How to upgrade a home with only a few changes / before & after

Interior design doesn’t always mean creating from scratch on new builds, but also changing and updating existing spaces, so they keep up and fit well with the occupants’ lifestyle and tastes.

Last year, I worked with a client from Oradea (Romania) to bring a breath of fresh air into their home by doing small, but thoughtful changes. Now, by “small” I don’t mean only changing up a few pillows!

We repainted most of the rooms, added a bit of furniture where needed, completely changed other furniture pieces and face lifted the existing ones. We didn’t touch the flooring, didn’t change walls or bathroom tiles. The changes were done gradually over a few months because the client couldn’t move out during the work, but also because.. well, we were amidst a full pandemic.

My point is that you don’t need a full remodel to upgrade your home. Small changes can go a long way without breaking the bank and an interior designer can help you out with consultation regarding what works best for your space.

But less talking, more showing, right? Let me walk you step by step through this home transformation, the issues we identified and what we did to solve them.

1. Living room

The whole transformation actually started from the living room area, which was quite dated in style due to the wallpaper and TV furniture.

The client wanted to change that area completely and needed more storage space (having 2 young children means lots of toys and games scattered everywhere).

Budget was also important to consider, therefore we decided to stick with IKEA options wherever possible.

For the TV area we found the perfect solution with a white BESTA bookcase system and then added a HEMNES chest under the painting on the right, perfect for storing all the extra toys and books.

Walls were painted a light grey, we kept the sofa and freshened it up with new pillows, added a new coffee table and poufs, as well as new lighting fixtures throughout. And voila, a completely new living room!

The blue drawing featuring a woman with an umbrella under a street light was done by a talented local artist, Iulia Mago.

2. Entrance area

My client’s house opens up directly towards the large living space pictured above, therefore the entrance area is integrated in it, without any separation walls or furniture.

Right by the entrance, on the left, there was previously placed an open clothing hanger and a large rack for shoes in front of the radiator (it had been moved before taking the image below).

In my opinion, these absolutely had to go. The space was too small to properly divide it with walls, so the best option was to do a custom built wardrobe to fill up as much of the angled corner as possible.

I wanted a clean, white wardrobe to hide all the clothing and shoes, but when I designed it I also left a few open shelves as a place where to leave the bags, a basket for the keys or hats. Because that corner would have been difficult to access if it had a door, the open shelves make much more sense in this situation.

This corner had to look beautiful while seeing it from the living room too!

In front of the radiator we placed a simple blue bench, without any other shoe racks to not encourage having them again on display. Why blue? Well, amongst all the greys and whites, a pop of color was much welcome and it contrasts nicely with the warm wooden floors. The client also had a colorful painting (the one in the living room photos above) with lots of blue in it, so we tried to stick with that palette throughout.

Not pictured, on the right of the entrance, there’s one more BESTA cabinet filling up an empty wall as extra storage space for shoes, in case you are wondering where did they all go.

3. Kitchen

The kitchen was also a bit dated in style and could definitely get an improvement in terms of functionality and storage space.

So we decided to change the furniture fronts to white ones for a lighter look. We also changed the backsplash tiles with a simpler, more timeless texture.

We kept the general color palette of whites and greys, with tiny bits of color here and there as well.

But the most important change we did was extending the counter top area all the way to the window wall. This helped my client gain not just extra cooking space and a dedicated area for the coffee maker and other things, but also a lot of extra storage space underneath!

The initial table was also big and bulky, occupying way too much space. In the new configuration with the extended worktop we opted for a round extendable table, a much better suited option given my client’s needs and the available space.

4. Office room

The office room was not optimally furnished. Not enough storage space, the desks were not the same size and placed in the middle of the room, allowing very little space around them.

My client works from home a lot so she definitely needed a much better office room to suit her needs.

I’m not a fan of placing the desk chair with the back to the door, but due to the room’s configuration, this was the best option here in terms of functionality and aesthetics. Sometimes you do have to compromise!

However, I’m happy with the compromise and, most importantly, my client is happy too, so I call this a win!

There’s enough desk area now for two persons and a printer! Plenty of drawers for files and, behind them, on the wall, there’s a large cabinet for more files and books.

Mostly everything in this room is IKEA, from the drawers to the chairs, cabinet, shelves and lighting fixtures. The desk counter top was custom made to take advantage of the full length of the wall.

And that’s a wrap for now! Let me know your thoughts regarding this house transformation and if you have any questions – shoot! I’d be happy to answer them!