First things First

This week is all about getting to work on the physical development of the makeover.  But it’s essential to make sure our actions are well thought out.

Everything affects the budget, …. everything!  So to ensure we meet our project goals (the final aesthetic, budget, timeline, etc.), we need to look at material and labor costs truthfully.  It’s a guarantee that we will be over budget if we don’t pay attention to the budget with each purchase we make.  

We created the design plan, so now it’s time to work on sourcing and selecting the materials for the project.  We need to look at the Overall Picture before making the first purchase.  There are always items and costs in every renovation that are set.  Usually, items that must be kept in the design plan (like the bedroom set in this project), items that must be repaired (like water damage or rot), items that must be replaced (like windows), a room layout, or labor charges.  

It’s important to realize that we will not be able to have all the elements we want in our final makeover because, well,  we don’t have the money.  That doesn’t mean we have to get depressed; it just means we have to make intelligent choices.

Deciding where the Money Goes

1. the existing Bedroom Set

This bedroom set is staying per the homeowner.  She doesn’t like it at all, but it was her grandfathers.  She’s in that very common position of being stuck with a style due to quilt….which is a whole ‘nother blog in itself.

It will not work in our design plan (Mood Board from Week Two) as it currently looks.  We need to make adjustments, so we will have to spend budget money here. 

 I plan to paint it, which will be the cheapest option we have to update it.  The last thing I want to do is get into the messing job of stripping it.

So we need some of the budget here.

Before someone has a coronary, I am not altering this furniture so that it cannot be refinished at some point down the road to get it back it’s original condition.  It is actually currently in need of refinishing as it has worn edges, dents, watermarks, and peeling varnish.  

This is a victorian style bedroom set (or suite) circa 1880-1900 in quartersawn red oak.  It would have been a highly prized set in its time.  But we live in a different time, and you can easily find these in resale shops and flea markets very inexpensively.

These sets don’t function for today’s lifestyle; they appeal to a limited market and dominate space as far as style.  We will have to adjust that, which you can see later in this blog.

2. The Ceiling Fan

Another item we have to address is the ceiling fan.  This is in the middle of the room and just will not work with the new design scheme, so it has to be dealt with.  I could paint it black, change the globe light and maybe even the blades, but it still will be a big eyesore for me at the final reveal.  So I’ve decided to put a big part of the budget into a new ceiling fan.  It will create a significant impact and change the room.

3. The Windows

A massive must for the new makeover is window treatments for these sad windows.   The room has many angles and sharp edges, and the furniture is all stained wood (orange, ugh!) and very square, which gives a hard edge to the room.  

Our Mood Board is very soft and airy, so we must bring softness and texture into the room.  A very effective way to do this is with curtains.

These can be expensive, so I must be imaginative and resourceful.  Unfortunately, the homeowner has no spare curtains treatments I can raid, so these will have to be purchased.


And with what's left over....

5. Bedding – the owner has some bedding options that may work.  Finding curtains to coordinate with what she has will be vital to making this option work.

6.  Rug – a rug will make a massive difference in the space covering the orange tone floors, so it’s high on the want list, but they aren’t cheap, so the reality is we may have to cut back here.

7.  Paint – of course, we need to paint.  This will make a huge difference in changing the room’s overall vibe.

8.  Accessories and Artwork – these can be found from around the hose or other places; I don’t see having much in the budget for his area unless it’s faint-worthy.

9.  Desk – This will be a rummaged piece, so I’m not putting a lot of budgets here.  The owner purchased a Broadcast Boom Arm a few months ago (which is not pretty, but it gives her the perfect video set up to be attached to the desk.

10. Lighting – Fortunately there are a few lighting options available from the owner, and I have several pendant kits, so we can DIY something.

Let's start Shopping!

Now that I’ve defined my budget priorities, I can start shopping guided by my budget. 

My first priority is updating the furniture to match my Mood Board goal.  I’m not quite sure how this will go…..seriously, I’m not….so I want to start on that right away.  These will be important furniture in the room so the rest of the design will have to coordinate with it.  I need to get it to its final form, to ensure I don’t make any purchases that will not coordinate with it.

I start my shopping for the next 2 important items which are the ceiling fan and the curtains.  I have set aside $250.00 for the fan as I know it will have to be new (or open box) and I know the style I need is not going to be the cheapest option.  I started moving on this so as not to face delivery issues.

