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Our Bedroom Makeover: Before and Afters

Posted Monday, April 14, 2014 in: Before & After Nerd Life Our House

It’s finally time for a full before and after post of our bedroom makeover. Woohoo! Yes, at last. You may have noticed I have been trying to tease you and space out my posts into more easily digestible chunks (I was going to use the word ‘snippets’, but I don’t think my blog will ever have snippets) rather than my usual overly long post style where I’m like, “Here I just wrote you this novel… about my toilet.”

Our tiny main bedroom has gone from being seriously depressing (you remember me crapping on about the ceiling having a bare lightbulb for three years) to a room that Mr Nerd and I both love. Yes, both. After years of not doing anything to our room because we couldn’t agree on what kind of light fitting to get, we have now, with the aid of my interior designer friend Nelly Reffet, not only agreed on a light but moved beyond that to actually furnish the whole room! I know. It still needs a few tiny touches and some pictures hung, but it's done.

TRAM BANNER PROPOSAL: My tram banner is very dear to me, because Mr Nerd had it made so he could propose to me through it. We hung it by the bedroom door. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle. Photo Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

Now the room is so much warmer, cosy and cheerful. After years of ugliness it is SO NICE to walk into a bedroom that is light, nice and makes us feel happy. When you have been living in an unfinished or ugly room for so many years, after a while you can kind of stop realising how much an ugly room actually saps your energy. And then you you give it a proper makeover and you think oh I wish I had just done this earlier. 

It was so worth the fuss and work and expense (and the crocodile tears) Thank you Nelly, for coming up with with ‘the vision’ for our room and the belief that we could take our bedroom from boring and stagnant to lovely. We love it. And thank you Heather Robbins for your interior photos which are gorgeous as always. (Nelly and Heather offer both interior styling and interior photography services). Now, here are some 'before' photos to trigger your memory. Ahhh. The bare lightbulb.




Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

EXTRA STORAGE: I store old magazines with my stories in them in the suitcases. The vintage hide suitcase with the Fremantle stickers I got from a lovely lady through Gumtree. She also sold me our two tea chests (Pascal’s bedside). The monogrammed blue suitcase I got for $40 from a secondhand market not long ago. I actually did what you should never do at a market… I admired it, made myself walk away, even Instagrammed it… got home and realised I HAD to have it and oh my god what if it was gone. Like the spoilt brat I am, I called my mum and begged her to go see if it was still there. I even eavesdropped on her bargaining with the dealer for me while I listened in on my mobile phone, breathing heavily like a creep. What a champ (my mum, not me).

HIS AND HERS: One of my favourite ideas Nelly came up with for our bedroom makeover was to have a feminine bedside for me and a masculine side for Mr Nerd. I bought his vintage tea chest in a package deal from a lovely lady through Gumtree. My bedside was also from Gumtree. The old house number I got from a market, the little red telephone box was from my sister, who knows how much I love London. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

I've always liked how in English home magazines some of the cottage-y houses feature little hanging hearts. Knowing this, my mum made me a whole bunch one year, this one included.

TINTIN! The TinTin rocket is one of our favourite things in our house. It was a wedding gift from Mr Nerd’s aunty and uncle. She carried it all the way here from Europe on the plane bubble wrapped in her hand luggage. Wherever you put it in our house, it looks awesome. The little mariachi band was a gift from another close friend Zorica from when she eloped in Mexico and went to Day of the Dead. 

ABOVE LEFT: The dog card is by Mokoh Design and I haven't gotten around to framing it yet. My friend Amanda from Homely One took me to the Fremantle Arts Centre Christmas Bazaar for the first time and when I saw it I immediately thought, It’s Nala! ABOVE RIGHT: Frame and vases from Freedom. The wooden bowl was a Christmas present from my parents-in-law. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

In the day, the bedroom is now bright and cheerful. At night it feels cosy. It’s not a big bedroom at all – one of its downsides is that it is only 3m by 4m, which might not be sooo bad if it didn’t have three doors – entry door, ensuite door and wardrobe door - which makes it a pain to furnish. Its diminutive size means every single piece of furniture has to be painstakingly measured and considered first. But now at night, the smallness is not such a bad thing – it makes the room seem more cosy!


