Living and Dining Room Makeover



A lot of you have been begging for new makeovers, understandably. Makeovers are the most fun to do, shoot, and blog about. But, I put a break on the quick ones while I was on maternity leave, and most of our large design projects are mid-project – and we are getting a lot of “stop dragging out the project posts” comments. We have some posts coming up, and I’m scrambling to pull together a few, but meanwhile I realized that I never blogged about the Lake House project. We started the project 4 years ago and finished it about a year later, so it’s kinda old (and the client has since sold the house), but there is some good information in here so lets get into it.


It was a massive renovation with a not-so-massive budget. It was meant to feel like a really casual, fun, easy weekend home, for a pretty adorable family. The client and I were very much aligned in styles and she was just as happy with thrift store finds (like that wicker elephant) as she was splurging on a sofa. There were some challenges, of course, but generally it was a lovely project with a super happy ending.


Here is where we started (Note – these are the real estate photos):




Those photos make it look REALLY GOOD compared to how it actually looked. But it had potential, certainly with those huge windows and open layout. The floor was really bad laminate, the kitchen was bad granite, and dated cheap maple (see the makeover of that here), and the beams were painted brown. Plus, there were dated heaters everywhere, and that brick wasn’t the good kind of brick. ALSO, WHY THE GREEK PILLAR????


These photos are more accurate




We started by ripping out that flooring because it was cheap and ugly, but also because we wanted to put radiant heating underneath it (which is basically a grid of coils that heats your floor equally so you don’t have to have those baseboard heaters). As you can assume, this isn’t my area of expertise, so I had to do some research and heavily rely on our contractor to execute. There were problems. Keep Reading.


We painted out the brick and the brown/black beams, which made it instantly feel fresher.






Here she is – clean and white before we installed the furniture and accessories.




We used bamboo flooring because a.) it’s really affordable, b.) the space had a slight Japanese vibe, and c.) it was meant to not expand or contract with the weather, which was rather extreme in upstate New York, and really moist since it was on a lake. While the look of it was ok, and it looked pretty in the space, I wouldn’t do it again. There are too many other good options out there and we ran into a super fun disaster, which was unpredictable: The radiant heating bubbled up the glue that was in the flooring every time you turned the heat on (at least for the first few months). It was a wonderful phone call to get, and I felt so stupid and terrible. The contractor had never seen this happen before, and we were all befuddled. I think that we ended up getting it professionally cleaned a few times after the heat was on and then it eventually stopped bubbling. I’m going to write a whole article soon about who pays for these kinda of mistakes because I find it so interesting (and controversial, and you KNOW how I love to blog about anything that can create a friendly comment war these days).


We installed the furniture, which was a mix of vintage/thrift and some more serious pieces (the dining table and sofa). But the renovation had cost so much more than predicted (per usual), so we cut back the furniture and accessory budget by A LOT. Luckily these people weren’t fancy people, and didn’t want expensive things since they had 2 twin, 3 year old boys, which we referred to as “drunk raccoons,” because of their ability to get into, and destroy any space in a matter of seconds. This house had to be “drunk-raccoon” friendly.




This post is a combo of makeover and also “analyzing my past work” because, since this was 4 years ago, there are already some things that I would change. DON’T WORRY, the client has since sold the house and moved to LA, and is a friend who understands trends, and is also now an interior designer. If I were to do it again I would remove those green pads from the seats and get rid of the hot pink – it is just too glaring and FUNKY. I’m still into hot pink, but less as a one-hit accent color. I think it needed to be more integrated in the color palette.


But I still love this super casual and easy living room. The kids LOVED that swing. The picture below is before we got the coffee tables (from Serena and Lily – and I REALLY wished they still sold them).




Here is how the living room was shot for Country Living a couple years ago. They didn’t change too much, styling-wise, EXCEPT for the black chair. That chair was in another room, and instead was a large upholstered linen chair from Dwell that I loved. They felt that it looked too heavy and while I disagreed, it’s their magazine so they won 🙂 I felt (and still feel) that the two wicker chairs and the coffee tables were a bit busy and felt unbalanced.




That rug was actually in the master bedroom, although I like it here, too. The original one was a simple cream rug from West Elm (which was probably not as “drunk-racoon” proof as it should have been anyway).




Let’s check out the dining room. I don’t think that I have a before photo, but this was taken after we demo’d, started painting, and installed the mirror.




Just a simple, lightweight mirror that only required completely reinforcing the wall and 19 men to hang. She looks good, though.






After we decorated, I took a few photos (literally like 18 months before the magazine shot it). Check me out in the reflection . . .




I kinda wish we had splurged more on chairs – those are like $50 from overstock and they are simple and classic, but they were uncomfortable, which is why we added the pads, but I think they brought the space down a bit. The table from Crate and Barrel is super lovely, and they still sell it. I liked it when I took off the brass deer thing, and when you can’t see the hot pink. Again, there is something about it in this setting that felt too jarring. I think that had there not been bright green and bright blue, then the bright pink would be fine, but all three were just a bit much.








When Country Living shot it they got rid of the seat pads, which I think looked better.


So there you have it. The Lake house from 4 years ago. Most of it I absolutely love, still. Just the hot pink and bright green I’d probably edit back a bit, and throw in more blues, replace the chairs with something more stylish, and add a bit more texture and softness.


What do you all think? Four years later (maybe even 5!) are you into it?






1. Sofa | 2. Coffee Table | 3. Hanging Chair | 4. Wave Throw Pillow | 5. Striped Rug | 6. Bamboo Side Table | 7. Circle Print Throw Pillow | 8. Pendant Light | 9. Wicker Elephant Table | 10. Magic Stones Print by Amy Lighthall | 11. Black Rattan Chair | 12. Heart Print | 13. Mirror | 14. Tripod Floor Lamp | 15. White Tabouret Chair | 16. Dining Table | 17. Rattan Chair


*Photos by Björn Wallander for Country Living.


To see the Lake House project from the beginning take a look here: Lake House Post #1 | Lake House Post #2 | Lake House Post #3 | Lake House Post #4 | Lake House Post #5 | Lake House Post #6 | Lake House Feature in Country Living | The Lake House Makeover – Kitchen Edition


The post Living and Dining Room Makeover appeared first on Emily Henderson.


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