Welcome back to the second installment of my before and after series about my first apartment as a homeowner, #BKaptstory. You can find the first before and after post about my kitchen transformation here. My living room went through the biggest change during my apartment renovation and is the room that I am most proud of.
This is the story of how I transformed my living room from this...
This is me on my first day has a homeowner in the summer of 2015. After my closing I had to go back to work, but as soon as I could I ran over to my apartment. I had tons of ideas (and was completely overwhelmed). But, as with most things, I shut my eyes and dove in head first.
Calm on the outside
Feeling like this on the inside
The living room was really a blank slate. As with many condos built roughly within the last 20 years in Brooklyn, my apartment was pretty much just a white box. The AC unit was also an eyesore. Given my hectic schedule and the fact that this was my first renovation of any kind, I had been purposefully looking for an apartment that was structurally sound, but in need of cosmetic updates.
INITIAL LIVING ROOM PUNCH LIST
Although I looked for an apartment took about two years, the sale process actually went very quickly. Given that and my fairly tight timeline to move out of my apartment, I had roughly five weeks to complete the renovation and move in. I unfortunately didn't have time for a prolonged design process. So instead, I made all of my design decisions in the span of a few days and here was the plan that I came up with:
1. Sand and refinish the damaged floors
2. New base boards and crown molding
3. Fresh paint (Benjamin Moore, Decorator's White)
4. Sconces over couch
5. Double blinds for the windows
6. Divide the room into a distinct living room and dining room, anchoring the dining table with a pendant
Armed with that plan, it was time to get started.
Day One of the Renovation
My schedule did not permit me to take on this renovation as a DIY project. I hope that one day I have the chance to take on more home projects, but for now, I needed to work with a contractor to get this done quickly.
Something that surprised me was that one of the first decisions that I had to make was about lighting placement. My first thought was HOW DO I DO THIS WITHOUT FURNITURE IN THE ROOM?! This was actually very stressful, but I ended blocking out the couch and dining table size with tape on the floor and making my best guess about placement.
With all of the lighting decisions made, it was time to move on to floor stain. I knew that I wanted the floors to be darker than they were when I bought it, but the question was how dark? And cool or warm tone? These were my options:
This decision as a lot harder for me than I thought. In 2015, I wasn't a major Pinterest user and I also had not started my decision account yet. I designed this apartment without looking at a lot of inspiration photos and was unsure of which color to choose. Ultimately, the dark stain in the middle was too dark and hid the beautiful grain of the wood and the stain on the fair light was too warm since I tend to prefer cooler tones.
STain #1 WON and I settled on this oak color
With the lighting placed, the floors stained, and the new crown moulding and baseboards in place, the room looked like this. Major progress!
The scones ultimately looked great, but the original dining room pendant was hung WAY too low.
Eventually I ran out of time on my old lease and had to move into my new place. Since the major work in the renovation was done, it was completely feasible to move in. Moving is just the worst.
Nothing is perfect
I was actually surprised at how smoothly the renovation went overall. One hiccup that we did have was my pendant being smashed when the electrician came to adjust the height. This unfortunately damaged the floor in addition to the light, so we had to restain this area. Oh well!
Now that I had moved in, I got to work on other design decisions. I may do a longer post on these decisions, but on a high level, I wanted to add storage under my TV, corner shelves, and cover the AC unit. I feel like AC unit deserves its own post because it took a long time to find someone will to take it on. I was told by no less than five people that it was impossible. Eventually, I found and amazing woodworker willing to take on the job.
This person also helped me with my fauxdenza, which are actually IKEA kitchen cabinets. The dresser that is now in the kitchen was originally meant for under the TV, but didn't work out. It then took us time to figure out how long to make the fauxdenza...eventually I just decided to have the cabinets run the entire length of the wall for more storage and cleaner lines. I also had them covered with burnt pine to give the piece a more finished look.
In the end, I was very pleased with the renovation. I knew very little about design when I started this process and am happy with my decisions as a first-time renovator. Dividing the large main room into living and dining areas has worked out very well and there honestly isn't anything I would change about the renovation. The lighting over my table took some time to get right, but I am very happy with the pendant that is there now. Similar to my kitchen, I think this transformation shows the power of largely cosmetic changes like floor stain, lighting, and crown molding.
The only thing that I would do differently next time is to document the renovation process more! I didn't have a blog or design Instagram a the beginning of this process and I would have loved to document this process in a more in depth way. I always tell people now to take a many "before" and "process" photos as you can, because you really only get one shot at that.
Here are recent photos of the finished space:
Thank your for reading and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the renovation in the comments below!