Before and After: A $1,275 Bedroom Makeover Trades Dated Design for Vintage Charm

published Dec 20, 2023
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Some folks (those with DIY skills or design visions, especially) buy dated homes knowing that they plan to renovate them to their liking. Take, for example, this apartment owner in Queens, New York — or U.K.-based homeowner and DIYer Emily Hawley (@sandstoneandslate).

“We bought the house knowing we would be fully renovating each room,” Emily explains. “The bedroom was a priority for us, as it was very sad and worn with layers of lining paper holding the walls up.” 

Emily adds that the purple-hued bedroom, as they found it, “was dated and dark,” “felt dingy,” and hadn’t been updated since the early 1990s.

Credit: Emily Hawley

The bedroom reno started with a big demo job. 

Removing the dated and dingy pieces of the existing room — like the built-in wardrobes — led to some unexpected obstacles. “We ended up having to go back to brick, as the plaster fell off as we started stripping the walls,” Emily recalls. She and her partner, Jack, kept the brick on the chimney breast exposed — a happy accident that added lots of character. They also ripped out the carpets before sanding and painting the floorboards. “It was all DIY!” Emily says of their efforts. 

Emily says they didn’t plan on doing this level of renovations at first because they didn’t realize the whole room would need to be reboarded and replastered, but she’s glad they did it. “Living [in] the dust and removing all the old plaster was the hardest bit!” she says. 

In hindsight, she wishes they’d replaced the windows at this time, too. “We’re hoping when it comes, too, it won’t be too messy,” Emily says. 

Credit: Emily Hawley
Credit: Emily Hawley

Shiplap and paint add a cozy, cheery vibe.

Once the walls were up, Emily and Jack added a shiplap treatment to the wall behind the headboard, a first-time project for the avid DIYers. “It was much easier than we thought once you got the measurements right,” Emily says. “We hadn’t attempted any kind of real woodwork before paneling, but would definitely do it again.”

Emily says the paneling (painted, along with the other walls, Farrow & Ball’s Slipper Satin) made the biggest difference in the space, but she’s also proud of how the floors sneakily brightened the space.

Painting the floorboards light blue (Rustoleum’s Sky Blue) was a “low-cost, high-impact solution,” Emily says. “We have sanded and restored floorboards before, but painting has been really effective and also added an element of fun to the design!”

Credit: Emily Hawley
Credit: Emily Hawley

Budget-friendly furniture completes the room.

The final step of the bedroom makeover was filling it in with furniture, and here, Emily and Jack went with two chests of drawers (used as nightstands) from IKEA, a bed from, a vintage chest for the end of the bed from Facebook Marketplace, curtains from H&M Home, scalloped pillowcases from Bed Threads, a scalloped rug from La Redoute, and other secondhand pieces. The total cost came in at under £1,000, or about $1,275.

“It’s much bigger, brighter, and the ceilings feel so much higher, but it’s also somehow much cozier, too,” Emily says of her completed bedroom. It certainly is the perfect mix of crisp and cozy.