Before and After: This Bright, Inviting Living Room Redo Is a Bookworm’s Dream

published Sep 28, 2020
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About this before & after
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Before: Dark living room with green carpet and no decor
Credit: Sara Meadows

With old homes, you often have to look past first impressions to what lies beneath. At least, that’s what Sara Meadows (Sincerely, Sara Meadows) found with her 1948 house. When she and her family moved in eight years ago, they were only the second-ever owners—and even though updates hadn’t been done in a long while, Sara could see the potential. “It was in need of a complete rehab,” she says. “But it’s a classic colonial with great bones.”

Credit: Sara Meadows

Although the dark living room had drab carpeting and dim lighting, it also boasted built-in bookshelves and a sweet fireplace—both of which could be accentuated in a redo. “When we bought the house, we knew we’d immediately create an open layout, add details like bookshelves and moulding, refinish floors, replace windows and brighten with paint,” Sara says.

Credit: Sara Meadows

With smart updates, Sara was able to make the room feel way bigger—and the ceilings way higher—without changing the size at all. Pros removed the carpet and refinished the wood floors beneath to a dark brown, then widened the doorways to invite more flow between the living room and the rest of the first floor. “There are a lot of open entry spaces that makes the room feel very open to the rest of the house,” Sara says.

New, bigger windows bring in a lot more light, too—something that the allover white paint job helps emphasize even more. “We originally painted the room a greige color that ended up being too dark for the space,” Sara says. “When we re-painted it white it felt so much brighter.”

Credit: Sara Meadows

White walls also help call attention to the fireplace and the oversized pop art above it. Sara wanted this room to be a cozy gathering spot for the family, so she opted for furniture that was super comfortable for reading or playing games. “The room feels so fresh and inviting now,” Sara says.

Credit: Sara Meadows

Sara also had the built-ins refreshed. “My favorite part is part of the room now are the bookshelves,” she says. “I love to read so having books be part of the room design makes it really personal.”

The redo created a room that’s perfect for family gatherings. “I wanted to create an inviting, light, bright, open space that my family would want to hang out in together to read, play games, and hang out with friends with a fire and old-fashioned on the weekend,” Sara says. “My girls dance in the space near the front windows nearly every day. We wanted to create a lot of memories in this room and that’s what we’re doing,” she says.

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