The Do’s and Don’ts of a Successful Room Makeover
You may recall that way back in January, I started redoing my den. It has been a sometimes fun and sometimes frustrating process ever since. In the hope that you will benefit from what I have learned, I’m sharing my experiences – both good and bad!
Throughout my life, I have moved many times and I never had any trouble being able to reinvent and adapt our furnishings to each new home. Based on my experiences, then, it surprised me that I hit a roadblock this time. At one point, I was so discouraged that I wanted to start over.
Fortunately, I had some support. Wanda wisely counselled me that what I had done was salvageable. My sister Elaine also kept asking me to send pictures and had lots of encouraging suggestions.
And after all the frustration and heartache, I was able to make it all work and I love it!
Read on to find out what I did and didn’t do right – and how to fix it so that you end up with a successful room makeover.
Do – Know How You Want The Room To Feel and Function
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The room before was painted in bright pink and purple stripes, which was a lot of fun, but I wanted a change.
And this is a sneak peek of what I ended up with.
I knew that I wanted the room to feel elegant and relaxed. A place to speak to my inner self with some glamour as well as comfort. I wanted to be able to read a magazine there or talk on the phone with a smile on my soul.
This also needed to be multi-functional room. I was able to add to the functionality. It is now a dining area, as well as an office and spare bedroom…all in an 8′ x 9′ room! (Click here to see how to fit all the uses of this ‘den’ into such a small space).
Do – Add Architectural Interest
It all started back in January by adding architectural interest with Craftsman style moldings on the ceiling and walls.
If you missed that project, you can see how I did it here.
Don’t – Be Afraid To Go Bold
Then I chose Farrow and Ball ‘Bengali’ in high gloss for the paint color. It is a bold color that is quite dark, and way outside of my comfort zone. But it definitely adds a rich, lustrous feeling to the room.
One side note: I fell in love with this paint color before I started planning the makeover, and then designed the room around it. Trust me…it is much easier to choose the paint color last!
Don’t – Forget to Address Room Issues
Unfortunately, I ignored the fact that the room has only one small window so it is a dark space to begin with. The addition of a dark paint on all surfaces made it feel like a cave.
I was really stuck on the idea that the moldings and paint would transform the room into this sophisticated space without any further expense or effort. In essence, I neglected to make a viable plan for the finished room.
To lighten the room up, I decided to wallpaper the spaces between the board and batten trim. After taping up a few samples from Graham and Brown, I chose their Juliet Plum pattern. It has some shiny bits on the pattern that sparkle in the light. Beautiful!
Do – Decide What You’re Going to Keep
I looked at the existing furniture and decided what to keep, what to add, and what to discard.
I wanted to keep the upholstery fabric of the rocker and the desk chair, and the window treatments…so all of them stayed.
The DIY wall unit built from IKEA kitchen cabinets definitely had to stay…I need the storage space!
Don’t – Keep Things You Don’t Love
I lost sight of how I wanted the room to feel when I was deciding what furnishings to keep and what to add. I thought I needed to keep the ceiling fan for summer comfort, despite the fact that it was ugly and didn’t provide enough light. I even painted it ‘Bengali’ to make it visually disappear…and I still didn’t love it.
In the end, the ugly ceiling fan was sold online and replaced by a glitzy, glamorous semi flush mount ceiling fixture…that I love!
Need help picking out the right ceiling fixture for your room? Click here to get some tips on how to do it.
Do – Decide What To Get Rid Of
It was a tough decision to get rid of my beloved too big desk.
However, bringing in the smaller library table from another room meant I could have a work surface, and use it as a dining table. All I needed to do was update the finish to make it go with the updated feeling in the room.
Want to learn how to create the finish for this table? See our post on creating an urban table makeover.
Don’t – Lose Sight Of Your Desired Feeling For The Room
For some reason, my expectations were skewed regarding the accessories. I thought I could rehang Patricia White’s animal paintings. They went very well with bright pink and purple walls that were in the room before.
They are humorous depictions and I love them. However, they do not evoke the dignified feelings I was going for…so I eventually came to the conclusion that I had to take them down.
Do – Shop Your House
The original rug that I had in the room was the right color, but was too dark, and added to the cave-like feel of the room.
So I swapped it out for a rug from another room that was lighter and still complimented the fabrics and paint color.
Since you can’t have a comfortable reading spot without a side table, I updated a small antique table that I already owned. It fits perfectly beside the rocker to hold magazines and a cup of tea.
Then I also brought in some silver colored metal side chairs that were in another room. Because this space is so small, these chairs are the perfect size. The seats were recovered in a pretty coordinating fabric.
If you want to see how to re-cover your own seats, take a look at this you tube video..
Do – Decide What to DIY
I also made an agate picture because I love purple and have always been fascinated by geodes.
Want to make your own agate slice art? Click here to find out how.
Do – Add A Mirror
I also decided to buy this huge, gorgeous, ‘over the top’ mirror that reflects light around the room. Do not believe the myth that large accessories should not be put into a small room! This mirror adds depth and makes the space appear larger.
Sconces on either side of the mirror also enhance the reflected light and provide a lot of light for working at the desk.
Do – Decide What To Buy
Since the new table did not have any drawers for storing office supplies and files, I ordered a portable filing cabinet on wheels*, from Amazon. It fits neatly under the table so doesn’t take up any extra space.
If you would rather create your own filing cabinet on wheels, click here to see our tutorial.
Do – Add Some Finishing Touches
Once I realized that my accessories needed to enhance the feeling of the room, I was able to come up with some better choices.
A picture grouping on the wall opposite the mirror camouflages the Murphy bed (you can hardly tell it’s there!) and highlights my owl collection.
I wanted a photo gallery around the periphery at the ceiling depicting scenes from some of my travels places that I loved, found calming and that inspired glorious memories. Keeping all of the frames the same size and color unifies the look.
The final touch is a regal looking orchid in a silver pot on the table in front of the mirror.
Do – Enjoy Your New Room
I am now very pleased with my den.
In fact, I love it. It is serene, glamorous and peaceful.
There is plenty of desk space to work on.
The room has so much more light than it used to.
And you can hardly tell that there’s a Murphy bed stashed in this wall.
I have learned how important it is to use your support system if you run into a roadblock in your thinking–a philosophy that holds true in all facets of life!.
In the future I will be making a thorough plan up front. The evolutionary process of this project did teach me not to give up, but to keep trying, researching, looking for different ways to achieve the desired results. It is important not to lose sight of the original objective.
Have comments or questions on the do’s and don’ts of a successful room makeover? Tell us in the section below.
This post was originally published on June 27, 2016 but was updated with new content on December 6, 2022.