Projects & Improvements

Before and After: A Rental Bedroom’s $2,000 Boho-Style Redo Mixes High and Low

published Nov 14, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Outdoor Spaces
Skill Level
Rental Friendly

Sage green walls in bedrooms are certainly trendy this year, but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. San Francisco apartment dweller and writer Lydia O’Connor (@lydia_oconnor) prefers “warmer, lighter, and earthier tones,” she says, but she loved the bones of her over-100-year-old apartment’s bedroom. 

“I love the hexagonal shape of the room, crown molding, and high ceilings,” Lydia says. “I knew a coat of pink paint and a statement overhead light would get the room going in the direction I wanted.”

Step one: Floors, restored. 

The project started off with a well-timed gift from Lydia’s landlord: “My landlords paid to have the floors redone in the entire apartment when I moved in, restoring them to their beauty from 100-plus years ago,” she says.  

(For advice on how to get your landlord to make repairs that work in your design favor, too, check out 5 Things Landlords Will Never Tell You and I Talked My Landlord into Replacing My Kitchen Cabinets for Free — Here’s How.)

Light pink paint created a soft boho palette. 

“I’m a steadfast fan of ‘millennial pink,’ if we’re still calling it that,” Lydia says. She, with the help of her mom, painted the bedroom in Backdrop’s Modern Love

As far as painting advice goes, Lydia says she doesn’t bother with taping off the trim. “This may be super controversial,” she says. Instead, she carefully uses an angled brush to cut in and keeps a wet rag handy for necessary touch-ups. She adds that painting is a great way to make a big change while keeping costs reasonable.

“Painting is the best DIY,” Lydia says. “I think I rewatched half of Sex and the City while mindlessly painting all the rooms in my apartment.” While Lydia and her mom painted, Lydia’s dad swapped the standard light fixture with a boho one from IKEA. “A little IKEA mixed in with higher-end items is always a good idea, in my opinion,” she says.

The furniture is a mix of old and new.

“After that, it was all about filling the space with things I already had and a few new additions,” Lydia says. She used a dresser and vanity from her great-grandmother’s bedroom set and upgraded to a queen bed

A pro tip from Lydia for new furniture? As with a lot of boxed furniture, once the bed was assembled, it was a bit more creaky than Lydia wanted. She hired a Taskrabbit to put in some strategically placed extra screws to help quell the noise. 

After all that, the biggest challenge of the room redo was deciding on the layout. Lydia made the bed the centerpiece in the room and then incorporated the other colors from the space in the bedding, blankets, and pillows. Lydia’s advice is to splurge on nice linens. “You won’t regret it,” she says. (Her bedding is from Parachute and Tuft & Needle.)

“I saved a lot of money by reusing pieces from my great-grandma’s bedroom set and was able to put the money I would have spent on a dresser and vanity toward a new mattress, bed frame, and luxurious bedding,” she says. Her total bedroom revamp cost about $2,000, she estimates. 

Artwork completes the bedroom.

One area in particular where Lydia saved money was with her artwork. “I loathe to spend money on framing, so I framed all the art pieces myself,” Lydia says, adding that the art pieces — a Sofia Shu block print, a few Etsy finds, and some DIY artwork — make her room “feel very personal and one-of-a-kind.”

“When people come over, they immediately say how much it feels like a “Lydia” room, and I think that’s the best compliment,” Lydia says. “I absolutely love the way this room turned out.”