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Before and After: No-Demo Decorating Strategies Make This Living Room Feel Twice as Big

published Feb 19, 2022
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If you want to make a space bigger, you’ll have to move a wall or two. But if you just want it to feel bigger? Well, there are plenty of non-permanent strategies for that, from choosing a better furniture layout to opting for a lighter color scheme.

DIYer Elizabeth Brickley (@happyhomemama.diy) put both tactics to the test, plus more, in her living room redo. Elizabeth bought her home in 2015, and back then, it needed a little TLC. When she first saw the living room it was filled with heavy furniture and gray wall-to-wall carpet, and featured a dark gold paint color on the walls. It all worked together to make the space feel smaller than it really was.

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“I wanted to modernize and freshen up the space letting in as much natural light as possible since the before felt so dark,” Elizabeth says.

The only major change Elizabeth made after the old furniture was moved out was having a pro replace the old carpet with laminate wood-look flooring that makes the whole room look a little more contemporary. (And as a bonus, it’s much easier to keep clean.)

From there, Elizabeth moved to the walls, which she and her husband painted a breezy white (Valspar’s Du Jour). Elizabeth also made a smart swap on the windows that helps open up the whole room. “I really love the window treatments!” she says. “I hung the curtains as high as possible to give the illusion of taller ceilings and added the bamboo shades to bring some warmth and visual interest to the upper part of the room.”

As for furniture, Elizabeth and her husband brought in their existing couch, but spent a few years filling out the space with other picks. Choosing pieces that fit within a classic gray-white-wood color scheme ensures that everything feels cohesive.

While the previous owners had squeezed a dining table into this space, Elizabeth decided to skip it; the choice ensures that her sectional doesn’t feel cramped. Swapping the low chandelier for a flush-mount Sputnik-style light helped, too.

“I love how light and airy the room feels now,” Elizabeth says of her cozy, curated living room. “The white walls reflect a lot of light and really brighten up the space.”

It took years to achieve the look, but Elizabeth says that actually helped her get where she wanted. “Don’t feel like you have to do your whole project all at once,” she advises. “Making your house a home takes time, and so does finding your personal style. Don’t be afraid to try different things until you find what works for you. It took me several years to get this room where it is now. Just enjoy the process!”

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