Before & After: A Serene Guest Room on a Budget

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With some white paint, elbow grease, and a few affordable accessories, Noreen and David turned a barely-used storage area in their 180-year-old Florida home into a peaceful and comfortable guest room.

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When I was visiting my parents Florida home earlier this month, I was so thrilled to see that they were transforming an old storage area at the back of the house into a guest room – and they didn’t even know it was Home Project month here at Apartment Therapy! The storage area was the original kitchen of our family home, and because the house was built in the 1830s, there were layers and layers (and layers!) of vinyl on top of vinyl – covered in carpet. With some sanding, priming, a whole lot of vinegar and white paint, my parents have successfully turned an eyesore into a calm and inviting guest room – and the most expensive part was the new mattress (which I will certainly be testing the next time I’m home)!

Here, my mom, Noreen shares some tips on how to upgrade (or in their case, renovate) a room on a budget:

1. Because this was the original kitchen, we knew we were in for a bit of a challenge. Once we removed the cheap, wood paneling, we discovered great tongue and groove wood walls – but underneath the paneling was 100 years of soot, cooking grease and aqua lead chipped paint. We had to scrub down the walls with vinegar and liquid soap, and then we had to sand and caulk. After two coats of primer, the paint went on like a charm! On the walls, the paint we used was a semi-gloss, pre-mixed white (N 333 01) Benjamin Moore Latex.

2. After we pulled up the carpet and plywood (we were determined to find those original wood floors!) we discovered at least 10 layers of old vinyl flooring. After researching how to remove the years of glue and muck, we discovered that the answer was again to use vinegar – only this time it was heated with water and liquid dishwashing detergent. Then came the scraping (fun!) and sanding, followed by two coats of primer. For the floors, we used an oil-based porch paint (again, the pre-mix Benjamin Moore) in high gloss.

3. I believe in inexpensive fixes wherever possible. The windows in the room were so long, that we knew custom blinds would be very pricey – but our guests need to sleep in while on vacation! Lowes custom cut vinyl white shades for us, and the final price was only about $30 for each window.

4. In keeping with trying to keep the project on a strict budget, we chose to go with a side table we found at Target and bedding in a high thread count that we found on sale at T.J. Maxx. We decided to keep the bedding simple and spend a tiny bit more on the throw pillows to add a bit of personality. Above the bed are cherry wood frames I found at Target and inside are vintage postcards of our town Quincy, Florida - my husband found the cards on Ebay for about $1 each. The pocket door to the bathroom is a vintage find and it still has the original "Office" lettering! The velvet loveseat is a flea market treasure that I just thought was so cool.

5. We did splurge on a nice mattress for our guests - but all in all, the project was done very inexpensively. We are extremely happy with the results - although I hope that's the last time I have to buy 15 gallons of vinegar!

(Thanks Mom & Dad!)

Images: Noreen & David Gardner

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