The pressed tin is one of my favourite things in the room. It’s just so beautiful and elegant and classic and I feel like it says, “grown-ups live here.” An important thing in a house when you are 28 years old. When I first moved out of home years ago (but I still remember this!) my little sister was in my living room, noting the Schleich model horse by the Super Nintendo, and near it three pictures of old English villages in gilt frames, a souvenir I picked up from a holiday in the Cotswolds. “The way you decorate your home is so weird,” Simone said rudely (I know, between my husband and my family and my best friends, there are so many rude people in my life). “Your interior design style is like half seven-year-old girl, half little old lady.” Kind… but I must admit there was truth to what she said.

IN THE COTSWOLDS: This is me at Bourton-on-the-Water. I'm not lying, it is one of my favourite places ever. I think I am an old person in a young person's body.

When we did our bedroom makeover, the room needed the room to have sophisticated touches to prevent it looking too childish, because clearly I like ponies, Mr Nerd likes TinTin and the ceiling light looks it could be a flying saucer. The pressed tin bedhead was the perfect ingredient. The pillow in the middle of the bed is another sophisticated touch. Nelly says as soon as she saw it at Freedom she knew it would be perfect in my room. I’m obsessed with it – the pattern and the material. It is kind of satiny, and reminds me of when I used to ride my aunt’s warmblood horse and would rub my cheek on his cheek (face cheek).

I’ve never really had a bedhead that made reading in bed so comfortable before. With my old bedhead, which had shelves, you could never really read comfortably in bed without a shelf part digging into you. Now we just prop ourselves up with a thousand pillows around us. It’s bliss. (At the moment I am reading the last Game of Thrones book, The Girl With All The Gifts and Bill Bryson’s At Home). We got the panels from the lovely Jean Morrison at Heritage Ceilings (they are based in Bunbury, but can freight to you wherever you live, AND by the way, they are offering a discount for the month of April on all orders of five or more panels).


About time, I must say. My mum brought over my baby album the other day, and I actually found a rather disturbing photograph of me as a one-year-old, sitting tucked up in our old bed with a baby blanket and an army of stuffed animals lined up on the shelves staring at me. It is weird to think that same bed actually became my marital bed. That’s actually really alarming and creepy; I won’t talk about it anymore.

Anyway Mr Nerd got us a new bed and it is SO comfy and soft we named it Cloud Bed, and we all love it (yes, Nala sleeps with us… usually with her head on the pillow, tucked in. She gets angry if you don’t tuck her in, like the person she believes she is). We went up from a double sized bed to a queen (after measuring to make sure a queen would actually fit so that we could still open the door – we can!) and there’s so much space we all sleep better.

MY BEDSIDE: I was on a serious budget when it came to getting a new bedside table! I picked this up for $50 from Gumtree. It was seriously ugly before – you can’t tell in these photos, but it actually has a plastic wood-grain effect top and drawers - that's not real wood! It was yuck. I painted the drawers and the top with a $1 sample pot of paint I got and switched out the old handles with little porcelain knobs from Il Cibo in Fremantle. If you are after porcelain knobs, they have a pretty little range. My mum made the lamp for me during her woodturning phase. She actually made it from a piece of timber from my old childhood bunk bed, which my parents eventually cut into two beds for their guest bedroom! I sprayed it glossy white. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.


Do you like Mr Nerd’s bedside lamp? It is from Freedom, the Horden Tripod Lamp. We didn’t even argue for three years about it. He picked it in less than one minute from my selections. Through decorating our house I have learned that 95 percent of the time Mr Nerd sadly has next to no interest in just jumping in the car with me to go and browse Freedom or IKEA or any homewares store. Whenever he actually IS like, “Sure, yeah, let’s go to IKEA,” I feel so taken aback this sort of blind panic comes over me and I’m like, ‘oh my God he actually wants to go shopping. I have to milk this for all it’s worth’.

