before and after

Before & After: Living Room Transformation

by Kate Pruitt

Growing up in New Hampshire, I experienced the joy of curling up by the fire at an early age, and it’s stuck with me to this day. With its amazing houndstooth-painted walls, this living room makeover from Leslie Hickey would be wonderful even without the fireplace, but the strong lines of the stove add a wonderful touch of drama and warmth to the space. And now that I’ve seen how cozy this little corner is, I don’t think I could imagine the space without it. Nicely done, Leslie! — Kate

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See the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 6 days spread out over six months

Cost: $3550

Basic Steps: Our house was built in 1915 and is uninsulated, but as the electrical and plumbing still need updating, we decided a wood stove would add needed warmth to our home and cut down on our gas bill. There are some pretty kitschy bases for wood stoves out there, and I wanted a simple base that could hide a lot of sins. I happened upon a local company, Fuez, that makes recycled glass/cement countertops and convinced them to sell us a remnant. Stenciling took me a few hours a day, stretched out over a week, to do all of the houndstooth behind the wood stove. The stenciling came out of a desire to lighten things up in the whole area, without going with all white, and it is just the kind of repetitive, precise and monotonous activity that jives with my personality (my day job is letterpress/silkscreen work and photography).

Many of the items in the room are homeowner built, sewn or made, including bookshelves, the coffee table, reupholstery on the blue chair, pillows, porcelain eggs and much of the art. The couch is only the second piece of furniture we’ve ever purchased (after our bed)! The room is still a work in progress; eventually we’ll take out the exposed lath and plaster mantel room projection (it hides a chimney that exhausts the furnace) and take out the old popcorn ceiling as well as reupholster the yellow and blue chairs, but all in due time.

My advice: If you do buy a wood stove, make sure your installers have good references! Here in Portland, Oregon, there aren’t many to choose from, and unfortunately, we got the contractor that the store works with. Needless to say, they were not the best installers (they did come out relatively quickly when the roof started leaking into my bedroom during the first hard rain after the installation!). We lived in our house for a year before deciding on the stove and where to put it — we swapped the dining and living rooms (I took the photos from the dining room), so the dining area is no longer just off the kitchen, but, I hope, we’ve added to the quirkiness of our old house in a positive way. — Leslie

Paint: Metropaints (recycled paint made in Portland, Oregon) in “Mountain Snow” and “Seashell” (for houndstooth) and Sherwin Williams “Sahara”
Counter remnant/stove base: FuezGlass
Lamp near stove: CB2
Blue chair: college, now the cat’s favorite
Blanket on couch: Pendleton, “Spirit of the Peoples”
Cow rug: eBay
Picture frames: Ikea and Lomography (small black frame)
Wall clock: Goodwill

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  • Beautiful stencil job, you are a very patient person, I cannot imagine doing all that by hand! We have a wood stove too, I love the warm cozy feeling it gives a room. Winter can’t come soon enough! Well done!

  • Wow, we can I move in!!. Stunning, the stenciling is such a brilliant idea. Great job!

  • Would be nice to see an overall photo like the before to get a better idea of the transformed space. It currently looks like a corner makeover. Pretty though

  • Gorgeous! We’ve thought about doing the same thing with our 1910 craftsman home… we have 2 chimneys that are pre-existing so a wood burning stove would be so fun. Where did you find your stove?

  • Such a beutiful change. Love it. Thank you for the inspiration. Soon available with before and after at my blog as well :) Just hope to be there soon, the kitchen. But worth waiting for. The happines when you have done something is amazing

  • I think we’re missing a photo because I don’t see a couch or a yellow chair.

  • It went from a sterile looking living room to a very warm, cozy place. The stencil work is awesome. I did a partial wall in my daughter’s room (while I was 7 mos pregnant with second child) and it’s lots of work, but definitely pays off at the end.

  • Really really pretty! I agree that it’s hard to imagine that space without the stove. What a great addition to the room aside from how cozy it must make it on cold winter days and nights. I can’t believe the houndstooth is paint and that you stenciled it. I love it.

  • Where did the stencil come from!? Looks amazing, great inspiration. Thank you for sharing.

  • This has to be my favorite before and after so far! The fireplace is such a nice touch and adds warmth in such a subtle way. The low bookcase + table lamp are simple and inviting. Great job!

  • I think there’s a picture of the other end of the room missing. This side is lovely it would be great to see the rest. The stenciling is perfect–so soothing and calm, high end but low cost. I’m impressed with the amount of work, but it came out beautifully.

    Please publish the rest

  • @Aleta: The stove is a Lopi Republic 1250 with cast black legs. It’s a little on the small side, but still heats up the space quite well. It was purchased here, http://www.lisacsfireplaces.com/. @Ingrid: The top shelf is an old drawer from The Rebuilding Center here in Portland. The bottom shelf was made with wood from Lowe’s including 1x12s, 2x2s and 1x4s in pine. @Jen: Stencil is from Ed Roth’s “Stencil 101 Decor”. @Megan: Purchased the kettle at a rad thrift shop. On the bottom is written: Studio Nova, Homestead Kettle, 542 Kettle – 2 qt., UN428 Hi-Fi, Ejiri – Japan. Thanks for all the kind words, everybody!

  • What a great transformation. Kudos to you. I’m also redecorating my living room right now. I like how you utilized the space under the stairs. I’m using Simply Decorate to help me coordinate all the details. Even though I work for them, I can honestly say their room decorating page is amazing.

  • Beautiful..a lot of the times people don’t see the real potential in a room. You’ve done such a great job of bringing out the best in that room. Would love for you to have a look at our stuff whenever you get the chance.