Before and After: A “Cold, Dirty, and Neglected” Guest Bedroom Gets a $420 Makeover

published Nov 21, 2023
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Whether your home is old or not, there are lots of ways to make it look old — in a good way. Ceiling roses, antique doorknobs, crown molding and baseboards, stained glass decals, window mullions, and antique furniture can give even a new build historic charm.

“Our house was built in 1948, but unfortunately, over time, a lot of the original character was removed,” says DIYer Jordan Gilbertson (@tjsdwellings) of the home she shares with her husband, Tony. “With each room we renovate, we are always trying to find affordable ways to add character back in.”

This was especially important to do (on a budget) in their guest bedroom, last updated in the late 1990s or early 2000s. “When we moved into the house, the guest room was bright blue [and] had damaged wood vinyl flooring, missing closet doors, holes in the walls, outdated wood trim, and a damaged door,” Jordan explains, adding that there wasn’t much they liked about the room other than the views out of the windows.

“The room felt abandoned, cold, dirty, and neglected,” she says. “It needed a lot of TLC just to get it to a sanitary place, let alone a place that looked good.”

A budget-friendly flooring upgrade ditches the run-down feel.

The first step was removing the vinyl floors. Eventually, Jordan would love to further upgrade the floors or restore the hardwood  — that’s what was originally there — but when she and Tony tore up the vinyl, they found damage, a rotting smell, and plywood patchwork everywhere. 

“We couldn’t save them unfortunately,” Jordan says. “We ended up painting them with KILZ primer to get rid of lingering smells and then topped it with a bright white. I think down the road an interesting tile floor or wood flooring would really make the room feel complete but for now, the painted white floors add to the charm of this old house.” Jordan adds that their DIY goal was to revamp the room with mostly paint. 

The walls, ceiling, and trim got fresh paint.

Another challenge in this space was finding the right color paint for the walls and beyond. “We wanted to transform the space into a whimsical, inviting oasis that welcomed guests and made them feel at ease,” Jordan says. 

She and Tony knew they wanted to go with something colorful, that they wanted to paint the ceiling to elongate the room, and that they wanted to go with something bold for the trim, too. “We sampled a lot of colors before painting swatches on all four walls to see how the light bounced off of them,” she says. “This was the key to finding the right color in such a small space with limited light.” The final color picks are Behr’s Roman Plaster for the walls, Antique Penny for the trim, and Frosted Jade for the ceiling. 

They managed to avoid using any painter’s tape by starting with the trim, then the walls, then the ceiling. “We used an angled brush for all the outlines and roller brush to finish the walls off,” Jordan explains. “For the ceiling, we started with a roller brush, but the paint was just too runny and we made a huge mess, so we ended up using a lime wash brush that worked incredibly effectively for our textured ceilings.” Jordan says painting ceilings is always tough and time consuming, but the neck ache is always worth it to her. 

Rope-style trim adds budget-friendly character.

Compared to painting, Jordan says adding ornamental wood trim to the walls was easy and fast, and the rope style of it adds a bit of the fun texture and geometry they were after. 

“We love Craftsman-style homes, large chunky trim, and ornate crown molding, but that can often be expensive to add,” she explains. “We found this ornamental wood trim that resembled a twisted rope and was only about $70 to wrap around the room … We opted out of adding any glue and simply nailed them in, in case we wanted to remove them at some point.” Jordan’s advice for adding ornamental trim around a room? Using adjustable miter shears to make cuts allows the process go a lot faster. 

The paint, trim, and tools for those projects cost about $200 in total. 

Secondhand finds (plus some fun new items) add the finishing touches.

After accessories were added, the project total increased to a bit over $420. Jordan and her Tony doubled down on the playful shapes and patterns with scalloped shelving, and a checkered pillow — as well as adding a new bed and other decor to complete the room. The couple sourced the dresser, lamp bases, lamp shades, a few picture frames, and the standing mirror secondhand. 

“We knew the room needed a makeover, but we really didn’t want to buy anything new,” Jordan says. “We created a paint plan that highlighted all the existing materials, colors, and wood tones in the furniture. This saved us SO much money and made us realize how much you can transform a space with just paint. The new colors really made the existing furniture and decor pop and work better together.”