Before & After: A Dark Living Room Gets a Fresh Coastal Vibe

by hookedonhouses on March 17, 2011

When I saw Julia Ryan’s beautiful living room makeover on her blog Pawleys Island Posh, it was such a dramatic before and after that I had to share it with you. It’s so light and pretty now that you won’t believe how dark and dated it was when she first saw it!

Here’s how that same wall looked when the former owners lived there:

That just wouldn’t do for a home in coastal South Carolina! After moving into it, Julia started brightening things up. Here’s the fireplace wall before:

And after the fireplace got a much-needed makeover:

You can buy chairs like these at Target. I want them in every color–especially the orange, which I’ve seen on Matthew Perry’s sitcom “Mr. Sunshine,” and the yellow, which would look fab in my sunroom! You may also recognize that the same blue and white fabric from the bar stools on Courteney Cox’s kitchen set on  “Cougar Town.”

Here’s how the entry hall looked from the living room back then:

And how it looks from the living room now:

That’s a pretty amazing difference! Thanks to Julia for letting me share it with you. You can see the rest of her photos and read more about the makeover here: Pawleys Island Posh. (And thanks to Erin of House of Turquoise for introducing me to PIP in a post she wrote about it last week!)

P.S. Love the paint color she used on the walls–it’s Sherwin Williams “Tidewater” (SW6477).

Check Out More Before & Afters, Including a Beach Cottage Remodel!

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Luciane at March 17, 2011 at 7:09 am


This is a HUGE transformation! I went to her site before (she’s a sweetheart btw!) and I saw how talented this young woman is. I’m in love with her living room and I also love the wall color. Isn’t it so calming and fresh?

Have a wonderful Day!

Going to volunteer at my son’s school today. I always have the best time there!!!


Luciane at

PS: I love when you show beautiful homes here! It makes my day! :-)

Luciane at March 17, 2011 at 7:10 am

Forgot to say something: Happy Patrick’s Day!!!

Shelia March 17, 2011 at 7:12 am

Wow! Now this is a transformation! Love what they’ve done and how it’s so much brighter. They must have opened the draperies! :)
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Be a sweetie too,
Shelia ;)

Shelia March 17, 2011 at 7:14 am

I’m back Julia! I thought you may want to come and see my daughter’s house they’ve just bought that I’ve posted. It’s a mid century ranch and a 1958 Better Homes and Gardens Idea house! It’s pretty cool. I’m mainly showing their kitchen which is just awesome – although very green – well it is St. Patrick’s Day! :)
Be a sweetie,
Shelia ;)

Mr. Goodwill Hunting March 17, 2011 at 7:15 am

Such a major change! I know the homeowners are quite pleased with the end results. There are so many wonderful elements in this space. Although we can’t see them all, I know the other spaces in the house reflect this same greatness.

I wonder if they kept the secretary in the before picture and updated it?

Mr. Goodwill Hunting

Mom in High Heels March 17, 2011 at 7:18 am

What an amazing difference! It’s so beautiful now!

Katie March 17, 2011 at 7:29 am

We just bought a new house with a fireplace similiar to the old one pictured above. We have been debating what to do with it, so I was super excited to see this post this morning. The wood frame makes a huge difference.

handbright March 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

Inspirational! Thanks for this one…

skye March 17, 2011 at 7:39 am

julia! these are so beautiful! :) there is hope for me and my dark, dreary living room yet! thanks for sharing and happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Leen March 17, 2011 at 7:44 am

Oh I LOVE it! We live near the beach as well and I’m trying my best to update our boring 80’s ranch into a beachy chic cottage. Just two days ago I taped a Tidewater paint chip to my living room wall and have been loving it, I think it’s “the one”.

Thanks for introducing me to PIP, she has such amazing style!!

karen@strictlysimplestyle March 17, 2011 at 7:47 am

Just beautiful, what a transformation. The home was so dreary before.

Suzann March 17, 2011 at 7:50 am

LOVE this!!! Thanks for showing this – I am going light and bright everywhere too. This is a perfect way to show my hubby what is in my mind.

Renato Alves March 17, 2011 at 7:52 am

I’m sorry but I have to say that the before pictures were taking with a regular camera and the after pictures were taken in another time of the day with a profetional camera. Although when the owners changed the dark furniture for new bright ones, new windows, white trims, and new painting it really made the difference. Is really a fantastic transformation. From sad to exciting!

hookedonhouses March 17, 2011 at 8:39 am

Very true–good lighting and photography always help! I’m not sure the room would have looked that much better before, though, even with a better camera. -Julia

marieDee March 17, 2011 at 5:08 pm

I wondered if they cut down some trees or something. A huge amount of light is coming from the direction of the windows in the “after” shots. Regardless, it is still a beautiful makeover. Thanks for posting it.

