My Living Room — What It Looks Like Today (And A Plan)

I’ve promised for a while now to show you how my living room looks today, so today’s the day.  I didn’t do a lot of (or any at all) deep cleaning in here, so please overlook the layer of sawdust that seems to cover everything.  🙂

You’ll remember that my living room looked like this on the day that we were handed our keys…

And today it looks like this…

Small condo living room makeover - during the makeover

It’s definitely an improvement, and you can see that I did have a vision in mind as I was working on it, but oh my goodness….there are so many abandoned projects in this room!!

You like how I left that one area of painted concrete floor exposed?  I honestly have no idea why it still, to this day, has no tiles.

living room today - 1

I mean, the tiles are right there, stacked in those boxes.  And don’t even ask me how long they’ve been there.  (If I start thinking about it too much, it could get really depressing!)

And then there’s that nice 4-inch gap in the baseboards.  See it?  When the hallway closet was removed and expanded to make way for the cabinets, and the new opening was drywalled, it somehow left a 4-inch area that wasn’t covered with baseboard.  So I removed the baseboard and moved it over.  Then that messed up one of the battens, so I reattached it and loaded it down with wood filler.  And it’s been like that ever since.  🙂

There are two really daunting tasks ahead in this makeover.  The first is the ceiling.  You’ll remember that my kitchen and breakfast room ceiling has the faux wood plank treatment…

But looking the other way, here’s what you see…

plank wood ceiling

(Those dark rings around the lights are just from my poor photography.  I have no idea how to photograph lights.)

So I have two concerns about the ceiling.

First, I don’t own a table saw, and the last time I asked someone at Home Depot to cut wood into 4-inch strips for me, it caused drama.  And seeing that this project will take about eight sheets of 1/4-inch plywood to cover, I just know that that’s going to cause a problem.  So do I just go ahead and buy a table saw (since I want one when we move into the house anyway), and then put it in storage until then?  Or do I try to get the people at Home Depot to do it for me?  I dread that.

The second concern is that I have no idea how to arrange the slats on the ceiling.  See how I ended the breakfast room ceiling with one slat running perpendicular to the rest?  I can do one of two things.  I can either remove that one slat, and continue all of the slats in the same direction.  OR, I can leave that one perpendicular slat there, and continue adding slats that direction from the front door through the hallway (which is directly in front of the door), and then in the living room, I can change directions again so that the slats are going the same direction as in the breakfast room.

Wow…did you follow all of that?  I have concerns about both way.  I’m afraid changing directions in the doorway/hallway area might make things look busy.  But if the entire ceiling has slats going the same way, I’m afraid that any crooked slats will be even more noticeable.

Okay, moving on…

The second daunting project is the main wall with the cabinets.

Small condo living room makeover - during the makeover

Basically, I want to keep this basic concept, but I want a do-over.

I had originally wanted the cabinets on either side to look more furniture-like, so I added furniture legs to them (which I removed several months ago when I decided that I wanted to finish the floor…and you see how far I got on that).  🙂

I don’t like that anymore, and I think it’s wasting valuable space.  In a place this tiny, that space would be better used for a drawer for more storage.  So I want to try my hand at building a drawer.  (I’ve never done that before!)

Then there’s that middle cabinet section.  These are all just stock cabinets from Home Depot.  The problem is that they are kitchen cabinets…and they LOOK like kitchen cabinets.  Built-in cabinets in a living room generally don’t have a toekicks, and the cabinet is just way too deep.  I do really like the differing heights and depths, but a 24-inch cabinet right there is just too much.

Then there’s the color.  I want these cabinets to be white.  I absolutely love my teal color on my kitchen cabinets, but it’s just too much having that color in here also.  With the teal color overused like this, it becomes not-quite-so-special.

And then there’s the shelves.  I don’t like them anymore.  I want to build some bookcases on either side instead of having open shelving.

So that’s where I’m heading with this makeover.  And of course, there are a thousand other things that need to be done, but if I cover all of them in this post, I’d be here writing all day.  🙂  And obviously, I need to step away from the computer and busy!

And please, if you have any input on the ceiling situation, let me know!!!!



