Adventures of a Treasure Hunter – House Makeover Edition :: Master Bedroom

Back in November I got new flooring and painted my whole house. It was like moving to a new place because everything had to be packed up and moved out for the install. I took it as an opportunity to give my house a facelift, on the cheap of course. Here’s one of the rooms, completed. 

Our bedroom was a mess. It was the room I put little to no effort into because it was a lost cause. With the opportunity to change things up, I decided to stop making it the room that I put the least amount of effort into just because people (other than us) rarely see it. For this reason, there are no “before” pictures (I know, I know, a makeover without before pictures= Epic Failure).

Erik’s sleep hours are mostly during the day, so there has to be adequate window coverage in this room, as it has three enormous 60×60″ windows. Before, our solution was to paint the walls a dark brown and keep the blinds drawn along with some thick reed shades. Six years ago when we first moved in, I’d seen one of my company’s model home master bedrooms painted that color and that’s where the inspiration came from. It was a similar feel to this:

this is not my house- don’t be too impressed.

What I didn’t have the experience to know then was that for a room to pull off that kind of bold wall color, it needed to have some interesting architectural detailing, lots of white painted mouldings, and/or is over decorated/accessorized like this room. Erik can only take so much function-less decor, and our house has zero architectural detail. It’s better suited for clean, light, simple, modern decor and coloring- and as long as the window light is able to be blocked out, the lightened walls aren’t a problem.

So, I looked around at what I had to work with, and chose these items as inspiration for the room: chenilles, nubby linens, washed browns, creams with a hint of gold and blue. I chose paint to lighten things up with a desaturated brown and ultra white trim.

I’d originally wanted to go with a rust, cream and brown color scheme for this room, but I ended up getting the above right fabric from my designer friend who had leftovers from a past project we did, and I really wanted to use it to cover a headboard because it’s soft, and I liked the two-tone effect of the back side of the fabric- the front is much closer to a solid blue. Plus, I got a lot of it, which is good for a 6′ wide headboard. Years ago, I’d made a tufted headboard out of plywood and covered it with a white fabric, but when you have a black cat who likes to senselessly climb that headboard and sit at the top and get black hair all over it, you will learn not to make a white headboard ever again. Also, that same charming cat has pulled out one of the tufting buttons.

Here’s my advice on how to make your own headboard for under $50, which I’ve now done many, many times. Learn from my mistakes, people.

1. Take proper measurements! Be aware of where the outlet behind your bed is. You will want to measure somewhere above where the outlet is (I didn’t the first time), and then measure however high you want the headboard to be. Line up your pillows where they’ll eventually be, so that you can realistically decide how much higher than the pillows you want to to go. If the headboard fabric you have is patterned, you will probably want to see more of it, so take that into consideration. I measured an extra inch on either side of where my box spring measured for the width. Take these measurements to the Home Depot lumber department, and unless you have a big truck, you will likely have to find two 48″ wide pieces. Ask a nice lumber department worker to cut the wood to size for you. Now, if you’re courageous and have a jigsaw and want to make a different shape out of the plywood, godspeed.

2. Go to the hardware department and find the frame hanging section. Get those giant hook and eye type things, some variety of this:

3. Trot on over to the fabric store and look in the discount bins for a good sturdy fabric that you like. You can probably find an upholstery fabric for cheap that doesn’t look half bad. If I didn’t have such an abundance of free fabric at my disposal, I would probably have looked for a bold stripe, a velvet or mohair in mustard, silver, or a great pattern. I think a headboard is an opportunity for a statement piece, but I also believe that it needs to be comfortable enough to lean against. Take your measurements for the wood, multiply them, and then figure out the amount of yardage you need. Remember to add at least an extra foot around the edges for the sides that need to be stapled to the back. In the back of the fabric store grab 2-3 bags of batting (the white, cotton-ey looking stuff).

