before & after: belén’s rug + jen’s fireplace

as someone who frequently enjoys browsing through the offerings of home decor and design retailers, i am happy to report that the rug market has never looked better. ten years ago i wanted an attractive and inexpensive rug for my college room, but there were none to be had.  “contemporary” rug selections fell under two themes: bad miró rip-off or art deco nightmare. while those rug options still exist, it’s great to see modern rug designs out there that actually feel modern; what’s even better is that you can find modern rugs cheap enough to customize in any way you see fit. belén’s plain white rug is a perfect example; her patience and steady hand provided amazing results. the bold graphic numbers are perfect for a fun and playful room, and she achieved them for almost no cost! you can see more about the rug and her other fixer-upper projects on her site, la factoría plástica. great work, belén! –kate

home renovations are amazing to me; i just can’t get over what people can accomplish for themselves when they’re determined to make a space their own. i’m not totally inexperienced: i’ve tackled some large paint jobs, rewired a few lamps, and re-caulked a tub. i don’t feel worthy of congratulations for such small tasks, however, when i read about great feats like this fireplace transformation from jen and her husband. working together, they framed and built out the wall, installed a massive solid fir “floating” mantel with special welded mounts, created their own wainscoting effect with plywood and moulding from a hardware store, and invisibly wired the television and speaker system. phew! i love the dramatic results; the salvaged wood mantel seems totally worth the effort and the white fireplace provides a much improved contrast to the chic grey wall color. apparently they’ve doubled the amount of time they spend in the space, which is the true test of a great room renovation. you can read more about how they found materials and tackled the installation on her site. amazing job, jen!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

  1. Breanne says:

    AWESOME rug!!! looks great. Also LOVING the mantle! I love how it’s off-set!

  2. kathy says:

    Such a cute idea for a rug! This would work perfect in our playroom.

  3. Laurie Jones says:

    A steady hand is right! I’m constantly amazed at the talent and patience of people!! I’m a sucker for a before and after, love the rug and the fireplace is awesome! Keep em coming!

  4. Sadie says:

    LOVE the reno on the fireplace! Amazing combination with the natural floating wood shelf and the modern fireplace and paint color :)

  5. dana says:

    fireplace is awesome!! Like the rug too of course :)

  6. Taylor says:

    wow! that fireplace looks SOO much better all decked out- especially with the mantle!! I also LOVE the rug!! I had an OK-looking one in my room in college, but the typographic one would have been SO much more desirable! Will have to keep the DIY in mind for my future studio/craft room :)

  7. Sally says:

    Oh, wow!! I LOVE the fireplace redo… ours is similar and I’ve been trying how to rescue it from it’s generic townhome styling – feeling very inspired now!

  8. Rhea says:

    maybe i’m missing something, but wouldn’t the rug be crunchy where it got painted? is there some sort of magic product that wouldn’t get hard and matted? if so, i’m doing this today.

  9. Lillian says:

    I. LOVE. THAT. RUG!!!!!!!

  10. Great color choice, the fireplace pops off the wall! The vertical emphasis on the fireplace also draws your eyes up and makes the room look taller. Wood mantle successfully balances out the elevation.

  11. Mary says:

    Hmmm. This is the second D*S post in a row today that showed up with no pictures in my reader. What gives?

    1. grace says:


      they’re showing up fine in my feedblitz email and the google reader. could your computer have a firewall up or a new setting? we haven’t changed anything on our end in about 5 months.


  12. Danielle says:

    i love how everytime i’m in the middle of a home project, d*s posts something that solves a problem. husband and i bought a 50 inch tv last night and have been fighting over how to get it mounted over the fireplace. love this!

    1. grace says:

      that’s awesome, danielle! hope this idea works for you :)


  13. Love a fireplace makeover: the wood shelf matel makes it!

    Check out our fireplace/builtin makeover at

  14. Mariela says:

    Wow! great rug. Awesome transformation.

  15. Emily says:

    I love the rug! Where can you find a fabric rug like that…I know I could search one out…but does anyone know right off?

  16. Essie says:

    That fireplace looks wonderful with the new mantle! Probably would have extended it all of the way across the wall but that’s just because I like even things and am crazy.

  17. Becca says:

    I love that mantle! I personally like that it doesn’t go the length of the room–keeps it interesting!

  18. Love the rug! I’ll be sending you a very fun before & after in the next few days :)

    1. grace says:

      can’t wait to see, mackenzie!

      g :)

  19. Mary says:

    This is gorgeous! Absolutely love the solid fir mantel against the white wainscoting, and the smaller mosaic tiles around the fireplace are a huge improvement as well.

  20. diana says:

    great make-over! The only thing I never get is why TVs are placed above the open fire place. Show off your entire fire place mantle and its proportions!

  21. Penny says:

    The fireplace is awesome! I love the off-center mantel and that beautiful piece of wood. Also love the molding on the top. It takes it from the cookie cutter home to high style design.

  22. Bravo por Belén!! Me alegra verte en Design*Sponge, admiro tanto la calidad de tus trabajos y tu creatividad, que mereces estar aquí y que te conozca mucha gente.

    Bravo for Belén!! I’m glad to see you on Design*Sponge, I admire so much the quality of your works and your creativity that you deserve to be here, so a lot of people can know you ;o)

  23. amy says:

    the wood beam as mantel is stunning, i love the colors, the tile and the way it is offset. my few pet peeves are the out of scale tv stacked above the fireplace; the white switch plates; and the little odd speakers randomly floating on the wall….otherwise it’s very cool.

  24. Nicole* says:

    that mantel is incredible! and the rug is impressive too. very cool

  25. Kate says:

    Wow, what a amazing transformation on the fireplace wall. Very creative. This really defines the space in an eye-catching way and is distinctively different from what is often seen. Love it!

  26. Oof. Makes me so sad to see a lovely room, including a beautiful fireplace setting, usurped by the fat-a** TV screen.

  27. becca roy says:

    WHERE CAN I FIND A PLAIN RUG LIKE THAT? what material is it? This is just what I’ve been looking for in my front living room.

  28. mantel says:

    Love a fireplace makeover, thats an amazing update, the way like a color transform the space. it’s nice

  29. Shannon says:

    This is the rug:
    (The Erslev from Ikea) The instructions are on her website (albeit in spanish)

  30. Eva says:

    great rug!
    I agree on the ‘TV above the fireplace’-comment, it just doesn’t fit there. Two dark squares is just one too much in my opinion.


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