Before & After: A Dark, Dated Fireplace Wall Lightens Up

by hookedonhouses on April 23, 2010

Marcus Designs-built ins before

See this fireplace wall? Homeowner Nancy, who writes the blog Marcus Design, says it was “a scary sight when we first bought our home. The unit was a dark and dingy wood, the shelves were glass, and there was blue carpet (yes, carpet!) on the bottom shelves.” This is how the family room looked with the former owners’ things cluttering up the place. Not very promising at first glance, is it?

But Nancy, who describes herself as a scientist who aspires to be a decorator, went to work, transforming it from dark and dated to fresh and light:

Marcus Designs-built ins after

Hard to believe it’s the same space, isn’t it? Go ahead and scroll up and down if you need to, just to make sure.

They replaced the glass shelves with wood and painted everything white. Of course, the rest of the room needed a makeover to go along with the fireplace wall–and it got one. New floors, new wall color, and new furniture bring the room out of its dark, dated past with a fresh look for 2010. Much better!

Many thanks to Nancy for letting me share this makeover with you. Check out her wonderful blog Marcus Design for more photos and details about this project.

Visit my Before and After page for more makeovers!

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Allyson April 23, 2010 at 5:21 am

looks great!!
.-= Allyson´s last blog ..Apairaday Store at Madeit =-.

Sharon April 23, 2010 at 5:55 am

Talk about transformation! It just goes to show what a good vision can do. The before shot is definitely a man-cave!!! Yikes!
.-= Sharon´s last blog ..A Bird and Blooms =-.

Annie@A View on Design April 23, 2010 at 6:11 am

that is friggin amazing!! geesh, I love that grey on the wall like that = isn’t that stunning!
.-= Annie@A View on Design´s last blog ..Pensive Perth Living… =-.

Marcy April 23, 2010 at 6:37 am

Julia, thanks so much for showcasing Nancy’s work – wow! She really has a great eye for design.
.-= Marcy´s last blog ..If I were… =-.

Julie April 23, 2010 at 6:56 am

Whoa! What a difference! That’s a beautiful transformation. Wonder if the old homeowners have seen it?
.-= Julie´s last blog ..Glimpses of home =-.

Michelle April 23, 2010 at 7:01 am

Well that just looks incredible, I love it!!
~Michelle
.-= Michelle´s last blog ..Deep breath…. =-.

Kristin @ Domestic Ease April 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

Absolutely remarkable!!

angela | the painted house April 23, 2010 at 7:18 am

Bravo, Nancy! What a transformation. I love a good b & a!

And, thanks, for the great idea of carpet on the shelves–now my books will have a soft place to rest their weary spines. :)
.-= angela | the painted house´s last blog ..A Secret Place =-.

M Light April 23, 2010 at 7:29 am

That’s amazing!!! I love these sorts of inspiration.
.-= M Light´s last blog .. =-.

Niki April 23, 2010 at 7:41 am

I really did scroll up and down the transformation is unreal. Well done!

@MaisonDecor8 April 23, 2010 at 7:43 am

Hard to believe its the same space. The power of paint never fails to impress when used the right way!!

wanda April 23, 2010 at 7:43 am

…It does look nice-but certainly not personal-it is not a show room-were are the photos, books- all the furniture I have seen from Home Sense- I just think cleaning up the clutter the wood would have looked ok=maybe just fix a stronger mantle or add some stone….

Vanessa April 23, 2010 at 8:10 am

Yes, Nancy is quite a talent and her blog is a great read.
.-= Vanessa´s last blog ..Worldly =-.

Kelli April 23, 2010 at 8:52 am

Well, I’m glad to know that was the former owners’ things cluttering the room. I didn’t see how someone who had so much stuff everywhere could keep such a new, beautiful room pristine! What a transformation!
.-= Kelli´s last blog ..What’s New With Me? =-.

bungalowbliss April 23, 2010 at 8:53 am

Scary to swanky! What an amazing difference. Nice, job, Nancy!
.-= bungalowbliss´s last blog ..Bidding Adieu =-.

Sunshine April 23, 2010 at 9:16 am

WOW~! It is hard to believe that is the same room! It looks Fantastic!
.-= Sunshine´s last blog ..Using Old with the New =-.

etta April 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

Wow!!! The best make over ever! It looks totally different!!
happy week end
Etta

the domestic fringe April 23, 2010 at 10:00 am

What a difference! It’s beautiful now.
-FringeGirl

Kate at Centsational Girl April 23, 2010 at 10:09 am

That is one incredible makeover ! It gives hope to all those who have that dated dark wood !! Truly amazing ! And how stylish is the ‘new’ room ??
xo
Kate
.-= Kate at Centsational Girl´s last blog ..Living Room Inspiration: I Need You =-.

