It's easy for me to get overwhelmed with how many projects we have in the new house. 

Forget about the daydreams of future renovations, I'm just thinking about completing the projects we've already started. Most days that alone is enough to make me want to scream obscenities or curl up in a fetal position. We've done it before, and we'll probably do it again, but we're in the midst of having started too many projects without finishing up the ones already in progress.

At this point we've pulled up the tile floor in the downstairs bathroom rendering it out of commission.

We have a large scale makeover happening in the living room that was interrupted last year by the whole house freeze. (Plaster is still in progress in there)

And we still have residual evidence of running all new pipes and duct in the house after last winter's catastrophe, like this large duct return that's still just bare metal. 

With all of this chaos and work, it's even more important to us (and my sanity) that we set up spaces in the house that can let us, along with friends and family, enjoy it. So we've turned our focus to making the sleeping spaces a bit more inviting.

It's pretty hard to have people come visit when you have nowhere for them to sleep. And let's face it, It was even rougher than nowhere to sleep for several months. At the height of the chaos my parents stayed with us, and another weekend my best friend from high school and her husband all braved the house. This all occurred during the days where you had to manually fill up the toilet tank with a 5 gallon bucket after flushing and our luxury sleeping accommodations were made up of an air mattress on the floor.

But I digress. Back to my goal of making as much of the home as inviting and comfortable as possible, and how we're tackling the "middle guest room." 

The middle guest room, as we call it, is one of the three bedrooms on the second floor that's contained within the front foursquare portion of the home. On the downside, it's a funky and smaller room that also acts as a passthrough to the back of the house, once used as a service wing for the family that ran the home's original hotel business. Today the door to the back of the house is a flimsy folding door that offers little privacy, and the room's plaster has seen better days. 

On the positive side, it's next to the upstairs hall bath, it has water views, and has a charming original mantel where the room's fireplace (likely a wood or coal burning stove) once stood. 

Using largely second hand items, mixed in with a few new purchases, I've been working to make the room feel more cohesive, welcoming, and a nice place to sleep. This is actually the decorating approach I'm using for the house in general. Our budget doesn't permit us to go out and shop for all new furniture, and even if it did, my belief is the house will feel more interesting, unique, and have a more collected look using pieces that are both new and old. 

We have plans well down the road to re-plaster and paint the walls and ceiling, replace the ceiling fan, and come up with a better solution for the folding door in this room (Alex is pulling for a secret door), but until we take on a full room renovation, we want to make it a functional guest room in its current form. Here's a (terrible) photo I took of the room on the day of our home inspection with the previous owner's furnishings still in the room.

Here's a look at the empty space on the day we moved in, looking into the room from the hallway... well as the view from the room looking back to the hallway.

Before I started decorating, we tackled some bigger improvements on a whole house level which improved this room as well. The floors were repaired and refinished, lending a lighter and more casual look to the room.

Also, the baseboard radiators and window A/C unit are a thing of the past, thanks to our new geothermal system. Removing the baseboard radiators revealed the room's former trim paint, a different color and in a condition well past its prime, so Alex wiped down and removed any flaking paint from the baseboards, and I applied a coat of primer and two coats of paint. (We actually did this throughout the house before we moved all the furniture back in.)

Since a lot of the furniture we're getting is second hand, we had to put in some elbow grease along the way to freshen up some of the pieces we're using in the room. Many items received a couple fresh coats of paint, including this dresser, purchased from a friend who was moving, as well as the nightstand which belonged to my parents that I later took with me to college. 

Alex also spent some time working on the bed frame for the room. This four poster bed was the guest bed in my parents' house growing up, which I later moved to my room in high school. In order to transport it from Ohio without renting a truck as well as scaling its size back for the new, smaller room, my Dad and I devised an idea. He roughly cut down the posts enough to get the bed into his car and to the house, and then Alex took over, cleaning up the cuts and making the finials fit into the new, shorter length. 

The entire frame received a good sanding and a fresh coat of paint to match the trim color.

With the majority of the fairly minimal furniture in the room set, I turned my attention to bringing in various accessories to cozy up the room. The mantel, nightstand, and dresser offered natural places to add a few elements in the room, so I started with the mantel. On one side I placed a few old books that I found in my parents attic the last time we were home, and topped it with a ceramic piece of coral that I bought from Ballard Outlet a little over a year ago. 

On the other side I placed two ceramic lanterns I found on clearance from Target back in 2014 and hung a natural woven grass round mirror, found on clearance at HomeGoods, over the mantel.

