before & after: calli’s dresser + amy’s living room

You may remember how impressed I was with Calli’s ability to paint the gorgeously precise design on this dresser makeover about a month ago. Well, she’s done it again — this Navajo art-inspired dresser is an equally cool display of how a simple (ha!) painted design can completely transform the look and feel of a humdrum piece. Read more about both dressers and Calli’s other creations here. Amazing work, Calli! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

I don’t know if I’m alone here, but I get the urge to repaint every room in my house at least twice a year. I just can’t get over how transformative a new wall color can be. Case in point: this gorgeous living room makeover from Amy!

This room’s success doesn’t hinge on paint alone, though. Amy also decided to swap out the non-functioning fireplace for a bio-fuel burner insert from Ecosmart and add modern floating shelves to house her massive book collection. The books look fantastic against that bold ocean blue, and the giant floor cushions are pretty cool, too. I’m tempted to drive to SF, grab a book and make myself at home. But I suppose I’ll just admire it from afar. Great job, Amy!

  1. Sarah says:

    I have a very similar living room and would love to put up open shelving like this! Would it be possible to know where the shelves came from??????
    Are they Ikea or custom????
    I would greatly appreciate info!!!!!

  2. rachael says:

    That dresser is very inspiring, I have also been experimenting with paint and stains. Thanks for sharing!

  3. KeLLy Ann says:

    Holy Moly, Batman…both of those are quite inspiring!

  4. Katie says:

    Oh, but look at the amazing green-ness of that fireplace! If they had kept it and done everything else exactly the same, it would have picked up the other awesome grass green in the painting above. le sigh!

  5. Thorndale says:

    I cannot believe they trashed that beautiful antique fireplace. I know that everyone has their own tastes, yada, yada. But I feel like if your tastes are that modern, buy a modern home and save the great vintage stuff for people who won’t rip it out but will love and care for it.

  6. Kristen says:

    I’ve been thinking about an Ecosmart fireplace for a while and would love to hear any details about it. How did you get the nice slate-gray fireplace surround? Have you been happy with the fireplace? Easy to use? Give off much warmth? Thanks for any info!

  7. js says:

    Living room question: are those cabinets under the shelves?

  8. Amy says:

    To answer Sarah’s question, the shelves were custom. We designed them and had Dennis of Madera Construction create them.

    Good luck with your project!

  9. Amy says:

    Kristen – We love the Ecosmart fireplace. The only downside is having to pick up a case of fuel every six months or so. But it does a great job of heating up the room because there’s no chimney. (It burns so clean you don’t need one.) And that was a big selling point for us because there was no existing chimney. The former “fireplace” was just an insert for a tiny electric heater.

    The gray surround took a lot of research but we talked with Dietmar at Green Home Design here in SF and he figured out Eco Stucco would get us the look we were after.

    If you do get an Ecosmart, don’t be alarmed if it gives off a funny odor the first couple times you use it. That goes away.

    JS – Yes, there are cabinets under the shelves. The cabinet directly under the TV holds the DVD player, cable box, etc… and has hinges that allow it to open almost 180 degrees. So it doesn’t look odd to have it open while we watch TV.

  10. Sarah says:

    I have to admit that though I think the original green fireplace was AMAZING I definitely vote modern and functioning over vintage non-functioning. I love vintage, but I love a fire in a fireplace even more!

  11. Jen says:

    The dresser is gorgeous, and LOVE the new fireplace, surround, and walls!

  12. Pretty Nerdy says:

    That checkered soft blue and green rug is beautiful! Can you share the source?

  13. Tara says:

    I read out the first paragraph of this piece to my husband to show him that my urge to constantly redecorate is not mine alone! I love this blog. I am amongst my people :)

  14. Ana says:

    I have to say I like the dresser before and seeing how nice the wood cleaned up in the after I think it would’ve been better unpainted.

  15. Sweet T says:

    I have to admit, I was also sad to see the original gorgeous green fireplace go too, but otherwise, it looks great! Loved the dresser too – the stain on that thing looks very smooth & well done!

  16. Amy says:

    PN – The rug is from FLOR. The Modern Mix line in green. It’s nice and soft.

    Sarah – Totally agree with you. We too liked the original mantel, but since it was made to hold a heater it was too shallow to hold any type of fire, so we opted to make it functional. Now a once chilly room is nice and cozy. :)

  17. Circa1972 says:

    Amy, are those Flor tiles? Would you be able to share which style & colour combo you used? I’ve recently ordered samples and am in love with your arrangement & selection. That room is delicious and I love how you’ve painted to really make your enviable cove moulding POP!

  18. Ness says:

    I nearly shed a tear after seeing the dresser’s beautiful wood restoration covered with paint! I have to give compliments to her painting skills, I just LOVE that dresser au naturel.