E. George April 23, 2010 at 10:10 am

Hi Julia – I love it… mind you it is 1.05am over here and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me so I did scroll up and down like you suggested thanks for sharing and have a wonderful weekend… Regards Esther from Sydney.. ps this girl has a way with colour perfection.

Susan April 23, 2010 at 10:23 am

Painting the area white made a huge difference. So did removing that clunky old entertainment center and what appears to be a leather recliner on the right. Great transformation!

Love,
Susan and Bentley
xxoo
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Bitterman =-.

Melissa April 23, 2010 at 11:02 am

Wow.. all with a little paint. Looks awesome. Some awesome soft damask fabric behind the shelves would look great!
.-= Melissa´s last blog ..We are a THREAT =-.

Nancy@marcusdesign April 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

Thank you so much Julia for featuring my living room today!! I really appreciate it, and thank you to all of you for your kind words! Funny that Sharon should mention that the room looked like a ‘man-cave’, it actually was owned by a single guy who had his kids on the weekends (you were bang on Sharon!). And Julie, you have no idea how many times my husband and I have said “We wish he could see it now!!” Well, truly the space was so terrible before that I think any one could have made simple improvements to make the room look great!
Nancy xo
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..{pretty packages + the designs they inspire} =-.

LeAnn April 23, 2010 at 11:11 am

WHOA!! Now that’s a transformation!
.-= LeAnn´s last blog ..Before and After =-.

Pamela Rosenberg April 23, 2010 at 11:19 am

Your friend may have missed her calling. This room is stunning and good for her for being able to see through the befores. I really like her color choices and those chairs are to die for.
Pamela
.-= Pamela Rosenberg´s last blog ..Pillow of the Week #13 Nursery Flair =-.

hip hip gin gin April 23, 2010 at 11:37 am

Oh wow!! Now that is a transformation!! I totally did scroll up and down repeatedly going “that can’t be the same room”! On a side note that is how the former owners showed their place to buyers?? Oy.

Nancy@marcusdesign April 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

hip hip gin gin – Yes, can you believe that is how the house was being shown?? And believe it or not, we were up against multiple offers!!
Nancy
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..{pretty packages + the designs they inspire} =-.

Em Heizer Photo April 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

OMG!!!!!!!!! What an improvement! That first picture is HIDEOUS! Actually really reminds me of my dad’s house, UGH! Maybe there is hope for that dump yet! WOW!
Totally my taste. She should come over and help me make my house like that! :)
.-= Em Heizer Photo´s last blog ..Wednesday Wonderings: Ex Post Facto! =-.

Struggler April 23, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Julia, you are a mind reader – my first thought was, It’s not the same space, and then I began scrolling up and down to compare!
Most encouraging of all, on close inspection, I can see the changes made were not drastic/expensive (ceiling lighting, fireplace etc are actually the same) – Nancy just picked very effective ways of achieving a beautiful new look. I detect a very real talent for styling a room, too!
.-= Struggler´s last blog ..Could You Live In A Church? =-.

Richella at Imparting Grace April 23, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Wowie Kazowie! That’s a great one! How exciting for her to be featured here–and especially for her to get to enjoy this beautiful space. :)

Lori-Anne April 23, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Just … wow! I wish I had such vision when seeing old dated places like that! I would have passed through, turned my nose up at it and found a place that’s already fixed up, missing out on the potential of the place. Must work on that…
.-= Lori-Anne´s last blog ..Decked Out in Fragrant Finery =-.

Karena April 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Nancy is sooooo good Julia, thanks for sharing this. True you can hardley believe it is the same space!

Karena
Art by Karena
.-= Karena´s last blog ..Signature Canvas, Made in the USA =-.

Leah April 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I have conflicting emotions on the transformation. While it’s pretty, it doesn’t have any personality. I hope whichever family buys this puts their own heart into it! Very nice and clean for open houses.
http://www.therefrigerator.wordpress.com
.-= Leah´s last blog ..Schoolhouse =-.

desiree April 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

What a fab transformation! I’m in awe–
.-= desiree´s last blog ..Naglee Park Offers A Historic Home Tour =-.

micah April 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

holy awesomeness – that is amazing!
.-= micah´s last blog ..You Spoke, I Listened =-.

Melanie Beth April 23, 2010 at 2:18 pm

amazing change, it must have taken some vision to see what that old one could be turned into!
.-= Melanie Beth´s last blog ..The start of a new dining room… part 1 =-.