4. Go home, lay out the fabric and batting under the two pieces of wood, and pay attention to the pattern. You’re going to be stretching and stapling in a minute, so there is potential to mess it up and make it crooked and then it will look terrible, and if you’re too exhausted at this point to change it you will live with a crooked pattern sorry Amy!  You’re going to have to connect the two pieces of wood together if it’s a wide headboard, so if you’re a perfectionist you can use one of the extra pieces of wood that were cut off at HD and secure it with screws, or you can be lazy and just staple them together. It will not be terribly sturdy when you’re lifting and hanging it on the wall, but what’s 30 minutes of your boyfriend screaming at you for being lazy compared to the five minutes of effort you saved? Start with one staple on each of the four sides and then turn it over and check how it’s looking. If everything looks okay, proceed to stapling the hell out of the thing.

5. Screw in the hanger thingys  to the back of the plywood, and measure out where they will match up on the wall. Use a pencil to mark the wall, and screw in the matching hardware. Get some help hanging it up, and then voila! You have a headboard. Variation: resting it on the floor. You will have limited access to your beind-the-bed outlets, but if it means unstapling everything and figuring out how to saw off the bottom of it, in the words of Tim Gunn, just “MAKE IT WORK”.

This room is the oddest shape you’ve ever seen- it’s long and skinny, and there’s absolutely no room to put the bed in any other place than it is, creating no room for nightstands or side tables. I had this floor lamp in the living room formerly, but it really makes the most sense to have it here so there’s something besides the harsh ceiling light. I considered getting battery operated sconces, but this option was free so I went with it.

Other accessories:

  • I got the lamp years ago from Target (which has a great lamp selection, btw), and replaced the dinky white shade with this oversized linen shade that I found on clearance, also at Target.
  • I moved this bench I bought for $30 from craigslist to the foot of the bed, which was formerly in the guest room.
  • I had 60″wide reed roman shades from a cheap store called Anna’s Linens for $16/ea years ago.

For the bedding, I had gray-ish silver sheets I got from Target a few years ago that are really soft, but I don’t believe in matchiing bedding sets so I needed to mix it up. I wanted something fresh and light- but didn’t want to spend too much money. While I am a cheapskate, I am a big believer in splurging on things that are worth splurging on, and bedding is one of them. But this time I didn’t have to! While at Ikea one day, I found this white sateen coverlet with two kidney pillow cases for $35. While the average college student or whatever will buy this and have it be all they use for their bedding, you can beef it up with your own shams, sheets, blankets and accent pillows and I think it looks (and feels) like it’s from Pottery Barn or Macy’s.

As for the accent pillow, I had this chevron striped chenille fabric for years and have been waiting for the perfect use for it. It’s the absolute softest thing you’ve ever felt, and retails for $400/yard. I only had a little sampling of it so I wanted to make sure I used it somewhere special. I have 2,401,699 pillows in my arsenal so I covered one of them with the chenille backed with a beautiful Barbara Barry fabric sample I had from a previous job. Love it!

Last but not least, I had a giant black and white drawing hanging above the bed before but the room was feeling a little blah, so I needed something lightweight (Erik has a fear of anything heavy crashing down on his head while he sleeps in the case of an earthquake), and statement-ey. I had just uninstalled my art show at Space 07 and had this photo mounted on lightweight gatorboard I took of the mustard flowers in Davis.

I can now describe the room as tranquil, simple and functional. Exactly what I was going for. Possible takeaways from this room makeover:

  • your bedroom shouldn’t be just pretty or just comfortable- it can be both.
  • splurge on things like bedding and art (unless you find an incredible deal, of course)
  • look for high quality decorative items secondhand (to find a bench this substantial would have cost me at least $200 retail)
  • replace things that can be cheaply upgraded if they factory-included scale isn’t working or the style is blah (lampshade)
  • you need one statement piece in the room (if it weren’t the art, I would have needed a more statement-ey headboard, or some fabric on the windows)
  • layer bedding, blankets, fabric and pillows from different places and see how they work together

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