HFHS House: Living Room (Before + After)

Living room before and afterWe are SO excited today because it's finally time for us to reveal the final before and after looks of our Habitat for Humanity project house. If you're new here, you might be wondering what this is all about. Well, this past year A Beautiful Mess (this blog you're reading right now), decided that we wanted to find a project that allowed us to use some of our strengths as well as give back to our community. You can read the whole story on how we came to this decision here, but the conclusion was that we decided to buy a house in our city that needed some serious TLC, fix it up, share that process with you fine folks (who are the reason this project could happen—thank you for reading and for your support!), and then donate the house to our local chapter of Habitat for Humanity

And that's exactly what we did. We got lucky because Real Simple heard of our project and wanted to help furnish and feature the project in their magazine. So you can see more about the project in this month's issue. 

We'll be taking you through each room in the house, and later we'll share a before and after video where Elsie will give you a complete tour from her point of view. Oh yes, you're gonna get to see it all!

Living room     Living room Living room      Living room    First up is the living room. This is one of the larger spaces in the house and the first room you encounter as you walk through the front door. When we purchased the home, there was old, smelly, stained carpet throughout this space. The walls and windows were dingy and filled with small holes and some minor cracks (probably from settling, this house is quite old, but the foundation is good—we had an inspection). And the ceiling displayed quite a few dark spots and stains.

So about that carpet smell…here's a funny story. Shortly after Elsie and I purchased the house, we invited everyone at ABM over for a pizza lunch so everyone could see the space. Almost everyone ended up sitting outside on the porch because they couldn't hardly stand to sit inside (with the smell) and eat. It was bad, to say the least. 

The good news is that older homes (this house was built in the early 1920s) often have lovely old wood floors underneath old carpet if you are willing to get a little dirty and take the time to restore them. So that's what we did, and you can read more about how to restore old wood floors here. That was probably the biggest change in this space, along with some painting and bleaching ceiling spots.

Living room before and after By removing the outdated wallpaper border, hanging our curtains high, and adding a fresh coat of white paint to the room, we were able to make the space feel that much bigger and, well, cleaner. And with the carpets gone and that old wood restored to its former glory, I think the family that eventually moves in will truly enjoy this space for years to come. 

Living room  Living room   Living room         Many of the doors in the house we kept or refreshed with a coat of paint, but the front door of this house was in serious disrepair. So we had to replace that (and we painted it blue for a fun but small pop of color). We also added a small coat rack in one corner (that faces the front door) so there is some space to remove jackets, coats and shoes since this house does not have an entryway or mudroom. 

If you want to see more details about this space or any of the spaces in our Habitat For Humanity project house, stay tuned or check out this month's issue of Real Simple. 

Big thanks to our mom, Elizabeth Chapman, for allowing us to use the large abstract artwork you see in this room and to our dad for helping me hang all the light fixtures (including the one in this room). xo. Emma, Elsie, and the ABM team.

P. S. You're probably curious about the fate of this house, right? We are too! We actually officially donated the house to Habitat in May (see here). I emailed a few of our contacts there last week to see if a family has moved in yet, and I was told not just yet. The house is still under review, but a family should be moving in sometime later this year. We'll keep you updated as we hear more from Habitat for Humanity.

Credits// Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions. Couch + Rug/West Elm, Floor Lamp/Shades of Light, Pendant Lamp and Rattan Chairs/IKEA, coffee table/built by Josh Rhodes, abstract artwork/Elizabeth Chapman (go mom!), Home Sweet Home print/ABM

  • Any chance of a tutorial from Josh on that amazing coffee table in the living room? Also, what type of plant/tree is that in the black pot? Amazing transformation in the whole house!

  • This whole story is so inspiring! I absolutely love what you’ve done and think it’s an amazing way to give back to the community!

    You’ve also given me some great ideas for how to freshen up my own apartment 🙂

  • Coat rack is beautiful and actually looks functional. (Unlike most coat racks, which tend to tip over as soon as something draped on top.)

  • Hi Amy! You can see the floor plan here: https://abeautifulmess.com/2015/01/hfhs-project-update-paint-colors.html 🙂 -Jacki

  • Do you guys have the measurements for this space? Or even for the floorplan downstairs? I’d love to get a sense of the square footage!

  • Found the coat rack! It’s CB2’s Butler Stand, and retails for $199. Link and description available here:


    We saw this in-store, and the floor model was pretty wobbly… more than I’d hoped for $200. Legs might’ve been put together a little unevenly, and the stability would likely gets better once full of items. Really nice looking piece 🙂

  • Oh my gosh! It looks amazing!!

    Laura xo


  • I made a happy sound this weekend when I flipped to the table of contents in Real Simple. It meant there will be awesome posts like this! LOVE what you did for this house and it’s some-day family!

