Living Room Makeover | Before & After


Hi guys, I hope you had a peaceful Easter break. I thought I’d return today with a peek at my living room. Truth be told, I have hesitated to share it because it is not finished (in my eyes) and we are in fact in the throws of planning a fresh new renovation project, in which most of the living room will be changed. Nonetheless, I promised you a tour so lets’ jump straight in, including the ‘before’ pics as always AND a ‘Shop the Look’ so you can shop your favourite pieces. Enjoy!


When we signed the papers to our 1920s row house in Delft, The Netherlands, we were on a complete high. At least, until we walked in the front door, keys and champagne in hand, realising the work that would be involved getting it to a liveable state. We sank our champagne and headed straight for the building supply store, with the plan to have the house freshened up and ready for moving in the space of two weeks. The basics were done (walls were painted, floors were priced up) and then slowly, very slowly, we tackled the rest, room by room. I wrote about the progress (forever ago!), shared with you the bedroom, my home studio (herehere and here), Lola’s bedroom, and more recently, the kitchen. What an adventure this house has been! There have been highs and lows, times where we flew through the relentless to-do list, and times where we stood completely still. Every single thing we did to this house was with our own two hands, making the journey a long and tiring one, but the destination all the more rewarding.

Here’s how it looked that cold November morning we excitedly ambled into the front door of our new home to find this rather unexciting reality:


As you can see from the before photo above, the living room was less than enchanting. It was easy to look past the sunflower yellow walls, sure, but the worn out floors and flaking fireplace were a genuine concern to me. With just a few months away from our wedding, we were nowhere near being ready to replace the floors and plaster the walls. With all of our friends, we started by giving the walls and ceilings a fresh coat of white paint throughout. Seriously, you should never underestimate the power of white paint. And friends. In one day, we had painted pretty much all three floors of our house. The floors – which I was worried were a complete write-off came up OK after a thorough sanding and re-oiling. They are basically on their last legs, these floors, having been sanded and repainted/oiled so many times there’s hardly anything left of them. Part of our new renovation plan is to replace them throughout but they have served us well for the time being.

Here’s the ‘after’ situation:


We couldn’t deny those walls needed some work, so we had some basic plastering work done to smooth out a few walls, including the bedroom walls and fire surround. To add a little bit of texture to the fire surround, we installed mosaic tiles and love the subtle character they add.

Some of my very favourite pieces reside in our living room. The coffee table was a beautiful find from Home 24, and after snapping one up for a client’s living room, I liked it so much I had to have one too. The oak base is beautifully crafted and I love the white string detailing beneath the glass top. It originally came with a dark grey glass top but I had it replaced for this clear version so the string detail was more prominent. The armchair is an inherited piece from my husband’s grandmother which we had freshly upholstered in a charcoal linen blend fabric and the wood refurbished but my friend Shannon from Pheasant Gold. She does such a wonderful job and has revived these old chairs beautifully.



In fact, Shannon is the artisan behind the paper cord weaving on my vintage teak serving trolley, too. I initially sourced this piece for a project (Project H, remember the bedroom and studio reveal? The kitchen is almost done and so is the living room – to be continued!) but it came with a tray on the bottom shelf. A huge fan of paper cording, and wanting to add a special touch of detailing to this trolley, I had Shannon weave the bottom shelf of it. In the end,  it wasn’t quite right in the space I had intended it for and I simply couldn’t part with it. Perks of the job, I suppose! It is a true favourite and I think it works really well in my living room nook.

The hand turned ceramic plates on the wall are pieces I commissioned from July Adrichem, whose work I so admire. Did you see her studio tour I photographed a few months ago? I love how her minimalistic pieces combine with the ethnic basket, a piece I brought back with me years ago on a visit back to South Africa. The ceramic bowl (you may have seen this before, it’s one of my favourite props) is a Mauk Studio original I bought a few years ago when I visited her Amsterdam studio. I found it hiding on a shelf and basically cradled it all the way home, in fear that it would break! It is such a delicate piece. Here’s a close-up of the old fireplace situation:



Obviously the main thing missing here is a little fireplace/stove. High on our wishlist for a long time now, we have made it part of our renovation plans. The chimney was closed when the back of the house was extended a decade ago, so having a fireplace and the associated pipes installed to meet regulations is kind of a big deal. Since we’e planning on breaking walls and such anyway, we thought there was no better chance to sneak the fireplace into the reno budget. The next question is what to go for – gas/electric or the real deal. I am a bit concerned with having an open flame in my house, and the safety of children in the room. Plus the mess/smokey smell/upkeep. Any tips to experiences you guys have would be appreciated!

The artwork on the fire surround is a sketch made by my uncle Matthew and is a very sentimental piece. It arrived one day in the post, all crumpled up with several artworks on one large piece of paper he had roughly folded up. I carefully placed it inside a Moebe frame and love it just the way it is. On the mantel are little ceramic treasures, both vintage and new, that I have come across and loved.