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  1. I don’t think you need to continue the ceiling treatment… I may not be standing right there but I think that transition strip ends it perfectly. It looks great in the kitchen but do you have to have it throughout the whole apartment?? I agree with taking the cabinets out- they are big and bulky. And shoot me but I love that painted floor… but I love anything painted!! 🙂

    1. I agree with Lori, Kristi, that was my first thought when I saw your ceiling shot. Would you consider color on the ceiling? Nothing dramatic, maybe Haint Blue? It would make the transition look even more intentional.

  2. Dont buy the saw yet, just rent one! I’ve heard of people being able to rent workshop space but I’m not sure how you find that. Most home depot stores have a rental section, and you can check out the table saw options. Do you have a friend’s house to do it? It may take a couple of hours to rip down that many 4 inch strips. Or you could try McCoy’s. Their service is so much friendlier, you could call in advance and ask what the cutting charges would be, it may be less than renting a saw for half a day

  3. Kristie first let me say that I love what you do. You just don’t let anything stop you and go for it. I am not brave plus I have a husband who is an artist/woodworker so no way can I just tackle things even though he has not. you know the old story of the cobblers children, well that’s my house, bad walls, cabinets and generally a mess. But that’s another story. For your ceiling. I agree that if you just go in the same direction any flaws will stand out. Is there any possibility of doing it on an angle from the other rooms, or in a box design to the center. Just thoughts as I am sure what ever you do will be beautiful. Keep it up because you inspire those of us who can’t.

  4. I’m wondering if you continue the boards on the ceiling into the living room it will make the space feel to low and closed in. One option would be to refinish in something like orange peel or with what’s compatible with your walls. If there was a way to put a really fun, dressy chandelier in the room, with perhaps some type of decoration around it (I’m thinking those cover that fit snug to the ceiling and can be painted), that would take the focal point to the fixture and away from the entire ceiling? I think the overhead lights accentuate the differences in the ceiling and different lighting would signal that this is a different but compatible space from the kitchen/breakfast area. I wouldn’t do anything that makes your living room ceiling drop or look lower, which the boards could do.

  5. You have some lofty goals, Kristi! But knowing you, you will totally get it done! 🙂 I like the more built in cabinets/shelving idea.

    where do you sit in your living room? wondering if you have a couch or loveseat in between the living room and kitchen?

  6. You actually got someone to do more than point in a general direction at Home Depot?! I don’t know- I’d probably just buy the dang saw and put it in storage when done- since you want to get one anyway. I want power tools too beyond my Dremel! I can’t wait to have a garage! Didn’t Tracy at Beneath My Heart do something with floor planks on the ceiling? Or would that be too different looking or increase the cost?

  7. Hi Kristi- I love, love, love your kitchen and breakfast room! For the living room, I would do something different on the ceiling because the slats just might be too much. You could do some type of picture moulding (like concentric squares leading into the center of the ceiling) and if you did it with flatter type of wood it would tie into the slats. For the cabinets, Ikea has some that are probably 12-14″ deep and they have many colors and many door options (you could do white with the Numerar butcher block top in natural oak) so they look more custom and less kitchen-y. You might think about doing floating type shelves instead of using the larger brackets. You can even add a vertical piece on the ends to make it appear like a bookshelf or hutch when joined with the lower cabinets. I agree with not using the same color as the kitchen and breakfast room cabinets. That would be too much. I think you want the living room to tie in to the other rooms but have its own personality. 🙂

  8. I agree that you should leave the LR ceiling as is; natural breaking point.
    I would build bookshelves floor to ceiling on end wall to add height with molding at top. I would keep it in three segments with drawers on the outside two bookshelves with a wood counter on top to transition to open bookshelves; wood would tie in to rest of condo. Middle segment, I would bump out four or so inches to add some dimension with doors on bottom and tv space on top; maybe a row of basket cubbies on top to tie back to breakfast nook area. White will keep it fresh, details will tie to rest of condo.
    Use the can lights and modify to put spot lighting towards shelves and use a statement light in the middle. All that will totally break up the ceiling area and leave it separate but look intentional.
    Absolutely love your blog and your tutorials!

