Creating a Bedroom Oasis
From a tropical paradise to a retro hippie pad, a teen haven, or even Grandma’s attic, these readers share how they created their own bedroom oasis—you can too with budget-savvy and expert advice
What does your bedroom oasis look like? A tropical paradise that puts you back in the moment of favorite family vacations? A groovy retro room that your inner hippie digs? If you’re a teenager, maybe you envision a place that looks more like your grownup future than your little kid past. Or perhaps you prefer to take a sentimental journey by way of cherished family heirlooms.
Several readers shared their bedroom makeover stories. Working from various wish lists, themes, and budgets, each transformed space into a distinctive room of their own.
Through a sleight-of-hand designer trick, DIYer Kay Jessie, a member of Salt River Electric Cooperative and Shepherdsville resident, repurposed a ho-hum bedroom into a tropical oasis with island colors (think breezy blue) and lush foliage, including hibiscus and seashells found on the seashores while on various family vacation destinations.
“I’m all about reusing things,” says Jessie, whose island motif gets a boost via a pink and white afghan her mom made for her, a sea turtle emerging from his shell, and a wall hanging fashioned from Hawaiian shirts. “It’s called Southern ingenuity.”
Playing up the theme are sailboat and woven basket accents, porthole windows in the bathroom over the two-person Jacuzzi, and palm trees swaying on the shower curtain and in a picture above the dresser. Inspired by the towels typically used in spas, Jessie chose white for her fluffy towels and rugs, a color repeated in the bedspread, woodwork, and shutters.
“There are lots of different things you can do if you let your mind go,” says Jessie.
Helping transform the room into an island haven is a sunroom, accessible by French doors opposite the four-poster bed, where Jessie and her husband, Ron, watch TV or stargaze. The sunroom’s textured tile with sand-colored grout lends a note of authenticity.
“When my husband smoothed the grouting, some had fallen into the depressions in the tile. To me it looked like sand had blown in, so I said, ‘Leave it.’”
Off the sunroom is a porch surrounded by wrought iron fencing that leads to a garden with butterfly bushes, roses, vibernum, and different kinds of bark.
“You can take a short walk and enjoy the flowers and butterflies,” adds Jessie.
“Come on, get happy!” That’s what Karla Hammer’s hippie-style bedroom transformation, with its flower-power bedding and slip covers, peace and love signs, flip flops and daisies art, smiley face and metal VW van, seems to be singing.
Hammer and her husband, Jim, live in Louisville and have a summer home at Barren River Lake, served by Farmers RECC. Here, the couple tricked out a 12x24-foot barn-style gardening shed, transforming it into a bunkhouse that sleeps 10 people.
“My oasis is a bit unusual, but I have had so many compliments for such a fun idea,” she says.
A moderately priced DIY conversion, Hammer notes the biggest expense was the shed with its two lofts—picked up from a yard sale. She and her husband modified its construction with staircase and portable ladder, installed drywall, and then painted and tiled. The couple added an electric faux fireplace and shopped for flooring and furniture bargains; Karla finished the look with hippie-inspired flourishes.
A red Volkswagen perches on the mantel. A small retro desk—another yard sale find—was painted and covered with decals. Funky frogs strike a groovy pose. One almost expects to find the Partridge Family practicing in one of the lofts.
“We love our retro hippie hideaway and the children are fighting over who gets to sleep there.”
“I’ll be 14 soon and I’ve had a little girl room all my life,” Jaclyn Jewell, a member of Jackson Energy Cooperative in London, wrote in her letter to Kentucky Living. Jaclyn’s need for a change became the impetus for her bedroom makeover.
A sponge-painted room at her grandmother’s Columbia home sparked love at first sight for the teen, who immediately envisioned this faux finish in her bedroom. The Impressionistic-like effect in burgundy to soft pink was the perfect way to transition from childhood themes of Noah’s ark, butterflies, and polka dots to a young adult-worthy retreat.
The makeover became a family affair, with Jaclyn’s father, Jackie—a woodworking hobbyist—making the furniture; her grandmother providing instruction on the painting technique; brother Josh and Dad teaming up to paint the base coat on the walls; and Mom, Karen, organizing the shopping excursions.
“My Nana got me started by showing me how to rotate the sponge to get an unequal look,” says Jaclyn. “I did the majority of the sponge painting, though, and thought my arm would fall off.
“When it was done, it was almost the perfect room. All I needed was some new furniture.”
