Jennifer Koper's DIY transformation.
I just moved into a new condo with my spouse, and although the layout is perfect, it's a bit plain, a tad boring, and a whole lot of basic; the perfect blank canvas! We were on a tight budget but still wanted to add some personality to the space. A kitchen or bathroom renovation would have been out of our budget, and the condo isn't old enough to need an overhaul in those spaces, so we started with a bedroom makeover. (Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV!)
The walls were "primer white", the carpet was wall-to-wall "dirty ivory", the ceiling had a popcorn finish, and the window covering, well, it was downright offensive: a faux marble pattern on vertical blinds — enough said! Here's the before photo:
We managed to change all of the above on our tight budget, with plenty of DIY projects. Here's how:
After emptying out the room, the first thing to go was the carpeting. The apartment was a rental before we purchased it, so it was quite dirty, plus we have a cat, so I didn't want wall-to-wall carpet. If you live in a condo, be sure to check with your condo board regarding the rules — some condos require you to have flooring on top of the concrete. I wanted to leave the concrete floor exposed, so the carpet tacking along the sides of the room had to be removed once the carpet was up. I used a crow bar to remove the strips and nails in the floor. Then I cleaned and scrubbed the gunk and spray paint off the concrete — leftover from the condo's original construction — with a wire brush, trowel, soap and water. You can use a chemical concrete cleaner like this one from The Home Depot, but I found I didn't really need it. I did, however, need a lot of elbow grease! This is what the floor looked like before I scrubbed it clean:
Once cleaned, I filled the holes leftover from the tack strip nails with concrete filler — wear goggles if you're going to attempt this! I forgot to put my goggles back on after taking a small break and some of the filler splashed into my eye, resulting in a wonderful half hour spent with my face under the tap flushing my stinging eye out with water — not fun! Safety first!
When this process is finished you can leave the floor as-is and put a rug down or you can take it a step further and seal the floor with a concrete sealer, to protect the porous surface from staining. I layered an affordable jute rug from Ikea and a cowhide right on top of the concrete and I'm really happy with the industrial feel that it gave the room.
I've heard so many horror stories about scraping popcorn ceilings that I was really dreading the task. Luckily, the ceiling had never been painted and the popcorn came off with very little effort. I simply picked up a spray bottle, filled it with water, and sprayed a 2-foot by 2-foot area at a time, waited about 30 seconds for the water to absorb and then scraped off the popcorn texture with a large trowel. The trick is to not oversaturate the ceiling or you might damage the drywall underneath (I'm guilty of a few gouges in our ceiling). Be sure to use safety goggles and a dust mask. Also keep in mind that this task is extremely messy, and appropriate prep is a good idea. If your flooring is not being replaced, cover it with a plastic drop cloth and use painters tape to tape the edges of the drop cloth to the walls so that there are no gaps. If you don't plan on cleaning and painting the walls, use plastic to cover your walls, too. If your home is older, you'll want to test for asbestos in the ceiling texture and/or call in a professional to get rid of it. Once you've finished scraping, wipe the ceiling down with a damp sponge — I used a handy drywall sponge from The Home Depot. It has a textured side that will scrape any remaining rough parts off the ceiling easily and quickly. Then patch any gouges, sand and prime the ceiling before painting or covering in wallpaper. Treating the freshly smooth ceiling with a fun paint colour or patterned wallpaper is a good way to celebrate the removal of the popcorn! We splurged on a bird print and finished the look with crown moulding. It's an inexpensive material with minimal installation costs, and really made the wallpaper pop.
After much deliberation regarding lighting, I chose to hang an oversized drum shade fixture from Ikea. I really loved the look of their new Nymö shade with copper on the inside, but the perforated detail felt a bit busy against the wallpaper. With a few modifications, I was able to achieve the look that I wanted using their original large white Nymö shade spray-painted with a copper finish. To prevent the blotchiness of the paint from showing through the shade when the light is turned on, I gave the outside of the shade a quick coat of white paint. Something dramatic like black would also be a great choice. To hang the shade, I used a cord set found at a local hardware store. I love an oversized pendant in a small space because it draws the eye upwards and can actually make the space feel larger. I made mine for a fraction of the price that higher-end versions sell for.
My existing nightstands lacked character and were too small and boxy. I found an old nightstand at a hotel liquidator with a traditional shape, which I sanded, primed and painted matte black. I paired it with a modern, marble top tulip table for an eclectic look.
The art above the nightstand is a photo I took of a contemporary art installation at Centre Pompidou in Paris while we were on vacation. I made some colour modifications to the original in Photoshop, printed and framed it in an awesome square brass frame from CB2. A unique piece of art for around $50!
The larger artwork next to the bed was made using a section of an old drop cloth that had been used over and over again for various painting projects. It had some really interesting and abstract markings on it. I was originally going to paint something abstract myself onto a canvas, but I felt the pressure of a blank canvas staring back at me. I toyed with the idea of different abstract painting techniques, but when I saw this drop cloth at the office, I knew it was meant to be. I cut off the best section and stapled it around a blank canvas with a wooden frame. It gave the space the right amount of gritty edge.
My least favourite part of the space was the marbled vertical blinds. I wanted a window covering that would allow for two different light levels in the room while providing privacy. Ikea had the perfect drapes at the right length, for the right price. I installed the Ritva drapes, which let plenty of light through, onto the existing track that was used for the vertical blinds. I manually made a pinch fold in the drape every few inches and wedged the fabric into the grips that previously held the plastic vertical panels. For the second layer, I chose the Sanela dark grey velvet drape for its rich texture and light-blocking thickness, and hung this layer from a curtain rod. Now I can use the first layer to let soft light in during the day, or I can shut the second layer to darken the room when I want to sleep in.
Last but not least, I should mention the wall colour, which is the change that made the most impact for the lowest price. I've been inspired by shades of oxblood in fashion shows for a while now, and I knew I wanted a deep and dark wall colour, so Benjamin Moore's Bewitched (CSP-450) in a matte finish was the perfect choice to add the drama that I wanted.
All in all the transformation didn't break the bank and I achieved the rich layers and character I was after. Now I'm contemplating which room to tackle next!
Watch the transformation come to life on Online TV, where you'll find a complete list of products, as well.
1-8. Jennifer Koper