Reader living room after the remodel
Photo: Ryan Kurtz
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Best Living Room Redo: After

Who: Jenna Miller Pelaez
Where: San Francisco

Her Story: "I couldn't bear our old living room, with its awful green-brown trim and heavy stone fireplace. With limited cash and moderate DIY skills, my husband and I set out to return the space to its former glory. We worked for a year to restore the original pocket doors, strip paint off hardware, and rip out the carpet to reveal stunning pale maple floors. I learned it was crucial to find every single staple holding down the carpet or else later you'd end up stepping on the ones you missed!

"I wanted the fireplace to have a contemporary look, so I opted for white glass tile with mirrored trim. I made a template of the surround and laid out the design over and over, tweaking the arrangement until I got it just right. I made many mistakes along the way, such as changing the tile size, which left me scrambling for enough material! I also designed the built-in shelves; it took ages to figure out how tall they should be, how to configure the shelving, and where to add lighting. We had a contractor build the coved arches above them to emphasize the height of the ceiling.

"For furnishings, I scoured junkyards, flea markets, and Craigslist. But I did splurge on a few new items, like the tufted ottoman. I love how our living room turned out."

Take a video tour of Pelaez's living room.

Shown: White tile and matching built-ins lighten up the fireplace wall, and a neutral color palette pulls the space together.
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