Simple DIY Living Room Facelift

2 Materials
$300
6 Days
Medium

Since this is an investment property my BF is being very careful and economical with what efforts and spend he puts into the renovation. This isn't a long-term home, it is a one bedroom rental in an blue collar Pittsburgh neighborhood. Although this isn't a huge remake we are still having fun with the project and making significant changes.
One space that needed major improvements was the living room with awful carpet and wood paneling. Major potential was at hand, so we dove in.
After demo we first started by installing laminate floating flooring. In my opinion, this is an intensive project that can only be completed with the proper tools, a more than moderate amount of intelligence, and paired with immense patience and will.
The most important part of installing laminate is the measurements and table saw cuts. If you aren't skilled in either areas you better buy a lot of extra laminate material. You should actually buy a bit extra anyways even if you are a professional mistakes and imperfections are inevitable.
My BF sneakily ordered the laminate without the sign-off from his project manager / personal shopper / interior designer (me) but he did an amazing job and picked something I most likely would have selected myself (probably because I had already given him plenty of ideas on what I would personally choose and also examples of what I would never choose). It's a lovely warm brown shade in a thick (hopefully durable) laminate.
I was present at the next trip to Home Depot to help select a thicker more formal trim. This choice helps to cover the gap around the perimeter of the room, needed for floating flooring.
We painted the trim with a nice crisp coat of paint in semi-gloss. We used a paint perfect for trim, Speedhide Interior Enamel Latex by PPG Paints, picked for it's shine and durability. When painting trim it is best to use a high quality brush to lay the paint on thick in the direction of the wood grain. This will minimize the brush strokes for a smooth finish.
Picking out a paint color for the living room flip project was the hardest choice thus far in this tiny Pittsburgh rental flip. I wanted a neutral gray and that was all I knew. The paint color and the flooring was all we had budgeted to change in the living room, so the color was a big decision. I started with about 50 paint swatches and narrowed these down to 8 paint colors, all on the cooler gray side. I then took advantage of a 99 cent paint sample jar sale at Lowe’s Home Improvement (this sale happens about once a quarter) and got a sample for each of the 8 colors. I really recommend testing your color on the wall with a sample size before you buy it. Seeing the color in your space makes a huge difference. Take the time to paint a sample of the colors you think you like, and check the test area throughout the day, as the lighting shifts.
Even if you have 8 colors you’re stuck on like I did, the picking a paint color process is so much easier when the paint is actually on the wall. Once I had the grays on the wall I could really see the undertones. I didn’t want something purple or brown, so those undertones were immediately eliminated. My BF wanted something darker, and I wanted a gray-blue, so we went with the darkest bluish gray paint color.
It turned out that we picked a paint color from a brand that we didn’t intend on buying product from. I don’t know what happened, but once we got our gallons tinted at Lowe’s into Olympic ONE, and painted the full wall space, the paint color appeared a lot more blue than gray. A bit of an upset to the BF, but I may or may not have intended it to be more blue than he was expecting 😉. At this point we still only had one overhead light fixture in the space, so I apologize for the quality of the following photos, but below is our humble space post paint job.
Our living room space is actually the only common area in our tiny Pittsburgh rental unit. We use the space as a living room and office, as this is the only place we had floor room for a desk and chair.
Our furniture is mismatched, with pieces coming from both my own & my BF’s collection. Being 25 we’ve inherited most of our furniture, still working with what was scrounged up from our college apartment days.
My bedroom set, the Derbyshire from Value City Furniture is the only furniture I’ve bought myself as an adult (I cried when I saw how cheap it is now versus when I bought it 2 years ago). The dresser is actually our TV stand now because this large furniture piece did not fit in the bedroom. I just couldn’t sacrifice the storage space, thus my clothes are in the living room. I’ll keep holding onto dreams of a walk in closet (or a closet at all) in the bedroom and separate living rooms & office spaces. Sigh. For now, home is where the wine is 🍷

Suggested materials:

  • Speedhide Interior Enamel Latex  (PPG Paints Store)
  • TrafficMaster Laminate  (The Home Depot)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Robyn Stottlemyer
    on Jan 23, 2017

    My living room wall looked just like yours when I was trying to find the right gray for the walls! Too purple, too brown (even one that looked green once it was on the wall!). You are absolutely correct, spend the extra for the samples and try it in your space before you commit to a color!!!

  • Rhonda Sue
    on Jan 24, 2017

    Looks great. Is laminate flooring wood? We jut put down Bamboo flooring in one small bedroom and it cost us $900 and that's with my husband doing the work. I need something for our basement but Bamboo is out, it would cost a fortune.

    • Patsy47
      on Oct 17, 2019

      Yrs. Ago, we laid 100% vinyl wood look planks in our basement, looked great, reasonable cost and totally water resistant...take a look at it, worth your consideration...

  • Mec27505553
    on Jul 31, 2018

    The After is beautiful but am I the only one who notices the window and the floor vent are not in the same place on the photos? Did you also update them too?

Join the conversation

2 of 128 comments
  • Joanie
    on Aug 27, 2017

    Go get 'em Pittsburgher!!! I love it there, along with your apartment and makeovers. Roots only 45 min. away. BUT, don't miss that BURR cold weather! Been gone 30 yrs. in the South.....BUT I am a Yankee.......YES!!
  • Dolly
    on Mar 18, 2019

    Most people don’t realize they can get their paint custom by ordering a percentage of the color with a percentage of white. I painted our home with 50% Agreeable grey cut with 50%. This process opens up all kinds of possibilities.

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