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Dramatic Before-and-After Living Rooms

Take inspiration from these living room transformations.

Produced by Julianne Hilmes
  • Joe Standart

    It can be as simple as a fresh coat of paint or as extensive as a full-on renovation, but changing up a room can breathe new life into a home. If your living space is in need of some updating, have a look at these Before and After photos for ideas—and for the inspiration to make it happen.

    Bethenny Frankel's Fabulous Remodel

    Red-orange—the favorite color of homeowner Bethenny Frankel and a signature accent of her Skinnygirl line—can be found throughout the interiors of her New York City apartment.

    See the before image of this room on the next slide. 

  • BEFORE

    Frankel’s empty living room was bare before the “Gomez Girls” (as Bethenny calls the designers) brought it to life.

    See another angle of the living room on the next slide. 

  • Joe Standart

    AFTER

    A starburst chandelier from Bethenny's inspiration book was the starting point for her apartment’s designs.  The Gomez Girls' signature style—neutral tones in comfortable, contemporary settings—is evident in the cream-and-beige living room. 

    Design: Mariette Himes Gomez and Brooke Gomez
    Photography: Joe Standart

    See the rest of Bethenny Frankel’s remodeled TriBeCa loft here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    The original family room in Ellen Conley’s home, and the new, enlarged one share the same ceiling height, but the similarities end there.

  • Gordon Beall

    AFTER Living Room

    The antique fireplace (circa 1740) is a stunning focal point in the living room. The room’s new iron lamps, chandelier, and metal coffee tables are all from Formations. Salvaged ceiling beams add architectural interest. “I used beams in a gridwork that worked with the style of the doors and fireplace,” explains architect Donald Lococo.

    Photography: Gordon Beall
    Design: Mary Jo Donohoe

    See more of the remodeled Maryland Home here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    When the Cumminses purchased their Atlanta home, the ‘80s-era interior didn’t match Debbie’s vision for the classic colonial.

  • Emily Followill

    AFTER Living Room

    The living room's yellow walls were lightened up with white paint, while an antique red rug provides color underfoot. The Hancock & Moore ottoman invites cozy gatherings around the fireplace. Trim added to the existing mantel makes it taller and more substantial.

    Photography: Emily Followill
    Design: Debbie Cummins

    For more views of this charming Colonial remodel, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    The old living room in Susan Brunn’s Minnesota ranch house had an outdated picture window. 

  • Werner Straube

    AFTER Living Room

    A fireplace flanked by windows replaced the existing picture window. The new living room opens up to the kitchen and, thanks to the addition of French doors, the blacony overlooking the swimming pool. Sofas are from Hickory Chair, and a wood-and-iron coffee table is from Formations through Holly Hunt. The Tamarian carpet is through Woven Arts.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Design: Rosemary Merrill

    To see more of this remodeled ranch house, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    The original living room of the 200-year-old Federal style home was full of busy patterns and distracting structural elements.

  • Francesco Lagnese

    AFTER Living Room

    Daffodil-hued walls offer a warm foil for a collection of 19th-century American paintings. Asian elements, including a scallop-edged chinoiserie coffee table, add to the modern sensibility. The au courant avocado hue of the linen slipper chairs is repeated on lamps flanking the sofa. A gold-leaf reproduction breakfront adds architectural presence.

    Photography: Francesco Lagnese
    Design: Gerald Pomeroy

    For more of the historic home’s remodel, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Thuy Tranthi and Mitch Rieder’s 1980s house was full of potential and devoid of character. “It had a very open layout, high ceilings, and lots of windows looking out onto this amazing bucolic setting. The structure itself was sound,” says Thuy. What was needed was character—and interior designer Eric Lysdahl.

  • John Bessler

    AFTER Living Room

    Both avid readers, Thuy and Mitch agreed they needed the living room to function as a library. “When Mitch and I got together, we didn’t have the usual couple’s difficulty of sharing closet space,” says Thuy. “Our challenge was sharing library space.” To give them the library they needed, Lysdahl used old Cuban mahogany paneling reclaimed from a 19th-century Connecticut estate to transform the long white rectangle of a living room into a library/living room. The character that was previously lacking Lysdahl added back with the addition of architectural features, including the interior moldings, millwork, and ceiling details.

