How to "Grow up" Your Room

What better client to start with than your own sister (she can't fire you, you're related)! Molly, my 27 year old sister, recently moved from a new, airy and just-renovated space to a small duplex with 2 roommates. She was on a tight budget of $175, so she'd had to resort to making more craft-y type decorating pieces (we've all been there right?), not to mention her room was still made up of things from college. She asked John (my husband) and I to give the space a classic, open look that would give her a peaceful place to create (along with starting a wine blog, she's currently writing a book!) and make a piece of rented house feel like home.

Here's what her room looked like BEFORE:

What she did NOT like about it:

  • The clutter (she did not have enough storage for her soon-to-be library)
  • The "college crafty look" (but what's not to love about a polka dot narwhal amma right?)
  • No desk/space to work on writing

What she DID like about it: 

  • Her bed (she wanted to keep the height and bird bedspread)
  • The reading/book accents
  • Space to do makeup 

Challenges:

  • Her landlord would NOT let them screw anything into the wall or do any paint/ major appliance changes. 
  • The budget (target sells chairs for $175 dollars and we were supposed to re-do an entire room with that!)

What we did:

We shopped high end discount and second hand items, and used a few pieces Molly already owned to furnish the room. Here's the rest of the accents: 

  • Chair- $70 Ross
  • Mercury glass mirror quote (mirror was $10 at the Nashville Flea and I walked through Attagirlsays' terrific tutorial on Faux Mercury glass) Then I wrote the quote (one of Molly's favorites) with black chalkboard paint.
  • Grey Pillows- I made these and they are SO EASY! I recently got a sewing machine and simply purchased grey linen-like fabric for $3.50 a yard. I stitched 19" x 19" squares and used an 18" pillow insert. 
  • Hide her extra books in the un-used shelving in her bedside table.
  • Painted Molly's Target bookshelf (originally $20) white and converted it into a vanity.
  • Re-arranged the furniture so that there was more open space when you walked in.

Lastly, John's passion for woodworking allowed him to run with the challenge! He created a custom-made desk, inspired by the wooden side table Molly already had in her room. It ended up being a great focal point and really helped pull the room together! 

  

He used a Minwax dark walnut stain on the top and we painted the bottom white and distressed it.

He used a Minwax dark walnut stain on the top and we painted the bottom white and distressed it.

Here's what her room looked like AFTER:

Since we love big reveals, we thought about taping some butcher paper over the door and having her run through it, but then visions of Molly not being able to break through (remember lessons from SpinalTap?) came to our mind. So we decided just to open her door for her (in a very dramatic way though). She was SO excited and loved how it turned out. Plus one sister point for me! 

The take-aways:

If you are on an budget (and are like us, where even a lot of the articles of decorating on a budget are too expensive for you...) you can still make your space feel grown up! Visualize the theme you want for your space, brainstorm simple ways to make it cheaper, and then buy pieces that will give you the most bang for your buck. Here are a few other tips to consider along the way:

  • Symmetry can make everything look and feel a lot more polished
  • Balance out fun accents with basic, calming colors
  • Don't underestimate curtains
  • Less is more (eliminate "crafty things")
  • You can still have personal objects and things that inspire you! 
Trader Joe's is a hidden gem for flowers- they are inexpensive and sold by type so you don't have to worry about taking out any fillers. A lot of people don't know this, but they actually take custom requests and have a lot more options than they display. I ordered all the flowers for our wedding there!

Trader Joe's is a hidden gem for flowers- they are inexpensive and sold by type so you don't have to worry about taking out any fillers. A lot of people don't know this, but they actually take custom requests and have a lot more options than they display. I ordered all the flowers for our wedding there!

Let me know what you think or if you have any questions! If you've made your space grow up on a budget,  we would love to see how you did it!