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See what this living room looks like after a $450 makeover

With an inspired idea to go faux, and some serious DIY ingenuity, here's how Heather and her husband transformed their family room.
/ Source: AARP

Blogger Heather from The Heathered Nest (who prefers not to use her last name) has a love affair with beams.

On her blog, she described them as “dreamy,” and “an architectural element extraordinaire.” She had always associated them — as many people do — with rustic charm, snuggling by the fireside … and a lofty price point.

With an inspired idea to go faux, and some serious DIY ingenuity, here’s how Heather and her husband transformed their family room — a centerpiece of the home they share with their three kids — for a tiny fraction of the cost of real wood beams.

The living room before the makeover.
The living room before the makeover. The Heathered Nest

And the look? Deliciously authentic.

The Heathered Nest

Plan and prep

The first piece of the puzzle was determining the layout and number of the beams they wanted. Of course, that seems like an obvious first step — but given the variety of options available, Heather described it as actually the most challenging part of the project.

The room’s ceilings were already high and vaulted, an enviable feature the family loved.

“But there was no ‘wow’ to accent that,” Heather wrote on her blog. “We thought beams would add some interest and draw the eye up. At the same time, the beams could help to keep the room cozy.”

The Heathered Nest

In the end, Heather replaced the ceiling fan with a “big ol’ super-glam chandelier,” and ended up with two walnut-tone beams based on the size of the room and the location of the new fixture.

Of course, Heather warns that if you try this at home, the details are all matters of personal preference. But she has a pro tip: “Do remember that the size of the beams is important. The higher the ceiling, the bigger the beam you’ll want.”

DIY process

Because of their high vaulted ceiling, the family DIY crew used joist hangers that were adjustable to the angle of the ceiling.

The Heathered Nest

“If you’re lucky, you have a stud where you want to put the hangers, which makes them pretty easy to install,” she wrote. (And for the not so lucky? Well, those folks would need to use anchors, which isn’t a big deal because the fake wood beams are light, she explained.)

Then they prepared their two-by-fours and installed them into the hangers.

Because of the angled ceiling they were working with, cutting the beams to length was a bit daunting.

“The beams had to be cut at an angle, and getting that angle right was tricky,” she wrote. “Remember: Measure twice, cut once!”

That said, Heather described the actual cutting of the beams as a snap. And her advice to other DIYers? Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress!

“Truth be told, the beams don’t fit super tight to the ceiling, but because the ceiling is white and the beam is dark, you can’t tell at all, so it worked out great,” she wrote.

The Heathered Nest

All that was left to do after that was install the beams, which Heather said was, shockingly, “the easiest part” — but it did require two people. “Simply screw through the faux beam into the joist,” she wrote. “And there you have it: beautiful faux wood beams … and no one will be able to tell the difference!”

And the best part — apart from the pride of DIY success? The price point. Heather told TODAY Home she achieved her dream look for just about $450. Score!

See more photos of Heather's tips here!

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and the founder of the lifestyle blog Homebody in Motion. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Twitter.