Before and After: Remodeling

Take a look at these stunning room makeovers that bring updated style and function to areas throughout the house. You'll find tons of ideas for transforming your home's drab, dated spaces into inviting areas for family and guests alike.

By Renee Freemon Mulvihill

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Before: Uninviting Entryway

    The front entryway and staircase in this 1970s home failed to welcome visitors in style. The tile-pattern vinyl floor looked cheap and dated, and the white-painted staircase was scratched and worn. The homeowners no longer liked the tone-on-tone striped wallpaper and wanted the area to show off cottage charm that would match the rest of their house.

After: Welcoming Character

    New wooden treads and traditional-style balusters gave the front stairway a whole new look. Wainscoting on the walls adds cottage charm; the budget-friendly architectural enhancement was created by attaching vertical strips of wood to drywall and capping them with a chair rail. A new striped stair runner adds a touch of fun color and can easily be changed out later if the homeowners want a fresh look.

Before: Jumbled Living Space

    This room had to serve as both a living and dining area, so there wasn't much space for relaxing outside of the home's bedrooms. The room was generous in size and boasted plenty of windows, but dark paneling made it feel smaller than its actual size. Bland window treatments and mismatched furniture gave the living room a thrown-together look that lacked charm.

After: Cozy Family Area

    Adding a dining room and den means this space can now function as a comfortable living room for homeowners and guests. New windows and doors with traditional-style muntins, crown molding, and beaded-board paneling bring architectural charm to this once-bland space. Window seats and multiple furniture groupings create cozy conversation areas, while durable materials -- including distressed barn-board floors -- ensure easy livability.

Before: Forgotten Fireplace Wall

    Last updated in the 1980s, this living room lacked the cottage style that made the rest of the house so charming. Without a surround or mantel, the fireplace looked like an afterthought, and the brass fireplace doors and mirrored wall felt too contemporary for the vintage home. The homeowners were less than enthusiastic about the carpeting and longed to add architectural interest to the room.

After: Stunning Focal Point

    The living room's new fireplace wall finally shows off a vintage charm that matches the style of the 1912 home. New built-in bookshelves and an arched soffit lend architectural character, and a new concrete fireplace surround mimics the look of slate at a fraction of the price. The homeowners discovered hardwood floors underneath the worn carpet, which they refinished and stained a dark brown. New slipcovers cleverly disguise worn-out $20 chairs and feature patterned fabric sewn into.

Before: Untapped Potential

    The living room in this Craftsman-style home included a few nice elements -- arched openings and hardwood floors, for example -- but overall it lacked star power. There was no clear focal point; with just a small wood surround, the fireplace didn't make much of a design statement. Furnishings were mismatched and didn't complement the scale of the room.

After: Charming Seating Area

    The new living room is softer and lighter, encouraging guests and homeowners to gather in the sunny space. A new limestone fireplace surround adds welcome drama to the fireplace wall and gives the room a much-needed focal point. New French doors lead into a home office and help lighten the overall look.

Before: Uninspired Living Space

    The original living room in this 1929 home offered enough space for a comfortable gathering area, but it called out for an update. A dark fireplace surround and built-in bookcases made the room feel smaller than it was and the carpet needed to be replaced. As is common in older homes, the living room was somewhat cut off from adjoining rooms, and the homeowners hoped to create a more open floor plan without losing the home's traditional charm.

After: Soothing Seating Area

    The living room was almost completely gutted, but the fireplace remains in its original location and the room is close to its original size. A new stone mantel and a marble surround lend grandeur to the original fireplace, creating a traditional focal point for the room. Built-in shelves add display space for collectibles and a soft color palette encourages relaxation.

Before: Out of Place

    This contemporary kitchen, remodeled in the 1970s, looked out of place inside the 19th-century Victorian home. It featured soothing waterfront views, but the interior views were not nearly as pleasing. The small kitchen lacked efficient work space and storage. The homeowners hoped to increase function and boost style with a central island and additional upper cabinets.

After: New Traditions

    In this striking kitchen remodel, the homeowners kept the sink wall where it was but removed the opposite wall of the kitchen to make way for a sunroom addition. Vintage-style elements, such as a new kitchen island with furniture-style feet and grayish-green marble countertops, help integrate the kitchen with the home's traditional style. Custom-built white cabinets with reproduction brass hardware reach to the ceiling, adding a sense of elegance and maximizing storage.

