A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Living Room

Here are the transformations our living room underwent from the time we moved in (June 2007) until June 2012. I’d like to do something about the behemoth fireplace that the PO installed and make it more bungalow-appropriate: remove the stone façade and hearth, recess it more if possible, add a tile surround and flank either side with bookcases. I’m forever rearranging furniture in the room (because the fireplace takes up so much room) but other than that I don’t foresee many changes here. To read in more detail about various Living Room projects and changes, visit the Living Room category page.

June 2007 – Fall 2007

After we closed on the house but before we moved in.

Although not in terrible shape, the first thing we did was to have the hardwood floors refinished throughout.

All the trim was painted white (except for the sashes for some reason). For more on the window restoration, see the before/after here.

When we moved in, our old sofabed wouldn’t fit into the basement so it temporarily sat in the living room until I found a suitable replacement. We were able to give it to one of the window restoration guys.

The dingy white, beat-up walls.

The new sofa (now discontinued), from Room & Board fits nicely in the bay window. The living room windows were refinished in the fall of 2007.

Fall 2007 – Late Winter 2008

Another view, after window restoration

February 2008, plaster repair begins. The walls in the living/dining rooms were originally textured.

But because they were in bad shape, it’d be difficult to match so they were skim-coated smooth. We had also just finished having the rest of the woodwork refinished.

Late Winter 2008 – June 2012

Finally, color on the walls! The teal blue complements the original art glass windows.

The color was inspired by the dining room shade fabric and ties the rooms together. It also brings out the color in the fireplace stone façade (for better or worse!).

As it looks as of June 2012. By making a conversation area with the chairs and sofa, it seems to minimize the fireplace a teeny-tiny bit.


  1. mary ann condon on June 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I just came across this website regarding your home. Love all the before and after. Question. We are in a NW side bungalow in Chicago. All of the light fixtures are pull cord, and now light switches on the wall. Any suggestions?? Thank you Mary Ann Condon

    • denise on June 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm

      Hi Mary Ann! Wow, that seems odd that you have no light switches. Is your electrical wiring old? I hope you have had it inspected. As far as I know, the only way to wire the overhead lights is to guide the wiring down to the wall. With the requirements in our area to use conduit pipe instead of the more flexible BX, that would be a pretty big job (although perhaps somewhat easier if you have an unfinished attic that an electrician can easily access). It still might be a bit pricey though. However, there might be an easy way to do this: wireless light switches. I’ve never used it, but just do a search for it, or I’d recommend going to an electrical parts store, like Idlewood (on Lawrence, I believe; also in the suburbs). Go to the parts department and talk to the guys there—they all seem very knowledgable. Let me know what you find out! I hope that helps—good luck!

  2. emily on January 10, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Hi, I have a very similar Chicago bungalow. I am curious what kind of window treatments you have in the living room. It’s hard to tell from the pictures. Also, any recommendations on flooring companies? My hardwood floors are in TERRIBLE shape! Yours look great!


    • denise on January 11, 2014 at 8:31 am

      Hi Emily–
      Yes, I highly recommend Paul’s Hardwood Flooring for refinishing. We went with the “Swedish finish”, aka acid-cure urethane, which is really stinky for a couple days but off-gases quickly and leaves a really beautiful, durable finish. You (or animals) won’t be able to stay in the house for a couple days. Here are a couple of posts when we had the floors done:
      What’s Your Poison: Poly or Acid?
      Lookin’ Good!

      As for window treatments, we went with Roman shades for the lower half of the window only (I didn’t want to cover the art glass windows in any way) from Roberts Drapery Center in Mt. Prospect. Pricey, but I’m very happy with them. For a much cheaper alternative, you could go with top-down/bottom-up shades like we used in our other rooms (from JC Penney). Our neighbors bought them for their living room and they’re happy with them.

      Hope that helps. Good luck and thanks for visiting! 🙂

  3. Arlene on November 12, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Love how your restored the living room but that fireplace really needs to go. LOL. I’m betting the bones of the old fireplace are underneath. Thank you for restoring an old beauty.

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