Beacon Hill Apartment - Before + After

I've worked on some pretty amazing spaces but this one in particular holds a special spot for me. My client, a young professional living in a rental in the most charming area of Boston - Beacon Hill. Let me just repeat, her apartment is a rental. 

When people rent they often feel as though there's "no point in making it their own" or that their options to improve the space are "limited". I am writing this post for all of you people who think these things. WHY on earth live anywhere that you're not going to make your own in at least a few small ways, regardless of the circumstances? Whether you have little space, live in a rental, have messy kids (they're all messy!), there are ways to improve your home and ultimately make the space one that is true to YOU without needing to do anything too ground breaking. 

For my client, we were working with her living room. An awkwardly shaped room that needed to function as the living room where she can hang alone or with friends as well as a space where she can dine and/or work from home. Thankfully the living room received drool-worthy natural light - literally a photographer or designer's dream, it's that good. So the space had that mega plus going for it. 


As you can see, the space is a tad blah and had bulky furniture that just didn't work for the room.   


Here's a good view of the awkward shape. The room is like a triangle with one side being curved - very, very strange. 


A little bit of a dark photo but let's just point out the dated metal window blinds and wood-toned window panes/sill. We'll come back to that in a bit. 


The TV sat extremely low which didn't exactly do anything for the lovely ceiling height. 

Okay, let's move onto the afters because I literally can't wait any longer for you to see these.




We started fresh with pretty much all new furniture. We reused her existing coffee table and some smaller art pieces but that was about it. One thing that is so important when designing a space is to select furniture that is appropriate for that space - size, scale and shape all play MEGA roles here. 

By eliminating the idea of having two sofas, we instantly made the space feel less cramped. Yes, she lost a couple of seats for guests but this is a case where you just have to be realistic with your space. If you don't have the room for say 8 people to hangout comfortably throughout the entire space, then you need to reevaluate your realistic needs with your space in mind and not just your wants!


We replaced the low TV stand that she had with one that sits at a better height which helps bring your eye up. We also installed some wall shelves for cute decorative accents and it again helps to bring your eye up!


We kept with the same furniture layout because it worked well for her needs. BUT the big improvement that helps make the space feel less cramped, were the furniture selections. By opting for a round table and just two chairs instead of four, we made what is otherwise a random section of the room, feel usable in a comfortable way. The old square table and small bookcase that were in that back corner, tightened the space and although it could seat more people, there was a lack of breathing room. 


There was a solid amount of painting that went down with this project. We gave the walls a fresh coat of "White Heron" by BM to brighten it up even more. Even though the existing wall color was light, it was that ugly beige that most older rentals have. I will never understand why landlords or builders choose that drab, dated, yellowy-beige color. It needs to stop. 

We also painted the window sills and panes AND the baseboards. Her landlord also allowed us to replace the dingy metal window blinds with basic white cellular shades. Nothing fancy, but DEFINITELY an improvement. 

And that's it! What do you think? Got questions? Drop 'em in the comments below! : )

Thanks for reading! XO


"after" photography by Elizabeth Willis Photography