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A new room for under $300? What the what?!

A room makeover on a budget of $300? Surely that’s not possible. It was. It is. And it can be for you, too. The trick isn’t necessarily in finding the cheapest items at box stores or hours spent combing the local thrift stores, though that’s always a fun way to spend a morning. The trick is to use what you already own and to think creatively to re-purpose or re-imagine items you have at work in other areas of your home. Fair warning: once you borrow an item that was perfectly happy in one part of your home and want to put it to work in another area, this one room project will turn into a small game of Dominos. If that idea feels like game over before it even began, hang tight to see what I mean. In the case of this room, one Domino move meant I took table lamps from the tired bedroom and moved them to the dining room. Easy enough.

Today I’m walking you through step by step how this tired bedroom transformed into a dreamy bohemian retreat all on a budget of $300.

Take a look at the before.

Fine. It was perfectly fine, but in its fine-ness the room became a dumping ground. A room sized version of a junk drawer. Three poufs that needed repaired sat in the corner along with a bag of mending projects. Boxes of pictures were tucked away neatly between the dresser and the wall – out of the way enough, but present all the same. Stacks of I’m not entirely sure what sat on each of the side tables and dressers. The room needed a bit of cheer and in all honesty a good clean and purge would have done the trick, but it had been eight years since these walls last received some attention and it was time. It. Was. Time.

Step One: The Plan

Cost: $0

Before I start any project, I always start with a plan. The plan isn’t perfect and it’s not as detailed as a recipe might be, but the plan shows me a glimpse of what the final product could be and points me in the direction I am headed. My plan starts on Pinterest. Always. Pinterest is a search engine, but more lovely than that, Pinterest is a visual search engine. Cha-ching! I spent a couple hours searching master bedrooms and pinned anything and everything onto a new board dedicated to my project. I generally know when I’ve had enough dreaming and I want to head into action. For me it’s a visceral thing – meaning I can literally feel when my body is ready to move. For you, you might need a guideline or a stopping point. So many of my clients over the years have sat in the same stew of inaction because they didn’t know where to start. So…limit your images to thirty.

A couple notes on pinning. You already know that anytime you’re searching for something on-line you can get lost in a rabbit hole. Pinterest is no different. There is a strategy in using this platform, however, and using it to design the space you’d like to uplift can save you time and money in the long run. When you find an image that you like, pin it. Don’t worry if the image isn’t completely your ‘style’ or isn’t attainable (whatever that means). Pin it! You may only like one element in the room and not the entire room – pin it. Each time you pin an image type in a one or two word description so you know what it was that caught your eye. Don’t over think it. Was it the table lamp? Was it the rug? Write it down so you can remember later. And if there’s something in the image you don’t like, jot that down too so you remember. The goal here is NOT to take that room and put it in your house. The goal is to understand what the common elements within each picture are so you can start identifying your style and then design a room you love with those elements in mind.

Enough side-tracking. I’ll teach you more on Pinterest later. Back to my plan. I wanted a black wall. I had recently painted the interior of my front door black (take a peek here) and had A LOT of paint left over. I knew that I didn’t want an entire room painted black, though that could be pretty dreamy. I wanted an accent wall and the rest of the room to feel light and airy. I am loving the look of natural wood and greens so I wanted to be sure to incorporate both of those elements as well. I searched rooms with those elements and the plan was in place.

Step Two: Paint, paint and more paint

Cost: $47.81

That’s what I did. For two days. My room is large, I got a great arm workout and I don’t want to paint another room for several months. Mission accomplished. Why was the cost for this part of my project so low? I use the same shade of white every time I paint white. It has the perfect amount of creaminess to it, but it’s not yellow. I used up the itty-bitty amounts I had remaining from other projects as well as the gallon I purchased. Perfect – fresh paint and cleaned out the garage all in one fell swoop!

Step Three: Prep the accent wall

Cost: $0

I could have painted the wall black and been done with it. The feel of the room would have been similar and maybe I would have done just that if I had needed to buy additional white paint. I wanted, though, a bit of texture in the room and a black ship-lap wall was in store. Prepping this wall was no joke. At its highest point, the wall measured eleven feet. Eleven. My first job was to measure where the ship-lap would go and make horizontal lines along the wall. That was a chore. I wanted to be sure that the spaces where the ship-lap met, the wall beneath it would already be painted the same color as the final ship-lap color – in this case, black. But I didn’t want to or need to paint the entire wall beforehand, just along the stripes where the ship-lap would meet.

