My Living Room — The Before, The Progress, and The Plan

Well, I decided to post one last thing before I take off for the week.  (I just can’t stay away!)  😀

I was just looking at the “before” picture of my living room that I took when we closed on the house, and comparing it to how it looks today, and wanted to share my overall progress with you.

First off, here’s how the living room looked when we purchased the house…

living room before

And although I still have quite a ways to go on this room, I’ve made quite a bit of progress! Here’s how it looks now…

living room progress

This room is still very much a work in progress, but…

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

You can get a quick view of the “before” and “progress” pictures by moving your mouse pointer on and off of the picture below (or tapping on and off on your mobile device).

So what’s left in Phase 1? Plenty!

  1. Sew the draperies for the big window.  (What you see in the picture above is still just a cut length of fabric pinned to the drapery rod.)  :)
  2. Sew new sheers to replace the existing cheap sheers.
  3. Cover the shades on the floor lamps with new fabric.  A green geometric print perhaps?
  4. Add pillows to the chairs.
  5. Assemble and paint the other end table
  6. Accessorize the credenza, end tables, and ottoman.
  7. Raise the lotus mirror a bit…after accessorizing the credenza.
  8. Reupholster the sofa.
  9. Refinish the credenza.

Why decorate in phases?

There are certain things that I definitely want to do in this room that can’t be done until we level the foundation.  All of those projects include things that are part of, or are attached to, the actual structure of the house.  If I were to do them now, before leveling the foundation, they’d have to be repaired after the house is leveled.  So for now, I’ll just concentrate on the furniture and accents that will all be part of the final room design.

What’s in Phase 2?

After we get the foundation level, I’ll be able to work on the final phase of this room and get it just like I want it.  That will include:

  1. Removing the polystyrene ceiling tiles and the 1″ x 4″ pieces of lumber that they’re attached to, and repairing the ceiling.
  2. Adding recessed lights and centering the chandelier in the room.
  3. Adding a dividing wall with a very large opening between the entryway/living room and the original dining room.
  4. Replacing the one aluminum window with a wood window that matches the rest of the windows in the house.
  5. Adding wainscoting to the bottom half of the walls.
  6. Adding grasscloth wallpaper to the upper half of the walls.  (Yes, the brown wall color was always meant to be temporary.  I was just having some fun and trying a daring dark color.)  :)
  7. Installing a fireplace where the credenza currently sits.
  8. Adding new trim around the windows and doors.
  9. Repairing the original wood windows so that they’re completely operational.

Wow.  That makes me tired just typing all of that out.  I definitely need a week off just to gear up for what I have planned next year.  And that’s only one room!  😀

See you next year!

Enter your name and email below to receive:

New posts delivered to your inbox * Giveaways exclusive to subscribers
Exclusive behind-the-scenes videos * Additional DIY tips
The occasional DIY project, just for subscribers
A plate of warm, freshly baked cookies

(Okay, probably not that last one.)  :)


  1. Alta says

    Whew, girl, I’m tired just reading it all too! But your progress so far is just phenomenal. It sure looks 300% better than it did before! You deserve a well-earned break. Question: If you build the fireplace where the credenza sits now, where will it go?

  2. says

    We have moved into a new house (to us new) just like you and your husband. We still haven’t sold our other house in NC. My husband has a new job in Alabama now so we
    had only 2 months to move and find a house in Al. I am doing basically the same thing you are doing except that I can’t purchase new items because even though this job (we prayed for a very long time) is wonderful, we still own another house that we still haven’t sold yet. So bills with it are still existing, (water, utility to show house and taxes and insurance). So one question I have is: Do you still own your Condo? How can I financially do the things I want to do and still stay on a very tight budget till we sell our other house?
    I sit here in Al in this new house and dream of what I can do, but, for now it’s just a dream…..
    I bought some beautiful chairs at a thrift store that are stripped RED with dark wood. Can I paint the fabric with Annie Sloan paint and make them really pretty or should I just leave them alone till I can afford to recover?? What’s a girl to do??