  9. Hi Kristi, I love hearing about your ideas! I’m in the camp of no ceiling treatment in the living room. As long as the ceiling is painted to match the kitchen so its clean it will be fine. You said you are moving, right? So, I wouldn’t bother. JMO.

  10. Have you ever tried renting tools from Home Depot? We’ve rented all sorts of stuff and I bet you could rent a table saw, that way there is no drama and you still get use of the saw without the commitment to buy and store one right now. Just a thought…

  11. I totally agree with most everyone else who has commented–I wouldn’t plank the l.r. ceiling. I think it would be cute with a big focal-point light fixture and maybe a couple of those recessed-lighting-to-mini pendant kits on the two closest to the cabinets?? Maybe. 😉

    I definitely think creating a bookcase hutch for the sides will make the cabinets feel less “kitcheny” and more “l.r. built-in.” Instead of switching the middle cabinet to one with less depth, would building a faux front flush with the door part (to cover the toekick area) and then putting baseboard on it make it look more built-in? If you built a simple surround for the television area (kinda like a bookcase without shelves) along with the bookcases, I think it would look really great and give some good storage under the television for bulkier things like throws, photo albums, seasonal junk. Just my opinion!

  12. I see a lot of potential! Love the chair rail panelling. I can understand why you want to put planks on the rest of the ceiling for continuity. If you’re going to do that, I’d probably take that strip out and some of the shorter pieces (so you put in longer pieces extending into the living room and it transitions it as if you did it all at the same time, does that make sense?) and run it all the same way so it doesn’t get too busy. It would look nice. But I can also see just leaving the rest of the ceiling plain since you ended the planked ceiling at a good point and it would be fine. I agree with everyone on trying to find a place around you to rent you a table saw rather than trying to get Home Depot to do it or you having to buy one now.
    I like your ideas about building a bookshelf for the sides. Maybe you can figure out how to either cover the toekick or add legs to the center cabinet to make it look less kitchen-like. Or, you can get rid of that center cabinet completely, take the two cabinets from the sides to make a shallower center cabinet and then just build two new side bookshelves from floor to ceiling how you want it. If they’re too shallow, just bump them out a couple inches from the wall and slap on a countertop to cover the gap.
    Can’t wait to see what you do!

  13. I agree with most comments that you should leave the living room ceiling as is. I really like the transition from plank to no plank in the living room! As for the cabinets, for resale value in a small condo you have to go floor to ceiling built ins! People LOVE storage space! I’d just drop the side cabinets you have all the way to the floor then add another shelf above it. As for the middle cabinet, I agree it is too ‘kitchen’ cabinet. I’m not sure what I would do with it… You have a flat screen TV… do you really need such a deep cabinet? In terms of adding space I’d do something skinnier with just 2 cabinet doors at the front.

  14. I definitely would not put planks on the living room ceiling. I like the way you have a definite stopping point now. I would paint the ceiling the same color as the slats.

  15. This is going to be a large project but I have NO doubt that you will have an amazing (sorry to keep using that adjective) room when you are finished. Ceiling: I would either continue the ceiling in the same direction as the kitchen to keep the continuity OR I would scrape off that popcorn ceiling (get a mask) and just put a nice coat of paint on it.
    Flooring: Are you going to complete the tiles or start over? Wasn’t too clear on that. I think it would look nice with the rest of the tiles in place. Built ins: Do you have an IKEA near you? We have the cube shelving along one wall of our living room. It is sturdy, easy to put together and fastens to the wall. The shelving can be used as open or you can get cubes/baskets for out-of-sight storage. They have several configurations, colors and styles so that might be an option.

    Good luck and I’ll be watching your development of this room each day.

