Before & After: A Bohemian Makeover in Nebraska

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In a charming 1917 Omaha, NE home, interior decorator and blogger Megan Pettipoole helped the Whealy family play up coveted classic details like recessed window nooks, French doors, and original woodwork. Megan wanted to see the personalities of the people who lived there (including mom, dad, and two small boys) reflected in the decor, which it did not accomplish previously. “It just didn’t yet reflect the vibrancy and creativity of its residents,” she notes. She went for a look dubbed “grown-up bohemian — basically a little whimsical, but still luxurious and refined.”

After detailed conversations with her client, Darby, Megan quickly envisioned an ideal design scheme, but sourcing the items was a slower process full of antique shopping for the perfect pieces. Her patience ran out in the endless hunt for a light-wood dining table, and she called off the search, instead deciding to make it herself. “I’m not a carpenter or craftsman by any means,” she says, “Just possibly too naive and single-minded to care.” The living and dining room combo was completed in three months, and incorporates unique vintage finds on top of practical retail purchases. All decisions work toward maximizing the space’s natural light, aided by bright colors and patterned wallpaper. The original furniture layout in the living room was anchored by the fireplace with a sofa just steps from the front door. Reconfiguring this arrangement allows the space to be better-utilized with more breathing room, secures a tighter connection to the window seat, and offers a less obstructive view upon entry. In the dining room frequently used for entertaining, beautiful details were once lost in a drab color palette. “By choosing to paint the walls a darker and richer color,” Megan shares, “I was able to inject a little warmth as well as interest into the space.” She also replaced the impractical sconces that could only be shut off by unscrewing their lightbulbs!

Creative collaboration with homeowners allows Megan to “join a new family, see how they live, and create a space where their passions, goals, and dreams are realized and can flourish.” Satisfying the needs of appreciative clients is always a pleasure for Megan, but to team up with “a fellow lover of color and weird, whimsical objects” made it an absolute blast. —Annie

Photography by Bethany Gilbert

  1. agshare says:

    personally,i like the “before” MUCH better.

  2. Jenny says:

    In my opinion the “before” was alright but a little dull. The “after” is much more better due to the fact that it brings life to this home.

  3. allison says:

    love it! so beautiful, fun and fresh! my only complaint is i want to see the rest of the house!!! :) nice work!

  4. Kirsten says:

    I feel it would be a much fairer comparison if the two sets of photographs were lit and processed the same way. As even an amateur photographer I can tell that they are not. It gives an unfair advantage to the after photos.

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      This isn’t a competition and people’s homes aren’t made for blogs. I know it’s frustrating when before & afters aren’t lit perfectly both ways, but the reality is, that isn’t how people live. They don’t plan to shoot things knowing they’ll go on a blog and be judged by other people. People often grab a quick snap and have only 1-2 shots to go on for makeovers. After 12 years of running these I can confidently say we’re lucky to get even that many “before” shots, and we’re especially lucky if they’re from the same angle. We do the best we can do get similar shots and angles and lighting, but no one is trying to trick anyone and there’s no “advantage” because this isn’t a competition, it’s a story of change in someone’s home, plain and simple.


      1. Juhi says:

        I agree with Kirsten. The high-contrast photos of the afters, with their brightness pulled up so much that the highlights are blown, present an unreal picture of the change.
        For example, the after dining room here with the dark wall colour cannot possibly be brighter than the before that had light wall colour but it appears to be so.
        While the catalogue-style photographs help me see details, I would appreciate one after photograph that has the same lighting as the before.

      2. Kirsten says:

        Grace, I apologize if it sounded a complaint about your blog or the process. I love these types of posts and realize it isn’t a competition but rather a story. The problem is I want to be able to see and compare the differences since it is a before and after. I just couldn’t even discern what was going on in the before shots and know that lightening them up a little in photoshop and some white balance would go a long way toward helping me (and the readers) see the differences.

        1. Shannyn says:

          I so agree, not a complaint, just an observation that the difference in lighting is very striking. The after pics are nice but are also much brighter.

