One Room Challenge

Before and After: A $6,000 Bedroom Redo Packs a Punch with a Surprising Color Combo

published Jun 3, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
White bedroom with ceiling fan before renovation.

When it came to her home’s initial design, Amala Raj Swenson (@amalarajinteriors) says, “We moved in … put our belongings inside, and called it a day.” If you relate to this sentiment and your space feels like a blank box or a cookie-cutter template, perhaps it’s in need of a bit of personalization (think: wallpaper, paint, fun lamps, fluffy rugs, etc.). Amala’s bedroom certainly was. 

“The before was completely un-designed,” she says. “We kept putting off the remodel because I am a full-time interior designer and felt so creatively drained by the time I was done with clients’ homes.” But eventually, when Amala found out she’d be on bedrest for a while and spending a lot more time in her room, she decided to give it a makeover as part of the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge. “My partner [Ryan] and I both decided that if I was going to be spending almost all my time in the space, it needed to feel inspiring, calming, and peaceful,” she says. “The sterile walls it had were not going to do the trick!”

Amala and Ryan’s main two goals were to get rid of the popcorn texture left on the ceiling from the ‘70s and to add some color.

“The first major step was removing the popcorn ceiling,” Amala says. She and Ryan hired pros to do this as well as paint and install wallpaper on one wall, but Amala says the latter two tasks are totally DIYable. They chose a neutral grayish-blue color for the walls (Dunn-Edwards’ Summer Shade) and a bold plum color for the molding (Dunn-Edwards’ Plum Perfect). Amala painted the molding herself.

“I think the paint and wallpaper made the biggest changes,” she says. “We chose bright colors to be energizing, but not chaotic.”

Amala says the easiest part of the project was choosing colors and patterns. “I started with the wallpaper and used that to guide my other choices,” she says. “Luckily the wallpaper had so many different tones to it, it was fairly easy for me to create a color palette to follow.” The bright purple they went with for the lower part of the walls packs a punch; in combination with the ditsy floral wallpaper (Milton and King’s Garden State) and warm-toned furniture, it all feels like a nod to the retro roots of the home that was built in 1955 and last updated in the 1970s.

Of course, the fact that the home hadn’t had major updates since the ’70s also presented a couple of challenges. There was no attic space for an electrician to wire in Amala’s new dream light fixtures without doing way more demo than intended, and the original window needed replacing. “It was single pane, didn’t lock, and let out a whistling sound even if the slightest breeze came by,” Amala says. 

Originally, she and Ryan wanted to replace the large window with two smaller ones, but they realized it would be over their budget to do so. Instead, they had a new window retrofitted. “I think I wouldn’t do anything differently except maybe wish I had a larger budget or more time to save up,” Amala says. (Relatable!) “I think if I did, we would have swapped the windows and managed to get the pendant lighting in.”

Even the one new window was expensive, and to make room in the budget for it, Amala and Ryan got a secondhand bed frame from a friend and bought their dresser on a close-out clearance sale. Their bed was originally located underneath the window, but in the “after,” they rotated it.

Amala and Ryan pivoted in the corner where they originally planned to add the new light fixture and added a funky lamp (a $50 find from Amazon) instead. “It’s become our corner reading nook,” Amala says of the cozy corner with the lamp and barrel swivel chair

She accessorized the rest of the room with a new duvet cover, fun throw pillows (leopard print and cockatiel), a throw blanket, and glam doorknobs. In all, the room has a much cozier and more luxurious vibe than before — not to mention a lot more personality.

“I am most proud of how the whole space came together from just a single idea: the wallpaper,” Amala says. “There is something about opening our eyes every morning and the first thing we see being the wallpaper. We both love color and felt such a positive energy shift in the new space. I love that the new space finally reflects my partner’s and my personality … it looks like completely different people live there now!” 

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.