4 years ago

When You Can’t Renovate That Room Just Yet


These aren’t my usual before and after pictures.  I am not going to win any Pinterest awards for “Most Pinned After Photo,” but this probably the make over that has had the most positive effect on my attitude.  It also happened to take only 90 minutes and it cost nothing!  So while you may not want to pin these images, you might want to read, and do this makeover in your own house.

Every time I have moved into a house, I have had that one area or room that becomes a catch-all while I am working on the rest of the house.  In our last house it was a converted garage/game room.  In this house, it ended up being my dual purpose office and guest room.  I have not ever had a home office and we haven’t had a guest room for years, the extra bedroom was the natural catch-all.  However, I was also finishing up graduate school, so I needed to use my desk.  I unpacked the essentials and left the rest of the boxes, lamps, and mirrors that I hadn’t had a chance to get to in the closet.  Shortly after we moved in my husband decided to put a TV and cable in the guest room for when I have insomnia.

awful guest room before picture
Don’t Judge me too harshly!

I ended up spending a ton of time in this depressing room.  The walls haven’t been painted in eons (and they are a peachy beige color that I detest), they weren’t painted well when they were done, there is a water stain on the ceiling, a toner spill on the carpet from before we moved in, and all of our families junk.  I had stopped working in the office because it was too messy and depressing.  I hate staring at a blank/ugly wall while trying to write.  I ended up moving my laptop to the kitchen table, so that I could get sunshine and look out the window while I was working.  This of course, interrupted the flow of meals and also meant I was dangerously close to junk food while working.

uninspired desk
Gee, why wasn’t I inspired when I was working here?

The other night when I couldn’t sleep I started trying to figure out how I could move things around to at least put my desk in front of the window.  Every thing I thought of was awkward, I figured I would just leave it looking terrible until I was finished working on the dining room, and I eventually fell back asleep.  All of these lovely before pictures in this post were taken the next day.

guest room junk with unmade bed
I really cannot believe that I am showing y’all these photos.

When I woke up, I had a cold and figured if I was going to be lying around resting, I could at least use my brain to work on this problem.  In true Project Manager fashion, I started doing requirements gathering for the room.  This room needs to be used for the following:

  1. As my office space – a quiet place where I can write and edit.
  2. As the Guest Room – When guest come I want it to be welcoming, neat, and give them a comfortable spot while they are here.
  3. As an extra Den/TV Room – It never occurred to me that my kids would love hanging out in this room and watch tv, read, or play on their tablets.  However, there is rarely a day that the guest room isn’t being used as a hang out by one of the girls and/or their friends.  They also take the space over if they are sick, since that is the only time they truly binge watch TV.

The next thing I did was think about the current challenges:

  1. The desk had to be near the window (and that doesn’t work with any of the natural bed locations in the room).
  2. I have a king size headboard propped up behind a full size bed.
  3. Junk!
  4. The toner stain on the carpet.
  5. The printer has to stay in the room, but also not be prominent.
  6. The dining room wall paper removal and painting needs to be complete before I paint the guest room.

Then I took an inventory of the items I had to work with:

  1. My Grandparents Mid Century Modern bedroom set (a large long dresser, a small bedside table, and a king size headboard).
  2. My Grandmother’s sewing table (that has always done double duty as a guest room bedside table – even in her house).
  3. My Step Grandmother’s desk.
  4. A quilt made by my Great Grandmother out of my Grandmother’s childhood dresses.

The inventory was filled with pieces that I really love!  All of a sudden I had an epiphany – a king size headboard is the same size as the length of a full size bed.  I love daybeds.  Why not have a full size daybed.  Sure, it isn’t conventional, but there is no rule that says a full size bed can’t be a daybed.  It is perfect for children who like to do acrobatics while watching TV and reading on a couch.  It also has the added benefit of giving plenty of room for using my desk by the window without knocking my chair into the bed.  Plus, if we had multiple guest staying, it is quick enough to turn it back to the normal orientation, so two people can comfortably get in and out of bed.

I got up and started sorting right away.  It ended up a good portion of the boxes were empty ones my husband had been storing.  The extra box of air filters fit nicely in the closet.  The piles of clothes had only recently taken up residence over the last week when we were sorting out the kids dressers and closets, so they just needed to be boxed up and put in the kids’ closets.  I get overwhelmed when I see junk and think it is going to take 2 days to sort through it!  But, alas in less than 1 hour, everything was in its proper place and there were just a few pieces of furniture remaining.  I put the printer in the closet and ran an extension cord, so that it could take up permanent residency out of sight.

All I knew was that I wanted the desk in front of the window and I wanted the bed in daybed position on the opposite wall.  I figured it is always best to start with what you know, so I put them where I wanted them.  The rest kind of fell into place.  The TV could go in the corner and the dresser could fill the wall near the entrance to the room.  The furniture was in place and the room was transformed into a much more inspiring place in just another half an hour.

zero dollar makeover view of bed and desk
First move the known elements. The unknown can be taken care of later.


zero dollar make over mid century modern dresser
The dresser naturally fit on the wall closet to the door.


zero dollar desk and tv
Much brighter work space and I found a home for the TV.

Phase one of my office/guest room re-do took 1.5 hours and cost 0$.  I made the couch/bed and sat on it and admired my work.  Instantly I came up with my to-do list for the eventual completion of this room.

  1. Paint the ceiling and walls.
  2. Replace the light fixture.
  3. Take the leftover butcher block after I install the counter in the half-bath and attach it to the iron sewing base that I have been storing in the basement.  This will be the new TV stand (and the current sewing table can continue its life as a nightstand).
  4. Get a low profile box spring so that the bed is couch height and more of the beautiful headboard can show.
  5. Make/Get a longer coverlet for the bed, back cushions, and side bolster pillows to add to the whole couch feel.
  6.  Replace the curtains.
  7. Paint or stain the desk (because I have always thought it wanted to be a bright color which would balance out all of the other wood furniture nicely).
  8. Put in a quilt stand or a chair to prominently display the quilt.
  9. Eventually get the carpet replaced (the toner spot is now out in the open, but it was a small price to pay).
  10. Have someone make matching wood sides for the daybed (this one is way above my pay grade – but it is also a completely unnecessary but nice added touch).

Here is the funny thing though, now that I can use the space and I have a plan, I am quite content to get to those things when I get to them.  As much as I love the cosmetic and design part of decorating, I am surprisingly patient once I have a vision.  I figure as long as I know the direction I am moving in then I can collect and slowly let the room unfold.  My only action item that needs to be done sooner than later is painting of the ceilings and walls.

What suggestions do you have for the completion of this room?  Do you have an out of control room that could use a quick clean up and some rearranging?  I would love to hear about your zero dollar make overs (and please, don’t make me be alone, share your embarrassing photos of your junk rooms).



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