I brought my vintage Beni Ourain rug back from my first trip to Marrakesh the year before last. I hunted high and low for it, and the moment I saw it I knew it was mine. It is luscious and thick and large and soft and patterned in a really subtle way.



Our sofa is from Sofacompany, and though this model is discontinued, they have a lot of interesting designs in plenty of colour ways. I thought this pale hue was a little bit different and would stand up to our lifestyle (in which small (and big) people eat/drink/jump/hang on the couch, and I was right. I have washed the cushion covers regularly ever since we’ve had it which has not compromised the quality of the fabric at all. Sofacompany – a Danish sofa brand originally – have showrooms in Amsterdam and Arnhem (you may remember I featured the Arnhem showroom it some time ago) and just recently have opened a showroom in Rotterdam. If you are after an affordable, quality sofa and friendly service, have a peek at their site.




I have created a gallery of artworks behind the sofa, including many pieces I have reduced from old second-hand shops, the antique markets as well as art galleries and then a few prints in the mix from Fine Little Day, Stilleben and Eeli Art Studio. I have used various frames in oak and walnut, most of it custom, have reused simple metal frames by painting them white, and have also used my very favourite Moebe oak frames that are so easy to swap and change out your artworks.

Here’s one last peek at the room as it looks over in the direction of the kitchen:



Where you see an area under the staircase is where we built a pantry as a way to add storage and functionality to our home. We found an old door at a place that salvages old building materials for repurposing, stripped it of its yellow paint, right down to the bare wood (which took like three days and was hell) and left it that way. Below, a few peeks (that I totally stole from the kitchen reveal post) to show you more of the space and how it all connects.









Well that’s it! If you like the look of my collected, neutral living room, I have prepared a ‘Shop the Look’ below so you can find the same or similar pieces to fill your homes with.

shop the look_livingroom_1

Neutral, Collected Living Room | Your Shopping List: 1. Hand turned ceramic plate by July Adrichem | 2. African Binga Basket | 3. Hand made ceramic plate by Lotte de Raadt | 4. Moebe oak frames from Stilleben | 5. Frames in various sizes and finishes from Bolia | 6. Original artwork by Eeli-Ethel Polli | 7. Original nude painting by Gretchen Kelly | 8. Flos IC Lights S1| 9. Vintage ceramics (similar) | 10. Eye Eye poster from Fine Little Day | 11. Hand made pottery bowl | 12. Oak, string and glass coffee table | 13. Linen pillow | 14. Patterned pillow | 15. Sofa (similar to mine, which is no longer available) from Sofacompany | 16. Flos Parentesi floor-to-ceiling lamp

I hope you enjoyed peeking into my living room, guys! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below if I skipped anything.

I’ll be back tomorrow with quite possibly one of the most satisfying, emotional and meaningful projects I worked on in 2016. See you then!

H x

Styling and Photography: Avenue Lifestyle | Editorial Assistance: Nina le Blanc and Aliya Alim, with thanks.

18 Responses to “Living Room Makeover | Before & After”

  1. Perfect makeover – congratulations! Love your style so much!

  2. Mariette says:

    Hi Holly,
    It is really beautiful and so harmonious. I love it! Makes me want to give our living a makeover!
    Much love, Mariette (Maastricht)

    • Holly says:

      Hi Mariette, thank you. Hope you are well, must get over to Maastricht some time soon!

      • Mariette says:

        I am well, thanks! Changed quite a bit in the house in recent months. Hope you still like it ?. You are always welcome in Maastricht, just let me know whenever you want to come over! X

  3. Absolutely gorgeous Holly … I love the tones and the soothing atmosphere of the room. And the connection with the wooden kitchen is perfect. Sometimes the most terrible places (thinking about your “before” pictures!) just need talent to find their true potential. bravo xx

  4. Christina says:

    I know, I know, I’ ve said it many times, but, I love the calmness, the simplicity and the aesthetic of your work!! This time I adore the mosaic tiles, the coffe table, the serving trolley and the ceramics!!!
    Beautiful makeover Holly!!
    With love, Christina

  5. Kristina says:

    Hi Holly,
    A very inspiring makeover, thanks for sharing!
    With regards to the fireplace – definitely go for the real one. We have one at home, and there is absolutely no problem with smoke/smell/open fire.
    We have no kids though, so dont know how this works out. But dog/cat are fine. I also believe you can have a fireplace behind glass (dont now how its exactly called) – maybe something to consider with children. We wanted some glass installed not to lose warmth, but eventually decided not to do it.
    Good luck!

  6. […] this living room… […]

  7. […] credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, […]

  8. […] by avenue via […]

  9. Ross says:

    Hi, great job! What is the artists name who did the large drawing of the woman from behind? I really love it 🙂

    • Holly says:

      Hi Ross, thank you. It’s a piece I picked up at a gallery in Amsterdam and I have no idea who the artists is. Sorry I can’t help you further!

  10. […] Are you a fan? Which is your favourite way to style this season’s colour? Here is a little wish list of homeware bits and bobs if you fancy tapping into this colour. Known image Source: 1 […]

Leave a Reply for ilaria fatone