Imagine if you left for vacation and your living room looked like this.
Then a week later, you walked back into your house and it looked like this.
What if you were expecting to see this:
But instead you saw this:
What would you DOOO?!!
Jill did this:
And smiled a lot, and cried a little.
Erin and I were a bundle of nerves all day waiting for Jill to get home. Here we were waiting, minorly freaking out, watching the clock and kinda sweating a lot and being really, really not cool about things.
I mean, what if she HATED it?! Or worse, what if she was ambivalent and clearly trying to be nice? What if she was just like, “Oh, that’s nice. Thanks guys. Welp, guess I’ll go unpack now.”
I just — that just wasn’t an option.
If you’ve been following along, Erin and I were co-conspirators on a surprise room makeover for Jill. We had one week and $500 to pull this whole thing off, and – oh I forgot to mention – the air conditioning went out in their house mid-project (in Atlanta in June! Read: sweatshop conditions) AND I got the flu. But we did it!
We turned this:
Did I mention we had just a few short days and $500 very small dollars? I think they were tinier dollars than normal, guys.
So here’s what happened. First we analyzed Jill’s style (without her even knowing! Is that creepy?) and figured out what we thought she’d like.
Then we made a design plan based on that bird fabric, which turned out to be Windsong by Heritage House:
Then we created a space plan for that tough layout. (See how to do that here!)
Once Jill and her family were finally out of the house, we invaded! All that grolive trim and wallpaper got painted – and it felt like SUCH a breath of fresh air!
The sofa and chairs came from craigslist, the rug came from Erin’s house and the coffee table is actually just two wicker trunks we found for $30 each. (They’re from Target originally but we have this incredible discount-store-heaven nearby us which sells Target overstocks.)
If we were designing this room for looks and not real-life, I think a glass coffee table would’ve been a little better here. It’s a small space and naturally very dark, so something that takes up less visual space and allows light to pass through would’ve been a little better, but Jill has four kids and we knew she’d appreciate the extra storage in the trunks.
Erin made those curtains! They’re a DIY version of these Pheasant Eye curtains which cost $100 per panel from Anthropologie. See how to make your own here!
Let’s talk about the bookshelves! Jill and her husband own ALL THE BOOKS. Every one of them. But you know what’s kind of awesome? Look at the difference between the before and after, how much easier it is on your eyes.
We did that while keeping almost all the books! We had just a small stack leftover that got stored in the cabinets below, but doesn’t it just look so much more clean and simple now? You can have a beautiful bookshelf and still store (a lot of) books! UPDATE: Here’s my process for styling their bookshelves.
Erin and I made the art on the shelves. It’s made out of FLOWERS, you guys!!! I can’t wait to tell you about this project! SO FREAKIN COOL.
I couldn’t believe what a difference the chandelier made. We hung it low over the seating area and not only did it make things feel insta-elegant, but also super cozy for conversation. The chandy was $40. (Now I’m grabbing both your shoulders and shaking you with joy and fervor: FORTY DOLLARS!)
The tree next to the sofa is just a branch from the japanese maple in my yard. True story: I just cut a longish branch without paying attention to the tree, and now our tree looks lopsided and weird, because Lack of Foresight. But doesn’t it look kind of amazing just plopped in a vase, for free dollars?
We pulled out that rust color in the curtains and the branch because the cabinets in Jill’s kitchen are red. (You can kinda see them behind her in this pic:)
Adding this color to the other side of the room made the kitchen colors feel intentional and really tied this room into the kitchen in a major way.
Actually, that was just a happy accident, but it happened, so we’ll just take credit for that as if it was on purpose.
So here’s the budget breakdown for the whole makeover:
Black & white pillows, plant & frames (all from Ikea): $105
Picture frames (four on the mantel + 2 for the art): $50
Paint: Gift from Jill’s mother-in-law
And we sold Jill’s existing couch and put the money toward the total, so we actually came out RIGHT ON BUDGET. WHAT!
Even working all the hours in a room with no a/c, the end result of giving this gift to Jill was worth every second. Erin and I had so much fun and couldn’t have been more happy to bless our bud this way. Jill said the room makes her smile and she loves it!
One more before-and-after, for the road?
Thoughts? What would you do if someone changed your house without your permission? Restraining order?