Let’s ditch the dungeon, embrace the light! See this incredible transformation: a dark and dated living room gets a makeover bathed in sunshine (well, paint!). Get tips to steal this look and brighten your own space.

Have you ever felt trapped in a living room that feels more like a dungeon than a place to relax and unwind? We’ve all been there!

Dark paint colors, bulky furniture, and a lack of natural light can make even the most spacious room feel cramped and uninviting.

Today, I’m sharing a stunning dark living room makeover. Wait until you see this incredible transformation!

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Before the Living Room Makeover

Take a look at these “before” pictures of our living room. As you can see, the dark paint color (a deep charcoal) combined with the heavy furniture pieces created a very gloomy living room.

The lack of natural light from the single small window further accentuated the cramped feeling. Needless to say, this space wasn’t exactly conducive to spending quality time with family or entertaining guests.

When we added a second story to our small 3 bedroom ranch home 12 years ago, we painted all of the rooms with sage, gold and cranberry tones.

Mustard yellow walls in living room with dark leather sofas -Before and After Living Room Makeover

After 12 years, we have been slowly updating each room, moving to lighter and brighter color palettes. Can you believe how dark and dingy my living room looks? The dark leather sofas are pretty new. And because they are so dark, they were really weighing the room down with the existing wall color.

But I knew I wanted to paint the room much lighter when we bought them. And now I’m ready to change things up in here. Because my home was feeling really dark overall from the existing color palette, I started updating room by room.

The kitchen was the first room to get a makeover. It went from dark and dingy to modern farmhouse. And I painted the whole thing myself.

Because my kitchen turned out so amazing, I wanted to paint the living room next. But wow was this dark!

Mustard yellow living room with dark brown leather sofas and green rug before the farmhouseLiving room makeover

Shedding Light on the Project: Planning and Inspiration

My vision for this makeover was simple: create a light, airy, and inviting living space. To achieve this, we had to address the paint color, furniture choices, and lighting situation. I spent some time researching living room paint colors and ultimately settled on a soft, airy greige that would reflect light and make the space feel more open.

For furniture, I wanted lighter pieces with clean lines. But since I just purchased the sofas, swapping them out was not an option. In some cases, I repurposed existing furniture by giving them a fresh coat of paint. And I also rearranged the furniture layout to improve the flow of the space (especially helpful for small living room makeovers).

Lighting was another key element. We maximized the use of natural light by keeping window treatments light and sheer. We also incorporated additional lighting solutions like floor lamps and strategically placed sconces throughout the room (check out our living room lighting tips below!).

rustic farmhouse living room fall home tour 2021 with dark leather sofas and cozy fall pillows
farmhouse living room decorated for fall

Bringing the Light In: The Makeover Process

Painting: The transformation truly began with the paint job. Replacing the dark charcoal with a light and airy greige color (Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan, to be specific) instantly brightened the space and made it feel more open and cozy.

Furniture: I refinished an old coffee table to give it a fresh, light wood finish and make it look a little less orange, further contributing to the airy feel. And because my piano was so dark and heavy in the space, I painted the piano too!

Lighting: As mentioned earlier, maximizing natural light was crucial. I replaced the dark heavy curtain swags with light and airy sheers and added a few lamps for cozy lighting. I also added a new area rug that helped lighted the room up from below. This combination of natural and artificial light created a warm and inviting ambiance.

Decor: To complement the light and airy feel, we chose light-colored throws, pillows and artwork. I also incorporated some reflective surfaces, like a large mirror placed opposite the window, to further bounce light around the room.

Fireplace decorated for fall with tv above mantel in rustic farmhouse living room fall home tour
Living room decorated for fall

After the Living Room Makeover

To move away from the gold, cranberry, and sage tones, I painted the living room with Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan. A good friend of mine used it in her home and I loved the color. If you are not familiar with Manchester Tan, it is like a true greige.

In some lighting, it has more gray tones and in other lighting, it has more beige tones. It goes with anything and really lightened up the room. And I loved this color so much, I used it in other areas of my later.

In addition to painting the room, I changed the area rug. I love how neutral the room looks now after changing the area rug. It adds a little personality without taking over the whole room.

In addition to changing the rug, I swapped out the pillows. And I also added hanging herb boxes and beautiful white curtain semi-sheer panels. Don’t they look so pretty?

I also tucked in a lot of live houseplants and faux plants and florals to soften the room and add some warmth. And then I restyled or repurposed my existing decor.

This coffee table even got a makeover. And I even painted the piano so it didn’t look so heavy in the room.

These pics were taken shortly after finishing the living room. The room looks so much different now that the piano has been painted and I’ve been decorating for the seasons.

Cozy reading nook with chair, blanket and throw pillows - rustic farmhouse fall home tour 2021

Decorating My Living Room for the Seasons

This is what it looked like in the spring with my gorgeous spring florals. And here’s what it looks like in fall. I am loving all the pumpkin decor and fall florals this year!

Because my living room turned out so pretty, I decided to paint my dining room and my front entry too! Wait until you see how much better they look with using Benjamin Moore’s Manchester Tan too!

Have you made over a space that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you have any questions, let me know!

Vintage shutters styled for fall above a painted piano - rustic farmhouse fall home tour 2021
My painted piano decorated for fall

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Cozy farmhouse living room painted withe benjamin moore manchester tan with dark leather sofas, farmhouse throw pillows and vintage area rug with wood coffee table and vinrage window on wall with wreath
Pink roses with vintage area rug
Piano that was painted with mineral paint andUpcycled Vintage Chalkboard Frame
2 arm chairs, dark leather sofas, wood coffee table and vintage area rug in farmhouse living room -Before and After Living Room
farmhouse living room ideas with stone fireplace, tv over fireplace, oversized clock, chess table, dark brown leather sofas, vintage area rug and piano
Cozy reading nook with armchair, blanket and throw pillow with wood armoire cabinetBefore and After Living Room Makeover
close up of Before and After Living Room

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  1. Stacy,

    One of the things I really appreciate about your blog is that it’s being done on a reasonable scale that many people can appreciate. It’s one thing to follow a blog about French provincial houses, for instance, and while lovely to see, often doesn’t translate to our “regular” houses!

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate hearing that…a lot. It means a lot to me that you are following along Taffy! I can’t wait to share the gardens!!!

    1. That was a very popular color – our bedroom was that same gold and I had another gold going through the whole main floor. What a difference to just lighten everything up with greigey neutrals! xoxo

  2. Pingback: Rustic Living Room Ideas On A Budget