Skip to content
home | decorate | The Moody Living Room Makeover Reveal

The Moody Living Room Makeover Reveal

    As you enter our house from the front door, to the left sits a formal living room with fireplace and three big windows.

    We’ve never had a formal living room before – never wanted one, actually – until this house. Now that the kids are older, I very much like the idea of having a quiet room separate from the casual family room for reading or sitting by the fire. We imagine this room will be where we visit with adults or host bible study or just come to get a little alone time.

    Funny fact: our 9 year old calls this “the lonely room” and the name has stuck.

    Over the past several months, we’ve done a few small updates that make a huge difference and I can’t wait to show you how the moody living room is coming along.

    I was chatting with my friends Emily + Myquillyn earlier this week about how updating this house has been a baby-step process. I get antsy to make all the changes, but it is actually quite nice (and perhaps a bit more real-life) to just make little improvements as we can and let the rooms come together over time.

    This is absolutely the case with the living room. We’ll call this the Phase One living room makeover.

    Let’s go back and I’ll remind you of what it looked like when we moved in:

    The shell of the room was great; it was just the finishes that felt dated. Our longterm plans include replacing the carpet with wood floors, removing the half-moon window and pushing the windows up, adding wide baseboards, putting in vintage french doors from the entry into the living room and walling off the passthrough to the dining room. Whew.

    Since I’m all about making small changes today that make the space feel more like us, I have been doing projects here and there to transform the dated living room into a moody space that we actually want to hang out in.

    This room doesn’t get a lot of natural light and while the temptation would be to go light, we decided to embrace the cozy feel and make it even moodier with a deep gray/green/blue on the walls. The trim and fireplace mantle got a coat of the same charcoal color we used in the kitchen and entry, and the ceiling was freshened up with white. Just switching out the paint made a BIG difference in the feel of the room.

    Let’s talk about the biggest change in the room, shall we?

    I am so crazy excited about the fireplace.

    We love having a wood-burning fireplace in here, but the original finishes were not right for our style (scroll up to refresh your memory).

    My long-term vision is to pull off the over-scaled mantle, remove the granite tiles and run a flat concrete facade all the way to the ceiling (something sort of like this) for a more minimal and modern look.

    In the meantime, I figured there was no harm in trying out something totally different with the fireplace and gave it a complete makeover with paint, a ruler and a steady hand.

    Yep, I painted over the granite tiles. And I’m so smitten with it.

    I have lots of pictures of the process so I’ll post a full tutorial with details. But for now, let’s just say faux cement tiles in a graphic pattern is such a crazy stretch for my style and yet every time I walk by the room, I smile.

    The windows have been bare since we moved in and I considered letting the walls and trim be the feature, but I’m such a curtain girl that I had to add some in here. As hard as I try to go more masculine with this house, I still love adding in some softer, feminine details. Simple white curtains on brass rings help to add balance and pull the room together.

    And of course a room wouldn’t be complete without fresh flowers and greenery.

    I put this arrangement together using clippings from our yard and gorgeous spring peonies. My mother-in-law makes the prettiest garden arrangements and this was my attempt to follow her lead.

    I also clipped a few branches from outside and let them do their organic, perfectly charming thing up on the mantle.

    This spot is so hard to get a good picture of because the lighting is super dark, but take my word for it that the bright leaves and branches look so great against the dark walls. I’m thankful that we’re surrounded by trees so I can clip, clip, clip to my heart’s delight.

    Well, my friends, Phase One of our moody living room makeover is complete! More changes will come, but for now, it is such a cozy, inviting space and a big improvement from where we started.

    Once again, here’s the before and after – because nothing is better than a great before and after!


    Rug | Sofa | Coffee Table (similar) | Round Tray | Gold Vase | Floor Lamps (similar) | Stripe Blanket | Fur Pillow | Leather Pillow | Linen Pillow | Ikat Pillow | Curtains | Curtain Rods | Curtain RingsTable Lamp | Terracotta Pot | Green Moss Candle

    Wall Color: Ancestral by Behr
    Trim Color: Iron Ore by Sherwin Williams
    Ceiling Color: Shoji White by Sherwin Williams

    46 thoughts on “The Moody Living Room Makeover Reveal”

    1. I love this fireplace! Have you ever painted on texture? I have a floor to ceiling brick fireplace that has been painted white then textured! And on top of that it has a rounded opening and cement mantel shelf about 1 foot off the floor. I can’t stand it and am looking for ways to update it from 1978. Ideas??

    2. Hi from across the pond! I have a very similar outlook on decorating as you, with lots of neutrals and a touch of greenery in each room – and I LOVE to add texture and pattern in as well for interest – so I’m LOVING the fireplace! it really makes it pop – great idea x

    3. Dying for the painted fireplace tutorial. Can’t wait to see how you did it and I’m totally going to copy you!! Thanks for sharing! Looking forward to a tutorial!

    4. Lovely colour choices for walls & mantle. And, I must say, that tile surround is quite stunning and though I understand it’s not how you usually “roll” I suggest you live with it awhile before doing anything else with it. Because of your own comment “every time I walk by the room, I smile.” IMO it has a combined aura of old world with a very modern graphic geometric vibe. Kudos to you as well for the skill, steady hand, patience and fortitude in its execution! Well done! :)

    5. Your living room updates look great! Can’t wait to see how you painted the tile, such a fun idea! We have a formal living in our current house and I love chatting with friends and family without the drone of the TV or just tucking in to read a book there.