My second priority is finding curtains.  I am looking for inexpensive items at budget stores like Home Goods, Target but I will also shop for used curtains as well.  I always prefer a quality used item over a cheap item of the same price, and I hate cheap curtains.

Check my list below for great resources for the cost conscience.

Resources for a tight Budget

  • Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Max – stay away from the trendy, the very cheap and NO signs with words.
  • Craigslist
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Flea Markets
  • Consignment Shops
  • IKEA – only one item please, it’s ok to add an IKEA piece, but never furnish a room with IKEA
  • eBay – watch you shipping costs, sometimes they can be more than it’s worth
  • Facebook friends – post to facebook asking your friends if anyone has what you need
  • Goodwill – you can find treasures there, but you have to go often

The Furniture Fix

The washstand.  This was designed to hold a washbowl and pitcher on top and has a bar across the back to hold a towel and washcloth.  I plan to remove the back towel bar and use it as a nightstand.  Keep the drawers and doors wood, update the handles and paint the body of the chest green.

 The Gentlemans Wardrobe.  This piece has a mirror (which I’ve already removed in this picture) with drawers and a small cabinet and drawer on the side.  I will remove the tall mirror stand and chest from the top to have a low, broad chest of drawers.  I will paint the body green and leave the top and drawers wood and replace the handles.

The Bed.  I plan to paint the entire bed black.  This will make a big bold statement in a solid color that is not wood.   I also want the bed to look very different from the other pieces, so they will no longer look like a “bedroom set.”


Removing the towel bar makes an instant improvement.  I am painting the cabinet box with “Velvet Finishes” paint in color “lush” which is a green that most closely matches the greens in my Color Palette from my Mood Board (Hunt Club and Parisian Patina). 

I also purchased 3 light brass handle options to test on the painted piece.  My final decision will depend on the look and the cost.

            This looks TERRIBLE! 

This wood is just too orange, period.  I was hoping the green would tone it down (but honestly, I knew it would not.)  Sometimes you have to test it out because it would have saved me a lot of time if it had worked.  I didn’t waste any time painting the sides already since I’m only stripping the doors and drawers that I can remove and the top which I will tape off the painted section.

My vision is for a very blond wood contrasted with the green and light brass handles.  Not this.

The next step is stripping this to get the wood tone lighter.  

       The Orange Tone is gone

I tested stripping this small mirror frame before the oversized items to ensure I was headed in the right direction.  I like the color much better, so I’m moving forward.

I used Citrustrip, which worked very well.  The smell doesn’t make you pass out, and it cleans with water easily.  I sprayed it on, let it get almost dry, and scrapped it off with a spackle knife—no slimy, sticky mess.

It took two applications to get all of the old finish off.

You can see in the picture it made a big difference.  I wish this was lighter still but it is red oak, so it isn’t a light wood.

This is another reason I didn’t want to strip.

I knew these drawers were in feeble condition, so I didn’t want to touch them, not even with paint.

Since I’m stripping these, I do need to make them usable.  I took them completely apart, removing nails from past repairs, and reassembled them using wood glue and ribbed nails, making sure the drawer boxes were perfectly square.

Whenever you are doing these refinishing, repairing, and revamping projects, you have to decide how far you are going in your project.  I had hoped to go in just a little by painting and hardware change.

I’m in so far now; it makes sense to make these practical and usable for the owner. Now she will have drawers that slide easily instead of getting caught and making chalky sliding noises when open.

Not there yet.  Time for bleach.

Unfortunately, after I stripped the furniture, there were still a lot of dark tannins in the wood so it still darker than I want.  I would like an oil finish to keep the wood looking 
“raw” which I know will make it even darker.

To get the wood lighter, I used a 2-part wood bleach.  You wipe a solution on, let it sit for 15 minutes and then wipe on the second solution and let it dry, then sand.  I did the process twice because I want to get as light as possible to compensate for the darkness the oil will add.

You can see in the comparision in the picture of what a difference the bleaching made.  To me, it was Well Worth It!


I’m very happy with the color of the bleached oak once it’s all sanded. 

But there is one issue, the clear oil I wanted to use “Monocoat Rubio” darkens the wood too much and brings out orange tones again.  I don’t like finishes that sit on the surface of woods like polyeirathane, varnish or laquers.  I  like the feel the wood, so I like the penetrating oils.

