before & after: living room reno + a bright dining room

This living room is a great example of how accessories can transform a space. While this “before” living room was already looking fairly pulled together, the additions by interior designer Kirsten Krason — bold patterned curtains, a high-contrast zigzag rug, the modern gilded mirror and bright colored pillows — are truly amazing. The new look is cheery, fun and full of lovely color and texture. Great job, Kirsten! —Kate

Time: A few months

Basic Steps: We used the existing furniture and mainly just changed up the textiles and wall art. When I came into the room, I instantly recognized the need to make that fireplace the focal point of the room. We did that by adding a high-impact sunburst mirror from Z Gallerie and some fun, colorful curtains. The client made the chevron rug herself! We added stripes over the sofa to fill the visual space. The client is a photographer, so we added a gallery wall behind the sofa to display some of her talent! The prints were all bought on Etsy.

Tip: I would say don’t be afraid of going with a bold and graphic curtain! Make sure you are playing up the eye-catching walls in your room, and stick with one large accent like a mirror instead of too many small elements. — Kirsten

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.)

Photography by Ashleigh Noall

CLICK HERE to see Julie’s bright and dramatic dining room after the jump!

It’s no surprise that gray is such a common color choice for walls; not only does it look good among other neutrals, but it also sets off bright colors beautifully, as in Julie’s modern, dramatic dining room. The mix of metal, wood, solid neon brights and fresh greens feels refreshingly spring-like and cheery, and the slate-hued wall provides a lovely sophisticated touch. Great job, Julie!

Cost: $80

Basic Steps: It’s amazing the difference paint can make. I painted the space a dark gray and hung the Random Light (brought from my previous home). I love the dark gray next to the wood trim. The space needed white contrasts, so I painted my existing espresso chairs and shelves white. The shelf was a $30 thrift-store find (at Ann Arbor’s Treasure Mart), which I painted in a bright citron color.

Tip: Don’t be scared to use a dark color; it’s just paint. — Julie

  1. Beckles says:

    I want those curtains in my life!

  2. Tina says:

    The dining room looks insane! Its amazing what a little paint can do. Such a change from the before.

  3. Ooo, those curtains would be perfect in my dining room. Do you know where the fabric came from?

  4. Tandy says:

    Great transformations, but I wish that mirror above the fireplace was hung just a couple of inches lower. Sorry, one of those things that catches the eye, you know?

    Also, I can’t see the gallery wall mentioned in the text! I’m sure it’s awesome, and I’d love to see that and more of the rest of the room.

  5. Desirae says:

    I third the curtains! Where can we get those??!!!!

  6. Mandy says:

    Your blog is very inspiring!

  7. jenny uk says:

    agree with Tandy and things don’t seem to gel.

  8. The afters look great! I have to agree with the mirror comment… sorry! I do love the fabric choices though. I think the cabinetry in the dining room would look absolutely fabulous with a fresh coat of white paint! :)

  9. B says:

    I love before-and-afters, but I’m confused about the after pic of the dining room. It doesn’t appear to be the same room?

  10. Great transformation,which a curtain and carpet can do to change everything, and the dinning room look awesome!

  11. Belly B says:

    Wow Julie’s dining room looks AMAZING. Such a dramatic change!

  12. Sophie says:

    How did she make that rug?!?
    I’ve been looking at buying the West Elm version, but would love to save the $$ and do it myself!

  13. Julie says:

    You can see more pictures of the dining room here…

  14. Katie says:

    Julie: would you mind sharing some tips to choosing a calming, soft gray paint color? Perhaps colors you looked at during your search? I am in the market for a serene living room, and I think gray would do just the trick!

  15. Josie says:

    I love those pillows too! Where can I buy?

  16. Kate says:

    Hi All,

    The “before” image of the dining room is from a different angle and is zoomed in so you are looking at the dining rooms walls only, but it is the same room. Julie shared more pictures in her comment above, so you see the comparison clearly. Thanks Julie!

  17. Marlene says:

    Love both of them, but specially the wall color (and everything else) on the second one.

  18. lesley says:

    i too want to know the paint color for Julie’s dining room!

