Before and After: A Tear-Down Makeover Turned This Victorian Living Room into a Stunner

published Mar 4, 2024
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Living room before renovation.

Historic homes often come with interesting past lives. (Think: churches, factories, and more, turned into living spaces suitable for singles, couples, and entire families.) In the case of Emily Radford’s (@emilyshouseremix) home, it was a hospital first (a Victorian-era isolation hospital for scarlet fever), and then it was a dated 1980s home, and then it was Emily and her family’s gorgeous home. 

To get there, it took a total professional tear-down back to the bricks. “We removed the carpets, flooring, doors, architrave, and skirting boards,” Emily says. As for the living room, “the room was very dark, and although it had three windows, it didn’t receive much natural light,” she adds. 

Credit: Richard Kiely

A total tear-down provided a fresh start (and more light).

To let more light flow in, Emily had the pros tear down a wall near where large sliding glass doors would go. The demo and rebuild (the former done largely by Emily and her husband, the latter done by professionals) involved removing rotted floors and joists, installing new engineered oak, insulating the external walls, rewiring and replastering the place, and installing a new central heating system.

Emily says tearing down the wall was one of the biggest game-changers and made everything much more spacious, “completely opening up the space that would have originally been built as one big hospital ward,” she says. “By taking down the stud wall … the light came flooding in.”

Emily says with the new open layout it “feels like we are always together as a family, no matter what each person is doing.”

Credit: Richard Kiely

The focal point is still the fireplace. 

The main thing Emily liked about the home before moving in was the fireplace, and in the after, it’s painted Homebase’s Zebra Black to match three of the walls — the other is painted Dulux’s White Cotton — and firebox. 

One of the trickiest parts of the makeover was hanging the behemoth mirror above the fireplace, Emily says. “We tried to do it ourselves but were beaten and broken by the sheer weight of it,” Emily says. “In the end it took four builders to lift it. I happily watched on that attempt.”

Credit: Richard Kiely

Antique furniture fits the room’s vintage style. 

In addition to the big antique brass mirror, Emily incorporated vintage details throughout her design, like the sideboard, the Windsor chair, and the coffee table. “The coffee table is an upcycle of an old farmhouse table found at an antiques fair, the top of which is in our bathroom,” Emily says, adding that her daughter frequently uses it as a stage for dancing — a much more exciting use than holding coasters and magazines. 

Credit: Richard Kiely

The stairs got an upgrade, too.

Right off the living room is a staircase that once had a too-short door that showed the bottom step. “It just didn’t look right,” Emily says of the before. 

To make her living room look picture perfect, she removed the door from the stairwell, painted its walls Mylands’ Gentleman’s Pink, the risers black (Sinner), and the handrail a bright green, sparing no detail. 

“The space has a real mixture of styles, yet it still managed to look well-put-together,” Emily says of the entire room post-makeover. “The light floods in, yet it still feels cozy and inviting. It is more of a family space where we can gather and listen to music.” Here’s to lots more great songs (and great dancing) in the new living room.

This article originally published on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: A Tear-Down Makeover Turned This Victorian Living Room into a Stunner