Enter Dad, who constructed a new bed, lighted vanity, chest of drawers, and shelves from his bountiful collection of recycled wood based on designs Jaclyn found on the Internet. The cost? “A hug,” says Jaclyn. Then Mom and daughter drove to Lexington in search of bedding and accessories, including curtains, mushroom chair, rug, accent pillow, and a thick, cream-colored comforter found “at the most unlikely place, Big Lots.”
“Even though I’m still working on accessories, my new room already has the feel and look that I wanted,” says Jaclyn, noting that actual dollars spent equaled about $255. “I couldn’t have done it without my family.”
Kathy and Ted Jackson of Cannon, members of Cumberland Valley Electric cooperative, created a tribute to her grandmother, Cora Gambrel Mills, in an unused bedroom in their home. The 1930s room holds family heirlooms and memories.
“My family came to the mountains of Kentucky over 200 years ago,” says Jackson. “Some of my most precious memories are of my grandmother. Her home had changed very little since the 1930s.”
This old-timey oasis with its fireplace backdrop features a “mantel that was handmade in 1910 of old tin ceiling tiles painted black,” has a four-poster bed, handmade mountain rocker, a 1930s radio and trunk, a dresser that belonged to Jackson’s husband’s grandmother, and a china cabinet from Ted’s mother that is filled with old and new quilts. A circa 1910 handmade mantel surrounds a hearth trimmed with homemade toys. Displayed on the mantel are cherished mementos from Jackson’s grandfather, Addison Mills, including “a lunchbox he used when he worked in the deep mines.”
The re-created bathroom with its claw-foot tub has a sink made from an old dresser and is decorated with crocks and kerosene lamps. A cane-bottom chair sits before an antique cherry table, a coal bucket is used for towels, and a working reproduction, crank-style telephone adds a touch of whimsy. Hanging neatly from the towel racks are Jackson’s grandmother’s handmade linens.
“I have many dear memories of my grandmother,” says Kathy.
GETTING YOUR EIGHT HOURS
Most bedroom transformations focus on wall color, window treatments, furniture, and artwork, but the most critical first step is making sure you get a good night’s sleep.
“A full one-third of your life is spent in bed—and the quality of the sleep experience affects the other two-thirds,” notes Kentucky native Kim Knopf, founder of Innovative Mattress Solutions, the parent company of family-owned Sleep Outfitters.
A certified sleep consultant can help you find the best mattress for your custom needs, and prove even more beneficial to those who suffer from back pain, insomnia, sleep apnea, and other conditions that interrupt a good night’s sleep.
So how do you choose the mattress that will deliver you to the land of Nod and give you those eight hours of restful sleep recommended by sleep experts?
“The single most important thing to keep in mind is that the mattress must be comfortable and supportive,” says customer experience specialist Karrie Knopf.
Knopf notes that a good mattress should give slightly under the heaviest parts of your body and feel like it is rising up to support your lighter parts, keeping your body well-aligned. “A great mattress will be designed to accomplish this night after night for years to come,” she says.
BEDROOM MAKEOVER DESIGNER TIPS
Certified interior decorator Liz Toombs, who owns Polka Dots & Rosebuds Interiors in Lexington and works with clients all over central Kentucky, offers these DIY bedroom transformation tips for any budget:
• Create a focal or accent wall at the head of the bed with paint or wallpaper. The cost of primer and paint to cover one wall is minimal. Wallcovering prices vary but only a small amount is needed.
• Add a headboard with personality: stained wood, scrolling ironwork, an upholstered piece, trompe l’oeil (perfect when space is an issue)—even an old door made new with paint.
• Mix custom pillows with inexpensive ones. For example, add a dramatic black monogram to white pillow shams and layer them with a custom-covered bolster and toss pillows found at home goods stores. The cost? About $100.
• Use a rug as a foundation piece; it adds warmth and offers another layer to complete the room.
• Dress your windows: floor-to-ceiling drapery panels make the window and the room feel larger. (Store-bought treatments often cost $50 per panel.)
• Veer away from showroom floor matching sets. Use small chests and interesting side tables in place of nightstands. Mix and match pieces with purpose by having elements of continuity: wood tone, hand-painted features, coordinating drawer pulls.
KEYWORD EXCLUSIVE: >PAINT YOUR WAY TO A NEW ROOM
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to transform any room is with the use of paint. Get expert advice and find out how to paint your room online before you actually paint it, when you go to paint makeover.
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