Updating a 90's Model Home Living Room Reveal

You've heard the saying "form over function" haven't you? I don't have a hard time believing that, and didn't really question the phrase until I met my engineer husband. He's a very rational thinker that sees the saying in the opposite way. I remember the year after we purchased our first home, in our Christmas letter, he wrote this:

In March {2001} we took a giant leap and bought our first house.  After months of searching, we finally found a place that we love, and eagerly (i.e. as fast as our legs would carry us) moved from our apartment.  Rachel was elated at the prospect of adding colors to brighten up the rooms, and skillfully argued her case over Mike’s objections, himself having grown up in a house where any wall that wasn’t white was probably just dirty.  They say a man’s home is his castle, and Mike is now the proud ruler over a Toasty Gray kitchen, an English Rose family room, and a Khaki den. 

The mention of Mike's objections is all in jest, but it was the first time my eyes were opened to seeing a home as a very utilitarian space that wasn't necessarily a soft place to land, but was rather a warm box that could shelter you from the elements. It was form follows function and is was a way to look at design that I had never seen before. 

Several months ago, I offered to hold the hand of a friend of mine who doesn't necessarily think she has an eye for design. This family is in the process of launching children and they very much hold the form follows function mentality. Which could also be described as "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Welp, something broke and they were left trying to decide how to fix it.

The much-used fireplace in their home exploded when the oldest boys were home leaving them with a gaping hole blasting cold air at the height of winter. They saw their fireplace as a very functional piece in their home's design and it was no longer functional. The need to replace the fireplace sent this family into complete remodeling mode with a desire to update the room of their home that has become such an important space for this family of five.

The remodel is finally complete and I am excited to share how the vision to brighten the space and most importantly, adding in a new fireplace insert that is safe and functional, has become a reality. 


I can't believe what a difference some of the changes have made. I think it's safe to say that this 90's model home has moved into the modern era while still carrying over the design thought that form follows function. Some see the updates that were made!

Updating a Living Room 


Before we got started, I spent some time with the homeowners deciding what was important to them in their living room remodel. Above all else, the goal was to brighten up the space as much as possible. It's dark and dreary around here and light and airy is always a mood booster in the dark months. 


This was accomplished by painting the oak wood trim and built-in bookcases the same off-white color as the other existing trim in the home.  The walls were painted with Sherwin Williams Modern Grey.


A new ivory colored couch was selected and a coffee table was purchased.


 Some color was brought in as accents in the pillows


and through the fine art work from Minted.com. Stay tuned, I'll talk more on that later.


The fireplace stone was totally replaced. The river rock was removed and new drywall was installed before the light grey stone was added. There was debate about a fireplace mantle. It's a long story, but a reclaimed slice of old growth wood was purchased and when held up next to the stone, just didn't look right. In the end, the simple clean lines of the new stone won out as a stand-alone feature, and the function of a mantle was debated and ruled unnecessary.

The whole reason this project started was because of the gas fireplace insert. After the explosion {you can read more about it here}, the family wanted to make sure they replaced the insert with something safe that would last them for years to come and would withstand daily use. They needed peace of mind and they got that from this Heat n Glo 7x Slimline replaced by Fireside Home Solutions.


The family can stay warm and toasty with their new gas insert and can control it all through the Intellifire programmable wireless remote.


The biggest change in this room was updating the 90's fireplace. I think that needs another side by side don't you?



The ceiling fan was replaced with this open light fixture from Home Goods, and the slim wood blinds that were previously on the window were replaced with sleek hidden blinds from Hunter Douglas.


The Berber carpet that was original to the home more than 20 years ago, and was darn near impossible to destroy, was replaced with the softest carpet with an extra plush pad underneath. It's like walking on a cloud.


There was a lot that was learned while working in this space, so much so, that one day my friend sent me this e-mail.

Things I've learned:

-Remodeling any part of the house you live in is stressful.

-Just because I see a picture of a Crate and Barrel living room that I love, that doesn't mean it shows up at my house tomorrow. It takes 10 weeks to get furniture delivered, yep about 3 months...

-A snazzy pic of a living room when all the pieces are added up can be a ridiculous price for people with families who don't consider themselves "all that fancy"

-Some designer thought it was a good idea to make a sofa out of a material so sensitive and precious it can't actually be sat on by a responsible adult. I not only have teenagers, but adult friends who wear dark blue jeans drink red wine! Of course that is the sofa I fell in love with.  No go on that precious pretty thing.

-Just because something is trendy or currently in style doesn't mean it looks good in my house, or is something we love. Aka mantel fail.

-Two wrongs don't make a right. Just because I spent considerable time, effort, energy, and money on a mantel I ended up not liking, I don't have to use it.

-Life is spent in community with family and friends I love. My dear friend with a skill set I was born without has held my hand and walked me through this dust, clutter, and mess. God put Rachel Teo in my life for a reason. 

-Every single person from painter, contractor, carpenter, gas fireplace dealer has been professional and fantastic. I have no idea how people deal with this process without that being the case!

-HGTV and real life are very different things...


I feel like in the end, the vision was completed and the new room acts as the perfect gathering space. Form follows function for this family, but that doesn't mean that they needed to sacrifice style and comfort when they were selecting the various components of their new updated living room.  This family loves their new living room and were thankful for the push that made them change a room that they use often into a space they love to share.

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. Some product compensation has been received from Minted.com and Fireside Home Solutions in exchange for review. These small purchases and review products help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

3 comments

Jack son said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Meghan @ Heat & Glo said...

What a fresh and remarkable transformation. We love the palette and that it's so in line with what the homeowners were looking for! We're honored you selected our product to be a focal point, and are delighted to hear you had an excellent experience with Fireside Home Solution. We look forward to following your next project!

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