Jan April 23, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Wow! A stunning transformation — and another testament to the Power of White Paint! LOL! It is a VERY elegant room now — a complete change in looks and in “feel” too! Thanks for posting — gives me hope for this place!

Jan at Rosemary Cottage

Chic Coles April 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I cannot believe this is the same room either!
.-= Chic Coles´s last blog ..The Hutch =-.

Patti Friday April 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Woah! Hold the presses!!! This is such an excellent post for ‘we’ Canadians. So many rural/country homes are dated with that dark panelling. A beautiful transformation. And we need the light. Oh boy, do we need light!

Nathan April 23, 2010 at 3:20 pm

The only thing I would have done differently, would be to add some sort of cabinet on the right side of fireplace. Something to add a little more symmetry. Though I’m not sure whether there was a reason for not doing this.

anna see April 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

zoinks! i am amazed at how fresh and modern it looks. loving the little mirrorred cabinet, too!
.-= anna see´s last blog ..Well, If You Say So… =-.

Victoria @ DesignTies April 23, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Hi Julia :-)
I love Nancy’s living room transformation! And how fun is this – I’m meeting Nancy, and a few other blogger from our area, for brunch in a few weeks. It’ll be so terrific to meet everyone! Maybe Nancy will be-friend me and invite me to her place to see her living room in real life ;-)
I wanted to thank you for dropping by DesignTies today and complementing me on the design & transformation of Kate’s fireplace. She really does LOVE the space!
Victoria
.-= Victoria @ DesignTies´s last blog ..And the winner is… =-.

Suzette April 23, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Impressive and very inspiring!!!

Melanie April 23, 2010 at 6:14 pm

AMAZING! Just amazing.
.-= Melanie´s last blog ..How I Met My House. =-.

Billy April 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm

Not to be Donny disparager, but I’m gonna.. some white paint, a trendy wall color, dark hard flooring, and a taller base mold (not balanced with a more substantial crown) isn’t going to make elle Decor. Now if the decorator kept some of the testosterone in the room then maybe I wouldn’t let the discussion I just had with my mother over a similar subject overflow on to your blog. Painting the woodwork is like using cherry granite and stainless in a kitchen redo: it is a cliche. A very pleasant cliche but still…

It is very nice but the room went from single guy to single (or male partner picks his battles) gal room, and I like when there is a balance of gender energy.

Now don’t get me started on all the mahogany furniture that got painted (badly) during the shabby chic fiasco.

Okay I’ll put the keyboard down, I feel much better now. Thanx

Nancy@marcusdesign April 24, 2010 at 12:40 am

Thanks Billy for your valid points! I do agree this is not a room dressed for Elle Decor, nor was it attempting to be! This is a home my husband and I bought with intention of doing as inexpensive ‘reno-ing’ as possible in order to flip it in the short term with the most bang for our buck. Paint is an awesome way to accomplish this, and that was our main intention! The average home-buyer in our area isn’t exactly expecting to walk into an Elle Decor room (thank goodness!).

I would also agree with you on another thing, my husband is a very smart man who leaves (most of) the decorating to me ;) Ha ha. But all kidding aside, a balance of masculine and feminine does indeed make a room soar. Thanks for your thoughts.
Nancy
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..{pretty packages + the designs they inspire} =-.

Robin April 24, 2010 at 6:57 am

Julia,
Well, when I saw the first picture, I thought it was son’s living room, lol. The aftershot is very swanky. Thanks for sharing.
Robin
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Garbo and Gilbert =-.

LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE April 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

Incredible. Beautiful. What a transformation!! I laughed, because I went down, then went back up, then did it all over again before reading your sentence inviting me/us to do just that. Love Before and Afters. Nice pick! thx, -s
.-= LOVE WHERE YOU LIVE´s last blog ..This Limestone Home is My Inspiration House =-.

Kim April 24, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Wow that looks so much better then the before. I would love a fireplace like that.

Marija April 25, 2010 at 9:23 am

This is AWESOME. I know I should come up with a better word but nothing really says “awesome” like “awesome”. This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get during a remodel/reno consultation. Totally inspiring and you can bet I’m bookmarking this!

Marija
.-= Marija´s last blog ..Six & Seven =-.

Josanne April 26, 2010 at 11:59 am

Ooohhhhh….I like it! I also like how the shelves were decluttered to just show some pretties. I’ve tried to do this with my new home—less is more!
.-= Josanne´s last blog ..The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year =-.

Rick April 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Wow! What a change. I’m in the process of renovating my own place right now and that room will definitely serve as an inspiration.
.-= Rick´s last blog ..Junk It in the Media: Colin and Justin’s Home Heist & Canada’s Worst Handyman =-.

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