Our Living Room Makeover (With Before + After Pics)

In this post we are delighted to show you the process of renovating our living room from start to finish and why we decided to do it in phases spanning just under 3 years.

What the living room looked like originally

When we moved in, we were the second owners on a 1930’s house! Just think about that for a second, a young couple moved in before World War 2 began (we found loads of newspapers under our carpets mentioning Hitler!) and in 2016 the lady went into a nursing home and that is when the house went up for sale. So when we moved in, the style wasn’t ‘our cup of tea‘ shall we say (these pictures were taken on the actual day we got there):

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The process we decided on

If you haven’t read our first post about what we did to our living room initially you can go and take a look at that if you fancy. In a nutshell however, the order of events we decided on when we moved in to the house was this:

  1. Make the house safe, sound and generally comfortable with key structural fixes plus electrical and gas / heating installation

  2. Make two rooms liveable and comfy so that we can preserve our sanity throughout the rest of the renovation (the living room and a bedroom)

  3. Renovate the rest of the house i.e. the kitchen, bathroom, hallway, landing, bedrooms, etc

So the last time we created a post about our living room we had only done step 2. We only really made it comfortable and it was pretty much a blank canvas - we wanted to go with a Minimum Viable Product (we sound like we know our stuff right?!) getting the room comfortable, but not finished. At that time we had much bigger things to think about and direct our energy towards i.e. the open plan kitchen diner project we were planning for. We also didn’t want to rush into any decisions about styling until we were absolutely certain on the direction the rest of the house was taking.

How the living room looked after the first phase (6 months in)

We installed a wood burner, firs surround and chimney flue, a new door, electrics, skirting board, flooring and then plastered the walls and ceilings. Finally we painted it all, and we were pretty pleased with the look, it was basic but a huge improvement and actually quite cosy:

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Phase 2

Once the main renovation was completed i.e. mainly the kitchen and bathroom areas, we could direct some energy into refining and finishing the look of the living room. It’s amazing how much of a difference the additional accessories, plants, shelves, furniture, mirror makes to the general feeling of the room. It’s now much less of a blank canvas and more of a finished article, a sanctuary of calm after a tough day at the office.

How the living room looks after the second phase (3 years on)

We are absolutely thrilled with the look of our living room now! A room that we can be both really proud of and that feels homely, cosy, fresh and stylish:

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The Design

We worked with our favourite local carpenter Luc Soudain at LEJS Carpentry in Brighton to create shelving and units that we are completely in love with. Luc made our kitchen table, bench and shelf above our cooker when we did our kitchen diner renovation, so we knew we wanted to get him back on board for the alcove shelving. The design itself was decided on within weeks of us moving in to the house, I knew I wanted alcove shelving to smarten the room and create a good level of storage – but we couldn’t afford to do it until after more important work was complete, so it was one of those things I kept dreaming about having.

2 years later, on my birthday just gone, Neil surprised me with the alcove shelving as my birthday present. He’d been sketching and planning the shelving with Luc in secret, and put the drawings in my birthday card. I was ecstatic, and ever since Luc hand built and installed them, I just can’t stop staring at how lovely they are.

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The rest of the room is pretty simple. Wood floors from Quick Step which you can read about here, a brick tiled hearth and calming, neutral colours that will hopefully remain timeless.

We chose Farrow & Ball’s Skimming Stone for the wall colour and Wimborne White on pretty much everything else.

Morning, noon, and night, this combination of calm colours bring a fresh but cosy feel. Sometimes simple just works, I think.

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Here you can see the 3 stages as we developed the room… Looks so much better right?

We feel like this room is just about finished now – however, there’s one thing left to do which we’ve been putting off until money grows on trees, and that’s replacing the curved bay upvc windows. They have stood the test of time, but are definitely due an upgrade. Once this is done, I think I might look at installing shutters to get rid of the nets.

We’re so thrilled with how it’s evolved over the years!

What do you think? Are you about to do a similar renovation? My biggest advice to you if you’re planning on decorating in phases like we did in this room, is to start with a very clear idea of the style you want the room to end up with. For us, the look was ‘Modern Farmhouse’. The reason why this is important, is so that through the years, as you bring additions to the room, the overall design will remain cohesive, and not a mismatch of the trends 3 years ago, and the trends now.

We have slowly but surely renovated our whole 1930s house – just one room left to do! – and we have learned an enormous amount along the way. From the best way to manage budgets, to how to communicate to tradesmen, we’ve distilled everything we’ve learned into our How to Renovate a House Online Course. It’s a course many first time renovators have been thankful they’ve bought for the step-by-step support and guidance it offers.

Thank you so much for reading this blog, all of our other room makeovers are over on the Our House page if you fancy taking a look :)

Fifi & Neil xoxo