before & after: two living room and mantel makeovers

Whole-room makeovers can be so intimidating. I’ve been meaning to tackle my own living room, but I just can’t seem to take the leap and make big changes. As these two living room makeovers show, the first — and probably most important — step is changing the paint. To fix up her living room and mantel, Derona not only lightened the room with new paint, but she also made a lot of great design decisions, like the collection of green bottles and other textural elements. Lovely makeover, Derona! — Kate

Time: 3 months

Cost: £400

Basic Steps: I started with a plan and a 3-D rendering. I wanted to ensure that any furniture I bought would actually fit, as the existing furniture that came with the flat felt far too large for the space. The next hurdle was painting and creating a clean slate in the room. Once I had that neutral base, it was more obvious what could be done.

My strategy was to use different textures and pops of color in a calm setting to create visual interest, hence the faux fur throw and glass bottles. The project then evolved after a trip to Thailand, where I was inspired by gorgeous silks and bold Jim Thompson prints, which I couldn’t resist in the form of the yellow pillow cover. I also loved the beautiful wood carvings and thought it would make a great focal point on the fireplace wall and take advantage of the ceiling height.

My advice is to take inspiration from anywhere. The bottles on the mantel were a EUREKA moment when my boyfriend, a beer enthusiast, was separating the recycling. I loved the shade of green and the way it worked with the plant in the corner. He looked at me like I was crazy when I said I wanted to keep them and asked him to drink more beer, but he was happy to add to the collection over the weeks. — Derona

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.)

CLICK HERE to see Claire’s living room makeover after the jump!

This second living room is another great example of what paint can accomplish. Since Claire is renting, she was limited in what she could do to freshen up her living space. However, the minimal adjustments she did make were enough to modernize and clean up the space beautifully. I especially love the “built-in” look of the shelves, which provide tons of storage and display space to those underutilized walls. Great work, Claire!

Time: 7 days

Cost: $800 (for several rooms)

Basic Steps: We are renting this house, and it was really rough to begin with; all the walls were a dirty yellowed colour. We washed the walls and filled any gaps and painted. We painted over some wood, but not all of it, as we never got the all-clear from our landlord. We made the shelving ourselves by getting a sheet of wood and cutting it to size and adding little ledges on each end. My advice is that paint is amazing — our house was pretty ugly and old fashioned, and all we have really done is paint it, and it has a modern feel now. — Claire

I love the clean lines and brightness that you added to the room. The new paint job is fantastic and really opens up the room! This is a great makeover – very inspirational!


Anybody know who makes the couch/sectional in Claire’s before and after (in the last photo)? I have been searching for something that is modern looking yet has a lot of depth for my tall boyfriend like that!!


I love the re-dos however I really want to know where Claire got her amazing sofa from?

Adrienne Audrey

Wow these look so great. I’m definitely inspired to tackle my craft room this weekend. It’s been a work in progress for almost a year now!

Emily Hughes

Oh my gosh, I love this house, especially the latter room. Cool fireplace, and I’m loving that posed skeleton on the shelf :).


Both look great, but I am always sad when nice wood mantles get painted over.

i love that you made a 3D 1:1 of the room. We did the same thing before buying furniture for our new place and boy did it save time , money , and guess work!


That second room makeover is definitely inspiring, so many of my friends are students and their living rooms look like that 24/7. If only they’d paint the walls, their landlords have no problem with them doing so but they’re too lazy!


This is random…but does anyone have any guesses about the types of beer those bottle came from? I’ve often thought about using beer bottles to decorate but they just end up looking like, well…beer bottles. Those look absolutely fabulous though! Thanks!


@ Summer,

The beer bottles are from the Liefmans Kriek cherry beer. The come wrapped in paper rather than with labels, and theyre shaped more like juice bottles.


I love the green glass bottles in the first makeover. I have a (small) collection of amber colored glass and love how the light reflects through. Gorgeous.


What a beautiful transformation! I love the glass bottles on top of the mantle. So cute.


Oh my. I had to do triple-takes. Those rooms look so incredibly different (and better) in the “afters!”


Amazing transformations! And I’m so inspired. Derona, I love the soft colors and textures in your make-over and I’m oh-so-in-love with that pillow! Well done!


Both of these living room transformations are amazing! The wonders of paint and decluttering never cease to amaze me.


Very nice – huge transformation. Derona I would love to know where you got the console that your TV is sitting on. been in the market for months looking for something similar.

Katherine Ross

Oh my! Both of these B&As left me realizing how badly I want a mantel with shelving on both sides! Lovely work ladies!!


Wow thanks! That console is from Ikea actually! its called PS Cabinet if i remember correctly.


Hi there, we got the couch from a store here in New Zealand but I think all of their products are imported from China. The couch originally had floral cushions but we got them made for us in the same fabric. It’s a great couch and really cheap. It’s huge and does split into two. Here are the details for the shop…


eureka! my fiance loves painted beer bottles and they’re piling up on our wine rack. time to buy some candles for them. thanks!


i think that redo was very much needed! i like it was realistic with all the stuff! people have a lot of stuff…that’s real!


Love, love the carved panels above the fireplace in Derona’s living room. They’re just what I’ve been looking for for my bedroom- I’ve been searching architectural antiques stores but no luck…
Where did you find them?


I have literally been trying to convince my husband to make me shelves like Claires for what seems like years… if you can do it in a rental, I can do it too! Thanks!


Thanks Nancy,

I picked up those panels in Thailand. I looked for a while online, and there were a few companies that specialised in custom made panels, but that was a bit more expensive.


the sectional looks identical to the ikea Kramfors line. they don’t make it anymore unfortunately

Liz B.

amazing. amazing!
the white backdrop makes it look so clean and classic.
thank you for the inspiration!


@Emily Hughes me too!! he is like: -draw me like one of your french girls

Retroverse Vintage

Lovely makeovers! I have a small collection of vintage bottles. Never thought to save some from the recycling bin to add to it. The bottle greens look so great together.

Where’s the skeleton from? Must have it.


The landlord should pay you for this – you added so much value to the house! It’s awesome, it looks marvelous.

patio deck

What a wonderful transformation! That second room makeover is definitely inspiring. The new paint job is fantastic and really opens up the room! This is a great makeover. Thanks for sharing the information.


What transformations! That reclining skeleton on the shelf in the second living room is the best! I kind of want to go hunt one down now.