renovating a bedroom on a budget

Some dear friends of ours live in a beach town in the south, and they have an adorable house in an artsy neighborhood. They’re raising kids and working full time. Their jobs are extremely important and rewarding — they work with people who are homeless and people who have disabilities — but it’s tough work that can be exhausting. With all they have going on, they haven’t had much time to devote to their home, and the wife asked me to brainstorm ideas. I was very happy to help, since designing on a budget is my jam.

They just switched around the bedrooms in their house, and they moved into a smaller bedroom previously used by their teenage daughter. The room has a navy accent wall and stickers on the wall, courtesy of their daughter. The floors are a beautiful mahogany, and they have two mahogany dressers, a mahogany headboard, a black bookshelf, and a lingerie chest. The room has plenty of natural light with two big rows of windows. Here’s a quick sketch to give you an idea of the layout.

These folks aren’t into fancy things; they want something calming and cozy. They love blue, and they’ve both spent a lot of time near the ocean — they met on the West Coast and now live near the Atlantic. They need to keep all of the furniture pieces for storage, so we want to infuse some light colors to make the room feel bigger and counterbalance the mahogany. I’d also like to add some other textures.

After spending a lot of time thinking about it, I’d suggest that they paint their room Cloud White by Benjamin Moore — it’s a warm, happy white. They’d first need to prime the navy accent wall and remove the wall stickers, of course. They don’t like the black bookshelf, so I’d suggest painting it the same white as the wall so it would blend in. And I’d paint the lingerie chest a color that complements the rug — the yellow pictured below would work well.

For the fabrics, I’d incorporate different types of materials, including natural rattan and nubby cotton. Some black and white photos of their kids would look great, too.

For the windows, I’d hang black curtain rods close to the ceiling. (They already have rods, and they can spray paint them black for very little money.) The window by the head of their bed isn’t centered on the wall, but they can mask this imbalance by how they hang the curtain rods and how they position the curtains on each side of the window. White curtains like these would work well.

On the bed, I’d love to see the windowpane sheets pictured below with some big, white Euro pillows and the stone striped blanket. I’d fold the navy blanket across the foot of the bed. (By the way, if you’re looking for a soft, warm blanket for the winter, we have the cream version of this navy blanket, and I love it! Highly recommend.)

And they enjoy reading in bed, so in addition to the big Euro pillows I also suggest plug-in sconces (no need for an electrician). For me, it’s important that the sconces swivel or articulate so the light can shine directly on my book. I think cream-colored metal lamps would look great in this space — they’d blend the beachy, casual feel with a modern look.

It would be great for each adult to have a small bedside table for books, phones, and glasses. I’d love for these tables to have a circular top, given all the 90-degree angles in the room. And I’d like the tables to be airy rather than boxy, given the tight fit. Since the mahogany is so dark, we wouldn’t want to add any black furniture, and I wouldn’t want to introduce any other color of wood. So I’m suggesting some small metal tables from Urban Outfitters with legs shaped like birds’ feet. They’re fun and quirky, and the price isn’t bad ($70 each).

And they love music, so I think a Crosley record player would be a very fun addition to the room. The tweed color would look great on the newly-painted white bookshelf!

What do you think of the room plan pictured below?


Their kids want more mirrors in the house, so I’d also add a leaning mirror with a black, metal frame like this one.

And it’s very important to know how much all of this would cost, right? That’s always my first question. So here’s my best estimate:

  • wall primer, about $35
  • gallon of warm white paint, about $45 (they might want to also get a quart of paint formatted for furniture if they plan to cover the bookshelf)
  • plant, about $35
  • rattan basket for plant, about $30 (Home Goods is a good place to buy this)
  • striped blanket, $264
  • navy blanket, $199
  • windowpane sheets, $41
  • rug, $154 (depending on size)
  • Euro pillows, about $50 for two
  • cream sconces, $404 for two
  • white curtains, $80 for two (they already own curtain rods)
  • beach photos, $29-39, depending on size, but add an extra $20 each for frames
  • rattan hanging light, $100
  • Birdy side table, $140 for two
  • yellow paint for lingerie chest, $30
  • floor mirror, $133
  • record player, $90

The total cost for all these items is about $1,900, which I think is pretty steep. I’d suggest buying the paint and sheets now (the sheets are heavily discounted) and waiting until Black Friday to buy the rug, blankets, sconces, and other smaller items. I’d scour garage sales for a plant basket, picture frames, and a leaning floor mirror. Maybe a friend can propagate a fiddle leaf fig or some other large plant to share with them.

I’d love to hear what you think! Can you recommend any ways to save money and still get a similar look?

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