before & after: living room makeover


This is a simple renovation, but even simple renovations can achieve great results. Judith and her family moved into an 800 sq. ft. apartment in Berlin that had layers upon layers of wallpaper and paint on the walls. Judith decided to strip the rooms down to their essentials and start fresh, with lots of beautiful bright white and a curated collection of rustic furniture pieces, art and greenery. The resulting space is airy and peaceful, with a healthy dose of homey charm. Nice work, Judith! — Kate

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Read the full post after the jump . . .


Time: 3 months (for the whole apartment)

Cost: $2500

Basic Steps: We had to take off almost five layers of different wallpaper in all the rooms, sand and then paint all the floors, and take off half of the wall in the kitchen to free the brickstone. In the hallway and the kitchen, we had to tear down a low ceiling as well. We used white for the walls and light grey for the floor. We used paint colors that were sold by our local DIY store; for the floor we used shiny paint and mixed the grey ourselves. Most of the furniture is from thrift stores or is old family stuff. Some things are from Ikea, as well.

For anyone thinking about renovating themselves: It’s the perfect way to create the place of your dreams. In Germany, we had four months free of lease to renovate this apartment, so basically, all the rent we saved we put into this place. — Judith

  1. Wow! You guys did an amazing job. I bet your landlord loves you!

  2. Emily says:

    It is pretty amazing that a room as dark as this one started out to be could be so light and airy in the end. I love that they kept the hardwood floors and just painted over. Bonus: A ladder as decor always makes me smile.
    Great room!

  3. WOW! I have moved into a new flat, and I am definitely going to use this as inspiration, I just love all the white. And the floorboard, just everything really.

    Amazing! :)

  4. shalini says:

    Stunning transformation. Love how airy and bright is has become.

  5. Christina says:

    As soon as I saw the first pic I thought, this is Berlin. :) 10 years ago I had a similar deal with my landlord when I moved into a flat with floorboards that were painted blue and yellow… so I klnow: sanding is hard work! You did an amazing job.

  6. Lela says:

    Lovely, really lovely livingroom! So light and easy…

  7. Kelly says:

    This looks classy and elegant. I love everything about it!!

  8. Courtney says:

    A true breath of fresh air! Love the architectural details you had to work with. You’ve really turned it into a peaceful space.

  9. - sigh- Am I the only one who loved the blue of before? You did make it airy, true, but it lost a lot of character along the way. As the one commenter stated, “I bet your landlord loves you”, because now they don’t have to whitewash the walls after you move out.

  10. Mariela says:

    Wow! is like fresh air, look really great, love the dinning table.

  11. @It Can’t All Be Dior – I wondered the same. While the transformation has a lovely Anthropologie-esque aesthetic, there was something quite magical about that blue….

  12. Andrea says:

    This looks amazing! I have actually exactly the same kind of floors and want to paint them white/light grey too :) Yours looks really nice. Can you let me know what kind of paint you used?

  13. Clare says:

    I’m with It Cant All Be Dior. I MUCH preferred the blue. Now we have yet another generic designer-esque white space. What a surprise … not.

  14. MegB says:

    Love it! So much lighter. Does anyone know the brand of that co-sleeper? It’s one of the nicer ones that I have seen.

  15. Jeannine Welfelt says:

    FYI the SIDS foundation recommends against those cribs, it is considered co-sleeping and is one of the leading causes of SIDS

  16. A says:

    Am I the only one who is wonder why there is a bed in their living room?

  17. Amber says:

    Very nice work. I am also very interested in the co-sleeper… they did say all of the furniture was from family/friends, but if there is a source on the co-sleeper, I would love to know it!

  18. Claire says:

    OH, so lovely. That window makes the room. Love the modern style wood shelves too!

  19. leslie says:

    I REALLY love that shelf. Where did you get it? While I can see both sides of the fence, I think the space looks lovely. I am sure it’s quite cozy.

  20. barb says:

    So smart and chic. You’re genious.

  21. Ana says:

    This is a really beautiful makeover! But I do have a question: about the lamps on the side of the bed. I had this same idea a while ago with very similar lamps. so just one bulb hanging there. But what puts me down is: if you are reading, is the light comfortable and won’t it feel to strong for the eyes?
    I really appreciate some advice from real experience since I am trying to convince my boyfriend with this! :)

  22. carolina says:

    I would also love to know where they got the co-sleeper/crib. I love the room!

  23. Huong Nguyen says:

    I do love the blue before. I have even an idea for painting one of the walls in my apartment following Joan Miro’s Blue.

  24. Kay says:

    I love the final result – the white adds a sort of easy elegance while making the space seem larger and fresh! While I liked the original of blue, the space in its original form felt suffocating. IMHO not every project has to reinvent the wheel.

  25. Eleanor says:

    To me, white is classic rather than generic, so I love the clean calmness of the space. There are some lovely furnishings in the room, but those pictureless frames …

    That trend started out as a way to display old, ornate frames to highlight their beauty in & of themselves. Now it seems that any frame will do, stuck up randomly.

  26. mrsben says:

    Beautiful, beautiful transformation! I am sure even the Landlord was pleased.

    Reflecting back to my son’s first apartment we ran our upgrade ideas past the Landlord and made an agreement the spaces would return to their natural state if so desired when he moved out. ie: We painted an accent wall (in the Livingroom) a very deep dusty plum that co-ordinated with a pattern Roman Shade I made as a window covering plus made a cushion for a built-in bench seat, added more shelving to the kitchen cupboards, a hanging pot rack etc. etc. As it turned out, when he did move the new tenants requested the place to be left as is. My son was re-imbursed two months rent and didn’t have to repaint, the Landlord saved $ on advertising and it made for a happy new Tenant. It was a three-win situation. :)

  27. Kristen says:

    Very interested in where the wall shelf was acquired.

    Really a lovely space, well done.

  28. Divan Beds says:

    It is such a beautiful transformation! From a dark, somewhat dull room to a very vibrant and lively one. Great job!

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