DIY Open-Concept Home Makeover


If you’re visiting our blog for the first time, you can see the starting point of our home’s transformation here:  House Tour – Before.  Also, have a peek at the look that inspired all these changes here:  Our Dream Home… Isn’t really a home.

We l-o-v-e our open-concept, split-level 1950’s home.  We’ve got quaint bedrooms upstairs, office space, a basement and garage…  but our main floor was in need of some major opening up.

The tricky part is, we wanted to update it…  and in an open concept, everything is visible all the time!  How do you work on one area or project at a time when it’s all one big open space?

It felt like it took a long time – and like we always had lots of mess and unfinished projects on the go – until we got everything just the way we liked it.  But finally, we did it!  Here’s how:

Kitchen – Living – Dining – Entry:  a 4-in-1 Update

The space before:

70’s Kitchen

Living Room – awkward furniture layout – and oh so brown!

brown, brown and more brown furniture
so much stuff, and nowhere to put it…  So we have piles.
too much furniture!

Fireplace…  not so cozy.

Even Billy the dog is bored in this dining room.

front vestibule…  I’ll try to find a better pic!

The wishlist:

Click on the links to read more about each project! More links coming soon.


Living/Dining Area: 

Our Living Room Charcoal Color:  Antique Tin by Behr

The use of greys makes the 3 spaces flow together into one

Hanging a gallery wall in a grid is easy with the method shown here.

Despite the rather drastic changes, in the living room and dining room we did not buy any new furniture.  All our projects are very budget-conscious, so we repurposed things we already had elsewhere, and refinished furniture we were tired of.  We also built a banquette storage bench, coffee table, dining table, fireplace hearth and mantle!

Front Entry:

Joining the two spaces with flooring makes a larger, more welcoming entry

This refurbished dresser stores hats, scarves, mitts, loose change and miscellaneous stuff

    That’s a daunting list!!

    The vast majority of these projects were to be done by yours truly and the hubby, DIY style.  We’re not rich and don’t have tons of free time, so we advanced when we could, how we could.  How long would this all take?  That was the real question.  All told, nearly a year.
    In the coming weeks I’ll do my best to create posts and add links to all these projects, revealing all the final touches.

    Till next time!

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    Val Lonergan is the founder of, where she shares happiness hacks for purposeful people. To get the ZenShmen cheatsheet to jumpstart your joy - 10 easy things you can do right this minute to hack your way to increased happiness - join the free newsletter.
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