before and after

Before & After: Living Room Transformation

by Amy Azzarito

I have strong opinions on the subject of fabrics for pets – particularly cats. After having a linen sofa shredded by my two cats, I made the transition to a velvet sofa. Because velvet is a cut pile, there aren’t tempting fabric loops for kitty claws to hang onto (Disclaimer: If you have a very determined cat, it will shred anything, but velvet doesn’t seem to be as satisfying for them).  Even if you don’t have pets, velvet cleans up well and just looks better with wear. So I was delighted to see this living room transformation by designer Jennifer Wagner Schmidt that centers around a velvet sofa. Jennifer took one of those ubiquitous red and green plaid sofas from the 1970s and updated it by reupholstering the sofa in a stain resistant gray velvet. She freshened up the rest of the room by removing the old wallpaper and painting the entire brick fireplace wall white. It makes such a huge difference. –Amy

See more of Jennifer’s transformation after the jump!

Suggested For You


  • Excellent. Light and airy. I recently opted to paint my fireplace “stone” all white instead of the cabin-y speckled grey from times gone by. It makes the room modern, fresh and ready to accept colors and textures that wouldn’t have worked before. My husband fought the idea until I’d finished the paint job. Now he’s constantly exclaiming “I love it!” What more could a girl ask for?

  • what a beautiful transformation, love the white brick! On a side note, that couch is from the 1970’s?! We were even more behind the times in Kansas then I thought! I totally would’ve placed in in the 1990’s! Wasn’t “hunter green” a big thing then?? LOL

  • If anyone’s interested in that side table it’s definitely from Ballard. They call it a garden something.

  • I also like how she lightened up the space by painting the brick white and the pillows as well. What a transformation – that before was soooo dated!

  • My mother bought a couch in that hunter green and maroon plaid in 1992! I even wondered if it was hers in the original pic haha. So I’m with the 90’s crowd on the ugly couch! Lovely transformation though.

  • An elegant transformation. And Amy,you are right on about the velvet.My daughters 2 cats literally shredded her couch so when she replaced it she was very concerned about the new one.We were trying to come up with some clever ways to protect it but guess what? They won’t go near it and now we know why!

  • Girls, I’ve lived through the ’70’s and that sofa is definitely ’90’s! Obviously extremely sturdy.

  • Love this transformation! I want to know where the mirror came from– I’ve been looking for one like it for a couple of months now!

  • Love this! It’s so nice to see a space look light and airy without having white walls. White is nice but I feel like I’m seeing it everywhere lately!

  • i love this transformation + the reupholstery on that sofa. the grouping of b+w photographs on the wall is great too. it tells a lot about a person + a wonderful added touch in any room. our designer at red has done this several times in clients homes. wonderful before + after!

  • WOW…sophisticated and comfortable. You want to just curl up with a good book and a glass of wine. Nice pops of color with the pillows. Well done.

  • Love this post and completely agree on all points as we’ve done the exact same treatments for our sofa and fireplace. Velvet is THE fabric for cats! Our sofa is a MGBW that is slip covered and while we have other covers we go back to the grey velvet all the time and I don’t know the last time we attempted to try and change it, it is THE color and texture. Seasonal changes in throw pillows will always be dramatic but it always looks sharply sophisticated on its own too.

    Painting the brick out gives much greater nuances showcasing the natural texture, plus doesn’t weigh down the room to one side either and again, a perfect backdrop for any season.

    Are the area rugs just bound carpet? If so, do you know what type of material or weave? Since you mentioned pile, fwiw, sisal and cats are a no-go.

  • What’s up with that crazy little window?! Is it actually fake? The before shot actually makes me a little uncomfortable – something about the combination of the plaid, that window, the brick, the wallpaper… It is a little creepy, somehow.

    The after, however, is lovely. The pallette is soothing and I adore the flowers on the garden stool – beautiful touch. I could read in that armchair for hours! :)

  • Oh the dreaded hunter green – burgundy – plaid combo. This is a great After. I have the white painted brick in my place too and I love it.

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.