Before and After: A Blue Bedroom’s $1,220 Moody Makeover Has Smart IKEA Storage

published Oct 18, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Historic Home
Project Type
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

There are lots of different bedroom design styles out there, and not every style will jibe with every person. This bedroom, for example, was once a pastel and floral beauty, but that wasn’t the best match for new homeowners Kathryn Dizon-Smith (@the_woolgathering_home) and her husband, Callum, who preferred something a little more dark and moody. 

“The bedroom was originally white, pale blue, and had blue floral wallpaper running along the main wall and in the alcove,” Kathryn describes of the room when they first moved in, adding that “it felt a little claustrophobic, stuffy, and overwhelming with all the pattern and pastel.”

“It looked like the décor had been there since the house was built,” she says — and that was in 1997. It had a light blue radiator cover, mirrored closet doors, and tan carpeting. In addition to the decor choices, Kathryn wasn’t totally in love with the layout choices. 

As much as she liked the idea of the bed facing the windows (which looked out on a large fir tree and fields), positioning the bed that way left not very much room at the foot of the bed — and tons of it on either side of the approximately 16-by-10-foot room. 

Kathryn and Callum stripped the room of its wallpaper and carpet and got to work on bringing something more their style to life. “I can’t say that we actually had a plan, but I just knew that I wanted a fresh space to work with,” Kathryn says.

First, Kathryn started by gathering inspiration images.  “The main images that I had pinned were all deep, dark, color-drenched spaces with luxurious textures (velvets, silks, rugs) with metallic accents and plants. Totally my vibe!” Kathryn says of her planning process.  What I didn’t realize until I had seen the images together was that each room I admired had just a bed, with a few accessories. No storage or anything unrelated to sleeping on show.” Style was a priority for Kathryn, but so was storage. 

IKEA shelving systems create two smart storage areas. 

Here’s how Kathryn made her new storage plan work: She utilized the space from the (once-mirrored) closet on the right side of the room and the space from the alcove on the left side of the room to create separate closets for her and Callum. 

A few years ago, on the right side, she took down the closet doors and added an IKEA ALGOT system (now discontinued). More recently, when budget allowed, she added an IKEA ELVARLI system in the alcove space, which has room for Callum’s clothes as well as some bulkier clothes and blankets and such. 

“The trickiest part was planning the wardrobe system to avoid our plug sockets but also leave them useable,” Kathryn says, but she loved using IKEA’s planning system and says her curtain-covered solution is a much cheaper, better option than custom built-in wardrobes, which she’d originally considered for the space. Her total redo cost just under £1000, or about $1,220.

“It was so much more efficient this way, and I genuinely think that we have maximized the space available to us, even more so than if we had built-in wardrobes!” she says.

Paint amped up the moodiness. 

Next, wanting to make the room a more calming zone, Kathryn and Callum decided to go dark with paint. “We color-drenched the room in Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue — skirtings to ceilings,” Kathryn says. “Wow. What a change. The room immediately felt calm and spacious.”

Kathryn says painting — both picking the color and the actual process — was the easiest part of the makeover. “We had done a fair bit of painting prior to this, and our method was that I did the cutting in, and Callum did the rolling,” she explains. “The color drench meant that we didn’t have to mess around with taping.”

Smart furniture completed the room. 

Another challenge was furnishing the room with the adjusted layout. “In the original version of the room, we had large side storage tables, but now we needed clear access to the back of the bed for the back wardrobe,” Kathryn says. “On Amazon, I found a little wooden shelf that you attach to the side of the bed, with holes for cables. Bingo!”

Her new rug was also slightly larger than stated on the website, but her clever remedy for this was taping the tassels underneath. Another addition she loves is the mirror, which counterbalances the room with some brightness and “the perfect place to do a final outfit check.”

The new pendant and ceiling rose are clearance John Lewis and Dowsing and Reynolds, respectively. “A few houseplants later, and the bedroom was complete,” Kathryn says. 

She says that even though the new closet systems took up a bit of square footage in the bedroom, the room doesn’t feel smaller at all — in fact, it works much better for the pair, and looks great while doing it. “There is still plenty to function and crucially, not get in each other’s way,” she says. “I absolutely love how the room looks, and how it makes us both feel.”