  • Just wanted to say, you’re such an inspiration! Thank you for your adorable blog, keep it up 🙂 it has given me so much joy and happiness for the days when everything seems to go wrong! *<:) xx

  • A really fabulous transformation and an awesome thing to do for an unknown family who needs it. That coat rack is really stunning, I think I need it.

  • I love how they have the perfect balance between rustic and modern! This is an awesome space!

  • I love how beautiful this space came out! It’s lovely that you have been able to change a families life with your talents. I love the little closet like space that you created with the coat rack. Gorgeous!

  • Great space! Love how it looks! Could you name the blue paint on the door! It’s the exact color I have been looking for!

  • Those paintings are really amazing Emma!!! They caught my eyes! Love the purple one!

  • That coat rack though. Perfect for what I’ve been looking for for my front room! Where is it from???

  • It looks great – glad to see the transformation you’ve made, great project too 🙂

  • Beautiful beautiful beautiful!! SO excited to see the rest of the house. I had forgotten what you said about why you were waiting to reveal on the blog and then I saw Emma and Elsie’s face in the index of my newest Real Simple and I realized why! YAY! I’ve been waiting for these posts ever since – you know, like 4 days ago. 😉

  • The after is amazing! Seems like it opened up the room and made it a lot brighter! I think removing the purple carpet helped with that! 🙂 Beautiful!

  • would you mind sharing the links for the concrete planters? love the geometric one!

  • That grey couch in the living room is perfect! I’ve had my eye on a similar one for so so long!


  • What a beautiful living room! I absolutely love that painting back of that chair. It looks amazing

  • I love this! We’re in the process of finding a new home, so I need all the inspiration I can get!

  • Beautiful job! It’s amazing what magic white paint can do. I think my favorite part is that blue front door!

  • This is beautiful! I just read the Real Simple article and loved it! I am wondering where those pillows are from?

  • Love so much of this! The overhead light fixture is so cool and the inside of the door being blue is awesome! Fantastic job. I love it!!!

    – Kaitlyn | www.TheCrownFox.com

  • amazing! such a wonderful thing to do for your community! & it came out beautifully! this is so inspiring in so many ways! looks like the most asked question is also what i’m also curious about…the coat rack! haha where is it from?

  • Love it!! And especially love the large grey geo planer. Anyone know where it/s from?!

  • amazing gift. what else can i say?!!!

  • You guys do the best transformations! I love the bright modern feel you’ve created, it looks amazing!

    Emma xo // Wallflower Wardrobe

  • Hi Melanie! Unfortunately, I’m not sure of the source. You can try emailing Real Simple magazine to see if they know the source though! 🙂 -Jacki

  • Everything about this is so amazing. Love it, friend.


  • I second (third? fourth?) the question about where the coat rack came from!

  • Oh wow this looks amazing! So inspiring to see what you girls have done 🙂



  • This is so cool that you guys decides to do something for habitat for humanity!! What a special thing. I love the living room–so cute and cozy.



  • i have been following you ladies (daily) for awhile + was excited to see this post this morning. such a fabulous thing you did 🙂

  • This place looks beautiful! Love all of the light and the hints of color!


  • That’s lovely! I bet the new homeowners are going to be thrilled.

  • So nice to see your Mom’s artwork on display. I would love to have you do a feature on her, maybe showing where she paints and hearing her story. As a mom of two adult daughters myself, I love seeing your growth and energy on display every day–and, clearly, your Mom was and is a great inspiration!

  • Hi Rina! It will be donated with all of the furnishings 🙂 -Jacki

  • Guys this looks absolutely fabulous! If I could, I’d hire you to help me DIY our entire house. Haha!


  • You guys really did an amazing job. Those floors look amazing. That was the first thing I noticed in the space. The stain is perfect. I also, love the artwork.

  • Did you donnate the house with furniture, or are those just for the pictures?

  • I think this is one of the nicest projects I have heard about in blogland. Honestly, it was such a kind thing to do. I cannot wait to hear about the lucky family that gets a home redesigned by you!
    Michelle from simplysantabarbara.blogspot.com
    P.S. Feel free to pop over to my blog to see its new design!

  • No but seriously though, where is that coatrack from?!? I have a weird angular entry and this looks like it will fit perfectly!

  • I love it! By whom is the red painting? It looks amazing!

    Love from Germany,



  • Argh so much home inspo! I can’t even cope with how amazing the living room looks in the after photo! Amazing :}

  • It’s amazing the transformation that just taking the carpet out makes. Beautiful room. Very light and airy.

  • Aaah that is so awesome! Only just hearing about this project now, but it looks like it turned out amazingly xx

  • Hi Lisa! It’s linked at the bottom of the post. 🙂 -Jacki

  • Such an amazing transformation. What a beautiful home for some lucky family.

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