    • says

      We do still own our condo, but believe me…the reason I’m able to do all of this stuff isn’t because we’re just rolling in the money over here. 😀 It’s because our condo was incredibly cheap with an unbelievably low mortgage, and then we bought a really cheap house, put $20,000 down on it, which made our mortgage almost laughably low. Seriously, people can’t even rent a studio apartment in this area for what we pay on our house mortgage. So our two mortgages together still equal less than what most people pay for one mortgage. In fact, our combined mortgages right now are almost $400 less than our mortgage on our first house that we bought in Oregon eleven years ago. 😀 True story.

      I say that just to encourage you to NOT get discouraged. Even though on paper, we own two homes, I’m sure your situation is much different from ours. And you’ll sell yours eventually and be able to start putting money into your current home! :)

      In the meantime…YES…break out the chalk paint and get started on those chairs. Even if they don’t look just right, it’ll be an improvement, and you can always reupholster them in the future as funds allow.

  3. says

    Lookin’ good! Hoping to do a tufted ottoman when we get our house built. I love that it can serve a dual purpose: coffee table or extra seating. Plus I just love the look! When I’m ready I’ll be sure to come back and look at your tutorial again :)

  4. MarySue says

    What a transformation!! You are doing a fantastic job on this room! Looking forward to seeing the continued progress!

  5. Kathy Clanton says

    We are in the foundation repair business. Email me if you are interested. We do free estimates in the southeast but I don’t know where you are located.

  6. Susan Clark says

    Just curious…are you still loving the brown walls? Pics of the condo are on the right with all the light, bright blues and greens as I look at the new house. Such a difference between the two, so wondered if you were still happy with the change?

      • says

        Kristi, if the brown is temporary do you have a specific color in mind for a permanent color? Just curious…I am lovin it so far but I too love the condo colors…

        • says

          I haven’t really taken time to look yet, but I just have in mind some medium brown neutral grasscoth. It’ll definitely be much lighter than the walls currently are, but one thing I love about grasscloth is the variation of colors within the wallpaper. So it might have some hints of this dark brown throughout, but the overall color will be a much lighter brown or tan.

          • says

            Oh I love grasscloth! That would be beautiful! I can’t wait to see the room all done. It’s so much fun watching it from start to finish, and actually enjoying the process!

  7. Sue says

    Your transformation is amazing! Those window treatments are so great as is the ottoman. The whole room is looking sooooo good. (sorry to gush so much but I’m loving it a lot!) I like the shade color of your lamps but I’m sure your vision of the finished product will make a ‘believer’ of me. : ) Great job and enjoy your week!

  8. Ron Harris says

    Everything looks great! Love the ottoman! Now, what is your address? And you’re sure you’ll be gone a week? 😉

    • says

      Haha! Well, I’ll be home during that week. UNLESS…you’re volunteering to come and clean the house, unpack the rest of the boxes, clean out my garage, etc. Then I could probably make myself scarce for a week. 😀

      • Ron Harris says

        If I could take take a week off from work, it would almost be worth it just to get out of the cold Maine weather and have a change of scenery! Perhaps I should pass along something a friend of mine says quite frequently, “Don’t you ever rest?” Um, no!

  9. says

    I have a question…and this is something I have wondered about for a while…why go to the bother of refinishing wood floors or installing wood flooring….if it is going to be covered with an area rug? I know rugs are supposed to “ground” a room and add texture and warmth. We have hardwood & tile floors in our home…and I can’t seem to make sense of adding rugs; although I love the look of them in most homes (and yours is lovely)…is it just me? I know, to each his own…but if I wanted carpeting….I wouldn’t bother with hardwood or tile flooring. Just curious what your thoughts are……

    • says

      Even if you use area rugs, you can always still see plenty of the hardwood floors. This (so far) is the only rug I have in the house. I may add more, but there will always be plenty of hardwood floor showing.

  10. says

    OMG Kristi,
    The ottoman came out amazing. I love the bottom shelf and the size in general. But so far my favorite item/project has to be the 40-inch-metallic-lotus-flower-mirror!