Before: Past Its Prime

    Located in a century-old Midwestern home, this kitchen had multiple problems. A convoluted layout impeded meal preparation and added unnecessary steps for the cook. Kitchen cabinets and countertops were old and worn out, and the vinyl floor was warped and peeling. It was time to replace the appliances, enhance kitchen storage, and improve functionality.

After: Warm and Cozy

    In the kitchen's new layout, the cooktop, refrigerator, and sink are just a few steps apart, ensuring easy meal preparation. A new peninsula adds counter space and provides an open view to the adjoining kitchen table. New cherry cabinets lend warmth and offer efficient storage, while octagonal ceramic tiles inset with hand-scraped teak "rugs" show off traditional materials in a new way. Solid-surfacing countertops are mounted on edged plywood for a substantial, upscale look.

Before: Dreadfully Dated

    This kitchen's dark laminate countertops and banged-up wood cabinets were bad enough, but then the kitchen appliances started to fall apart, too. The space lacked a pantry and a range hood, plus an awkward peninsula disturbed the traffic flow between the kitchen and the adjoining dining and family room. It was past time for a makeover.

After: Family-Friendly Gathering Space

    A new layout serves to make this kitchen much more convenient for the busy family of four who lives there. The awkward peninsula was replaced with a 4x6-foot island with storage and stools for casual dining. Moving the refrigerator made room for a walk-in pantry with angled doors, and a range hood now tops the new stainless-steel range. To save money, the homeowners salvaged as many of the kitchen cabinets as they could and freshened them up with a coat of white paint and new polished-nickel bin pulls and knobs.

Before: Builder-Grade Kitchen

    The original cooking area was bland and inefficient, and overall, the kitchen lacked storage. Wood cabinets darkened the small kitchen and an awkward half-wall obstructed the traffic flow between the kitchen and dining area. Surfaces and appliances were dated and needed a functional and stylish update.

After: Vibrant Personality

    The appliances were relocated to create an efficient cooking zone on the back wall and a cleanup station and casual dining zone at the island. Converting a mudroom and laundry area into a pantry near the new refrigerator greatly expanded storage space. By moving the sink to the island, the awkward half-wall was shorted, a change that improved traffic flow between the kitchen and dining areas. White-glazed kitchen cabinets, quartz-surfacing countertops, and putty-color backsplash tiles create a neutral backdrop for lively accents of orange and red.

Before: Lackluster Breakfast Area

    The casual dining area in this home was big enough to accommodate a decent size of table, but there wasn't much space to move around. The area looked like an afterthought and lacked architectural character. The homeowners hoped to make the space feel cozier, while adding quiet sophistication.

After: Cozy Breakfast Nook

    A gentle arch now defines the breakfast nook, adding architectural drama and making the dining space feel cozy. Crown molding mimics the elegant detailing found in the living room, while a beaded-board ceiling complements the ceiling in an attached porch. Brown walls contrast with white trim and benches, providing a crisp color palette that promises to always be in style. Drawers in the benches offer practical storage, as well.

Before: Jumbled Storage Space

    The homeowners of this home wanted to create a formal dining space to match the character of their Victorian home, but this jumbled storage space needed a lot of work. Overrun with plants, books, and extra furniture, it wasn't functional for much of anything -- and it certainly wasn't inviting. The first step was clearing out the clutter; then the homeowners focused on adding architectural charm and drama.

After: Traditional Elegance

    White-pine floors, buried under paint and carpet, turned out to be in great shape and now provide a charming foundation for the remodeled dining room. To lend architectural charm, the homeowners added window casings and crown molding, which were missing from the home. Corner bookcases lend traditional character and provide abundant storage space for formal dishware. A crystal chandelier, formal dining table, and sophisticated window treatments lend decorative flair and help create an inviting and elegant atmosphere.

Before: Too-Small Dining Space

    The original dining room in this home included a large window, which brought in plenty natural light, but the space was too small to accommodate large family gatherings or formal parties. The design was staid and traditional, but lacked pizzazz.

After: Ready to Entertain

    A generous addition to the dining room deemed the space suitable for entertaining space, and the new angled walls add drama and intrigue. Contrasting wood tones introduce interest and depth; light-tone built-in cabinets and maple trimwork stand out against darker cherry floors and the deep mahogany table. Cream-color tufted leather chairs complement the neutral wood tones and add a touch of modern style.

