Monday, October 21, 2013

Brighten Up a Room in Three Easy (and Cheap!) Steps: Master Bedroom Makeover (Part 1/3)

Note: To check out how I made the headboard in our bedroom, check out my DIY Headboard post.

I've been painstakingly trying to figure out how to best capture our master bedroom makeover and then I realized (a) Nobody cares that much--I should probably chill out and (b) There's too much for one post. So I'm breaking it down into three posts, based on the three goals I had for this room--to infuse: (1) Light (2) Function and (3) Architectural detail.

Today I'm focusing on LIGHT! With just a few steps, my husband and I transformed our dark cave* of a bedroom into this bright and beautiful retreat (a must-have for happy, but often-very-tired parents).  
*This has become a bit of theme with our home renovations--taking dark and dowdy rooms and using light to make them seem bigger and brighter (see the bathroom makeover and living room makeover).

Let's take a look at what our bedroom looked like BEFORE:

Yes, it was THAT bad.
I know some people prefer keeping their bedroom dark for sleep reasons. During this stage in our life (with little ones who get up early), we don't usually have the luxury of sleeping in and when we do, we're so tired a marching band couldn't wake us, let alone some softly filtered light (FYI: before we had kids, our apartment was next door to a high school with a marching band that practiced early on weekend mornings, so that was not just a figure of speech). Since we're up with the sun anyway, I figured we might as well let a cheerily lit room make it a little less painful. So I came up with a three-pronged plan to make our bedroom seem bigger and brighter:

Step 1: PAINT

I knew paint color would be instrumental in brightening up the room.  We painted the ceilings, walls, baseboards and all other moulding in our room "bright white" (i.e. we took the paint cans home from Home Depot as-is, no color added). I knew some people would be aghast at this, but this wasn't my first experience using bright white--I used it to paint our fireplace and armoire and I loved how those turned out. Before, our walls were white-ish. I don't think we realized how dull and light-sucking it really was until my husband painted the closet wall and we were able to see the side-by-side comparison. The bright white makes off-white look straight up taupe.
Left: Bright White Paint, Right: Generic off-white Paint


I decided we needed to upgrade our window covering situation to let the natural light do its thing (in terms of bang for your buck, this is probably the best thing you can do to brighten a room). But first, we took advantage of our renovation energy and upgraded our 1970s original aluminum window. Luckily, the window was already large enough to allow for lots of light, so we didn't have to do a new construction window like we did for our bathroom (by "we" I mean, my husband installed the window with his dad's help, not mine. I was there for emotional support--it was crucial, I tell you).
Yep, that's our classy rusted shed in the backyard. Don't worry, it's on the ever-growing "To Do List."
Our old way of ensuring privacy was to keep our ugly blinds closed all the time. But after seeing how well two layers of curtains worked in our living room, I decided to duplicate it for our bedroom. This still gave us privacy while allowing maximum natural light to fill the room. Always on a budget, I opted for (1) IKEA RITVA curtains for the front, outside curtains and (2) IKEA MATILDA curtains for the back, inside curtains. They're nice and white, but still have pretty textures to keep it interesting.

Here's what that wall looked like BEFORE:

And AFTER (can you hear the Halleluiah Chorus?):
***Note: We used the "Hang your curtains high and wide" trick to make our window look even bigger***

Step 3: COLOR DESIGN - The 60-30-10 Rule

Does everyone already know this rule? I don't remember learning about it until college. Basically, when designing a room, you should shoot for 60% of one color as the overall hue, 30% of another for visual interest, and 10% as an accent or, as said, for "that little spark of sparkle." (Their words, definitely not mine). ANYWAY... to brighten up your room, that 60% color should be something light and bright (in my case, white). The 30% and 10% can be any colors--dark or light (I did 30% brown and 10% light teal, mostly just in the accent pillows). How much of a difference does it make having the 60% be bright vs. dark? Hmm...shall we see what a room that is 60% brown looks like?
This is the duvet cover my husband and I bought after we got married. He thought every other bedspread Bed, Bath, & Beyond had was "too girly" so we went with this brown beauty. Although it has keep us very warm over the years, it was time to upgrade.


So that's m'schpeel. Just for visual effect, let's do one last comparison:



Pretty dramatic, eh? This was definitely my favorite remodel thus far. I love waking up in our bright and beautiful bedroom.

(To see the rest of this makeover, make sure you add us to your feed, subscribe by e-mail, or like our Facebook page for updates).
SPEAK UP - What do you think?
SHARE - Do you like a bright bedroom or do you cover your windows with blackout blinds/curtains?


  1. I once had a guy tell me his mom had always told him not to marry an accountant because she would not know how to decorate a home. Ha! I wish I could send them this post to prove that's not true. We (or at least you :) can decorate AND do it budget-consciously.

    This room is so beautiful! I love everything about it, and for the record, I have never heard of the 60-30-10 rule before reading this.

    1. Ha! Not really sure about the priorities or the logic there...

    2. Valerie, that is HILARIOUS. We sure showed them, huh? :)

  2. It looks amazing! I love it! I definitely love having more natural light during the day.

    1. Thanks, Marla! I'm not naturally crafty like you, so I have to take projects really slowly. :)
      And yay for natural light!

  3. How did you do the paneling and molding on the wall? I think that really adds to the room as well.

    1. Hey Amy! I'm glad you like it. Don't worry--I'll cover the wall panels and moulding in the post about the room's architectural detail. I'll try to remember to send you the link when I post it (it might be a while--I have some other posts I'm doing first). I saw you in a picture HolliJo posted recently--too cute!

  4. It looks so great! I need you to come makeover my whole place!

    1. HA! No way. You're sweet, though Emma. I've been loving all your blog posts lately. I really appreciate your openness and honesty.

  5. That is AMAZING!! I love the bright white and your curtains.

  6. So this works great for most of the year. But what do you do in the summer when it's hot? Do you guys have A/C?

    1. Hey Ivan, our bedroom window faces east and has an awning so it actually gets very little direct light and only in the morning. So even though it's a thousand times brighter, it's still one of the coolest rooms in the house.
      We did actually break down this last summer and got A/C since I was hugely pregnant and told my husband if we were ever going to get A/C, now was the time. I braced myself for a huge electric bill, but was surprised how little we had to use it. But it was sure nice knowing it was there and being able to crank it up on those few crazy hot weeks we had. Thanks for checking out the blog! Our college savings post is one of our highest viewed. Must be because of your super cute son's picture. :)

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  8. Wow, that is amazing! Shocking difference, congrats!


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