lead — an important step for any historic home project. Because the test was positive, Jessica knew she’d have to take necessary precautions.

“I had to take all the extra safety measures to make the repairs but found it to be well worth the extra work!” she says. Once the lead problem was gone, Jessica repainted the whole place (Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster).

One of the hardest parts of the project was removing the peeling paint from the nearly 100-year-old windows, Jessica says, but they’re now one of her favorite features in the room. Their black-painted frames (Sherwin Williams’ Tricorn Black) make them pop against the bright white walls.

“My goal for this project was to take it from dingy and dated to bright and modern while keeping the original features as the main highlight,” Jessica says.

She made the original fireplace a focal point by refreshing its white paint, and added historic charm with symmetrical sconces, a vintage-looking mirror, old-world artwork and candlesticks on the mantel, and vintage books in the firebox.

Jessica balanced the vintage look with more modern and trendy big pieces, such as the deep emerald sofa, the boucle chairs, and the black-and-white rug.

Because the most major impact was made with paint, Jessica’s living room facelift was very affordable, ringing in at under $1,000 and completed in under six weeks.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently,” she says. “This room gives me life! I’m proud of how far it’s come in the past month and love how light and bright it is now.”