Experiments in home decorating, DIYing, and vintage furniture collecting.

Three free ways to transform a room

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January 13, 2016

This is a photo of the master bedroom in our current Chicago apartment. Being a rental, it's a design challenge - I can't change the paint, remove light fixtures or make any significant investment in the place. The biggest design challenge has been the master bedroom because it's small, beige and bland. Wes and I also agreed not to buy any new furniture or expensive pieces until we own a place, so I've been working with what I've got in the meantime. 

After living in this place for 9 months, it's finally coming together - but it took a lot of inspiration and imagination to work with what we owned to make it happen. Here are the three free things that I did to change up this room:

#1 Rearrange the furniture (and furnishings)

And by this, I mean rearrange what's already in the room as well as trade with other rooms in the house. Fortunately, I've never bought traditional 'nightstands' and instead have a collection of side tables that can rotate from the sides of chairs and couches to the beds. These two complementary (but not matching) side tables found their final resting place next to our bed, and we traded a dresser from another room to live in the master bedroom.

However, the biggest impact of all was stealing the vintage Moroccan rug from under our dining room table and bringing it to our room instead. Initially, it was a practical decision - we needed the warmth in our room, and also didn't want spilled food and wine ruining the delicate wool. But it ended up being the best possible decision, adding depth and personality to a beige room in need.



#2 Relocate art or objects from another room

The wedding photo was originally hanging in our living room, the dormant orchid on a side table in the den, and the candle in our guest bathroom. I wanted to create a little vignette next to our side table and by stealing from other rooms was able to do it for free! We have plants all over our house, but for some reason I never thought about putting them into our bedroom. I don't know why, but adding an organic, green element really brought the space to life! 

For the opposite side table, I stole a framed picture of the Capitol from my office space and draped a vintage silk scarf over our headboard to add some visual interest.


#3 Remove things

This was a hard one, because I tend to be something of a cluttered hoarder when it comes to my home. However, visual (and physical) space is really important in a room and can make a big impact to the overall look-and-feel. In our master bedroom, we originally had a throw over the simple white cotton duvet and a picture over the bed. There was also a basket of blankets next to my nightstand. Removing those three things completed transformed the room!

It's still not exactly the bedroom of my dreams, but the best one of all the rentals I've live to date. Do you have any free ideas for updating a room? I'd love to hear them - always looking to add to my cache of tricks! 
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