    Another view of the living room/library is on the next slide. 

  • John Bessler

    AFTER

    The beautiful old mahogany in the living room/library was outfitted with enough shelves to accommodate both homeowners’ books. “Eric also created conversation areas and included a writing desk so that we can use the room every day as both a library and a living area,” explains Thuy. “We didn’t want a formal room behind closed doors that would only be used when we had guests.”

    Photography: John Bessler
    Design: Eric Lysdahl

    For more photos of the Tudor-style remodel, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Prior to the renovation of his Maryland townhome, Loi Thai’s living room was dated and dark—the result of being attached to another unit. 

  • Erik Johnson

    AFTER Living Room

    Lightening up the living room was achieved through the power of paint. A white, cream, and pale gray palette accompanies floors that have been sanded, bleached, and finished with whitewash.

    For another view of the new living room, go to the next slide. 

  • Erik Johnson

    AFTER

    In the living room, luminous silk drapery panels complement gilded accessories, creating luxurious formality. The sisal rug covering the whitewashed floor exudes warmth and texture.

    Photography: Erik Johnson
    Design: Loi Thai

    To see more of this remodeled townhome, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    There were a lot of dead areas and wasted space in this Real Housewives apartment before the remodel.
     

  • John Bessler

    AFTER Living Room

    The new living room design recalls Art Moderne style.  A fake fireplace in the previous living room was discarded and replaced with a beautiful cabinet that conceals the TV. A U-shape velvet sectional increases seating and reaps big benefits for the couple—who love to entertain. Designer Brad Boles selected the room's wall color based on the most flattering colors in Jill's wardrobe.  

    Photography: John Bessler
    Design: Brad Boles

    To see the rest of Jill Zarin’s remodel, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    A furnace in this living room presented design challenges, but after an efficiency analysis the decision was made to remove it.

  • Gordon Beall

    AFTER Living Room

    An elegant palette of chocolate brown and ivory in the furnace-free room provides a classic backdrop for a mélange of furnishings with contemporary lines.

    Photography: Gordon Beall
    Design: Stephen N. O’Brien

  • BEFORE Living Room

    The pre-renovation living room was dark and plain.

  • Mark Edward Harris and Michael McCreary

    AFTER Living Room

    Designer Timothy Corrigan added raised panels on the living room walls and had them painted in subtly varied shades of cream. "We installed the paneling because we wanted the room to feel more substantial," he explains. "And it looks authentic and original." The ceiling was dressed with a plaster fretwork and the fireplace surround given French appeal. Curvaceous Avery Boardman sofas face a shagreen-and-cast-bronze coffee table designed by Corrigan.

    Photography: Mark Edward Harris and Michael McCreary
    Design: Timothy Corrigan

    The rest of this glamorous Hollywood renovation can be seen here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    While the living room’s windows offered abundant light, they also provided little privacy.

  • Robert Brantley

    AFTER Living Room

    The living room is awash in the beauty of natural sunlight. Dark turned pieces are sturdy and have heft but their presence is not overbearing. The color blue, seen here mainly on the pillows, becomes more prominent throughout the rest of the house.

    Photography: Robert Brantley
    Design: Jack Fhillips

    For the rest of this Florida makeover, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    This dark, barnlike vacation home had an outdated living room.

  • Tria Giovan

    AFTER Living Room

    The cavernous room was instantly lightened by removing the too-rustic stone fireplace. Now, an elegant paneled fireplace surround with a limestone hearth is more fitting of a summer home. Closing the room overlooking the living area also helped tame the open space. Hefty furnishings anchor the room; O. Henry House sofas and chairs are grouped around a Ralph Lauren cocktail table.

    Photography: 
Tria Giovan
    Design: Ken Gemes

    More of the remodeled Bridgehampton home can be found here.
     

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Alison Macheras inherited her posh Manhattan apartment (along with everything in it) from her grandmother, but it needed a little refreshing.