  19. Julie says:

    Katie: In the dining room I used Benjamin Moore’s Gunmetal. In my living room I used Benjamin Moore’s Harbor Gray, which is a light gray. I plan to paint my bedroom Galveston Gray, which is a medium gray (yes, I’m obsessed with gray right now).

  20. Seriously, I need to know: where did those living room curtains (or material for them) come from?

  21. Helen says:

    Where did she get that dining room light fixture??

  22. Rachael says:

    I love the light fixture in the dining area!

  23. MEL says:

    Is the pendant lamp in the dining room homemade? I have seen many DIY tutorials for making a string ball pendant like this one, but they all seem so scary! Any tips (Aside from just buying one already made!)??

  24. Shayna says:

    I love the chevron rug! Where’s it from?

  25. nytenglee says:

    I love it. I too wish the mirror was hung a bit lower…also, not a big fan of a rug over a rug. overall it looks great!

  26. kat says:

    would love to know more about the
    1) teal/white curtains
    2) chevron rug
    3) string pendant light


    it looks great!

  27. hena tayeb says:

    The living room looks great. so light and breezy

  28. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of chevron. Love!

  29. Ban Clothing says:

    I totally love both rooms. The curtains are phenomenal! I actually had to scroll back up because I wasn’t sure if the wall colour changed because the curtains added SO MUCH. The dining room is a wonderful modern colour in a traditional space. Love, love love.

  30. eva says:

    Does anyone know a source for those aweome chairs in the living room??

  31. alice says:

    amen!!! i painted some of my walls dark grey and dark olive and i LOVE it.

    it’s a bit terrifying before you do it, but i’m so glad i did!

  32. Vereker says:

    Jule you have done an amazing job with this space! It is truly a reflection of your laid back, whimsical personality, and dedication to design integrity! I love the mix of classic pieces and reinvented finds. You have sparked my interest to see the adjacent sitting room, and I am curious as to why you decided not to have a rug. Was it a design decision or was it influenced by you toddler?

  33. Patricia Prentice says:

    The drapes are very fresh and spring-like, which at this time of year, given where I live, look so inviting. Perhaps if the space above the fireplace was painted white to blend into the fireplace and then the mirror was dropped down somewhat, it would help the scale??? Look forward to your blog each day!

  34. Nancy says:

    The placement of the mirror bothers me, if there were a few “objets” on the mantel I think it would look more balanced.

  35. Maria says:

    In fact, I’d love to know where I can find the dining room chairs! Please!

  36. Kelley says:

    What a GREAT use of the Random light! Seen from three rooms-talk about bang for the buck.

  37. Suzy says:

    It looks to me like you can find the same (or similar) curtain fabric here:

  38. Meggie says:

    Julie, your rooms inspire me! Thanks for the link to all the house photos, I LOVE what you did with your powder room. Is that paint that you followed on a pattern? Awesome job.

  39. Laurie says:

    Wow! I have been hating on the oak trim in my house but seeing the oak trim with the cool gray has given me inspiration. Thanks for the ideas!

  40. Julie says:

    Thanks for all of the nice comments!

    Maria: The dining room chairs are from Hold Everything – they are about 5 years old. I recently painted them white. I

    Meggie: The powder room is painted- I just used tape

    Laurie: I hated my wood trim also. I actually started to paint it white and then when I painted the dining room gray I changed my mind :)

  41. Emily says:

    Loving the living room “after.” I never thought about a gray and a teal but the color combo works great. Agree about the mirror, try it a few inches lower and I bet you’ll love it! And I’m going to “co-sign” on the question: where can we get those curtains?! I think I would have hung them with metal clips though – could be a cool look with the metallic shiny mirror right there, you know? Maybe something like:

  42. How in the world did she make that cute rug? It really brings new energy to the living room.

  43. oakland girl says:

    Lovely B&As. We have that same Ben Moore gunmetal paint in our bathroom, and it’s an amazing, dramatic, dark color. Beautiful with white and silver, and brights really pop against it.

  44. You continue to give me hope for my decorating life. Thank you.


  45. Adrienne says:

    what brand/color did you use for the grey paint? thanks!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.