Before: Living Room

To get there, they took down walls, added windows, and were even willing to ditch some original details. "Many folks shy away from doing this, but it's better to replace or rebuild when old materials aren't of high quality or if the original design interferes with a sensible floor plan," says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. Read on to see how daring decisions paid off.

Shown: Stained knotty pine around the fireplace looked heavy and dark.
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