before & after: lofty living room makeover

I like to consider myself a big-picture thinker, and if I had the chance to makeover a room, I’d like to think I would consider all possibilities and think creatively about the space. But I can honestly say that I usually just assume the ceilings are non-negotiable. Whoops. Projects like this living room redesign by Alison Royer show that you can usually change anything if you just open your mind a bit. I appreciate all the details in this makeover — they do play a huge part in the new look — but it’s amazing how much a fresh coat of paint and those dark wood ceiling beams elevate the entire feel of this room to a new level of elegance. I’ll have to keep this one in mind for the future. Great job, Alison! — 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.)

Images by Ashlee Raubach

Time: 3 months

Basic Steps: The goal of this room was to create an architecturally rich retreat, where traditional and modern elements coexist. We drew inspiration from the interior styling of Axel Vervoordt and designed this room to include a neutral color palette, white walls and natural elements. I incorporated some of their existing pieces, such as the camel-colored hide rug, sofa and weathered wooden pedestal. I also had to keep in mind that this is a family of five with three active boys, so I worked hard at balancing their design style with their lifestyle. :)

My advice is to focus on the bones of a room and how they play into the overall aesthetic. Adding the stained beams and window casings and painting the walls a crisp white really set the tone for the entire space. If you enjoy more of a neutral color palette, I think it is important to layer textures and materials to create interest yet still stay within a restricted color range. — Alison

  1. Katie says:

    This looks amazing! It takes a run-of-the-mill (if already pretty) room and gives it so much character. The woodwork around the windows really makes it warm. I love it!

  2. whislerpotpie says:

    I just wanted the sticks in a vase gone…but I was WOWED. Great work!!!

  3. Rachel Tatem says:

    Love the use of dark wood framing. Great stark contrast!

  4. Kim Klonowski says:

    The chandelier is gorgeous. Can you tell me where its from?

  5. Christine Aldinger says:

    would love to know where the roman shades came from linen mat’l?

  6. Laura says:

    What the WHAT?! How?! It’s amazing!

  7. Sing says:

    So warm and cozy, I love it.

  8. ooo i’ve been thinking about adding beams like that into our kitchen… any info on where or how to get something like that? Are the salvaged or created from new wood? love the chandelier too :)

  9. Lindsey says:

    Reminds me of my Paris apartment but without the HUGE living space, gorgeous centerpiece and multiple comfy couches !

  10. foo says:

    love it. want it.

  11. Kristan says:

    Wow, fantastic! The beams and the casing totally make this. Now I want to add them to my rooms, lol.

  12. Bobbi says:

    It’s so funny to me how fashion goes around, whether it’s in clothes or home decor. I remember the 1970s era home I lived in during the 90s. That living room had dark beams that I just couldn’t wait to paint over, because they were so out of fashion!

  13. Megan says:

    Thank goodness, all I could concentrate on in the before photos were the sad moulding-less windows! Looks so much better after.

  14. Ninie says:

    Wow!! The wooden beams are absolutely gorgeous. What an excellent makeover!

  15. Renee Glazier says:

    What an unexpected transformation! Katie was right, although the room was pretty, it was run of the mill, much like my own. The inspiration and creativity you’ve envoked in all of us “home grown” designers is amazing! Thank you Alison!

  16. Christine says:

    This room looks fantastic!! With the added wood beams and stained window casings it really gave the room character.

  17. hyzen says:

    Um, wow. That’s awesome. They took a soulless modern box and gave it the character of a nicer, older house. Those beams look very similar to the ones in my 100 year old victorian. And now it makes me want to paint that room white to allow the beams to pop more…. hmmm…

  18. Andrea says:

    I just realized that this is exactly what we need to do to our windows! Thanks for the fantastic idea.

  19. Brooke says:

    Hi! Where is that coffee table from?! I’ve been searching and searching for one JUST like that, but have had zero luck! Thank you, your room is absolutely GORGEOUS!

  20. Jeannie says:

    This is beautiful! For the couple of people asking about where to find beams, this company makes faux beams so it’s cheaper than buying real wood: http://contoursconnection.com/timbers_gallery.html

  21. Kate says:

    Thank you! Finally a room re-do that chooses dark wood trim rather than painting it! It is a huge struggle for me not to paint our dark trim but this reminds me that it can be beautiful and rich when done right!