    6. Do you really like those IKEA Ritva curtains? We had them in the office. They are hard and rigid almost like cardboard. :( In the rest of the house we used linen – light, airy, draping really nice.

      1. I do like them … they don’t feel super stiff, but it has been at least two years since I’ve purchased new ones so perhaps they have changed the fabric?

      1. It is not photo worthy! The dining room is currently our landing zone for all the extra furniture/storage junk. So while you see a pretty picture of one half of the room, it is not the full picture of our house :)

    7. I really like the way the half moon windows look with the new color scheme and those curtains framing them. I think the curved line thrown in the mix is nice.

    8. I LOVE the fireplace! I totally thought you had used cement tiles! (And was hoping you would show a tutorial for that 😉) Now I am anxious to see your painting tutorial! What kind of paint did you use? We have a gas insert and I worry that the heat wouldn’t do good things to paint. My fireplace is in desperate need of a transformation (there is a big hole above the fireplace for a tube TV, just an indication as to how much help it needs).

    9. I can’t wait to see the tutorial for the painted tile! I’m hoping to do something similar to my outdated kitchen backsplash

    10. Hello Emily
      Tastes and colors are not discussed! Said in France! But if I can afford your living room is great fun! I do not have a fireplace or rather we had to take the one we had in the house. Because she was not in the right room! But if you put concrete like in the picture, I do not think it would work … the rounded windows agree to the rounded sofa and frankly everything goes great together! Concrete in my sense would be modern but can be a little too much and the coat of this fireplace is classic but just what it takes! Bravo for this decoration express and modern and bravo for having painted the granite!

    11. Did you remove the can lighting that was above the fireplace? I don’t see it in your after photo. We have those exact ones in our living room and hate them. I’d love more information if you removed them!

    12. I can’t get over how FRESH that room looks from the dated decor of the before photo! The fireplace’s graphic makeover is so playful and sophisticated – I love it! :)

    13. I love the fireplace, I can’t believe it is paint. In fact when I read that it was paint I may have said “Whoa, that’s paint?” out loud. So impressive!

    14. Gina@ginadiamondsflowerco

      Your room looks very nice. I love that you take on these projects like the mantel surround. Was it time consuming or did it go faster than you thought? Inspiring!

    15. It looks great! I love seeing small manageable changes…it’s just as inspiring and fun to see as a full scale makeover is. I ordered the Grove products yesterday and goofed somehow but their customer service is so helpful they took care of it for me! Can’t wait to try them so thanks for sharing,

    16. I love this room. Thanks for sharing it. I purchased three of your brass flower vases – like the one on the table in these photos – and love them but wondered what you use for the inside? I don’t want to put water in them directly and wondered what you used as a liner? Thanks

    17. Love the wall color, especially the way it picks up the reflection of the leaves. I’ve been afraid of warm grays because there was too much of a yellow or brown tone for my taste.

      Actually, I think the mantel is perfect to really set the tone for a “semi-formal” living room, especially the way you highlighted it with the pattern.

    18. Love the fireplace face-lift! What kind of pint did you use? We are trying to decide if we will paint ours or tile over the existing… decisions, decisions! Or maybe you’d like to come paint it for us with your skills?! (Just over in Port Orchard!) ;)

    19. I love what you’ve done with this room. I really like the dark grey that you are using throughout the house on trim, doors, staircase and wood fireplace surround.
      I am impressed that you painted your fireplace – what a great idea! Very inspiring!
      I can’t wait to see the tutorial of the process. With the primers available today you can pretty much paint over anything.
      But…when I look at your pics all I see is the geometric print on the fireplace. I’m not a designer but for me it’s a bit overwhelming and takes away from the rest of the room.
      If that was your intent then you have succeeded. It does look like those handmade tiles I see everywhere these days.
      If not, then the good news is that it is just paint (not tile) and you can change it at anytime when the creative mood strikes.

      1. It is for sure a statement! I don’t know that I will want to live with the tiles like that forever – but it was a very fun project and simple way to makeover a dated fireplace.

        1. I think without the pattern it would have had no humor. The room would have been so serious I would expect to see a brooding old man in a leather chair by the fire. Lol. I LOVE the tile and the pattern you chose. It draws you into the room, but allows you to start looking everywhere else too. No mantle makes me sad, but if you like modern — go for it, girl!

    20. That fireplace😍 I have ben planning on painting my fireplace tiles as well so please please please share a full tutorial!!!
      It all looks fantastic!

    21. Great job Emily! Are you planning on sharing a fireplace tutorial? I’d love the specific details to try it myself!

    22. Bravo to Phase I! Love it, love it, love it! It have the perfect balance of cozy – lonely – inviting visiting room. Totally amazed at what just a simple paint job can do for a room. Keep up the real life project phases. I, too, want to do the WHOLE thing at once….but figured out that was not very practical for every day living.

    23. I can’t wait to see the fireplace tutorial! We have a similar fireplace situation with green marble and I have been thinking about painting it with black chalkboard paint until we can do a bigger fix. Your fireplace is so inspiring!

    24. Wow! I’m so impressed that you painted those tiles! They are fantastic! I love your style and have been following for years. Thanks for the endless inspiration 😁

    25. it’s amazing what paint can do. everything looks great, especially the fireplace! the moody grey looks so good with the brass. where can i find curtain rods/rings like you have?

      i love seeing your updates. we have a colonial also, and your “before” photo could seriously be my master bedroom. it had the SAME wall color/accent combo.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *