Before and After: A Dusty, Forgotten Bedroom Transforms into a Bright and Cheery Nursery

published Oct 27, 2022
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If you live in a home that has more bedrooms than people who actually live there, then chances are, you’ve got a spare bedroom. Whether you’re ready to create a functional home office or you need a place for your in-laws to crash, you may not need to fully renovate to make the most of this extra space. With a little paint and some new furniture, a little effort can go a long way in helping you give a lifeless room a brand new look. That’s exactly the approach I took in this spare bedroom turned happy nursery.

My boyfriend Dante and I closed on a 1971 ranch in Douglasville, Georgia, in August of 2021 and have been slowly upgrading and updating it ever since. The house only had one family that lived in it before us, and they hadn’t made any changes in the 50 years they were here. All three bedrooms and both of the bathrooms came with their own set of minor spatial problems, and we were ready to refresh the finishes, too.

Since there are currently only two of us, the bedroom with the ensuite bathroom became our primary, and the second largest room ended up as my home office. That left the third bedroom to quickly become dumping ground for things we didn’t know what to do with or have a place for, and for that reason, I’d say this space became a bit of a hot mess. The bed frame was broken, so the mattress was temporarily located on the floor.

The finishes weren’t that great, either. The walls were painted a faded mint color, and the carpet needed a deep cleaning. I put all of the junk I wanted to keep out of sight in the room’s two closets, one of which had a broken door. This whole scene was so dusty and depressing, we kept the door closed 99 percent of the time and channeled our time and energy elsewhere, that is, until I found out I was pregnant.

With less than six months to create a space for our baby and all of the family members who’d be coming to visit her soon, we got to work quickly. The first order of business was cleaning out the room and the closets, so we’d have a clean slate. Next up, I enlisted two of my friends to come over to help me paint the walls a bright shade of white, Valspar’s Ultra White (7006-24).

As soon as the paint dried, I immediately got busy organizing the closets because my family had already purchased tons of baby items for us. Kid clothing is so tiny, I knew I could utilize the floors of the closets to add extra closed storage, which would offset the waste of space between the small items on the hanging bar and the floor. For the closet on the right side of the room, I spent $90 on an 8-cube organizer from Target, which fit perfectly into the opening. I filled its bottom row with four fabric bins that were just $10 each. To make use of the shelf already mounted in the closet, I found a few woven storage bins to stash things like bottles, bibs, and my breast pump out of sight but still easily within reach.

When I went to organize the other closet, the dimensions were actually fairly smaller than the first closet — what a quirk! — so the same organizer wouldn’t fit. Luckily, Target had a matching four-cube organizer. Happy with the way these setups turned out, I removed the doors entirely to let the closets (and the baby clothes) become part of the overall decor.

The blank wall that separated the closets is about 53 inches long, so I decided that a changing table would go well there. I found one in the same natural wood finish from Target for $140, and it fits perfectly in this spot. In addition to changing the baby, I figured we’d also probably get her dressed here, so I stored some wipes, diapers, lotion, and other gifts we received on the shelves underneath.

The Home Edit has a super affordable collection of clear, stackable bins at Walmart, and they were the key to getting the changing table’s shelves so pretty and organized. One day, I went to Kohl’s to return something I bought from Amazon and stumbled upon this canvas painting called “Generations by Synthia Saint James.” I knew I had to have it. I’m super-close with my mom and grandma, so being pregnant with my first daughter makes this entire experience that much more special.

After I was done organizing, it was time for decorating. While I love the closets, the true star of the show here is the blush-colored large area rug from Rifle Paper Co. This rug is so big, it almost goes wall-to-wall so you can hardly see the carpet, which is a huge bonus since we didn’t want to spend even more money replacing it. The entire rug has a cute, playful pattern of trees and animals, which really brings a whimsical feel to the room that makes me smile every time I step inside.

Even though my personal design style is really neutral, I wanted to make this room more colorful and inviting for a kid to grow up in. So while I dressed the bed in a simple set of white cotton sheets, I purchased a bold mustard yellow quilt with scalloped edges from Target’s Jungalow collection.

I couldn’t decide on a headboard for the bed, which I know myself and my family will be catching some sleep on when possible while tending to the baby. Since the bed is pushed into the corner, I figured art or a mural might be more interesting. I ordered a peel-and-stick watercolor half-rainbow wall decal from Amazon, and it came out better than I could have imagined. Since you can never have too much storage, I opted for a wire storage table that doubles as a basket and a nightstand. The blanket ladder is something I’ve had for a while that I just relocated from the living room to this room, and I feel like it’ll be great for holding all of her swaddle blankets and baby carrier wraps.

The very last thing (and honestly, my favorite feature) that came together for this room is the wall full of books. Everyone who knows me knows that growing up, I always had a book in hand, which started with my grandma reading to me every time we were together. I bought this set of three 48-inch floating wood shelves, which my brother hung for me, and they’re great for displaying her library so she can see all the diverse, colorful covers.

To complete this little reading nook, I found the perfect blush and gold floor lamp from Globe Electric, which is small enough to stick in the corner but provides just enough light. After weeks of scouring the internet, I ended up going with this budget-friendly beige upholstered rocking chair from Amazon and found the perfect ottoman to match at Target.

My estimated due date is November 4, so I feel really proud that I was able to create the perfect nursery with space for family members to sleep with about seven weeks to spare. Being able to knock this off my to-do list is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, and it was really fun to do. With a little paint, a lot of help from friends and family, and a bit of creativity, this room went from a space I hated to my favorite place in the whole house.

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: Before and After: A Dusty, Forgotten Bedroom Transforms into a Bright and Cheery Nursery