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Several weeks ago we received a note from our friend Kelly, saying that she was going to be coming to D.C. for work during the first week of May. Kelly lives near our hometown in the Cleveland area and we don't see her nearly often enough, so it was great news that she would be in the area. Wendy and I were both excited because this particular friend went to high school with Wendy, has known us for going on 20 years, was around when we first started dating as juniors in high school, and shares our appreciation for old and wonderful homes with character.

We excitedly offered up our guest room and got that overjoyed feeling when she accepted. But quickly this feeling was replaced with a feeling of dread. Why? Because our guest room was an absolute atrocity. Here's what it looked like just six weeks ago. 

Since moving in, our guest room has been our home office, Mel's litter box area, a dumping ground for house supplies and extra stuff, a work staging area for painting and staining, and even our master bedroom for nearly a year while we worked on the master. While we were sleeping in there, we lovingly referred to it as "The Crappy B&B." 

Throughout our eight years in the house, somehow we turned a blind eye to the hideous baby pink cracked walls, crackled ceiling, various stains, smudges, holes, and other imperfections, all with the plan that we would eventually get around to working on this room once we finished some of the higher priority projects elsewhere in the house.

Well, this idea of "eventually" went out the window when Kelly told us that she could join us in May. Wendy had been itching for a reason to do a quick and inexpensive overhaul on the guest room, and Kelly's impending arrival was just the catalyst to get us moving. The following video gives you a feel for the shape the room was in just a few weeks ago.

As you can see, Wendy and I needed to hit the ground running with this brief refresh project, and that's exactly what we did.

Our project kicked off with a ton of prep work. Missing sections of wall and huge cracks needed to be patched. Missing sections of plaster around outlets needed to be filled, and the whole room needed to be cleaned and scraped to get rid of all of the bumpy plaster "junk" (yes, that's a technical term) on the walls.

After lots of patching, sanding, and cleaning, we cleared out the room and started painting.

To save some hard earned cash, Wendy picked up a gallon of Benjamin Moore "oops" paint for 50% off from our local Ace Hardware to use on the walls. The color is called Manchester Tan, which felt nice and warm in the room. We used our standard antique white (Glidden's America's Finest, color matched with Benjamin Moore paint) on the baseboards. And given the light tan base of the walls as well as the fact that we had some light blue ceiling paint left over from our master bedroom project, Wendy opted to have us paint the ceiling of the guest room blue as well. The combination is quite serene.

Manchester Tan, Silver Crest, and Antique White

A few months back, in anticipation of an excuse to do some sprucing up of this room, Wendy ordered bamboo blinds for the back bay window, and some long hanging panels to give the room some soft texture. Once the room was painted, we hung them on new curtain rods from Target. I believe Lulu approves.

Wondering what Lulu's been up to lately? Just a little misbehaving while Wendy and I are out of the house.

The majority of the shell of the room was complete so we turned our attention to the furniture that would fill room as well as some accessories. As I mentioned, beyond wanting this project to be a quick one, we wanted it to be a project that would come in at a very low cost, so we used as many free/donated/reused options as we could.

The bed, an inflatable Queen Essential EZ Bed was a 2009 Christmas gift from Wendy's parents. We plan to keep it up as a bed full time, and hope it will stay inflated on a long-term basis. The dresser was also given to us by Wendy's parents, who purchased it in 1974 for $50.

The headboard is a homemade creation from our old master bathroom door plus a bit of new lumber. (Here are the step-by-step details on how you can make one too.)

For accessories we turned to one of Wendy's favorite places, Home Goods. We can usually find something that is interesting, somewhat unique, and a pretty decent deal when we shop there. This past weekend, a new Home Goods in Alexandria had its grand opening, so we decided to stop by. It was a little bit crazy there (madhouse really), we've never seen so many people at a Home Goods. Even though it was a bit insane, we're glad we went.

We found three really cool hexagon mirrors to hang above the headboard. Each mirrored piece of glass surrounds an image of a crown (a la Will and Kate?) printed on antique looking paper. 

Wendy also chose a couple of nice aqua pillow shams for the bed. We hung the mirrors in a row above the bed, placed the shams, and the room started to come together.

And finally, we added a few small items around the room on some plates we purchased in San Francisco's Chinatown last month. Just some small touches to try to make the guest room feel a little less like a crappy B&B.

While not 100% complete, the room is in good shape for Kelly to arrive this weekend. We'll still be making some changes/additions over time, but we think it's a pretty nice transformation for a couple of weekends of work

The end result? Overall we're thrilled with both the semi-finished project and its budget! And we hope that Kelly (and future guests) feel welcome in the newly refreshed space.

So, how did the budget shake out? Here's a recap:

  • Wall paint, purchased as "oops" paint for 50% off - $22.50
  • Ceiling and trim paint, left over from previous projects - "free"
  • Area rug, given to us second hand by a friend - free
  • Dresser, given to us by Wendy's Parents - free
  • Bed, 2009 Christmas gift from Wendy's Parents - free
  • Duvet cover and pillow cases, mistake shipment with an online order - free
  • End table storage cubes, snagged from a neighbor's trash because they were moving - free
  • Lamp, already owned - "free"
  • Curtains and custom blinds, picked up on sale from JCPenney - around $175.00
  • Curtain rods from Target - $49.98
  • Headboard - Built using an old door and some pine from a big box store - $40.00
  • Home Goods mirrors - $50.97
  • Home Goods pillow shams - $25.98
  • Accent pillows, already owned - "free"
  • Wicker chair, already owned - "free"
  • Decorative trays - $17.98
  • Toiletries for guests, courtesy of our last hotel stay - free

Total cost = $382.41

Making your guests feel like they aren't staying in a Crappy B&B...Priceless!

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Thrifty Decor Chick
Comments 8


5/4/2011 at 5:41 PM
Can't believe you got the duvet cover for free, how come "mistakes" like that don't happen to me?! And the cool wooden shutter came with the house? It's lovely.
Lisa, I'm not sure why it happens to us, but it seems to happen a lot. We tend to get lucky with free stuff, though we've not won the lottery yet, but we're counting on that happening at some point. This one came with an order of dress shirts that I got a while back. I opened the box and the bedding set was just sitting there, looking back at me. The shutters did come with the house. We actually have another several sets that we need to restore and put back in their proper places. That is one of my to do items on the ever growing list.
5/5/2011 at 3:51 PM
This is quite a transformation!
6/15/2011 at 9:38 PM
Hey Alex and Wendy your new guest room is fantastic. I can see why you put it off for so many years, it was a lot of work! So much easier to just forget about rooms like this sometimes, at least until you have guests come in town, lol.

I am so glad you found my party. I am following your awesome blog now, you guys have so much great projects here!

Thanks so much for linking up to my party :)
I loved this so much, I featured you guys!!
Come grab a button, and display it proudly!

Hugs, Bella
**Features from week #40** @ Bella Before and After
Bella, thank you so much for featuring us. We're quite thrilled and appreciative! We will proudly display the button :-)

Thanks for following us. We're having fun and we have a lot more to talk about, that's for sure!
1/29/2012 at 1:27 PM
What is "oops" paint?
Typically oops paint is when the paint store mis-mixes a color for someone and can't sell it to them. So they offer it up to anyone else who might not have a specific color in mind, typically for 50% the regular price. Most paint and big box stores will have an oops section or shelf for these types of mistakes/opportunities. :-)
12/19/2013 at 5:34 PM

Your home is beautiful!! Do you remember the name of the bamboo blinds you purchased, they are exquisite! : )

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