Modern Traditional Living Room Reveal

The main floor of the Sima Sixties Split is open concept and includes the living room, kitchen, and dining room. I COULD reveal everything at once but that wouldn’t be much fun, would it?! Today I’m sharing ALLLLL of the details from our living room remodel!



The Before

When we purchased our home, our living room was closed off to the kitchen and dining room, with a load-bearing wall in between. The ceilings were flat and 8′ tall. The brick wood burning fireplace was a nice original feature but had been painted and had a dated mantel. The old wood windows were drafty, and the original wood floors had definitely seen better days. Here are some photos from when the house was staged, when we first walked through.

The staircase felt boxed-in and cramped, and the stair treads were actually only 9″ deep, so our feet didn’t even fit on them all the way. We knew we’d have to rebuild the staircase and replace the windows, and dreamed of removing the wall separating the living room from the kitchen and dining room.

The Plans

The living room had a large attic above it, but unfortunately it didn’t really have enough headroom to be functional. We had a contractor come over and walk through our home with us, and discussed the idea of vaulting the ceiling above the living room. Because the center wall was structural, our contractor got an engineer involved as well, who suggested we could possibly vault the ceiling on the entire floor (kitchen & dining room included).

We lived in our home for about 6 months before we gutted the main floor.

Because we planned to remove that center wall, we knew we’d have to replace the flooring as well. As much as I appreciate an original wood floor, we wouldn’t be able to patch in the spaces where the walls were, and the kitchen had a linoleum floor that we wouldn’t have enough wood to fill in either. My vision involved a wide-plank white oak more modern floor.

I had shared initial design plans back in February 2021 and stayed true to those selections throughout the renovation process. Due to the current supply climate, we purchased everything early and had it sitting in storage (aka other rooms in our home) for months before we could even install it.

One of my dreams was replacing the wood burning fireplace with a gas insert. We have another wood burning fireplace in the basement, and gas fireplaces allow you to enjoy them any day of the week at any time of day without the hassle that a wood burning fireplace brings.

The original inspiration involved white walls and ceiling, wood builtins, a stone fireplace surround, cozy textures like leather, vintage rugs, warm wood tones, and heavy drapery. Things changed a little bit, but I generally stayed on the same track.

Inspiration images for Sima Sixties Split living room remodel
Inspiration images: Amber Interiors, Studio McGee

I pored over what seemed like 50 shades of white paints, and finally selected White Snow by Sherwin Williams: a neutral, warm white with no undertones (from what I can see). We did egg-shell on the walls and flat on the ceiling. I chose an ever-so-slightly different white, Pure White by Sherwin Williams, for the trim to create just a hint of contrast. We used a satin finish on the trim.

Demo & Progress

We hired out the major pieces in our living room: demo, framing, structural work, gas fireplace installation, insulation, window replacement, stairs demo and replacement, and drywall. It was very labor-intensive, challenging work and there would have been no way the two of us could have done it ourselves. An engineer and architect were brought in to assist with drawings and planning for the ceiling vault and recessed beam, and our contractor team worked countless hours over the course of the project on the demo to rebuilding process.

Josh and I did do SOME of the work: we installed the flooring, painted, installed the trim, electrical work, lighting, builtins, tile work, and design.

It was obviously more costly to hire things out, but we had no choice in many areas, and it was so worth it to save ourselves the time and stress of trying to do it all.

Furniture Design Plans

I had a pretty specific furniture design plan right away. I envisioned an L-shaped sectional with two chairs, an upholstered ottoman, and an asymmetrical builtin unit to the right side of the fireplace with a tall tree on the left. On the back wall, I envisioned a large storage hutch or console table with art or a mirror above. The rendering below is more of a vision of furniture layout rather than specific pieces, but you get the idea of what I was thinking!

Sima Sixties Split furniture layout rendering
Made with the program RoomSketcher

I fell in love with the Sullivan sectional by Maiden Home, and head my heart set on having it in our living room. One of the things we had to consider was the “pet-proof” factor… we have a dog and a cat, and our cat loves to scratch upholstered furniture. We pored over fabric samples from Maiden Home until we found one that held up to a knife and some red wine. The fabric is called Performance Tweed and the color is Oatmeal. So far, it has proven its worth multiple times and although the sectional was a bit of a splurge, I don’t regret it at all.

I was lucky enough to be able to partner with Loloi rugs for a discount on our gorgeous rug. I had wanted a large vintage rug, but needed a 9×12 size which are hard to come by for less than multiple thousands of dollars, which wasn’t in our budget! The rug I chose has notes of blue, green, mustard, gray, beige, and cream and is SO soft underfoot.

I purchased the velvet navy blue chairs seen below and still love them, but recently I decided to swap them out with the leather chairs in our porch. I also purchased the ottoman seen below as well. I had thought about a wood coffee table, but a plush upholstered ottoman is so much more practical to put your feet up on while watching TV, and this one from Wayfair was a great price and I loved the traditional shape!

Sima Spaces living room furniture and finishes moodboard. Modern traditional style with moody accent colors and natural textures.

Fireplace Wall Plans

I originally wanted to do a light colored stone fireplace from floor to ceiling, but our budget had spiraled a little out of control and we had to cut back. Instead, I designed a statement stone fireplace with a board and batten feature above surrounding our TV. We knew the most functional furniture layout would involve the TV being placed above the fireplace, so we splurged on a Frame TV and flanked it with some shaded sconces.

