Behind The Scenes: Bargain Mansions Episode - Dining Room + Living Room Remodel with J Thomas Home

dining room and living room remodel bargain mansions

From the moment I walked in this home, I knew that if we bought it, the wall between what was the formal living room and the family room was going to have to come down.

While Josh agreed, he thought I was a little crazy, and figured we probably couldn't take it all down, because it was likely structural.

There was already a fireplace in the more-formal living room, with great windows. And that wall just blocked this room off from the rest of the communal space.

 dining room pre-remodel bargain mansions

On the backside of the wall was more of a "family room" feel, with yet another (massive!!) fireplace. Why someone needs two giant fireplaces that close to one another, I'm not sure. But if the wall was coming out, so was one of those fireplaces, as well!

family room pre-remodel bargain mansions

Something I really did not want was to keep this area right off of the front entry as the "formal" dining room. Once you have a table in here, it really isn't a large space. And we have several family members close by here in town. I couldn't imagine trying to cram 10-12 of us in here for the holidays, and attempting to carry a turkey all the way from the kitchen without spilling or dropping it, when there was SO much more space available.

dining room pre-remodel bargain mansions

So we charged Tamara with developing a design that incorporated an even more open layout, with lots of room to host family get togethers around a huge table, and hopefully saving this space for something special -- a piano!

Boy, did she deliver!


Tamara turned the formal living room into our family room space, and focused on creating a dramatic focal point with the fireplace and built-in shelving.

Then she picked out amazing slate colored tile that would wrap the fireplace from floor to ceiling. It is stunning!

She suggested a very-on-trend Mauve wall treatment for the built-ins, but I couldn't pull the trigger. Purple is probably my least favorite color, and while I'm sure it would have been really beautiful and fans of the show probably would have loved it, Tamara really wanted *us* to love our house, so we painted the built-ins a very similar color to the tile on the fireplace.

We stayed very contemporary with no mantle above the fireplace, and contrasted the darker tile tone with natural white oak shelving with hardwire lighting that we built at our shop.

And who can forget adding that 10ft exterior door!?

living room remodel plan bargain mansions
living room under construction


family room under construction


Tamara agreed the wall between the formal living room and family room needed to come down and got right to work on it.

For the rest of the walls, because every single one of them had a Tuscan texture on it, we had to add aggregate to the paint to blend it in; otherwise, we were looking at skim coating every square inch of every wall in our home with drywall mud, and that was simply not feasible within our budget or our filming time constraints.

Tamara preserved the traditional formal dining area for me, moving it to the old family room area, right off of the kitchen -- which meant there would be plenty of room for a huge table for all of our friends and family to fit! She chose beautiful chandeliers that would hang three above the table for the design.

At the time, we thought we'd keep both fireplaces, possibly, so would continue the dark tile on the second fireplace; but after opening up the walls, the current structure was not going to properly support the tile straight/flush, so we agreed to take that extra fireplace out, which gave us a TON of space back. Definitely the right call there.


living room renovation


Of course, with any remodeling project, we ran into a few issues.

The first one was that the chandeliers we LOVED for over the large dining room table were backordered, and wouldn't make it in time for the show.

We were SO sad, and really had a difficult time selecting a back up set.

I do like the ones we landed on, but originally wanted them in white; but black was available and would arrive on time, so black it is! There were a few choices like that we made during the show.

You can read more about our personal experience on Bargain Mansions in my blog post, here.

The other issue was we had intended to keep the original flooring -- it was gorgeous, hand-scraped White Oak wood with a nice brown stain. However, once we removed the island from the kitchen, and the wall between the family and dining room, that left lots of prominently placed portions of flooring that needed to be replaced. And would have to be hand-scraped and stained to match the existing floor... something that as time dwindled away, we were unable to make happen.

flooring being removed


I could really not be more pleased with how this came together for the show. It looks incredible! We love spending time in here together as a family, and are curating our own collection to fill in the bookshelves with artwork, photos, and plants.

family room remodeled bargain mansions

The additional door allows our family to entertain easily with an indoor/outdoor flow, leveraging so much more space on the back patio for the party to continue outdoors, especially now that the weather has warmed up and we can enjoy grilling out, and sitting by the waterfall and fire pits for s'mores!

family room remodeled

The dining table shown was staged for the show, but we have been slowly purchasing furniture to furnish these lovely designed spaces, and a dining table arrives later this summer that extends from 11' - 14' feet so we'll have plenty of room for any event we wish to host at our home -- everyone can find a seat between the island and the dining table, no problem. It will be awesome!

dining room remodeled bargain mansions
new wood flooring in remodeled living room

Honestly, in terms of the flooring, we did what we could to make it in time for the show, and much of it is thankfully hidden by rugs and movie magic!

Right after filming, once all of the staging supplies were taken out of the house, we refinished the floors to the natural, white oak wood with a water-based clear coat finish.

new wood flooring

One regret: Our floors are very pretty, but in some places very yellow. That is why we went with the water-based clear coat, so that they would not yellow overtime with a polyurethane. I wish I would have stained the white oak with our Sand color we use on our shelves at the shop to cancel out the gold undertones of the natural wood and it would all be a light, beachy driftwood tone. Next house ;)


On the show, the entryway is staged with a formal sitting room opposite Josh's office; however, once the floors were finished, I got my wish: a piano!

Josh scoured sales and sellers for pianos and had it delivered one day while I was working at the J Thomas Home shelving shop.

It's a player piano, and came with 20 CDs that the piano plays the keys itself (ghost style) which we enjoy turning on when we have guests over for meals; but it can also be played, too.

I grew up listening to my mom play our piano at our house, practicing for church. I did take lessons for several years but would not say that I "play" piano at this time, so hopefully having it in the house will change that for me. The kids love it and are learning to "play" as well!

player piano
children playing piano
player piano on rug

What do you think?

Would you have taken down that wall to open things up even more, too?
Would you have approved the Mauve color behind the built-in shelves?
Comment below with your favorite scenes from the show, or things you wish we would have changed.
There's more behind-the-scenes coming your way, like our Main Bedroom and Main Bathroom, and our Outside Remodel, as well (plus bonus rooms that didn't make it into the show!) -- stay tuned!
Message us today with any questions you may have about custom floating shelving you'd like to add to your remodeling project!



  • Emily

    Thank you so much, vividkreations!! We LOVE it — so glad you enjoyed the episode, too!!

  • vividkreations

    I thoroughly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Bargain Mansions episode featuring the dining room and living room remodel. The transformation was stunning, and J Thomas Home’s attention to detail is commendable. The choice of colors and furnishings showcased a perfect blend of elegance and modernity. Looking forward to more inspiring makeovers!

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