AFTER: Books and artwork quickly arranged and styled on the shelves.
I've always said if you can only invest money in one room of the house — or, in this case, one section of the studio — pick the bedroom. It's where we theoretically spend 1/3 of our life sleeping, so it makes sense to get the healthiest, greenest and most comfy components for a restful sleep. When you skimp on bedding, your body feels it. So for Part 3 of this $500 makeover, I decided to invest about $300 in the bedroom with some surprising results.First things first, I moved the mattress away from the wall and centered it in between the windows. Any die-hard Apartment Therapy reader knows that pushing furniture into the corners of an apartment is never the way to go. Since this is a ground floor apartment, it also made sense to take advantage of the wall to act as a privacy barrier from pedestrians walking-by and it becomes a make-shift headboard. Now onto the bed.
Even though I have my own line of mattresses (the Simmons Natural Care by Danny Seo), priced at about $1,699 for a queen size set, it was clearly out of budget and it would seem unfair to just comp a free one if my goal was to stay on budget. So, not knowing the "history" of this mattress, especially in a city that seems obsessed with bed bugs and dust mites, I decided an investment in an encasement cover and good-quality mattress pad would be the foundation components for this healthier sleep system.
In the home section of JCPenney's Manhattan store, I picked up the encasement cover and pad, and mixed and matched pieces from various collections, including solid white, wrinkle-free sheets so this bachelor would easily be able to wash and dry the sheet with ease. I decided on an American Living blue and white plaid comforter in lieu of a fussy comforter and duvet cover, plus splurged on brand new eco pillows, filled with recycled polyester from water bottles, which makes them both hypoallergenic and eco-friendly. Large, dark blue Studio by JCPenney shams are plopped onto the back of the bed and two American Living feedsack style throw pillows to finish it off. On the floor, a Cindy Crawford Style area rug was the surprise find: it was both affordable and the most classic-looking design available.
The interesting part of the JCPenney Manhattan store is their $15 same-day delivery for items less than 70 pounds. But time was ticking, so I was forced to load my arms with the merchandise and lay the giant rug across my chest in the taxi ride back to the apartment. Since there wasn't a lighting department at JCPenney, the existing halogen torch lamp would have to do (sigh) along with the on-hand bookshelves and whatever accessories I could find stashed away in boxes and in the closet.
With 30 minutes left, the bed was dressed, the bookshelf was moved to the side and filled with books and the vintage-style artwork I found piled up was hung on the wall. By moving the oversized chair in front of the bed, it created a "zone" in the studio where the bed could be dedicated to sleep, and the chair could be dedicated to reading and work. With wi-fi service, there was no need (nor was their room) for a desk and the studio went from cell-like, to upscale dorm-room in appeal.
I will say that the challenge with this makeover was not the budget — I could easily spend $250 at JCPenney at one of our door-buster sales and the remaining $250 at flea markets and thrift stores to create a truly gorgeous home. The challenge was TIME. If I had a full week to spend time slowly building, layering, and problem-solving the place, I could create a magazine-worthy home. Plus, it would be great to have the talented help of my trusty go-to stylists.
But since most of us don't have the luxury of taking time off to shop, decorate, and have stylists decorate our homes, I wanted to keep it real in this attempt. I had four hours to scout, shop, decorate and shoot a studio apartment in New York City. The non-decorating friend who lives in this home is beyond thrilled with the results and emailed me recently to say how happy he is to come home. And in a way, whether it's an A-list celebrity client in the Hollywood Hills or my NYC friend in Hell's Kitchen, as long as their happy, I'm happy.
(Images: Danny Seo)
Danny Seo is a leading lifestyle expert on all things green and eco-friendly. His blog, Daily Danny includes inspiring how-to projects, ideas, tips and contests for living "Simply Green."
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