I adorned the newly painted dresser with a white painted tray I picked up at the Alexandria Boutiques District Warehouse Sale in 2015, a second hand army lock box found in an antique store, and a Pottery Barn ledge mirror given to us by friends. (We've got some really great friends!)

On the nightstand I placed a small alarm clock (also from Ballard Outlet), another of the ceramic lanterns, and a small silver rimmed dish found on clearance from J. Crew that can be a landing place for our guests' jewelry, keys, or other elements at bedtime. The lamp we bought years ago from Restoration Hardware, and while we used it for years, it was currently collecting dust in our basement as we had bought a new lamp for the room a while back.

For wall decor I went simple and hung a collection of seashell prints in papier-mache frames I picked up from Joss & Main. They came as a set of six, but several of them were damaged when they arrived. Their company policy is to offer a full refund, but they don't want the product back. So I picked out these two undamaged prints, which ended up costing me nothing.

The white duvet cover and shams are from Pottery Barn, purchased back in 2002 or so for our bed. I had stopped using it because it's a little small for our queen size mattress, but on this full size mattress it works perfectly. The polka dot pillow cases are new from Marshalls, and the striped pillow I picked up at HomeGoods. 

At the foot of the bed, to add a little visual interest to an otherwise white on white bedding arrangement and to tie into the green dots on the pillow cases, I folded a reversible shower curtain from Anthropologie that was given to us by friends. (Yep, the same ones that were moving and also gave us the mirrored ledge.)

All in all, I feel like the room really came together nicely. It's definitely simple and could still use a rug to bring it all together, but it's a space I'd be happy to offer to our guests.

Best of all, this whole room's decor was very budget friendly. With so many gifted second hand items, a lot of budget purchases that I'd collected over time, and a quick coat of paint on the furniture and old and dingy molding, we were able to get the whole room looking good for under $250 dollars.

Like I said, we have big plans for this cozy space down the road...

...but until that time, I'm really happy that the room feels like an actual guest room, which makes us feel much more comfortable inviting friends and family to the house to enjoy it with us. 

Comments 16


2/29/2016 at 10:51 PM

Looks so fresh and coastal. A rug would be nice, but the floors really shine as the star. I might be on board with the secret door idea, but have to see some ideas first.

3/1/2016 at 1:58 PM

It looks lovely! Do you have a floor plan of the house? I'm trying to piece it together in my head but can't really get to grips with it, I love seeing how old houses flow (or don't, as the case may be!)


Hi Sam. We haven't had the time to put together a floor plan yet, but it's definitely on our list. Thanks for the feedback!

3/1/2016 at 3:43 PM

I like this rather spare decorative style. It's probably period appropriate for the house.
In my own guest bedrooms I have added a row of six pegs and hung wooden coat hangers so that guests have somewhere to hang clothes without my having to buy wardrobes ( closets) . Also a folding luggage rack is nice . In the uk these can be bought from Oka.


Thanks, Sue! I love the idea of a row of pegs, and we actually have a folding luggage rack for each of the guest rooms but I forgot to mention it.Alt smile (You can get a glimpse of it in the photo of me painting the dresser. It's in the background in front of the mantel.) My aunt found them marked down to $19 each on a "door buster" clearance sale at the Ballard Designs Outlet. They're really handy!

3/2/2016 at 2:31 AM

Great tips! really liked it!

3/2/2016 at 6:54 PM

Good work Wendy. I do like the paint colour left behind by the previous owners and you've used it to your advantage. I'd stay there!


Thanks, Pat. I agree -- it definitely works until we decide to fix the plaster, and am glad you like it.Alt smile

3/4/2016 at 3:37 PM

Love the secret door idea. I've always wanted one myself!

3/18/2016 at 5:33 PM

The room looks beautiful and restful. I love your decorating style!

4/8/2016 at 1:21 PM

very pretty. Any window treatment planned for the future? I like the breezy sheer curtains, but maybe not the fussy lace; I like at least something to filter the light, especially direct sunshine.

Kelly Wagner Amen
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Love it! So cozy, bright and beachy
Margaret Schleicher Bjorklund
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Would love a visit if you ever openup as a B&B..Nice job.
Anne Timpano
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Well done! I have furnished my home with a truly eclectic mix of old and new and each piece has a story. This type of look can be stylish yet personal and so much richer visually than a truck load of "eclectic" purchases from Arhaus or Ethan Allen or whomever. A house like yours deserves a personal aesthetic. Add and subtract over time and when it is done you will know it. :-)
Sherran Denkler
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Great job. I really enjoy following your restoration progress!
Kathy Smith Small
5/19/2016 at 10:03 PM
Annie...your house is beautiful!
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