I tested boiled linseed oil, teak oil, danish oil  and even cuting board oil, but they darkened and reddened the wood…..because they are oils.

So in order to keep the lightness of the wood, I have to use a waterbase product so it doesn’t darken the wood or yellow over tim

Found the right finish….      FINALLY!

I have to use a water based finish to portect the newly bleached wood so that it darken it or get yellow over time.

I chose spray-on Polycrylic by Minwax.  I didn’t want to have a thick finish layer feeling plastic on the wood.  I sprayed on light layers to avoid build up and applied 3 light coats as per instructions.

It turned out great, it felt great and I was very happy.  The next day, I put some small splashes of diet pepsi on it to test how it would hold up.  After about 15 minutes I wiped it up and it had stained a little.  So I sprayed heavier layers, sanding between each coat until I was confident it was sealed well.

I made sure I still had the texture of the grain when I was finished.

While I am not a fan of varnishes or acrylic finishes, this one really delivered what I needed and wanted most, protection and keeping the wood light.  Remember, there are always choices in design, make sure you make the right one, even if it’s something you aren’t comfortable with.

I Know You’re Going to Try This!

And finally, after I got the drawers repaired and sliding easily, I could not leave the insides as they were.  They were 140-year-old unfinished wood with a chalky finish.  Indeed, nothing that I would want my clothes to come into contact with.

I went to this off-price store called Gabe’s to find some contact paper to line the drawers and came across these  12×12 stick carpet tiles.  I would never put these on my floor, but why not the drawer?  It is self-stick and thick, so it covers the cracked and warped drawer bottoms and feels luxurious inside a drawer. (it is NOT luxurious for a floor).

I love the way it elevates the entire piece now; it feels like something nice!  as well as looking excellent.

Finally, after all that.....

I’m delighted with the final result.  It will work well with the look we are going for in the mood board.  And remember, everything doesn’t have to be perfect; this is evolving.  Our goal is to achieve the BEST possible outcome with our resources.  There’s great dignity in that.  And I want to show you how to do it.

This is not a choice I would have made for this room, but it will work with the theme.  It works with the Mood Board, and it is in the Color Palette.   We are following the design plan.  We will be ok.

There were some hits to the budget with stripper, bleach, and polyacrylic, but I knew these might be coming.   I also knew we would have to spend what we had to get this furniture right since we must keep them.  There’s another reason it was essential to get this finalized before purchasing other items.  This eliminates a questionable expense from our budget.  

Notice the choices I keep making around the budget and how I make them.  I make choices to protect the budget from surprises; I prioritize purchasing items in an order that gives me the most options and flexibility within the budget.  I identify where I can DIY or have the best chance to source these items around the owner’s house.

Now let's take care of that bed

     The Bed just gets painted.

Bedroom “sets” tend to be very uninspiring.   As a designer, I always prefer a more curated look, where everything doesn’t match perfectly.  The contrast provides depth and interest to the room.  So, the bed is a much simpler project.  It just gets painted black.  

Once again, I used Velvet Finishes Paint and chose the color “luxurious.”  I cleaned the wood, used a de-glosser then painted it with two coats.

       The Painted Bed looks much more contemporary!

Once I had the bed painted, I decided to eliminate the footboard and rails.  This also helped make the bed more updated.   I attached the headboard to the metal mattress frame.

Once issue with these antique beds is their size….full size which is 54″W x 75″L.  People are on average 3.3″  taller today than they were 100 years ago and prefer a longer bed opting for Queen size which is 60″W x 80″L;   6″ wider and 5″ longer.  Removing the footboard helps give the sleeper more room to stretch out on the shorter length bed.  It also allows us to have a more modern mattress height of about 24″ – 30″, which looks awkward with the high footboard.

One final review........

Now that we have our final refinished furniture let’s review it with our mood board.  The wood tones are finally right, the green works well, and the brass handles look great.  The bed headboard style is different, but it displays an ornate style, similar to the one on the mood board.  Since we removed the ornate mirror and side piece from the gentleman’s wardrobe, the bed and side tables don’t give the effect of a bedroom “set,” which helps develop the layers in the room.

 Next week we’ll be BUYING some stuff! 

   SO excited to go budget shopping!!

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