  16. Here’s my two cents–its probably only worth that much anyways!
    1-Ceiling: I am not totally sure I followed all of the directions you have going but I like that the ceiling can define your space, so I think you can do something totally different and come out looking like it was intentional. I think going for a color on the ceiling, continuing your crown and then focus on getting a really great chandelier in there would be great.
    2-built-ins: It sounds like you are approaching this with the mentality that you are going to live here forever. Put the legs back on and paint out the flanking cabinets white, paint the shelves white and leave them. Build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the middle with a big enough portion to mount your tv in the center. Paint the back of your bookcase….something :). Then just find some baskets to tuck under both of the side cabinets.
    Just a different idea from fresh eyes–and maybe a little less work and less money than starting over—just get it done to sell! 🙂

  17. Great job on the work you’ve done so far on your condo! So inspiring!
    I look at ceilings as I would a floor. As long as you have a transition strip, and you do, so I think your good to go. I would cover the entire wall, ceiling to floor in cabinets, and have the centre cabinet jut out a bit further than the end units. Drawers under the TV, and doors under the book cases. Build the top and bottom boxes separate, use a nice dark stain on a butcher block top that covers all three units. The tops would be like a hutch almost. Maybe you could do your plank strips on the backs of the units painted white like the cabinets. This would offer continuity between kitchen and living room. Kristi I’m sure whatever you decide on will totally wow us!

    1. Ohh, great ideas here. I’ve found that Lowe’s has the friendliest service where I live. Hardly ever go to Home Depot anymore. Also, I wouldn’t buy a table saw yet unless you already have a storage rental. It wouldn’t be cost effective to buy it now, then have to pay to store it.

  18. I would just leave the ceiling and not bother with slats.Your ceiling looks fine,it has no nasty popcorn to cover up,so I would save my neck and just leave it!Just fix the floor and work on built-ins. Maybe you could get some Ikea bookcases and make them look built-in, like so many people have done.Whatever you do I’m sure it’ll turn out great,just like the rest of your house.

  19. 1) I would not put planks on the ceiling. I would leave it plain and paint it the same color of the planks for continuity.
    2) Sorry, but those cabinets in the LR really don’t work (IMHO). Too big for the space, too kitchen-like. If you really want built-in’s on that wall, then go with wall to all book cases, but nothing too deep or too fancy. Not even sure I would do that. The room is small, so you need to keep it simple. Maybe a book case on each end, but open space in the middle for art, etc. Even better than bookcases would be floating shelves. They take up less visual space.

  20. Hi Kristi, Your blog is fabulous — you’re in my favorites bar now, and I read every day! I recently discovered your blog during your bathroom re-do. I love the creative way you’ve transformed your condo into a beautiful and cozy home. Some paint & crown will make your ceiling look great even without the planks. You know, the first thing I thought about when I saw your current center cabinet in that room is what a fabulous island that would make – – could you use that for an island in the kitchen in your new home? I agree that something shallower – (like bookshelves – you could build these in sections, with the kreg jig – out of 1×12’s, and trim to look like a built-in), combined with your existing shallower cabinets would look great on that wall. Your talent, humor, and real-ness (is that a word?) have got me hooked on reading everyday. Thank you for sharing your journey! I know your living room will be beautiful!

  21. Kristi,
    I know whatever you do it’s going to be fabulous. I agree with Brittany further up, especially about the built ins. Save the money for your new house. I’m so excited to see what you come up with.

  22. I love the strips on the ceiling and if you wanted to continue it, why not build some beems and place evenly from the breakfast room through the living room. They would make anything that was not ‘perfect’ less noticeable. Since you want to have most everything white, you could paint the beems to match the kitchen cabinets. I think a center light in the living room would be a great touch, with small lights shining on the bookcases. As far as the bookcases, I love drawers. I would put a cabinet with drawers on each side, with bookcase set back a few inches on top of the cabinet of drawers. Have the bookcases go to ceiling with pretty mouldings. Maybe even put double doors with inserted glass, on part of the bookshelves. The center, I would have it come out just a few inches past the cabinets with drawers. Have a nice countertop (like the one in your bath, or paint it the color of the beems.)You could put a flatscreen t.v. there. I would put a really pretty shelf (something simular to a mantle) that would connect to the bookshelves and be above the t.v., but down from the ceiling. However you fix it, I know ot will be great. Can’t wait….let us know if you use any of the ideas that everyone has presented to you.