  19. kellie says:

    the room =’s AMAZING! Makes me want to cuddle on the pillows with a good book!

  20. Sms says:

    The dresser is truly hideous

  21. Jesse says:

    WOW! I love that dresser so much!! THe living room is beautiful as well. Great job!

  22. I cringe at the ruining of that lovely dresser!

    I don’t understand why one would want to paint navaho on a Danish Modern piece.

    It just needed a little love in the form of oil :(

  23. Circa1972 says:

    Thanks for responding on the Flor tiles. We must have been submitting points at the same time!

  24. am I the only one who is totally confused by the weird shiny floor pillows? is that…permanent? or are you waiting for your furniture to be delivered?

  25. lisen says:

    I can see Calli is really good at colour, and the dressers she’s painted are very inspirational. But both dressers have been in such good “before”condition, to me it’s still a shame painting them. I understand though, that if you want some of the wood showing, you can’t use something that’s too wrecked…

  26. Julie says:

    Oh, I love the redesign and pattern on the dresser, simple and not over the top, it really gives it that bit of extra…

  27. Adam1 says:

    Both the dresser and fireplace were quite nice before shots. My heart filled with dread when I saw both images with the word “before” on them. Sometimes I think people do things to beautiful items just for the sake of doing “something,” whether or not it’s in the spirit of the piece. That original fireplace was simply gorgeous. What a shame ;(

    1. amya says:


      i understand not loving the “after” versions of things, but i can guarantee the projects we feature are from people who are excited about making a change- they’re not just doing it for the sake of doing something. we try to pick projects that people are proud of and enthusiastic about.


  28. anna says:

    i love all your before and after series, but am i the only one that picks up on the fact, that many times, the before images are taken in a different house than the after images??!! they show similar spaces, but they are not always the same ‘before’ space… why are you pretending that it is the same? it still works for me as an inspiration though!

    1. grace says:


      im not sure what you’re talking about in terms of other posts, but often times people shoot “before” images wherever they can when they first buy a piece. then when it’s fixed up they style it in it’s new setting. it’s not an attempt to dupe anyone or “pretend” it’s a different space. the word “before” refers to the object in question, not the entire spaced pictured before- unless it’s a room makeover. in this case, the living room is indeed the same before space.


  29. joyce says:

    there is an old saying about gilding the lily, would love to know if anyone thinks the dresser is trying too hard?

  30. Carolina says:

    I like the old fireplace, but I also think that updating it so that it actually functions is more prudent. Probably what is throwing many people off is that the slate grey looks cold and when we think fireplace-most folks think warmer colors. I probably would have chosen a rust, rust orange, green-but the grey is nice too. For some reason-I have an itch to paint everything orange lately. Must be the lack of red/orange foliage in CO.

  31. Kat says:

    Amy–love the floor pillows and FLOR rug! Congrats on the remodel–I’m going to look into the Ecosmart for a fireplace remodel…
    Question: Where did you get the beautiful floor pillows?



  32. crissy says:

    Ok – I do love love love those green tiles in the ‘before’ fireplace. That said, I still love the shelves & cabinets in the ‘after’ shot. Those bare walls were screaming for some storage!

  33. Kate says:

    I’m weeping over the lost beautiful green fireplace.

  34. carolina says:


    im totally with you! the dresser is MUCH better sans Navajo theme.

    It looks nicer as the danish modern original. I’m so sad to see it painted :(

  35. Eric says:

    Hi Amy. I love the floating shelves. And the new fireplace is beautiful. But I was sad to see that you couldn’t find a way for the older mantle and those beautiful green tiles to work in that room. Hopefully you were able to save them for yourself or someone else. Anyway nice work.

  36. Mr. Modtomic says:

    Eh, the bold bright colors do no service to the dresser. Perhaps some subtle black Art Deco (the Navajo scheme kinda looks Art Deco…if you squint REAL hard!) “pin striping” would have looked OK, but did it really NEED anything? Oh well, it’s not mine and I don’t have to live with it.

    I’m with the “neahs” on Amy’s Room remake. Some things are just too beautiful and should be preserved even if it isn’t pragmatic to do so. Removing that original fireplace should have been a crime against preservation…or whatever. I do like the rug, built ins, art and shelving!

    How about a nice compromise? See how I might have done it below (copy and paste it to your address bar).

  37. ughsome says:

    oh no.. the fireplace looked absolutely what a fireplace should look like!! wish the green surround had been kept and the colour scheme worked around that..

  38. ughsome says:

    Mr. Modtomic- that’s the business!!

  39. Patricia says:

    When is something “too much”. The chest was beautifully refinished. I feel that it didn’t need the additional trim work.

    The fireplace and room were remarkable in their “before” state. I would have liked to seen something more complimentary to the architecture.


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