Do you ever watch those HGTV shows just wishing they would come and make over your home? Well, have I got a story for you.
My parents recently went on vacation, and my sister decided to renovate their home while they were gone – in just 10 days. I’m talking ripping up the carpet, peeling the layers and layers of wall paper from the 1970s, painting the walls, and installing new flooring.
My sister’s timeline was a little crazy, so she had to have a little help from us – but the results were phenomenal.
When my parents returned, they were completely shocked. Of course, they loved it and were so happy to not have to tackle these projects themselves.
So, here are the before and afters, along with the details, of the 10-day home renovation challenge.
First up is the living room makeover. Below is a before picture, showing the view looking in from the hallway.
Such a difference, right?! Here’s another view of the living room before and after pictures.
Last, here are befores and afters of the dining room.
The difference is pretty incredible! In just 10 days, my sister, along with some help, was able to rip down layers and layers of wall paper, fix up the walls, paint the walls, rip up carpeting, and lay down new flooring during this dining and living room makeover project.
Preparing for the Renovation
The living room and dining room renovation was a complete surprise to my parents. After they left for their vacation, the first order of business was to prepare the rooms.
First, we took pictures of all of the photo arrangements and knick-knacks, so they could be placed back properly. This is a good idea even if you are working in your own house. This way you can put everything back exactly the way you had it.
Then, we moved most of the furniture out of the rooms. Any furniture that was too heavy got moved to the center of the room. It would also be a good idea to cover it with plastic.
Next, we removed the outlet and light switch covers – which were later replaced with clean white covers, as opposed to old gold ones. Small changes like this have a huge impact.
Since the plan was to first remove the wallpaper and then remove the old carpeting, the floors didn’t need to be covered.
It was then time to start ripping down the layers of wallpaper.
Removing the Wallpaper
The first, and most grueling task of the living room makeover project, was undoubtedly removing the wallpaper. The first layer came off in huge sheets, which was unfortunately not indicative of how the rest of the wallpaper peeling went.
It would have been magical if that was the only layer of wallpaper. However, underneath that top layer was more wallpaper – uneven, stubborn wallpaper.
Removing Stubborn Wallpaper
To remove the stubborn wallpaper, it was necessary to use a steamer. At first, we used a portable hand steamer, but it was taking too long. To make matters worse, the handheld steamer was cordless, so we kept having to take breaks to charge it.
Productivity was so slow that we looked into renting a bigger one from Home Depot. It turns out that it was cheaper just to buy a steamer than rent it.
And, it was totally worth it.
The wall steamer was much better than the portable one, and it came with an enclosure to confine the steam to the wall, which greatly improved the efficiency of removing the wallpaper.
As we were steaming, we used a paint scraper to get underneath the wallpaper and peel it off. Use a flat blade though, to avoid damaging the wall.
After all of the wallpaper was removed, we found any holes and cracks and filled them with dry wall compound.
Once the compound was dry, we went over the walls with the sander to smooth everything done and get the walls ready for painting.
As you can imagine, the sanding made a huge mess. So make sure you have things covered or completely moved.
Throughout the dining room and living room makeover, we used the Shop Vac to clean up all of the debris. It was great at getting the fine pieces (and came in handy later with the carpet removal too).
Removing the Carpet
Removing the wallpaper was eating up more of the timeline than we thought. How awful would it be if we hadn’t finished the dining and living room makeover before my parents came home?!
On top of that, trash day was coming, so we were anxious to get rid of all the garbage that we could. We didn’t want to leave heaps of trash for my parents.
So, Ash started removing the carpet while my sisters continued on with the wallpaper. Luck was on our side with the trash company too, as they took carpet in 4ft rolls. That greatly helped.
This old pink carpet that covered both the living and dining room had seen better days, and we couldn’t wait to get rid of it. Aside from the dust, the carpet removal wasn’t too bad.
Ash started with a corner and pulled it up with some vice grips. While pulling, he also started cutting it into strips to help with cleanup afterward.
The carpet was not too dusty, but the padding underneath was full of dust. So a dust mask was critical in the process. The padding was nailed down in numerous areas, so care had to be taken to remove all the nails.
Also, there were tacking strips along the perimeter of the rooms that needed removal as well. They were full of rusty nails so extra care was taken when removing them.
Ash found that a pry bar worked best to remove the tacking strips. After all the carpet, padding, tacking strips and nails were removed, the Shop Vac was used to give the floor a good cleaning.
Here is the dining room, minus the old carpeting.
Painting the Walls
While Ash was removing carpeting and my sisters were working on the walls, it was time to start thinking about painting. After all, the perfect color is one of the best things about room makeovers.
Choosing Paint Colors
So, my sweet little helper and I took a trip to our local paint store. We love Benjamin Moore paint – the odor is minimal and their colors are simply the best. My little guy loves our outings, especially loves the paint store – because if he’s a sweetheart, I let him choose a paint chip to take home 🙂
We brought a sample of the new floor along to the store, to hold up to various paint colors and help us determine the colors for the dining and living room makeover.
