Before and after – clever use of colour has transformed this living room

A chilly, bland-looking living room is now relaxed and welcoming, thanks to a splash of dark blue

living room makeover before and after
(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

The living room was the first space this busy couple tackled, after taking on the renovation of a one-bedroom flat in North London. 'We chose it because we both have demanding jobs and needed a place to unwind at the end of the day,' says the owner. 'And we were excited at the chance to showcase the furniture and things we’d collected over the years!'

See all of our living room ideas

The worst part was the floor, which had been stained a dark orangey brown and had thick, shiny varnish. Stripping the boards and waxing them in a light grey instantly made the room look bigger. Building shelving also maximised the space, and created storage. 'We opted for bespoke shutters for privacy without blocking out light,' he adds.

living room with blue wall book shelf on wall white window and sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

Simple shutters
 are great solution for unusual shapes, such as these arched windows, especially because they don't cover or detract 
from them.

‘The walls were sky blue and muddy magnolia before, which made the room look lifeless,’ says the owner. ‘I wanted to create some energy and impact, so opted for two walls in dark blue and two in soft grey for contrast.’

Get the look
Buy now: Walls painted in Farrow & Ball Stiffkey Blue Estate emulsion, £45 for 2.5L, B&Q
Enquire online: Shutters, £1,200, Hillarys

living room with blue wall book shelf and grey sofa with cushion

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

A mid-century-style sofa has clean lines that don’t over-complicate the scheme, for a smart, simple look. ‘We think it’s best not to be afraid to go for a modern vibe in a period property,’ says the owner.

Get the look
Buy now: Brunel sofa, £999, Heal's
Buy now:
Similar Gleam coffee table, £223,

mirror on blue wall and plant plunger books on shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

Painting the fire surround in the same colour as the chimney breast wall gives the Victorian fireplace a more contemporary feel and simplifies the scheme for a clean, unfussy finish.

Get the look
Buy now: Stockholm mirror, £60, Ikea
Buy now: Similar Axis pendant lamp, £313, Super Studio

living room with white wall frames on wall brown sofa chair guitar and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

‘This corner was the perfect place for a leather chair we’d bought years ago,’ says the owner. ‘It’s next to the window and is a bright spot for coffee and the papers in the morning.’

A case stack is flexible as storage and 
side tables.

Get the look
Buy now: Marlon armchair, from £1,290, The Conran Shop

living room with blue wall grey sofa with cushions and book shelf on blue wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

The owners thought the dark blue walls would contrast well with bright accessories. ‘We also have a large collection of books and a dark backdrop makes the sleeves stand out.’

Get the look
Buy now: Similar Crewel Ombre Sunset cushion cover, £29, West Elm

living room with blue wall grey sofa with cushion blue book shelf on wall

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook)

Another fab transformation. Before and after: Take a look around this bright and airy living room 

The project took about a month and was a labour of love as the couple did it themselves. 'I’ve been studying interior design and have set up Andrew Jonathan Design, and this was my first chance to put my ideas into action,' says the owner.

'I'm really proud. I love the flow of the room now and how it all works together. It feels like such a calm, tranquil space.'

Heather Young

Heather Young has been Ideal Home’s Editor since late 2020, and Editor-In-Chief since 2023. She is an interiors journalist and editor who’s been working for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines for over 20 years, both in-house and as a freelancer.