  22. Meg says:

    WOW. This is absolutely incredible! One of my favorite DS makeovers to date. In design school, my professors would always tell us NOT to forget about the ceiling because it is truly half of a well designed space…. This completely proves that notion. Great job!

  23. courtney says:

    I love the patterned throw pillows in the ‘after’ photo. Can anyone tell me where to find them?

  24. margaret says:

    the pillows look like little eared creatures all lined up on the sofa!

  25. Megan says:

    I don’t suppose they could say where is that lamp from? I’ve been looking for the perfect one like that.

  26. Sam says:

    Beautiful room. I’d give the pillow-chopping a rest, though. It’s pretty dated.

  27. Sincere says:

    I absolutely love the earth tones and this space welcomes the light…it’s simply lovely

  28. Shana says:

    Oh, no, no, no, Jeannie! No “faux” beams. Noooo!

  29. Mary says:

    how high are the ceilings in this room?

  30. Nicole says:

    where is the rug from?

  31. Jodi says:

    This is incredible! I love the dimension the beams give to the room.

  32. Tania says:

    It’s another one of those D*S days where I feel compelled to comment on almost every post. I love how this makeover demonstrates how a few but significant changes but keeping some existing pieces can make such an impact. Love how the dark beams contrast against the white.

    I had to think twice what “pillow chopping” meant Sam but now I get it :-)

  33. JenG says:

    I think the lamp might be pottery barn. Just a guess though.

  34. Erica says:

    AH-MAZING!! Where are the pillows from?

  35. Alison says:

    Thanks for all the kind comments. The lighting is from circa lighting. The ceilings are 9′. The pillows are custom as well as the coffee table (it is always difficult to find over sized simple coffee tables) and roman shades. I am not sure where the rug is from. Email me for more details. info@belmontdesigngroup.com Thank You!

  36. Susan says:

    I have a floor lamp like that and it did come from pottery barn but they’ve replaced it with something that looks more like a surveyors scope (?). We got the old one half price because it was being discontinued and was a floor model. :-)

    What a punch of character they gave this room! Very warm and inviting.

  37. Courtney says:

    Oooh beams… nice!

  38. al says:

    congratulations! you now live in a restoration hardware showroom!

    naw, it’s definitely a vast improvement, but the styling sets my teeth on edge–pillow creatures, antlers, that uptight floral arrangement, curly willow?
    frikkin curly willow, for all love?

    love the new shades, the floor mat and the coffee table, and the whole setup looks very inviting; just get some kids in there to muss it up a bit.
    and go to the woods for some branches if you like branches.

    everyone’s a critic, right? ;)

  39. John says:

    The rug is from Aero Studios (Thomas O’Brien’s shop in New York). The wave pattern pillow is from Kelly Wearstler. The two dark brown woven leather pillows (and the resin antler) are from Restoration Hardware. Nothing else from the photos above is from Restoration Hardware (not that there’s anything wrong with RH). The other pillows are custom.

  40. The dark trim work and faux beams really works to make the room feel more spacious. Fab!! Not either a fan of the sticks in a vase , especially with that lamp, that corner has to much over-scaled weight that feels unbalanced.

  41. Tiffany Rooprai says:

    Where is the coffee table from?

  42. AP says:

    This room is amazing! Great job and great transformation! I LOVE it!!!!

  43. Juliette says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE The beams and the couches look so inviting. Any idea where the whole set comes from. The simple details of just the patterned pillows and branches makes me happy!!Simply sophisticated!

  44. Evita says:

    Bravo, well done. Thanks for the wonderful inspiration!

  45. How amazing, you have definitely inspired me, I was thinking how the ‘Before’ was quite nice, but the after shows what a difference can be made and you have given the room the soul it lacked before! Love it!!

  46. Mary says:

    Very beautiful improvement! I love all that you did! And as for the earlier comment from someone telling you to give the chop a rest, I LOVE it still and I do it to give the beautiful silhouette along the back of a sofa or chair. Keep doing what you’re doing, as you are very talented!

  47. Sarah says:

    I just love the warm neutral palette with the dark beams! The space is infinitely more appealing with the new design. I also love that filament chandelier, it would look great in a dining room as well. Excellent job!

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