  23. Well, we are probably nuts for making suggestions to Kristi, because she is such an original thinker, I doubt we can come up with anything she hasn’t already thought of or will think of, but here goes: I wonder if the room is too small and the ceiling to low for something like this version of a coffered ceiling (someone mentioned beams, too) like this –

  24. I would not put slats on LR ceiling. There is a nice transition there and I would just go with it. Since you are not planning on staying there, I would go the least expensive, least labor intensive route. Maybe the IKEA bookshelves across the wall with crown moulding all the way across to make them look like built-ins? On another note, doesn’t our Home Depot have a do-it-yourself saw area? I thought I noticed one but maybe it was Lowes. But you could always use this as an excuse to buy your own saw!

  25. I’d get some inexpensive shelving units from Ikea and then trim them out to make them into a unit, joining the pieces together. As far as the toe kick goes, you could build out the front of the cabinet to eliminate it or add short furniture legs (bun feet or turned wood legs) you could paint it all out in white and it would pretty much disappear. If you want to continue the ceiling, fine, but it looks okay to me as is also. You are doing amazing things, keep up the good work:)

  26. The home you have created is beautiful. I love the character and warmth that you have in your kitchen.
    I think the ceiling would look fine if you continue the planking on the otherside of the transition, sort or a natural break, defining the separation of the two rooms.
    I do think maybe two taller bookcases flanking a lower center bookcase may be a solution for the living room.
    Much less work to paint a few strips of 1″ trim and moldings when you are prepping to move and sell and support your husband as he moves forward as well.
    Possibly you could save the cabinets for your new house?
    I find myself “stuck” until I feel confident in a decision.
    Hopefully ideas will come to you and you will find one, or a combination of a few that will help you move towards your vision.
    I even wonder about a very light teal on the ceiling in your living room with white built-ins?
    Can’t wait to see in future posts

  27. I’m in concert with the others: I’m sure it will be fabulous when you’re done!

    Ceiling: I’d forego the planking and either 1) leave as is or 2) add boxed beams painted white. The kitchen ceiling then remains a special feature. Sometimes too much of a good thing just becomes a hot mess of overdone.

    Wall units: Gotta go! Would you consider removing and going for furniture instead?

  28. It looks great and I just LOVE all your ideas you have. As for the ceiling that is puzzling and not sure what I would do. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  29. I would remove the strip and continue the strips in the same direction. I would also go ahead and buy the saw. I would build and base for a toe tick and lower the two end cabinets then use your new saw to build bookshelves on the top of each one. Put crown molding at the top to finish off your build ins.

  30. Wow! You sure have a lot of decisions to make and a lot to think about. Lemme see – as far as the cabinets, yes, they don’t really seem to fit physically or visually in the room and since you are planning on selling, you want to convey as much space as possible, so I’d give them the heave ho! Since the room is small and you never know what kind of furniture people may have, you may want to forget about built-ins or a wall unit completely, or, one that is more narrow (not as deep from front to wall) could be a selling point however I think I would paint it whatever your wall color will be so it becomes a cohesive part of the room and takes up less vertical space. Your kitchen dining area you did is not only outstanding, it makes such great use of the space and is so functional that everybody will love it! It added storage and a great place to dine, which everyone wants. A wall unit in the living room won’t serve the same purpose for as many people. Anyway, ramble ramble, on to the ceiling. That’s a toughie! You’re right – if you continue in the same direction (let’s call it veritically), it will be difficult to keep everything even and any slight differences will be noticeable. In order to mitigate that, leaving the horizontal plank there would help. I had this problem with hardwood flooring where adjoining rooms were done at different times, so they put a threshold plank between the kitchen and dining room which takes away from the fact that the planks are not lined up exactly as the original ones were. I think that going horizontal in the entry and down the hallway and then back to vertical in the living room is an interesting choice, but it may need another plank to keep it looking neat and deliberate. So, you would have the vertical ceiling in the kitchen, horizonal plank, horizontal ceiling in the entry/hallway, horizontal plank, vertical ceiling in the living room – does that make your brain hurt too? LOL! Otherwise, if you just switch directions from one room to the other, people will wonder why. This way, it looks like a design decision. If you leave it plain as is, it may appear unfinished, but since you are selling, do you think it will increase your sales price and you’ll get a return on the project? That’s something we always think about when preparing to sell. Now, I say find a good sale price on the saw you want, use it, store it and you know you will be using it in your home. I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t come up with fabulous ideas to personalize your new place! Good luck – looking forward to seeing what you decide and how it turns out! Hugs, Leena

  31. It looks like you have got a lot of work ahead of you. Good luck! It seems like you have some great ideas and I’m excited to see how well it turns out! How long do you expect the remodeling process to take?

