Throwback Month

Before and After: New (and Old) Furniture Transforms a 1918 Farmhouse Living Room

published Apr 28, 2022
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If you want to give a room in your home a facelift but don’t know where to start, consider the living room. A lot of times, these big open spaces don’t need as much work as, say, a bathroom or kitchen where tile or plumbing are involved. Plus, since they’re optimal hangout zones, you’ll be able to frequently enjoy the fruits of your labor.

A fresh coat of paint plus new furniture and accessories can completely transform the space, as they did in Marni and Willa Blank (@blankstudionyc)’s 1918 farmhouse. The room’s floors and walls were in good shape when they bought the place, so the Blank sisters just added texture and accessories to make the space feel more inviting. Even so, their small changes made a huge impact.

Credit: Michael Druce and Lauren Rogala

Already equipped with a 103-year-old wood-burning stove and paneled walls and ceilings, the large room — which connects to the dining room off to the left — was prime for cozy hangouts.

Credit: Michael Druce and Lauren Rogala

Marni and Willa swapped the light fixture overhead for a round, more minimalistic one; painted the walls and ceilings a buttermilk shade, leaving the window frames a more bright white to make them pop; and then added furniture, which was the hardest part of the living room redo, Willa says.

Credit: Michael Druce and Lauren Rogala

“Finding a sofa that would ship in a reasonable amount of time during a global supply chain crisis” was the biggest challenge in the space, she says. For this reason, she and Marni leaned into secondhand finds where they could.

“We tried to blend vintage pieces, artwork by friends and family, interesting FB Marketplace and Etsy finds as well as new furniture to create a cozy yet visually interesting vibe,” Willa says.

For example, in the corner of the living room to the right of the sofa, they added a chair which they found the base of (for free) and reupholstered it with a canvas drop cloth from a local painter and antiques dealer. “We love when the universe brings things together like that,” Willa says.

(To see how Willa and Marni repurposed other hand-me-downs and lucky finds, check out their bathroom redo and twin bedroom redo on the site.)

In the dining area, they added a dark gray chair rail and shiplap running horizontally to the walls to help define it in its own corner, making it feel like its own separate little room even with the open floor plan; the color also ties into the gray tones of the living room’s sofa and stove.

Credit: Michael Druce and Lauren Rogala

Now, Marni and Willa have a warm, layered living and dining setup perfect for entertaining guests. “We wanted to create a comfortable place for guests to unwind,” Willa says. Comfortable indeed.

This piece is part of ThrowbackMonth, where we’re revisiting vintage styles, homes, and all kinds of groovy, retro home ideas. Boogie on over here to read more!