Julia (PawleysIslandPosh) March 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

I’m actually the photographer for both shots as well. The one major “technical” difference was the use of a wide angle lens in the after shots versus the kit lens in the befores. I also shot in automatic with a flash before and only recently have turned my flash off and switched to manual. If you read my original post I mention the removal of several tree limbs in the front of our home as well as taking off the window screens to bring in more light. There was no professional lighting or switcheroo in shooting times. Anyone who’s been in our home before we began renovations can attest that it was truly dark and dingy before, no tricks there!

Lindsay March 17, 2011 at 7:55 am

I love, love, love that couch! This house looks amazing!

nanne March 17, 2011 at 8:14 am


she even made that bad light fixture in the foyer look good. definately a cinderella story.

thanks for sharing!

nanne in columbus, indiana

Melinda March 17, 2011 at 8:19 am

Wow! It makes me want to grab a paintbrush!

Bill March 17, 2011 at 8:21 am

What a dramatic transformation. It just goes to show what can be done with a little vision, determination and hard work.

MommaHen March 17, 2011 at 8:27 am

wow! I can’t believe that is the same space!

Kim March 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

What a fabulous makeover. Looks like a magazine spread for Coastal Living. Thanks for sharing this. I must go check out some more.

Ricki Jill Treleaven March 17, 2011 at 8:38 am

What a gorgeous makeover! Big difference, and I also love the paint color. So soothing! The slipper chairs are adorable!

Katie Peters March 17, 2011 at 8:41 am

Love, love, love these pictures! Looking forward to heading over to her blog for more! One of the first things I noticed were the paintings… a traditional landscape painting above the sofa and a more modern abstract one above the fireplace. I have such trouble with artwork in general. Everything from trusting myself to pick it out and choose the right frame to knowing where to hang. This room provides good inspiration, I think.


Vicki @ In The Sandbox Comic Strip March 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

WOW! That is an AMAZING transformation! I love it all especially those chairs!

Jane March 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

Now that’s an improvement!

Rosemary March 17, 2011 at 9:01 am

Amazing change. Thanks for sharing. P.S.Not crazy about Home Depot ad popping up. Have a hard time making it go away. Usually wind up at HD instead of your next page. Guess that’s the point!Could do without it, though………..

hookedonhouses March 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

Yeah, you should be able to “click through to site,” but sometimes I think they get stuck or something. Sorry about that!

Mike March 17, 2011 at 9:02 am

Wow! I just adore the new wainscoting. That’s what we want to do in our living room.

2sillymonkeys March 17, 2011 at 9:25 am

Hi Julia! Just discovered your blog and LOVE starting my day with you–you’re a better waker-upper than my coffee. I’m “hooked”! :o) Got a jolt when I saw she painted her living room the same color as my dining room. Is it wrong to feel smug over a paint chip???

Thanks again for the marvy posts!

ShabbyChick March 17, 2011 at 9:29 am

A wonderfully balanced combination of pattern and texture here! It’s subtle, soft and sophisticated, with just the right amount of pizzazz! I’ll have to check out her blog!

The English Organizer March 17, 2011 at 9:30 am

Beautiful… love it. And thanks for the tip about the Target chairs!

Heather Collins March 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

AMAZING!! She is really talented! And I love how she just painted the ugly old chandelier instead of replacing it!
Thanks Julia!
Its warm and sunny in KY hope you’re enjoying the same!


Marney March 17, 2011 at 9:48 am

I have a vacation home at Pawleys and only wish I could have had Julia help with the decorating instead of the decorator I used who never keeps up to date fabrics and furnishings. I love how fresh this room is and how it reflects the light and airy feel of the coastal area. It really is an amazing transformation.

Toni Dunaway March 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

Beautiful, warm, and peacful..Thank you!

Sandy March 17, 2011 at 10:32 am

Very pretty! Didn’t see what color # was chosen for the walls, am looking for the same hue of paint for a bedroom. Would love to know it!

Sandy March 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

oh nevermind about the paint color! scrolling up I saw it (was looking for it on the original blog post :-)

Lisa March 17, 2011 at 10:43 am

Can I just say how much I am in love with those Target chairs? There I said it. :) I feel so much better. Love them! Beautiful house… Sigh…

Karena March 17, 2011 at 11:03 am

I simply love what Julia has created, a haven of light and coziness.It is beautiful!

Come and enter to win my Spring “Green “ Gift”.