  • Bruce Buck

    AFTER Living Room

    Four heirloom Florentine silver-gilded candlestick lamps were refreshed with more modern pyramid silk shades. Refinished floors sans rugs let the wood shine. Matisse's watercolor-and-ink "Odalisque" hangs above the fireplace.

    For another view of the living room redo, go to the next slide.

  • Bruce Buck

    AFTER

    Framed within new built-in cabinets, former owner Lorenzo Alvary's portrait in operatic costume commands attention. "Lorenzo treated all of us like his grandchildren," says apartment owner Alison Macheras.

    Photography: Bruce Buck
    Design: Marcy Masterson

    To see the rest of the apartment refresh, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    The homeowners’ dog, Stella-Lou-Bella, inspects the empty living room prior to the renovation.

  • Colleen Duffley

    AFTER Living Room

    Ice-blue walls act as a counterpoint to the warm wood of case goods and original parquet floors. Dark taupe-and-white Chinese toile curtains lend a traditional spin to a not-so-traditional mix of furnishings. Vintage pieces mix with contemporary from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in the living room. Drapery fabric is from Duralee.

    Photography: Colleen Duffley
    Design: Bob Williams

    The rest of Bob Williams’ renovation can be seen here.
     

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Before, exposed wood beams had an English essence, but the room was a bit dark and in need of good color.

  • Werner Straube

    AFTER Living Room

    Homeowner Norm Wogan ushered in light and improved proportions by adding leaded-glass French doors. Draperies at the doors add lushness with fabric from S. Harris. An Oushak rug and wing chairs in distressed Old World Weavers velvet increase coziness. A Biedermeier box is centered on a 19th-century English round table.

    Photography: Werner Straube
    Design: Norm Wogan

    To experience more of the Tudor revival, click here.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Boxy rooms and small proportions were passable when this Maryland home was just a summer retreat, but they no longer sufficed when the home became a permanent residence.

  • Gordon Beall

    AFTER Living Room

    Sliding glass doors in the living room let in more light and allow the room to expand to include the screened porch in warmer months. Interior designer Kelley Proxmire selected indoor/outdoor fabrics for the living room, then created interest by using florals, stripes, and contrasting piping and trim to twist the tried-and-true color scheme. Covered in a Manuel Canovas solid cotton fabric, Brunschwig & Fils chairs in front of the fireplace circle a Charles Stewart ottoman where the kids play board games. The striped ottoman fabric is from Schumacher, and the rug is from Stark Carpet.

    A different angle of the living room can be found on the next slides.

  • BEFORE Living Room

    Another view of the living room when it was still just a summer home.

  • Gordon Beall

    AFTER Living Room

    "Blue-and-white isn't original, but it translates so beautifully," says Proxmire. "We played with scale on the fabrics and used mitered stripes so this version of blue-and-white would have its own signature." Furniture frames boast dark wood tones, a contrast to the crisp white woodwork and furniture in other main-level areas.

    Photography: Gordon Beall
    Design: Kelley Proxmire

    For more of the summer home transformation, click here.
     

  • BEFORE Living Room

    To better accommodate a family of six, a Houston home needed a change of space.   

  • Fran Brennan

    AFTER Living Room

    The living room sets the home’s simple-yet-elegant tone. The previously dark walls were lightened with custom Benjamin Moore paint. Two small-scale needlepoint chairs discovered at a Paris flea market sit by the windows.  “These chairs just called to us,” says homeowner Mary Lynn. “When we found them, we didn’t know where they were going to go, but we knew we had to have them. The colors are so beautiful and easy on the eyes. They set the tone for the house.”

    Another look at the living room is on the next slide.

  • Fran Brennan

    AFTER

    Unhibited by rugs, the living room has an air of simplicity. Clean-lined linen sofas and reclaimed oak floors add to the simplicity, while lending a provocative contrast to the fanciful silk curtains. A weathered mirror and a patinated console offset the room’s otherwise sleek characteristic.

    Photography: Fran Brennan
    Design: Eleanor Cummings

    To see the rest of this Houston remodel, click here.

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