But during the 95 percent of the time when he DOESN’T want to go shopping, I have a method I have learned to perfect over the years so we actually get stuff for our house. I also used this method on Mr Nerd when I was choosing things for our wedding. I call it The Stubborn Man. You may use it if you wish.

Here’s how. Say you are, like we were, trying to decide on a lamp for his bedside. You find photos of three bedside lamps that you really like (maximum five, you don’t want to frighten him) and then you ask him to pick his favourite. And then while he is thinking, “Yay I’ve gotten out of going shopping” you ask if you can borrow his wallet and because he is still in a happy mood because he thinks he has won, he hands it over and then you go and buy that lamp. I am getting really good at being married.

ZYRTEC ZOMBIE: The old wooden margarine box is actually Nala’s toy box which we just used as a prop for this shoot. I paid $25 for it at a market on a morning when I felt like a zombie, almost half-asleep from having taken two Zyrtec for the first time. $25! I couldn’t believe that I paid that much when I got home. I would never pay that normally. I have never taken Zyrtec again. I love the box anyway. The cane basket with leather handles I got secondhand from a market. One of my savvy readers told they are from Kmart – and they’re only $10 each! Now I buy them every so often – they’re so cute for giving plants as gifts. The chest of drawers is IKEA.

WHITE AND LIGHT: Nelly recommended replacing our old cedar-look blinds with linen curtains and a sheer. I bought IKEA Aina curtains when they were on sale for $50. They are 100 percent linen so not too dear for their regular price of $79 anyway. IKEA and Freedom have a pretty good range of window treatments that are nice quality but not too expensive. We fitted out our old house with blinds when we moved in, but I have been leaning much more towards curtains than blinds lately. Curtains and sheers can have such a nice softening effect on a room! And switching out the blinds with curtains made our bedroom seem lighter and softer. The little wooden horse on my bedside table was a market gift from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. The blue vessel is by ceramic artist Stephanie Hammill and from FOUND at Freo Arts Centre.

ABOVE: Yeah, I washi-taped our ugly old light switch plate, like I did in my junk-room-to-craft-room makeover. Mr Nerd took one look and went to Bunnings to buy a new one.

LOCKER STORAGE: People either laugh at my lockers or love them! I hung IKEA Garnityr hanging storage organisers in each locker – they just fit! I store my shoes, clutches, scarves and mittens in the lockers. In the suitcases I keep old books and magazines with stories I’ve written. 

BED TOPPINGS: Nelly based our room’s whole colour scheme around our Moochie Lou bed linen, a house warming present from Mr Nerd’s sister Olivia who owns the business. Pressed tin from Heritage Ceilings. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography

DUAL PURPOSE VASE: When Nelly and I hit Freedom she picked up a $3 toilet brush for her own home… then we realised it would actually make a lovely (and inexpensive!) vase! Don’t tell anyone. The big mirror I bought from IKEA. Placed here it bounces around the natural light from the window opposite and makes our small room seem lighter and bigger. Styling Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle, photography Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

ABOVE: Our ensuite - one of the smallest I have ever come across! (1.75m x 1.75m). You can read about how we renovated our tiny bathroom here - and how much it cost.

ABOVE: One of the things I love about the green-grey wall colour Nelly recommended, Dulux Still (in half-strength), is that it goes with so many accent colours. So easy to switch up the bedding and play around with different colour schemes.

You can check out our DIY for the pressed tin bedhead here - and Australian readers can also WIN an amazing Forty Winks queen size ensemble bed valued at $3299. Awesome prize! I would enter myself but they say I am not allowed.

Have you ‘done’ your bedroom? Or is yours still in a ‘state of flux’ - like ours was for so long? How do you decorate with your partner to strike a happy balance? Maya x

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