The Big Reveal! I’ll show you the entire room finished and ready for guests. We will also talk budget — how much did we spend and where did the money go?
Our house is so personal. It is a reflection of who we are, and how we live, our values, our ideas. It is the place where we nest, where we are at our most authentic, and where we are our most vulnerable. When I started blogging twelve years ago I didn’t start out writing about our home; it felt too personal. I wrote about travel: my outwardly-facing self. But life changes, and I can’t travel as much with a family. So here we are, and as I write my stomach is in knots — nervous, scared, and excited all at once to show you our finished Guest Room Refresh — a very personal creation.
It all started with a map. The map, created by Joseph Feher, shows Hawai’i’s beauties and treasures, drawn for United Airlines in 1950. We found this vintage copy in the attic of the last home we renovated.
The room’s colors came from the map. And our Atomic Ranch, built in 1958, begged for period details. So the room evolved into a nostalgic homage to travel, family, and the comforts of home.
I also couldn’t afford to shop my way through this project, and I didn’t have sponsors. More than 65% of the budget went toward three projects: painting, new legs, and new pulls. That money went fast. But we are creative, resourceful people who have always lived on a tight budget. We made or refreshed or repurposed almost everything in this room, and I have tutorials for each project — more than a dozen in all! These are easy things anyone can do for very little money and a lot of elbow grease. But for now let’s step back and take a look at the whole room.
At long last, here’s my first One Room Challenge Room: The Guest Room Refresh.
The room before was boring and devoid of character and color. But we had a few key pieces of furniture to repurpose including a dresser, two twin beds, a table, a chair, and a dressing table bench. The beds were from Ikea. Everything else is vintage and had been collected over the years. The mirror over the dresser — one of my first finds — was free on the FB Marketplace.
I changed out the knobs on both the dresser and the small table. And all of the wood furniture got a thorough cleaning with my favorite wood refresh: Method’s Wood for Good followed by all-natural beeswax.
The vintage table serves both as bedside table and as a dressing table. The faux cane legs are charmingly bent, and it shows its age, but after a good cleaning and some wax, it looks amazing! I paired it with a vintage dressing table bench I bought long ago. We sanded this mid century piece to a buttery, silky finish and gave it new life with several coats of boiled linseed oil. I then reupholstered the seat with a piece of vintage fabric — a 1950s botanical print reminiscent of Hawai’i.
My husband and son painted the bed frames, and with a great little Ikea hack, we added hairpin legs to the beds which gives them a retro look AND raises them higher off the ground creating space for suitcases under each bed.
We also built a Mid Century-inspired headboard from the closet doors we removed. It hangs on the wall from a French cleat and boasts small shelves on each side — perfect for a little lamp, a pair of glasses, and a book.
I had planned to use two of my Danish Mid Century chairs in this room, but at the last minute I found a vintage chair with faux cane legs which complimented the small table. So we ended up with one of each type of chair.
I also put hairpin legs on a scrap of butcher block counter top to create a bench for suitcases. This gives our guests another option for making themselves comfortable in the room during their stay.
Lighting & Windows
This room started with a horrid boob-fixture (seriously once you see it…) and a few mismatched lamps. I sold the fixture and all of the lamps, and scoured Craigslist, thrift stores, and the FB Marketplace for new or new-to-me lighting.
The ceiling fixture came out of a restaurant that closed, but it is from Rejuvenation — one of my favorite lighting sources. Buying it on the FB Marketplace saved me hundreds of dollars, and the milk glass shade ties together with my milk glass collection which just seemed to find its way into this room.
I found this turquoise Mid Century lamp in need of new wiring and a shade on Craigslist. I rewired it myself, and I had a shade that wasn’t really working in my living room but is absolutely perfect on this vintage beauty.
These lamps — one by each bed — were under $10 each at Target. The big selling feature: they look like coconuts!
