Must-See Living Room Makeovers

overall of living
Dated finishes, lackluster furniture, and zero personality all add up to a living room in need of a makeover. Check out the dramatic transformations of these 10 living rooms and get ideas for your own decorating makeovers.

Before: Pretty Basic

The cookie-cutter setup in this living room (those built-ins have to to be in about 2.5 million homes, right?) left a void for any personalization. Wood floors and wood built-ins was a little too much of a good thing.

After: Custom Update

Coats of creamy paint lighten the built-ins and staggering the shelves lends itself well for displaying acccessories of varying heights. A soft gray-taupe on the walls complements the natural textures introduced by furniture and accessories. Pops of red and peacock-blue hit all the right color notes. The floors were left as is, but are softened with layered area rugs.

Before: Paneled Mess

Less-than-flattering paneling and an ensemble of mismatched furniture left this cottage living room lacking.

After: Lightened Up

Replacing the wood-look paneling with a fresh white version took this living room from gloomy to crisp, while a more harmonious symphony of flea market finds, casual furnishings, and a neutral palette sprinkled with blues and greens ups the style factor.

Not ready for a full color makeover in your living room? Here's how to add color in stages and introduce pattern, fresh accessories, furniture, and more.

Living Room in Stages

Do you have a good foundation of furniture, but just need to infuse a little style? Take your cues from this living room, which starts with a few key pieces already in place and then gets a few smart layers of style for added visual appeal.

Before: Formal Snooze

A hodgepodge of furniture didn't provide adequate seating, and the formal style left this living room nook coming up short.

After: Modern Refresh

By introducing an L-shape sofa, the homeowners now have plentiful seating. Ditching the bulky armchair for a streamlined accent chair adds extra seating without eating away at floor space. The same theory applies to other pieces. A lightweight coffee table and an end table provide function without adding bulk to the tight space. Four individual mirrors read as one large unit, providing a much more fitting scale than the previous dinky single mirror. A neutral palette with pops of blue conveys comfy serenity and juxtaposes the modern furniture.

Before: Blah Blue

Light-blocking shutters, a so-so shade of blue, and a fireplace that was stuck in another decade were enough to instigate a living room makeover.

After: Fab Blue

A richer blue on the walls brings out the room's substantial white moldings and trimwork. And the new wall color was just the beginning. Gray and cream foundational pieces (such as the sofa and rug) both temper the jewel-toned walls but also leave room for strong accent colors, like the ruby red lamps and hints of ocher orange. 

See this living room be transformed from a dull "before" to a gorgeous "after". And learn how you can liven up your living room with the same decorating tips for choosing colors, arranging furniture, and more.

Historic Living Room Redo

The living room in this historic house needed a complete overhaul. See how it was given a new look, while remaining true to the home's roots.

Before: In Need of a Renovation

The living room in this small historic townhouse was a diamond in the rough, begging to showcase its original glory, but with an updated twist.

After: Blend of Eras

Refinishing the hardwood floors nodded to the room's roots, while an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories bring it up to speed. Midcentury-modern furniture carries a cool, collected vibe, while trendy maps, a Moroccan rug, and pops of bright color are au courant. 

Before: Stuck in the '80s

While this living room's generous size was an advantage, its outdated floral sofas, odd arrangement, and lack of color were bringing it down.

After: Thoroughly Modern Update

New paneling and a coffered ceiling treatment added elegance to the once boxy room, while hints of orange and eclectic, not matchy-matchy, furniture keep the look fun and youthful. In a large room, flexible furniture, such as the ottomans and the cane chair in the bay window, can easily be moved to accommodate different seating needs.

Before: Good Bones

There's nothing wrong with neutrals, but sometimes a little color can take a room from "okay" to "wow." This living room sported a varied palette of neutrals but needed a little spark.

After: Color Infusion

By leaving key pieces (such as the love seat, bookcase, and jute rug) in place and swapping out some of the accessories for more colorful versions in shades of apple green and ocean blue, this living room received an easily achievable update. Sticking to just two colors was key to making the refresh easy and effortless.

Before: Architecturally Intriguing

The living room in this early-1900s cottage had plenty going for it, including a beamed ceiling and Gothic-style brick fireplace, but it still needed a little style help.

After: Clean Update

Freshening up the room with white laid a modern foundation for an eclectic ensemble of furniture and accessories. Wood finishes and natural textures pair with golden yellows and chocolate brown and serve as warm counterpoints to all the white. 

Before: Awkward Layout

A small living room felt downright claustrophobic due to an inefficient layout and oddly scaled furniture. A lack of decor and color further brought down the room.

After: Better Everything

Moving the sofa against the wall freed up walkway space. Introducing larger chairs visually balances the bulky sofa and touches of chocolate brown throughout the space helps the existing piece blend into the room's new nature-inspired palette, which also stars sky blue and shades of green.

Before: Right Direction

This room had a good start, thanks to the sofa, armchair, rug, and a few colorful accessories. It just needed a little oomph, which came through loud and clear to the tune of only $350.

After: New Look for Less

Cool blue paint, inspired by the existing aqua lamp, draws out the honey finish of the room's woodwork. Bringing other accessories to match the lamp gives the room a pulled together look, while a sleek coffee table introduces a bit of the unexpected.

Before: Ready for a Refresh

A box of a room with just a few pieces of furniture was a blank canvas, ready for personality and panache.

After: Classically Fresh

New wainscoting and trim brought substance to this living room, and a palette of watery blue and citron offer a classic, yet unique color palette. A mix of patterns and textures is grounded by the use of rich dark wood finishes on the floor (not shown), side tables, and chair frame.

Share the gallery

Better Homes & Gardens may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website.