Before and After: A Rustic Chic Living Room Transformation

Liz and Mike purchased their fixer upper and started their remodel with the living room. It’s a transformation that seems relatable, yet luxurious, and perfect for the midwest location in the rustic chic theme.

If you lived through the 90s, you’ll remember these home trends: miles of carpeting, earth tone wall colors, faux finishes (often sponge-painted), and golden oak wood trim throughout.

If you’re scanning listings of houses for sale today, you’ll come across many that are stuck in that time warp and not many that have a rustic chic living room. Liz and Mike Marcus of Minnesota saw the potential in one of those 90s houses and set about updating it for their bustling family of five.

Creating a rustic chic living room

Aside from parenting, Liz also runs a business LASH by Liz, an Eyelash Extensions Company. As a busy working parent, she was enjoyed house shopping and seeing the potential in spaces where she could imagine her family. When she and her husband Mike were searching for a house, they had the same questions many people consider when making the move: Do we buy something new? Do we look for a place to remodel? Do we build? 

When they toured the house with a realtor, it checked their boxes for layout preferences and space needs. A bonus was that it was a lake view property; which, for this active family, made the location ideal. Not only was the house on a desirable lot, but the bones were good and Liz’s creative eye could see the potential to turn it into something special. They purchased the fixer upper.

Once the house was theirs, Liz and Mike started their remodel with the living room. It’s a transformation that seems relatable, yet luxurious, and perfect for the midwest location in the rustic chic theme.

“I immediately fell in love with this house. The work to restore it was daunting, but it was very easy to see its potential.”

Liz Marcus

The living room remodel

The living room is located off the main entrance and natural light fills the grand space. Liz and Mike planned to make it their family room. It was an easy decision for them to select this as their first project knowing the family would use it daily.

A before photo of the living room. No furniture, but lots of blue carpet.
Before: Potential with foundational elements including lots of space and high ceilings.
An after photo of the living room. Leather furniture, new chandelier and fresh paint.
After: Natural light fills the rustic chic living room.

The room is flooded with sunlight in the mornings, so it’s the perfect spot to curl up with a cup of coffee before the day begins.”

Liz Marcus

The 90s beige carpeting was the first to go. They chose hardwood following because of both its beauty and durability. Next on the list were the windows and the crown molding, which Liz and Mike had professionally painted and then DIYed on the floor trim details.

Liz managed the remodel project, including researching and purchasing furniture and decor online at Joss & Main, Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn, and Target. The couple worked with independent contractors for painting and flooring.

“I wanted to ensure high quality, high function, aesthetically pleasing design, and good value.”

Liz Marcus

Fireplace focus

With the flooring and windows updated, the fireplace was the next project to tackle. The room’s soaring ceiling helped the fireplace become the focal point of the space. There were a few options that Liz and Mike sifted through before landing on the design that would fit the room best, considering the room’s large scale and visual impact they wanted the fireplace to make.

The fireplace detail mimics the wall detail going up a nearby staircase. The subdued color palette enhanced the room’s elegant simplicity and focus on the central fireplace. A granite fireplace was resurfaced with white round penny tiles that added unique visual interest, installed by Liz and Mike. The crisp white fireplace is now a dramatic feature that contrasts with the warmth of the taupe wall paint.

Updated fireplace with white wood trim floor to ceiling and penny tiles surrounding the fireplace opening.
Liz chose a large mirror to rest on the fireplace mantle to reflect the wall across the room, which features beautiful white woodwork.

“I am most proud of the fireplace. When I walk into this space, my eyes go straight to it. This project cost us very little and it only took a few hours to complete.”

Liz Marcus
Updated staircase with wood stairs and floor runner.
The fireplace detail mimics the wall detail going up a nearby staircase.
Chair to the right of the fireplace. Blanket and pillow laying on top of chair.
The room is flooded with sunlight in the mornings, so it’s the perfect spot to curl up with a cup of coffee.

Liz chose a large mirror to rest on the fireplace mantle to reflect the wall across the room, which features beautiful white woodwork. A black and white framed photograph of a horse incorporates masculinity to the space. The artwork, paired with leather furniture, imparts a rustic-chic vibe into the space. A dramatic black and glass multi-tiered chandelier adds a modern touch to the rustic glam. 

Patio door adds function

Liz and Mike replaced a window with a patio door for better access to their side yard. They chose a door that blended seamlessly with the existing windows and doors, while the change improved the flow and function of the house, improving outside access.

Completed look of the living room with area rug, leather furniture facing the fireplace.
Adding the patio door created another entrance to the home and used frequently by their pets running in an out of the house.
Another angle of the living room looking to the front door.
The leather furniture adds a cozy element to the space and complements the rustic-chic vibe in the space.

What’s next

Next on the remodel project list for Liz and Mike was reworking their downstairs living space. It’s now white, light, with a lovely boho palette. There’s no denying that wood floors and paint can go a long way in any remodel.

“We’ve been in our house for a few years now, and it’s fun to see the remodeling progress made while we raise our kids here. We know it will be filled with memories for years to come.”

Liz Marcus
A sneak peek of the basement living room remodel.
An accent wall of wood paneling and fireplace tile adds texture to the space.