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Before & After: Updating a Primary Bedroom, Sustainably & Inexpensively

As those who've sold a home know, the majority of real estate agents practically scream "paint everything white!" to the seller, to both make the rooms look bigger and more generic in nature. Which means as soon as you move in, painting is priority number one unless pale/pastel colors are your thing. Along with that, getting your primary bedroom to no longer look like a catalog listing or cheesy Airbnb is also right up there on the list.

Above are a few of the listing-vs-now before & after shots to get an idea. For us, we like darker colors on our walls, with shades for both privacy and darkness from the 'ambient' nighttime city lights we are still getting used to (street lights, neighbors' security lights, etc.) after our time on the farm where we could still see ALL the stars on a clear night.

While on the farm we went through a renovation to our bedroom that took almost 9 months to rebuild from scratch (right down to the floorboards), most times folks don't have that kind of time - or money - to update their bedroom to something that allows one to not just exhale mentally, but SLEEP comfortably. So when we downsized back to city life, we got creative in updating the bedroom in our minimalist-yet-zen kinda vibe, by not buying anything beyond paint...

  • Obviously, the bed. I bought this mango wood beauty from Crate & Barrel a decade ago and even though it weighs like six tons, it's not going anywhere. So that part was easy.

  • When it came to night stands, we had none, as I'd sold ours knowing our new bedroom was not the massive attic-turned bedroom we had before, and that I'd figure out something simpler. And sure enough, it came to me - repurposing 2 of 3 display shelves I'd made (which were scrap wood leftover from building my kitchen island on the farm). We're not folks who need bedside drawers, etc., so a simple shelf to put our glasses & phones on at night did the trick.

  • As for storage...our primary bedroom (an addition built 20 years ago onto this mid-century modern house) is nicely sized, and has a great walk-in closet, so to fill the corner, I brought our liquor cabinet in, the Japanese glass float that used to belong to my dad and, of course, a photo of us. It's ideal for our bed linens, and lets our 'linen closet' outside our guest bedroom be used for other purposes.

  • For the area rug, we reused the jute rug that was in our living room on the farm (and, conversely, one from a guest bedroom there is now in our living room here!). Because the bed sits on it 100%, there was no need for a rug pad. I love jute - it's super eco-friendly, inexpensive, and way softer on the feet than sisal.

The paint color decision proved to be easy as well. When we decided to try green, we realized we LOVED the avocado-esque color of the front door, and found a gallon of the Sherwin Williams zero-VOC paint ("Secret Garden" ) left in the shed. SCORE! We bought an additional gallon to do the second coat, and that was the only expenditure.

Here's how we reused some of these items from our past house(s)...


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