Not only are Benjamin Moore paint chips 100% representative of the color your wall will be (which unfortunately isn’t the case with all other paints) but the quality and sheen of their paint is amazing. We tend to go with the Natura collection because this puts the least amount of chemicals into the air.
If you think choosing paint colors is hard, imagine choosing them for someone else.
As if I’m not indecisive enough, I went back and forth trying to decide what colors to choose. The dining room had a chair rail, so I needed one color for the top and one for the bottom. The living room needed just one color, and the hallway didn’t need paint – as it was freshly painted a few summers ago.
Lucky for me, my parents love the color green, so I just needed to pick a shade. I went with Benjamin Moore Feather Green, which had more of a white base than a gray base. For the second color, I chose White Dove, which is my favorite of the whites that Benjamin Moore makes.
Priming and Painting the Walls
Once the wallpaper was finally down and the walls were patched, sanded, and ready to go, it was time to start painting. This was quite a milestone in the dining and living room makeover project!
So, after taping off the ceilings and the chair rail, my sisters painted a nice thick layer of primer.
After the primer in the living room and dining room, it was time to move onto painting the walls green. We did two coats of the green.
With the dining room chair rail, we decided to paint the lower portion White Dove and the higher portion Feather Green. It turned out really pretty.
The chair rail and tape didn’t leave the neatest edge, so in hindsight, we really should have pulled it off and then put it back.
Feather green already brightened the room so much. The dining room and living room makeover project was well on its way, with just a few days to spare.
Installing Laminate Flooring
To keep everything moving along during the dining and living room makeover, Ash started to work on the flooring in the dining room, while my sister finished painting the living room.
Ash loved working on the flooring – he found it really fun to work on. And, I love the way the laminate flooring turned out. It was so much prettier than carpet, and the white baseboard was the perfect touch. Now I’m thinking about where we can incorporate laminate flooring in our house 🙂
Laying Down the Laminate Flooring
As far as installation, the laminate was pretty easy to install. The pieces fit together like a large jigsaw puzzle.
Each alternating row was offset by half the length of a full piece. Not only did this add to the visual appeal, but it was essential for a rigid floor structure.
The laminate flooring tools (pull bars and tapping blocks) were heavily relied upon to get the pieces in place. 1/8″ spacers were also used along the perimeter of the wall to enforce a gap to allow for floor expansion during different times of the year.
The gaps were going to be covered by baseboard trim later on. Ash will have a full post on installing the laminate flooring soon. 🙂
Tackling the Tiles in the Hallway
The hallway tiles proved to be very labor intensive. The problem was that there was another layer of plywood sheathing nailed into the subfloor, followed by the vinyl tiles.
The plywood sheathing was there to raise the height of the floor so the tiles would be even with other room surfaces.
Unfortunately, it was a huge pain removing this second layer of plywood. It did not come up very easy. Yet, we endured and got all the plywood and tiles removed.
Baseboard was the easiest part of this dining and living room makeover. It was just a matter of measuring all the walls that needed baseboard, and buying the appropriate amount from Home Depot.
We pre-painted all the baseboard pieces. Once they were dry, Ash used the miter saw to cut 45 degree angles on the ends of the pieces. These angled cuts would create scarf joints between the baseboard segments.
Scarf joints are ideal for trim because they hide the seam pretty well.
Finally, Ash attached the baseboard to the walls with some construction adhesive and a few taps from the finishing nail gun.
Cleaning Up and Organizing
From start to finish, the Shop Vac came in handy the whole project – from vacuuming up the dust and wallpaper scraps, to any nails left behind from the carpet removal.
After all of the work was done, we went over everything again with the Shop Vac. Then, we used a wet swiffer to get up more lingering dust. There was dust everywhere – so when preparing for the makeover, definitely move (or cover) everything really well.
While my sister and Ash were hard at work finishing up, I was looking for a way to organize the floor samples and paint colors for my parents.
Rather than toss them in an envelope, I created home improvement printables and placed them in a binder with the samples. This way, they knew exactly what paint color, floor, baseboard, etc that we used.
Get Your Free Home Improvement Printables
If you are thinking about a home renovation project, or are just trying to keep your projects organized, you can get your free home improvement printables below. They will undoubtedly help you keep track of your paint colors, cabinet choices, home repairs, and more.
The Moment of Truth
When my parents returned from their vacation, they were so amazed at their home. They loved the flooring, the walls, and they were happy to see that old carpet gone.
Moreover, they were ecstatic to come home to a completely updated living room and dining room. My mom has been enjoying going around with the swiffer, instead of the vaccum in the mornings. She had fun gathering braided rugs that my grandma made to compliment the new flooring. And, my dad said he feels like he wakes up in a dream 🙂 Isn’t that a sweet compliment?!
So, if you find yourself watching one of those HGTV shows wishing for your own renovation, know that you can do it yourself. Now is as good a time as ever to start working on those tasks.
Removing wallpaper, ripping up carpet, painting walls, and laying down new flooring are all things you can tackle yourself. And, you’ll be so happy that you did.