    Happy New Year

  11. Rebecca says

    As with the condo, you take a space nobody would glance twice at and make it into something beautiful, interesting, welcoming and comfortable. I love it. It’s so inspiring and fun to watch. I’ve been attempting to do a project or two from your blog…it’s hard work! I’m like “But Kristi made it look easy!” Oh well, I’m a beginner, I keep reminding myself it takes time. Can’t wait to see more progress unfold. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  12. Angela Murad says

    LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! What you’ve done and CANNOT wait to see what’s next! Why you don’t have a show on HGTV is BEYOND me! You are so creative & talented!! Great work so far!! :)
    Loved what you did to the condo – incredible. I bet you’re glad you don’t have that crabby neighbor anymore 😀
    Happy New Year!

    PS I wish I had your time & energy!

  13. Genelle McDaniel says

    You know, I didn’t even feel sorry for you when I first saw the living room because you had such a promising vision. But I didn’t see it this good. You’re a jewel. Meanwhile, we’ll be patient and wait for next year. Love your creativity.

  14. Teija says

    I am always so inspired when I see what you have done! I especially like your do it yourself-ness and your attitude that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it will be an improvement. I think we hold back and don’t try to do it ourselves because we watch tv shows with professionals and we think that we are inferior to their skill, finances and experience. But, you make me think, ok, give it a try and see how it comes out. It beats waiting on someday, and meanwhile, I’ll get some skills and experience.

  15. Deb says

    Hi Kristi,
    You are amazing! I love following your blog because you are my inspiration. We own a 1954 rambler in Washington state and are in the looooong process of remodeling it to make it wheelchair accessible for my husband. Our first big challenge has been making the front entry accessible. Next is an accessible master bathroom, then the kitchen (he likes to cook). Thanks again for posting your projects!

    Look forward to seeing more!

  16. Mary Stewart says

    Excuse me…How tall are you? Lady, I’ve seen grown football sized men cry and complain about things that are not even half as serious as the problems you inherited with this house! You really need a show on HGTV! Heck this house could be your show. Who would believe someone as tiny as you could do all that you’ve done! I am truly amazed! I can’t wait to see the rest of this house transformation. YOU ARE A REMARKABLE LADY! Happy New Year!

  17. Christina Williams says

    Awesome job! I love decorating in stages, it looks more collected if everything isn’t bought at the same time! Keep it up! Love your blog!

  18. Linda Cooper says

    Where did your fireplace come from? I thought I had read all of your blogs but I don’t remember reading anything about a fireplace. I would love one just like it.

  19. says

    I’m applauding. Can you hear me?
    The ottoman/coffee table is a great piece!! (Thanks for the DIY instructions too–I just spotted that.) Your room is so different from the day you first laid eyes on it. I don’t know how you do it, but you manage so much in so little time. Can hardly wait to see what the new year will bring!

    All the best to you and your husband! God bless you both…

  20. Gilmer Gal says

    Happy New Year, Kristi! Now, get some rest and we want to see you back on the job in a week. There are fans out here that could possibly go through some serious withdrawal. I’m already shaking a little…

  21. Syble McCleskey says

    Love, love, love everything you’ve done. You’re an inspiration (okay you’re making me a little tired). That ottoman is perfect, your furniture building skills are remarkable. Have you decided what fabric you’re putting on the sofa yet?

    • says

      I haven’t. That sofa is really giving me trouble. I’m tempted to just buy a new sofa for this room and save this sofa for the family room when we finally do remodel the sunroom into a family room in the future.

      But then that would be taking the easy way out. I don’t like doing that. :) So we’ll see.

      • Sue says

        For a temporary fix, there are several companies out there that make pretty nice sofa covers. Maybe you could find a color you like that would fit that sofa until more $$ is available to get the fabric you want to cover it?

        • says

          The person I’ve always used to make slip covers for me (or rather, for clients in the past) would charge about $400 to make a slip cover, and that doesn’t include the fabric. :-/ He actually charges more for slipcovers than he does for upholstery.

  22. says


    Wow! You have really gotten a lot done. You deserve a week off. The living room looks great – though I think I really liked your first option where the chairs were on the left…. I absolutely LOVE your curtains/shades. You did a great job.

    I wish you and your hubby a Happy New Year!!! Can’t wait to see the projects you work on in 2014.

  23. Pamela Schafer says

    I love those lamps! I have to have them!!! I have looked online, but cannot find them. Suggestions? Please, please, please :).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *