Skip to Content

Living Room Makeover: From Traditional to Modern

Love this? Share it!

When we moved to our current home two years ago I knew I would be changing a lot about the look and tone of the interior. It just was not my taste. Luckily, the changes are cosmetic, and I love a good project! We have a more modern, or “urban funk” style, so we were ready to begin the transformation to feel more at home. Knowing that we would be in this house for a long while I wanted to do some fun, bold redecorating that I could enjoy.

I started with a living room makeover since it is the first room you see when you walk in the front door, and where we spend most of our time. **Disclaimer: This was two years ago, and at that time I didn’t know I would be using these pictures on a website someday. I was just using them for my own documentation. So, please give me a little grace on the quality and angles. Pretty please.**

This traditional and outdated makeover got a fresh, modern look!

Here is what the room looked like when we toured it pre-purchase:

living room makeover before photo

(Please excuse the blurriness. Not sure what that’s about.)

Once we moved in, pre-makeover:

1 premakeover lrDark taupe colored walls, all dark wood trim and fireplace mantle, and an over-sized, ornate ceiling fan.

 The dark panels are birch board added by a previous owner to pre-existing posts and foot boards. I’m guessing it was an early 80’s half-wall as part of the hallway that they took out and replaced with these to create a full hallway. I was not a fan of all that dark wood, but wasn’t really sure what to do with it at first. (More to come on those little doozies.)

This house is quite a bit bigger than our starter home.  I wanted to make sure that the updates and decorating that I had in mind would actually flow well from room to room. So, I hired an interior designer to guide my ideas and help them come together. Designs by MK did a great job helping to bring my vision to completion.

I had a vision of stripes all the way around the room. I don’t have an eye for how to make those look good, exactly, so MK sketched out three stripes with a curve on the turns. Perfect! MK also found a wonderful mural artist, Lezley, to make that happen!

living room makeover stripes

Paint colors used:

Top stripe: 2050 Gray in eggshell by Behr Premium Plus

Middle stripe: 2400 Gray in eggshell by Behr Premium Plus

Bottom stripe: 2300 Gray in eggshell by Behr Premium Plus

Top Ceiling: 1050 Gray in flat/matte by Behr Premium Plus

Lower Ceiling: 1400 Gray in flat/matte by Behr Premium Plus

Here we are looking from the entry into the living room with all the walls painted. I was so thrilled! It turned out better than I envisioned:

living room makeover finished walls

Designs by MK also recommended a new layout for the living room furniture, which works much better. This pulled the TV console to the long wall, and the couch and love seat away from the walls to break up the room into a more relaxed seating area.

Next up: paint the woodwork white, install new windows, and give the fireplace a makeover!

On opposite view of the room, looking toward the entry, were the not-so-lovely, dark-stained panel inserts. MK had the idea to paint thick stripes in alternating shades to coordinate with the walls. And, of course, paint the wood trim white!

living room makeover collageFor the trim I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Ultra Pure White.

I don’t have a picture of the trim painting process. But that part is kind of boring anyway. It’s much more of a dramatic reveal to see it complete the room at the end, so watch for that at the end of this post. (I’ll do a tutorial of how to paint your trim in the future.)

fireplace makeover

We knew we wanted to have the fireplace painted, first of all. But, I really wanted to take down the short, out-dated mantle and have a mantle that wrapped around the brick. I searched all over the internet, in magazines, at home improvement stores and could not find at all what I really wanted. So, Designs by MK to the rescue! They found a great carpenter that was up for the challenge to create a custom mantle based on what I had in my head. The carpenter did an outstanding job! I just sit and stare at this mantle from my couch. Love. It. (The brick is painted 1050 flat/matte by Behr Premium Plus and the mantle is the same Ultra White by Behr as the trim.)

The carpenter also made these custom birch wood display shelves on the painted wood panels. This allows me to have somewhere to put pictures without covering up the striping on the walls.

living room makeover shelves

Next were new windows.  These were an actual necessity since they were on our buyers inspection list. They were builder grade windows that were the original windows. They had pretty much no insulation left, and were pretty fogged over. I also wanted panes without the decorative grid lines. I used Pella Windows – this is the Impervia line: aluminum windows that look like wood with high energy efficiency.

We do not get any harsh, direct sunlight through these windows, and since these windows face our backyard (which backs up to woods) I can leave them untreated (which I prefer).  I really like how they turned out.

window before and after

When looking to replace the ceiling fan I wanted something subtler so that the focus of the room would be drawn to the fireplace and the windows, instead of upward to a fan.  I found the most fabulous fan from Lowe’s online that was perfect!


For this fan/light, the blades only come out when the fan is turned on! Glorious. This might just be my favorite item in my whole house.

The completed living room makeover:

Living Room Makeover Update

Living Room Makeover Update 2

Living Room Makeover Update 5

Love that wall art hanging over the mantle? Get the easy DIY details here!

 Originally posted November 17, 2014

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Craig Dawson

Thursday 24th of November 2016

The Pelletier Company can help you with your living room projects. Feel free to visit their website by clicking this link:


Friday 5th of August 2016

I love the makeover, great transformation!


Saturday 6th of August 2016

Thanks, Alison! It was fun!


Thursday 4th of August 2016

Wow! It doesn't even look like the same room. I love what you did. I love the colors you chose too.

- Cait |


Saturday 6th of August 2016

Thanks, Cait!


Thursday 4th of August 2016

Oh I love it!!!! Especially the fantastic mustard sofa!!! I love mid century modern pieces. Well done!


Saturday 6th of August 2016

Thanks, Gabrielle! I consider my couch a member of our family.

Five Marigolds

Thursday 4th of August 2016

Wow, that changes the whole feel of the space! I especially like the couch.


Saturday 6th of August 2016

Thanks! That's my favorite piece, too!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.