Room Makeover for a Birthday Girl.

It’s Monday but it’s a good Monday because it’s Alissa’s birthday. In her honor, I want to share a room make over we did together. When I met this girl, she was completely put together. We bonded over lipstick. But then we stopped off at her apartment. “I’m sorry!” she chirped. I told her it would be fine. I mean, it’s okay if your place is messy (mine is too sometimes!). But she didn’t mean what I thought; it wasn’t messy. It was empty and dingy–nothing like Alissa.

As our friendship progressed and Lis saw what I was doing to my place, knowing we were on the same budget, she asked me to help her out. I’m not an interior designer by any means but I am very much a bargain hunting, do it herself type of gal. I enjoy creating things. I find myself saying, “but I could make that,” all the time. And when you move across the country knowing no one, you nest a bit more quickly because you need a familiar place that’s yours.

Alissa has a great eye. She’s smart and a hard worker. She’s more than capable. But she just didn’t have the same confidence putting together a room that she has walking into a new job or even putting together a new outfit.Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 4.58.48 PMI wish I had a true before picture but she had already replaced her bed linens by this point. Furthermore, notice my little red zig zag graphic that’s so amazingly done. This is where Lis placed a folding mirror which lengthened the hallway, but made her studio apartment feel even smaller. Also the yellow lamp shade is one I already forced her to buy, by the time this photograph was taken.

Alissa lived in this apartment for a year longer than I lived in mine which I also think prompted her into action. If I made my apartment a priority and “finished it” in three months, then why had she done nothing in over a year? (Like I said, when you move to an unknown city and you are unknown, it’s easy and I also believe important, to make yourself a cozy little place that is yours.) So she asked me to help. Immediately, I knew there were things we could do to completely transform her apartment for under $200.

Nothing was really wrong with Alissa’s apartment except her home didn’t match the woman, so we focused on that. Upon realizing this, Alissa actually had some Extreme Home Makeover moments.  She saw she needed to value her private self just as much as she valued her public self. She needed a place of her own she could go to and feel good about. Namaste.

The first thing we addressed was the placement of the folding mirror cutting her space in half. I asked her: what if we used this is as a headboard? (I am refraining from telling you about the headboard in the above picture but let’s just say, Alissa needed a different headboard anyway. All I will tell you is that when I asked where the headboard was from–because it didn’t match her vibe–I literally fell over and wheezed and then laughed and called you’ve got to be joking over and over again). The thing was:

…was this really her style? No! she told me. She wanted soft grays and a bit of yellow so we painted the folded screen. At this point in the project, Alissa was a bit scared. I think she asked me over twenty times if her color choices looked like they were for a baby’s room.
SONY DSCAlissa never really “did it herself before.” It intimidated her. What if she messed up? I’m proud to say she realized you can’t really mess up and now is much more comfortable in the DIY mode.
There is the finished headboard with a random pillow I got for my place from Joss and Main. They don’t do returns and I  knew it was much more suited for Alissa’s place than mine so I was glad to give it a good home. The next issue was a nightstand.

She didn’t have anything. Wait. That’s a dirty lie. She had the floor.

All I had to do was go into her closet and find this (a whole set of gorgeous furniture that matched the glamorous vibe we needed to bring into the room). SONY DSC
Yes, this was hidden under clothing!!!! It blew Alissa’s mind when I pulled it out and put it next to her bed which just shows you that Alissa felt defeated about her place. She didn’t think she could do it under her budget so she didn’t try. (I’m proud to say this has changed.) The nightstand matched the table she already placed in front of the window. Unfortunately, the table wasn’t in great shape. There were burn marks on top of it. At the same time, it was the first thing someone saw when he or she walked in. So I told Alissa we would make this the statement piece with more paint–this time, royal blue (her pick) and gold leafing.SONY DSC
Originally, this table matched the nightstand. We painted it royal blue and then took good leaf paint and sponged it on the top, covering the burn marks. Alissa, gaining confidence, picked out the pink velvet for the chairs all by herself and only asked me once if I thought it was too bold. The art is from Etsy. Originally that frame had a lame print in it. I knew we could find something totally affordable on Etsy.

Now for some other details:







Alissa loves her place now and is confident trying things out–spray painting a candle holder, adding gold leaf to her vanity mirror, painting the drawers gray. Honestly, I thought this would be a simple project but I know it ended up being so much more and I’m just glad Alissa asked me to be a part of it. Thanks, Alissa, and thanks for letting me share it with everyone here. Maybe it will inspire someone else that they can do all the cool things they see on pinterest.
Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 7.26.58 PM
What do you guys think?




What we bought:

Paint for the folding screen, gold leaf, royal blue | any hardware store

Gold tray (holding the tulips) | Goodwill

Yellow Lampshade | Target

Blue Lampshade | Target (similar)

Silver Lamp | Target (similar)

Pulls on Vanity Drawers (not shown) | Anthropologie

Watercolor Artwork | Etsy (similar)

Oh, Darling Print | Etsy (on sale)

Pink Velvet | Local Store

Bed linens & Big Gray studded pillows | Target (a Christmas present from Alissa’s family so technically not a part of our budget.

Everything else, frames, (everything!) Alissa already had. We just reworked things or discovered them like secret treasures.

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26 thoughts on “Room Makeover for a Birthday Girl.

  1. San

    First, Happy Birthday Wishes to Alissa!!!! Second, the transformation is wonderful and I like the color palette. Last, Alissa’s handbag is awesome–maybe someday–ha!!!

  2. Lis

    Nins, this was such a great post. The room transformation was truly a blessing. I always say, it is such a blessing to have you as a friend. I am such a lucky girl!! Love you very much.

  3. Lisa Pray

    First, I loveee the yellow lamp!! And second, I am so impressed with the new headboard… I love how tall it looks – it makes for a grand look! Nice job, ladies!!! (now come work on my room – please and thank you!) 🙂

  4. alduina

    Nate Berkus, please move on over and make room for one more person on your staff. I am impressed!!!!!

  5. Laura B

    Nina…I wish you lived near me so you could help a girl out! makes me want to rethink my current setup! 🙂

  6. Pingback: Five on Friday: Here we go again.

  7. Abbey Spaulding

    Next time you’re in Champaign (I don’t know that you come back often :)) you should decorate my whole house! Great job 🙂 I feel like I can relate to your friend a lot.

    1. Nina Post author

      I would love that, ABBEY!!!! Seriously it is so fun for me and a budget only makes me more creative! I so wish I would have known you better when I was at the the U of I because you seem like such a cool chick. Come back and read and comment again! 🙂 xoxoxoxoxoo from another illini

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