Step Four: The ship-lap wall

Cost: $112.45

I purchased four 4’x8’ pieces of 1/4” plywood then cut it into 6” strips. By ‘I cut it’ I mean I had the workers at Home Depot cut the boards in half so it would fit in my car, then Greg and I cut the rest into 6” pieces. No wood wasted. A quick sand down of the edges and I was ready. Measure, cut, climb, nail. Measure, cut, climb, nail. Putting the wall up took me two days and I climbed ladders and stairs over and over and over to get the job done. Another good workout. When the wall was finished being installed I painted it black. There were a few gaps where the wall stripes didn’t quite align with the gaps in the ship-lap. Note to self: should I do this again, I will paint the edges of the boards BEFORE adhering them to the wall.

Step Five: The chair rail/picture ledge and bookshelves

Cost: $0

Using left over 1" maple plywood we measured, cut, and routed the wood to make a chair rail. I wanted a stacked look, so we measured, cut and ironed veneer on the level beneath the rounded edge. We adhered the pieces together and mounted them to the wall with brackets that we already had on hand. The brackets, as is, are galvanized metal – not a look I was going for and a quick paint job made them cohesive with the design plan.

The bookshelves were shelves that Greg had already made using maple wood that he bought from a farmer in Eastern Washington years ago. The shelves had already made their way to the shop where I sell vintage home décor items, served their purpose there and were back home collecting dust in the garage. Another design decision where the garage benefited too. Win-win.

Step Six: The bedding

Cost: $0

The quilt, fuzzy pillow and black and white striped pillow were already in our room. The white and black throw blanket was used by my oldest son in his room and I just swapped it out for another throw blanket we had in the closet. The rust colored pillow was a pillow I had purchased this past fall for our couch in the living room and had been replaced with pillows for spring, just waiting the arrival of fall colors again in October. The euro shams were made by me using a cream colored curtain that has been in the donation pile for months. My original plan had me using the euro shams as they were, but once they were made they were SO plain. Too plain. I have other pillows in the house with faux pom poms and they are too much fun so I decided to make some with a rust center for our new bedroom. I’m loving that little extra detail.

Step Seven: The side tables

Cost: $0

I’ve had these side tables for probably fifteen years. Maybe more. Someday I’ll replace these all together, but right now they serve their purpose and just got an updated look. This project is definitely not perfect, but the look and feel of the room is about the room and not about perfect side tables. I painted the handles black and where once you saw a translucent cutout on the drawer of the table, I replaced with a not-so-perfect faux caning look using leftover 1/4" plywood and a drill bit. Easy.

Step Eight: The sconces

Cost: $109.89

These were my splurge for the room and I am giddy with the way they pull the room together! They swivel when you need them to swivel and add just enough light for reading and not too much light to wake up a sleeper. And the brass…swoon!

Step Nine: The art, lighting, chair, and misc.

Cost: $0

All from around the house. The wicker hanging light – from the front porch. The orange table lamp and white vase with willow branches – from the dining room. The Iowa art and the black and white chair – both from the living room. The plants – all but one were somewhere in the house. The rest of the pieces were already in the bedroom before and just moved to a new location.

Step Ten: The windows

Cost: $15.05

Admittedly, this part of the room is not done. I did purchase a new curtain rod, but haven’t found the curtains that will complete the look I’m going for. That purchase will likely take me over the $300 budget, but barely. I’m wanting something floral. Big and floral. I haven’t found anything that I like that doesn’t come in an 84” curtain length. Most likely I’ll end up making them.

All said and done, the project took two weeks give or take a day or two and, if you did the math, $285.20. I’m loving how bright and airy the room feels, all of the green that bring the room to life and the way the items that were working in other areas of the home have brought a fresh perspective to the room while simultaneously allowing me the chance to quickly refresh other areas in the house.

What area in your home can you refresh by moving a few pieces here and there? Have an idea but want a little guidance – reach out. I’d be glad to help! As for my next project, I think I’ll keep playing with the pieces that have been moved - borrowing from one corner of the room to give to the next.

Happy styling!



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