I hunted high and low for something that was just right on the dresser. I found it in our living room. Now I need another lamp over the piano, but this chinoiserie lamp fits perfectly on the dresser.
I made upholstered valances for each window covered in this Alexander Henry butterfly print. Behind each valance: a black-out rolling shade for light control and privacy for my guests.
When my grandmother died last summer, I acquired a large box full of vintage linens. I was able to dress the beds in beautiful, hand-embroidered pillow shams with hand-made lace trim which may have been part of my grandmother’s trousseau.
In my stash were also several card table-sized tablecloths. I turned a cheery apple-print tablecloth into two over-sized shams for guests who want to read in bed. The colors are perfect!
More butterflies compliment the gingham duvet covers — simple, tailored pillowcases made from leftover fabric. I started with the small check duvet cover — a left-over from my son’s room. I couldn’t find another small check, but I found the larger check, took them both apart, and then recombined them to create two matching duvets. With all of those patterns, the rest of the bedding is simple and white, and we sleep Scandinavian-style, so making the beds is very easy.
Guest Room Accessories
The Hospitality Cupboard
Because this is a guest room, and we live in a tourist destination, I focused on creating a room that is welcoming for guests from near and far. The built-in bookcase took on its own identity: the Hospitality Cupboard. I lined the back of the cupboard with wrapping paper and filled the shelves with items both practical and evocative.
I created a lending library of books about Colorado, and I created a sticker inviting our guests to use the books but also reminding them to return them.
Travelers often need reading material on the road, so we now have a Little Free Library — books which our guests can take with them and pass along when they are done. These books are also marked as such.
And because children frequently visit us, I included a selection of children’s books for our youngest guests.
The shelves are accessorized with personal pieces from my travel collection including a carved marble capital from Rome, a watercolor of a Norwegian Stave Kirke, my milk glass collection, and a Florentine box.
I also installed a set of hooks on the wall next to the Hospitality Cupboard for guests to hang clothes, towels, or purses. These hooks were installed low enough for children to use as well.
The Dressing Table
The table between the two beds is designed to function in multiple ways, but it was particularly important for me that it be a useful dressing table for guests needed a good grooming space. I picked up this vintage frame at an antiques fair. My husband created a stand for it, and I had a mirror cut. It can stand both horizontally or vertically as needed. And this vintage tray with ballerinas is a great place for jewelry or wallets. It’s important for guests to have places to corral those little items so they don’t get lost, and I have provided several spots around the room just for this purpose.
Everything on the dresser is chosen with the traveler in mind. Even the practicalities — the wifi password, tissues, and a calendar — are easy-to-find but beautiful with a Mid Century aesthetic. The dresser scarf is another piece from my grandmother’s trousseau: a monogrammed towel which I hemmed and refreshed and now fits perfectly on the dresser top.
Colorado’s tourism office sent me information for our guests to enjoy including a map and an updated visitors guide. And our guests can take these with them; I just have to request another copy to replenish my supply.
In a stroke of timing luck, the Denver Art Museum just opened Serious Play, a new exhibit of Mid Century Design. At the press preview I picked up two pieces from their branded exhibit swag. I added some lettering to a blank book, and voila! A guest book! And a pink orchid found a happy home in a coffee mug — the perfect pot for this room!
And for our colorful room — some vintage-inspired Colorado postcards for our guests to mail home.
Another artifact from my grandparents’ home: their vintage suitcase now topped with a vintage globe and some reading material.
The Toiletries Train Case
I filled a vintage train case with all those items a guest may have forgotten: toothbrush, toothpaste, suncreen (so important at altitude), soap, earplugs, shampoo, mints, travel tissues — even slippers. I have collected these items for years, but they have always been tucked away in a cupboard. Now they can be out, and guests can help themselves as they need.
The Art Work
I land somewhere squarely between Minimalist and Maximalist. Does that make me a Middlemalist? Whatever it is, I don’t like blank walls! But I also love art that is personal and meaningful, so I chose pieces for this room that are all about travel without being trite.