Before: Dark and Dated

    Misguided remodels took much of the character out of this home. Dated wallpaper, cracked plaster walls, and dark interiors were less than inviting. The homeowners wanted to return the home's architectural charm, and their vision included reinstating a formal dining room that would be ideal for entertaining.

After: Sophisticated Dining

    To create a dining room with an elegant atmosphere, the homeowners first replaced the room's basic wood trim with substantial plaster moldings. Leaded-glass windows enhance the room's traditional charm, as well, and a formal chandelier and dining table set just the right mood for entertaining. Two antique doors from a flea market in France lean against the entry wall and add an architectural flourish.

Before: Drab Dining Space

    The decor in this dining room could best be described as dated. Peach-tone walls and heavy floral accents were tired, and the furniture was old and unexciting. Although the room had a hardwood floor, its charm was well hidden beneath dirt and scratches. The room needed a fresh look to become a truly inviting dining space.

After: Chic Entertaining Space

    The hardwood floors were first sanded and refinished; they were finished with a rich coffee-brown stain for an elegant look. A subtle palette of khaki and white on the walls and windows brings a sophisticated charm to the room, while a table and chairs in black lacquer add a punch of drama. With its updated, classic look, the remodeled dining room is a perfect backdrop for lively brunches or quiet dinners with friends.

Before: Claustrophobic Corner

    Dark beaded-board paneling and limited windows made this master bedroom feel dreary. The bed and furniture filled much of the room, so the sleeping area appeared even smaller than its square footage would suggest. The room seemed to be calling out for a fresher, lighter look.

After: Lighter and Brighter

    This remodel proved that small changes often make a big difference. The original stained beaded-board paneling on the bedroom's walls and ceiling was retained, but windows were added to amplify light. Solid furniture would have been too heavy for the small space, so an open chrome bed was chosen instead. The resulting bedroom complements the original style of the house but lightens the look for modern-day tastes.

Before: Bland Bedroom

    This shared bedroom for elementary-age boys was functional but uninspired. The blue walls were a bit too vivid and conventional, and the furniture needed an update. The unbanked beds looked like an afterthought and the dresser that had transitioned from changing table to clothes storage unit needed to be refreshed.

After: Growing Up with Style

    Dark khaki walls look a little more grown-up than bright blue paint, but striped bedding keeps the overall look youthful and fun. The budget-friendly headboards were created from solid pine six-panel doors for a finished look. New orange curtains add a final pop of fun color to the room.

Before: Small and Forgettable

    This small bathroom had simple yet timeless black and white tiling and the fixtures were functional, but the dated floral wallpaper kept the space stuck in the past. The homeowner longed to update the look and inject some color to brighten up the small bath.

After: Style on a Budget

    The homeowner fell in love with a sunny-yellow wallpaper she saw in a magazine, but when she learned it was hundreds of dollars per roll, she decided to create the look for less. She had paint custom blended to match the yellow hue, then applied wall decals to create a similar design. A roman shade made from a whimsical monkey-motif fabric and a fabric skirt below the sink that cleverly hides the plumbing soften the utilitarian space and add fresh personality.

Before: Boring Bath

    The original bath in this home was functional but bland. The small bath contained just enough space for a stall shower, toilet, double vanity, and a small storage room at one end. A large mirror over the vanity gave it a 1980s look and the neutral decor was uninspired.

After: Inviting Small Bath

    After the bath remodel, the small space shows off plenty of personality. Two vanities divided by a tall cabinet form two separate primping areas. Flexible rubber floor tiles in a fun red hue enliven the space with color and are slip-resistant, too. A small storage area was converted into a convenient laundry room with a stacked washer and dryer.

Before: Just the Basics

    This small bath located in a 1930s-era home needed an update to match the character of the rest of the home. It contained neither a shower nor a ventilation fan to avoid humidity buildup, and it also lacked an electrical outlet. Plus, pink tile was created a dated look.

After: Modern Amenities

    White porcelain tile in the shower enclosure and penny tiles on the floor update the bath's style and create a soothing, neutral backdrop for a fun, printed shower curtain. A dark vanity adds sophisticated storage and complements the brown glass border tiles that accent the shower enclosure. A new ventilation fan; electrical outlet; wiring for a vanity light; and waterproof frosted-pane, aluminum-clad window in the shower make the room functional for modern life, as well.

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