Art by Karena

Amanda @ Serenity Now March 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You’d never know they were the same room…completely transformed! I just love the color scheme. :)

Bre March 17, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Wow! What an unbelievable transformation! It doesn’t even look like the same house! It’s so open, fresh, and inviting now. They did a beautiful job. I love anything coastal inspired and they really nailed it with this makeover. It’s amazing what some paint and fantastic furniture can do for a home.

P.S. LOVE the Target chairs, I want them all too!

Gabbie March 17, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I like that they left the original brick alone and built a pretty new mantle around it. It really looks good!

kathysue March 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Julia, Oh how I love paint, it is an amazing decorating tool and the cheapest update around. I have purchased this same chair from Target in a different print and was quite impressed with it. It is a nice little comfy chair. Love Tidewater,Kathysue

Maaike Quinn @ Life with FlyLady March 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm

No way that these two houses are the one and the same :S

Handy Man, Crafty Woman March 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I love that paint color! Everything looks great!

laura @ the shorehouse March 17, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Wow. WOW! I have so much to say I don’t know where to start. First of all, small detail but I love that she recycled the ceiling fixture by painting it. SO clever! And the paint color is awesome — looks like Tidewater is very similar to BM’s Patriotic White, which I love for a seashorey house. The curved sofa is so brilliant for that room…what a great way to take advantage of the fireplace. Two BIG thumbs up!

Kim March 17, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I love everything about the after.

anna see March 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

What a transformation! I just LOVE it!

Becky @ Farmgirl Paints March 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Wowza…how is that even possible? Great before and after!

Susan March 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Beautiful room…love how much brighter it is! Feels fresh and perfect for spring! Can you tell I have serious spring fever?

Susan S March 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Wonderful vision for the place!

Designer Tinks, NZ March 17, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Wow – stunning.

Blues are always my first choice to add a bit of personality too – you just can’t go wrong with them!

I’m currently renovating a lounge (living room) which previously comprised Lockwood panels (sort of polyurethaned timber) and white wallpaper. I’ve painted over the panels with a warm cream and am am accenting the skirting boards with deep chocolate and the walls with soft turquoise. It looks SO much better already! :)

Holley March 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Pretty changes. With the big chairs before, it was very overwhelming. I went and admired the chairs at after seeing them. I like the chair in “surf” best.

I am so impressed with the overall styling because it is lovely without being too much. It still looks like a home, rather than a magazine spread. Not my home, of course, not enough clutter! ;o)

Designer Tinks, NZ March 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Wow your cheque book cover looks fabulous – very clever! :)

(And my favourite colour combinations).

Julia (PawleysIslandPosh) March 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Don’t worry Holley, I put away the excersaucer, baby toys and last week’s mail before I took the pictures. However, we were mindful to create a space that our whole family, including our seven month old, could enjoy. No museum quality living for us :)

Designer Tinks, NZ March 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm

PS: It helps that the furniture is lovely and soft too, in that picture. My budget doesn’t go so far as to ditch a brown couch but I’m replacing the squab with a turquoise fabric and injecting some more turquoise in the form of cushions.

I do love your website, Julia – it’s the first thing I look at when coming back home each night! (Or sneaking home early on a Friday afternoon) :)

hally March 18, 2011 at 2:50 am

so gorgeous! awesome transformation, it makes me feel better just looking at it!

etta March 18, 2011 at 5:25 am

Wow.. doesn’t seem the same house!!! LLLOVE before/after pics :-)
Thank you again for the Elena’s home pics.. u’re unique!

Designer Tinks, NZ March 18, 2011 at 6:27 am

I just had another look at it (can’t sleep!) … it’s not just the blue that gives it the fabulous look – it’s the warm tones of the ceiling colour too. Wow – love it!

Julia (PawleysIslandPosh) March 18, 2011 at 5:21 pm

WOW!!! I am SO OVERWHELMED with all the sweet words about my living room . Thank you so much Julia for feauturing my space! We absolutly adore spending time in our home now that it truly feels like “us”!

Mary Ann March 19, 2011 at 6:26 am

Fresh and happy home! I would love to have a cup of coffee and relax in that room.

lizziefitz March 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I am crazy about Julie’s living room. It is only a matter of time before it is published in a home decor magazine! Julie is such an amazing photographer and artist. She certainly has an eye for style:)

Lesley @ TheDesignFile March 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Amazing transformation! Beautiful. I have that same secretary – the one in the before pictures – and I hope mine looks better in my house than that one does!

Emily Hewett March 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

Absolutely stunning! Love the shape of the couch!

Emily Hewett
A Well Dressed Home

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 5, 2012 at 11:36 am

Wow, that is a stunning transformation! They were truly brought out of the dark and into the light.

Allison December 1, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Love this room! Could you share the color on the ceiling?

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