I was also given the opportunity to partner with Home Service Plus by CenterPoint Energy on our fireplace. The brand they carry is Kozy Heat, and the fireplace itself is exactly what I had wanted: something minimalist and transitional. The surround and interior is a matte black, but the wood burning logs lend a more traditional look. It is remote controlled, which is so convenient! I love being able to push a button and instantly enjoy a cozy fire.

Since this main floor is open concept and adjacent to our kitchen, I wanted to tie in features on our fireplace wall to the kitchen. I found a porcelain tile that looked very similar to our countertops. Josh built a square mantel that I designed based on an inspiration photo I had seen on Pinterest. To the right of the fireplace, I wanted a builtin bookshelf, and wanted to keep the left side open as I had envisioned a large tree there under the peak of the vault.

Josh built the bookshelf and I painted it the same color white as the trim (Pure White by Sherwin Williams), and stained the oak shelves the same as our island and range hood (English Chestnut by Minwax).

Other Details

We replaced all of the original drafty windows with white Andersen windows. I liked the previous look of the large picture window flanked by double hung windows, and wanted white grids on the top half for a more traditional look. I found an extra long curtain rod and used 100″ wide dark gray drapes to frame the window. I’m still on the hunt for shades- debating a bamboo style vs white cellular or pleated.

I wanted our trim to mirror the fireplace surround. The right dimensions were hard to find, so we made it instead, using 3 1/4″ flat trim pieces with a 3/4″ corner piece.

Next to the window on the right, I framed some vintage prints from Etsy. The smaller of the frames is from a consignment shop, and the larger frame is from JoAnn Fabrics.

Next to the stairs, we had a large blank wall. I initially envisioned a console table with a mirror above, but realized that we would also have a console table and mirror just down the stairs in the entryway and I thought that would be too repetitive. We also needed more storage, as this floor doesn’t have any closets and our kitchen doesn’t quite have enough space for our china and extra servingware. I fell in love with this cabinet (and honestly- really any black cabinet!) and dreamed of something like that occupying our empty wall. Due to the cost of *literally everything* else in this renovation, we couldn’t afford to fork over $2000+ on a storage cabinet. Instead, I found a cabinet on Facebook Marketplace for just $50 and gave it a major makeover with the help of some black gel stain. I’m still debating if I should call it “finished” or not (contemplating adding wood to the back and/or replacing the clear glass with reeded glass?), but I do love it so much as it is now!

The stairs were completely gutted and replaced by our contractor team. We had them open up the wall in between staircases as well so that we’d have a more open feeling. I chose a square newel post, oval handrail and a mix of straight and oval balusters to create a modern traditional look. The treads are quarter-sawn oak to match our range hood and island, and they’re stained the same color as well.

Finally, we do have plans to install wood beams on the ceiling. That is lower on our priority list of projects- we have quite a few other things to get to before that!

I can’t even tell you how good it feels to have a finished, cozy, light-filled living room to enjoy every day, after 5+ months of living out of our basement earlier this year. I am so happy with how it has all turned out. Whether we’re watching TV at night or lounging and having coffee in the morning, I love this space and the feeling that it creates in our home.

Shop our Living Room

Specific details:

Wall Paint: White Snow SW 9541 by Sherwin Williams (egg-shell on walls, flat on ceiling)

Trim Paint: Pure White SW 7005 by Sherwin Williams

Flooring: Novella Hemingway by Hallmark

Fireplace: Chaska 34 by KozyHeat (sold by Home Service Plus)

Fireplace Tile: Eero Cenerina 24×48″ by TileBar

Sectional: Sullivan by Maiden Home, 105″ x 106″, Performance Tweed fabric in Oatmeal with Pecan legs

Let me know if you have any unanswered questions below!

As always, be sure to follow along on my Instagram account for the most up-to-date progress.

Author: Laura Sima

Hey there, I'm Laura- creator of Sima Spaces. I'm a home renovator, designer, and blogger based in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. When I'm not designing or renovating homes, you can find me working as a pediatric ICU RN, snuggling my dog or cat, skiing in CO, soaking up the sun on our boat, or enjoying a glass of wine on our patio!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This is great!! Doesn’t a vault make the space feel sooo much bigger? I have one for the first time in our main living areas and it will be tough to ever move back to low ceilings in the future. The $50 hutch is probably my favorite part besides that ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t say no to a good DIY scrounge when the money runs out!

    • It’s so crazy how much the vault changed the feel of the space- I can’t imagine what it would be like if we didn’t do it! And yes, that hutch is one of my favorite things too ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy with how it turned out!

  • Absolutely stunning space. Itโ€™s layered, itโ€™s bright but cozy! That takes serious skill that I envy so much! Is the whole fireplace area the same color as the walls? Iโ€™ve got a white fireplace on a blue accent wall and Iโ€™m rethinking the space- wanting to go all white. Thank you!

    • Hi Amy, thank you so much, I appreciate your kind words!! The fireplace wall is the same color as the rest of the walls, yes (White Snow). All trimwork, including the pieces above the fireplace and the builtins, are a slightly different shade (Pure White). I love the all-white look, especially when you add in some depth with trim pieces or other texture and lighting ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Your list of what you DID do is so impressive! The space is unbelievable and Iโ€™m completely inspired to tackle some projects in my own home.

  • this renovation! I’ve watched it from the beginning and learned so much about making thoughtful decisions in both design and renovation. Even the mistakes and working through them. What I especially love is the empty space in the design.