Friday, May 29, 2015

Living Room Makeover

It's flashback Friday here at Leaving the Ivory Tower. Today, we're traveling back in time to when we bought our first house. This tiny 900 square foot beach bungalow was the cheapest home in town, and it showed!
The home had been a rental for college students, and had seen her fair share of parties. But, we saw that she had "good bones" and great potential.
It took a little (well, no... actually a lot) of TLC, but eventually she shined and was event featured on national TV!

beach bungalow

Today we're stepping into the living room for a details about the changes we made there. Join me for a "budget friendly" living room remodel!


Sadly neglected, this foreclosure had seen better days. Carpets were stained, windows were broken, and there was even a crack-pipe laying in the (weed covered) yard.
But, we saw that despite the neglect, she still possessed many of her subtle charms.  An archway lead to the dinning room, and thick trim lined the windows.

The carpet was covered with burn marks, beer stains and who knows what else!

Can you tell where their couch was?!

We suspected there might be good things hidden underneath the gross flooring. So, one of the first things we did was pull up a corner of the carpet (it was actually only a few years old!).
Much to our delight we discovered the original heart Douglass Fir floors hidden underneath! This is often the case in older homes (this one was built in 1928).
So if the carpet is in poor condition, like this was, see if you can sneak a peak underneath. It's easy to (inconspicuously) pull up a corner to look.

We knew the wood floors would need refinishing, so I quickly started painting the walls. When "flipping" a room, it's best to work from "top to bottom" (starting with the ceiling). This way I didn't have to worry about dripping paint on the floor, because I knew it would just get sanded off!
Because I like bold color, and because the style of the home lent itself fun choices, I went for a bright cheerful green for the walls. I don't remember the name of the color, but it was essentially the color of wasabi!

Wasabi Green!


Then I painted the 4th wall (the one with an open arch leading to other rooms) white. Because I wanted a crisp clean look, I just used the standard out-of-the-can "ultra pure bright white".

Next, it was time to refinish the floors. This was one of the things we splurged on. We brought in a professional. You can rent a sander and do this job yourself. But for novice DIYer's (like us) I wouldn't recommend it!

They sanded through old floor, old finish and replaced a few rotten boards. Even though they draped the house in plastic is still made a HUGE mess. There was a fine layer of sawdust everywhere!

Wet finish on floors

Also, note that the finish they put on the floors has a very strong chemical smell that lingered for a couple of days. We were living there, and I was pregnant, so it was not pleasant. If you can, stay away during this time!



To hide some of the flaws that remained, and because I like to look, I chose the darkest stain available. Then it came time to add furnishings and decor...


Because the room was so small, we opted for a red love seat (purchased from a local furniture store) in place of a full sized sofa. Red and green are complementary colors, so this worked well with the vibrant walls. Also, smaller scale apartment sofas, are perfect for small spaces.


We hid our TV inside of an armoire, and used a storage trunk as a coffee table. In a small house it's important to add storage wherever you can!
Simple sheer white curtains, a dark brown club chair, my own painting and a DIY suitcase table finished off the look.

I spray painted an ornate hand-me-down mirror red, and we added some sturdy wood shelves from Ikea.

We played around with how the furniture was arranged, and switched around accents. It was fun to be able to make these small changes.
Overall we were so happy with the change! Instead of having a a living room that was dreary and depressing, this little house suddenly had one that was bright and cheerful!



When we were selling this house we had a neat surprise. The day after we accepted an offer, this house was featured on the Today Show! We still don't know how they found us. But is was pretty cool be be selected and featured on a national TV show, even if it was a day too late to help us with the sale!

Here is the link to watch the Today Show Segment. Unfortunately there is a short ad. To see our house you can fast forward to 1min 13 sec.

It was pretty funny to hear Al Roker commenting on my "strong art" (a painting I made in college), and to hear the comments about how there should have been "chunky red cookie jars" in the kitchen... which there were 3 of them, just off camera!

For more about this house, and our complete bungalow remodel, please stay tuned for future posts. 
Also, to see more drastic changes we made here, please these posts:

Retro Kitchen Re-do

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up to these fun parties:


  1. This is wonderful!!! I am a red and green person, so I think you did an awesome job with your d├ęcor!
    Be blessed,

  2. What a beautiful transformation!!! :) Thanks so much for sharing with Friday Favorites, we love having you join us!

  3. This looks fantastic! You are really amazing!! Your post has been pinned,tweeted and shared on Facebook! Your post will be featured this week on the Friday Favorites Link Party at Come by and see your feature and share another of your favorite posts! The party goes live Thursday at 7PM. I hope to see your there...Hugs - Christine at Must Love Home

  4. What a transformation! I love your painting of Cyd Charisse from Singin' in the Rain.

  5. Carpets can be tough to maintain. Though it serves as a stylish decoration at home, and it helps in keeping the house warm during the cold days, it's painful to look at when it's stained. Good thing you thought of switching to wooden floors. It looks good too, but keeping it clean and presentable is easier. The whole makeover looks great, by the way. Thanks for sharing, Hayley! :)

    Nathan Riley @ Steemer Atlanta

  6. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post.


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