  5. georgia says:

    I like it. Before it was gloomy and now it’s got a happy and fun vibe.

  6. Allison says:

    I love all the layers and colors and textures! It looks so happy:)

  7. Anna says:

    This is a happy home. Very nice. Do you know where the living room rug is from? Thanks.

  8. It’s true, it’s definitely hard to know what photos to take at the beginning because it’s unclear what the room will look like in the end. But, with each project I’m learning a lot including the importance of taking more photos at the front end. Thanks so much for the feedback everybody! It was such a rewarding project and a thrill to have it shared!

  9. I love love love the color in the dining room!

  10. Jess says:

    Love it. Fresh and lovely! It takes a lot of skill to mix all of those patterns and colors so well. Wonderful work, full of soul. Now please come do my house!

  11. Jen says:

    I am in love with the window seat area!

  12. Aidel.K says:

    Impressive! Hauling the metal flowers around in the rental car was worthwhile–it’s stunning on the mantel. Lots of good ideas here.

  13. Sharlene says:

    Beautiful! From gloomy to bright and eclectic! I love it! Nicely done.

  14. Brittany says:

    This is a gorgeous, gorgeous home, and I love the decor choices. I think they compliment the style of the home and add to it in an interesting way. The first image was gasp-worthy to me; I love the rug and wallpaper. The designer and homeowner wanted to add vibrancy and they definitely achieved that; this looks like a happy place to live.

  15. Emily says:

    Wow – what a difference! It’s so bright and vibrant and welcoming compared to the darkness before. What I love even more is that I’ve met the artist that did the silhouette! I live right across the river from Omaha, so it’s fun to see something local on this blog.

  16. Jessica says:

    So pretty. I would never have thought to paint the wainscoting in the dining room a lighter color on the bottom, but it totally works. I love that teal.

  17. Amy G. says:

    I’m painting my dining room this weekend — it was already a lovely turquoise and I was going to go to white, but seeing this dining room inspired me to just go darker teal! Lovely makeover!!

  18. Erin says:

    I love the new living room, and that kitchen color is to die for! The space feels alive and happy….somewhere I’d love to have friends come and hang out. Oh, and that rug is amazing.

    Because there seems to be a before/after photo debate, I just wanted to say that I’ve always been keen on the idea of making the “after” photos really shine; I feel that it shows the true feelings behind the project as a whole. I mean, really- if I had a dull, dingy basement (which I do) and I was taking before photos, I’m not going to wait until the lighting is perfect or spend a ton of time editing the photo for a space that makes me feel down. I’m going to let the photo show the way I really feel about the space, and same for the “after”….once I put the time and energy into making the room beautiful, I want people to know that I’m proud of it! Anyway, just my 2 cents on the before and after photo thoughts.

  19. That jade paint is amazing in that dining room and looks stunning next to the plants and copper. The wallpaper and bright textiles in the living room give it so much character and still looks like it can be lived in effortlessly!

  20. Liberty says:

    Thank you for showcasing homes and designers from across the country. Many sites favor a particular region, but I love how you show a range of possibilities, people, and places. By the way, I also want to thank you for offering so many tools and resources for creatives. I found a fabulous web designer through you: I’m incredibly grateful for your presence on the web!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Thank you so much, Liberty :)


  21. I love the use of color in this home and the accessorizing is so well done. Beautiful makeover! I also appreciate seeing the variety of homes and their locations in these features.

  22. So much to appreciate in this work here. I love the delicacy in all vignettes, they are so carefully done!! All the greenary, rich in patterns, textures and new colours… the rooms remain cozy but got much happier and intriguing to discover. I really love it.

  23. mary says:

    Hi Grace,

    This is a beautiful transformation. Lots of pops of color now and I’m in love with the wallpaper. Can you tell me how to find it?

    Thank you! Mary

  24. Heather says:

    I love the ‘after’. It looks like a place people want to come home to, where they have a bit of fun and talk to each other. The ‘before’ could be the ‘before’ in one of those ads for antidepressants.


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