Amongst my grandmother’s effects I found a vintage handkerchief from Australia which I matted and framed.
Over each bed I framed four photographs from my own travels — images of water and of great domes in places including Venice, San Francisco, Ireland, Hawaii, and, of course, Rome.
And here it is: the inspiration piece! I found the perfect frame for it on the FB Marketplace and had a new mat cut. I absolutely love it against the wall color!
These hooks include a small shelf on which I placed some vintage books, a porcelain origami crane, and a Japanese doll which my grandparents brought me from Japan when I was a child.
On the hooks I hung a vintage kimono from post-war Japan as well as a vintage obi which I purchased on my first visit to Japan. And just for fun: a pair of my toe shoes from my long-ago dancing days.
No room is complete without plants. And while this room doesn’t have huge windows, it does get decent morning sun, so I chose a few orchids: the perfect bloom for this semi-tropical escape!
The Budget & Sources
I started with $800 which I saved from selling unused furniture, clothing, and accessories — culled from our KonMari efforts. My goal: to do everything in the room for $800 or less. The only thing we didn’t DIY was painting the room which ate up 25% of our budget, but because we were having guests in the middle of this process, it was money well spent!
Ceiling Fixture: $50
MCM Lamp: $28
Lamp Kit: $15
2 coconut lamps: $20
Curtains for closet: $22
Duvet Cover (Pottery Barn Kids): $43
2 Mats for Frames: $82
12 Hairpin Legs (bed and bench): $145
Vintage botanical fabric: $12
Faux cane chair: $48
Coconut Lamps: Target
Organic Checked Duvet Cover: Pottery Barn Kids
Guest Book & Mug: Denver Art Museum gift shop
Teal Curtains for closet: Target
Hooks: Project 62 at Target
Planter/Trash Can: Target (currently unavailable)
Hairpin Legs: DIY Hairpin Legs
Paint: Kelly Moore
Walls: Aqua Oasis (KM5060-1)
Accent: Hawaiian Vacation (KM5062-2)
Peacock Blue Pillow: Crate and Barrel
White Marble Knobs: HooksKnobsHardware
Teal Ceramic Knobs: Knobpologie
Butterfly Fabric: El Tiempo de Mariposa by Alexander Henry
Sixty-five percent of the budget went toward three things: painting, hairpin legs, and new pulls. I found some amazing deals on the FB Marketplace, Craigslist, Instagram, and while thrifting. Everything else came from shopping our home and repurposing items we already owned. That’s one of the great benefits of using the KonMari Method! Not only did I find all kinds of things to sell to fund this project, but I also found beautiful items to use to make this room personal and special.
I didn’t quite make my budget, but I actually was able to sell a few more items than I intended, so I came very close to breaking even. And I would have been under budget had we painted the room ourselves, but time was not on our side, so that was money well-spent.
Phew! Well, now it is done! And our Guest Room is open for visitors! To Linda Weinstein, the creator of the One Room Challenge, I offer my most sincere thanks. Thank you for offering this kind of opportunity and for opening it up to anyone. And to Better Homes and Gardens, the ORC media sponsor: thank you for making this possible! And to all of the other ORC participants: I’ll be sure to stop by to admire your work! It has been fun to do this with you!
And to my husband, Romano, and our sweet Bambino: thank you, loves! I love doing projects with you guys.
I have created tutorials for each project along the way — 12 project tutorials in all. You can find links to each project as well as the weekly round-ups, and my guide to Creating a Welcoming Guest Room on the DIY Guest Room Refresh landing page. I hope you will check it out!
Thanks for following along! And thank you for your support!
Don’t miss a single update: sign up and each installment of the One Room Challenge will come directly to your email on Thursdays! And be sure to stop by the One Room Challenge Blog to check out the other creative renovations happening across the country. You can also follow #oneroomchallenge and #bhgorc on Instagram for more inspiration! Be sure to follow me, too!