    Twitter: pillow4thoughts

  32. I remember seeing on a DIY blog post awhile ago about an Ikea bookshelf (I forget the name of it) that’s simple unfinished wood with clean lines that people “hack”. They take multiple units, screw them together in different configurations, add trim, baseboard, etc. and paint them. They make awesome built-ins that you’d never know were just cheapy stock bookshelves.

    Perhaps you could combine some stock bookshelves with your cabinets and remove the doors and make something that looks less like kitchen cabinets and more like built-ins?

  33. For what it’s will be moving. Your condo (knowing this is a college area) already looks amazing!! I would not plank the ceiling or build built-ins. I do think the set up you have now looks like a store…maybe add built in type shelves on the existing bases. But the condo it fine in a college area to put on the market. This is money you can use for your house.

  34. I’m just a little voice here but I really like the idea of leaving the perpendicular slat how it is, adding it that way throughout the hall area, and then switching back to how they are in the kitchen and doing it that way into the living room. (Pretty much exactly how you mentioned it.) I think that would break it up a little but since it’s all going to be white I don’t think it’ll look busy at all. And running long ways like you mentioned in the hall might make the hall look longer, therefore bigger. =]

  35. Hi Kristi, I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m a big fan! I, too, am an interior designer and I also struggle with unfinished projects; sometimes I think I have a version of interior design ADD! I’m all over the place! But I’m looking at your space with fresh eyes, so here are my thoughts with the ceiling. Since it is a small space I would run the planks the same direction either keeping the finish trim as a starting point for the LR’s ceiling treatment or remove the trim piece and then remove some of the planks to “dovetail” the new planks in with the existing ones. Hopefully this makes since. This is done with wood flooring all the time.
    Good luck and keep posting!

  36. I may be the only one that disagrees with most of the comments about the ceiling…
    I think that it needs to be planked all the way across , it is basically a large room!
    You already have the same wall treatment on both sides but quite frankly have the planks on one side only looks like the ceiling is unfinished. I would take down the one horizontal strip and continue the lovely planking you started. I am assuming that the Yellow door is your front door so the unfinished look of the ceiling is the first thing one would see when they come in.
    Like some others have mentioned, you could find another retailer that can work with you on the cuts or rent a saw. I wouldn’t let those things stop me nor should you. Just look at all you’ve accomplished so far!!!!
    Sorry to be so bold but I think that the planked ceiling is your WOW factor!

    1. I agree with Grace and the others. Plank the ceiling. Either that or rip it down, but keep it uniform. About the cabinets… What would look good… if you found two matching bookshelves (used).. make doors on the front (or buy them with two doors) and put a console between them. You can attach hutch like shelves or fix the shelves you already have, above the console. Paint the unit a uniform color (white). I made something similar as a wall unit for my daughters room.

      1. Okay..looking over your blog I see that the ceiling is a DIY project… so just continue it and make it uniform.. you did a great job with it..

  37. So, I would just get Home Depot to cut the wood for you. When it comes to cutting wood strips smaller than 12 inches, it really depends on the guy cutting it for you and time of day. Seriously, I’ve had them cut wood for me smaller a LOT (today, for instance). I’ve only had problems a couple of times. I’ve had the best luck in the evenings and I usually have a girlfriend with me. I’m not sure if 2 of us makes it seem more like we couldn’t do it on our own? Anyway, good luck, no matter what you decide.

  38. Pinterest keeps taking me to this link when I want to see your picket fence headboard. Why can’t I find that project on your site???????