Blog Cabin Birthday Room Make-Over

DIY & Save Money, Little Victorian Home / Sunday, January 14th, 2018

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For Greg’s son’s twentieth birthday, we decided to redo his room instead of buying him a bunch of junk he won’t use.

Many of you know we just purchased our little “blog cabin” in July, and let’s just say that organization is not Greg’s son’s forte. He’s your typical college-aged male. That should tell you enough. Haha.
Since our home was built in 1903 with no additions, the bedrooms are quite small–just like our budget. Today, we’re going to share with you the before and after of a college boy’s room make-over on a dime.


THIS FAN! The previous owner of our home put a vinyl glove in the base of the ceiling fan to balance it! WHAT?!?!?!

When you live in a small space, placement really matters! You need to be creative.

As you can see, bed placement was in the middle of the room. This affects the ability to freely move around and really hogs space. Because the birthday boy had the same bed since childhood, for Christmas we bought him a new bed that is a little bigger than his old one (twin XL, which has extra length for his 6’2″ frame). In a game of inches, this had the unfortunate effect of really impacting the space utilization. The room felt claustrophobic and really unwelcoming. This would have had the unintended consequence of affecting his ability to focus and study in his room. If the room stresses you out when you’re in it, you’re not going to be able to enjoy it or want to be in there. Then you’ll never mess with it because tackling it . That is what happened here. He lived in the dining room and only went into his room to sleep. This caused congestion in a second space because the dining room table was frequently covered in textbooks, notes, and assignments. Each day, it looked as if a library had vomited on our table.

For Christmas break, Greg’s son, Alex, went to stay with his mom. With a three-week window, we decided to redo his room for his birthday which also happened to fall during the break. Alex’s only request for his birthday was a bookcase. So we took this idea and ran with it. We visited probably four furniture stores. Large bookcases that fit the style we had in mind were… $600-$2,000! That’s a little out of our budget. As much as I hate to say it, we ended up finding something at Walmart. Instead of a bookcase we found nice cube shelves and decided two sets looked more substantial and also offered more storage solutions. But, how could we fit two large bookcases into an already small, cramped room? We had to be creative!


What we did first in this modern industrial makeover was paint the boring off-white walls. We used paint we already had: dark grey that was purchased as a mis-tint from Lowe’s for $9.00 and the light grey we used in our kitchen. The dark grey would have been overwhelming for the small space, but as an accent it really pops with the white trim. Being that the rest of the house has the original dark-stained Victorian trim, this seemed like the perfect place to experiment with a dark color. Normally, defining this space would lend itself to placement of the bed, but space restrictions would not allow for it.

We moved his bed from the middle of the room and placed it on the wall, switching the placement of the dresser and the bed. This really opened up the floor. incidentally, if you have original single-pane windows in a climate such as ours, the thermal curtains that came with the house are a must when placing a bed near a window.

We purchased an accent letter at Hobby Lobby to place on the dark grey wall. We couldn’t find an “A,” so we bought a “V” and turned it upside down. 😉 We actually prefer it because it’s a little unexpected.

Almost accidentally, the room took on a theme of travel, which is fitting because Alex is a traveler. To complement the Route 66 sign, we added license plates from some states in which he’s lived. Best of all, these plates were just lying around the basement.

We placed Alex’s desk (a previous Goodwill purchase) on the wall near his bed. The entire floor is now open! You can freely move around. Now you can see what we did with the two book cases. We turned one on its side to create a bureau. Greg was inspired to place 3 squares of grey-stained wood from Wal-Mart’s craft department on top of the case and they fit perfectly! Destiny! Now, change, keys, or drinks can be rested there without harm to the bookcase.

Now all of his books are organized! We were also able to display his autographed books (which had been hidden in his closet). Composite/manufactured wood bookcases cannot handle the weight that a hardwood bookcase can handle. These book cases were rated for 150 pounds, and we felt it best to spread the books out while using the fabric cubes as catchalls for small, unsightly items but also as a means to distribute load.

The sentimental part: Greg bought that large USA artwork so Alex can put a nail into all of the places he’s visited. That was a cute idea. The wooden map from Hobby Lobby coordinates well with the wooden squares, and the future nails can be a functional place to hang keys, belts, bow ties and whatnot.

Greg made the small light in the corner. It is an empty lantern from Walmart that we shoved extra string lights into. It turned out really nice and creates an interesting pattern on the freshly-painted walls. Perfect as mood lighting or a nightlight!

Greg made a phone cradle for Alex’s phone. His daughter, Triceratops, actually designed it! It’s a metal box affixed to the wall via pipe fittings. It appears to float in the air, and Alex can store his phone inside it or on top of it. Conveniently, there is an electric outlet directly beneath it. This piece was courtesy of Hobby Lobby.

It took around 3 days to complete our room make-over. I believe it cost us around $275, with half that cost being the bookcases!

And, finally, what about that dated fan? It got a bit of a makeover as well. We flipped over the dated rattan blades to show wood grain, and we replaced the clear, undersized, etched globes with larger, translucent ones. Perhaps we will tame the shiny brass with the dark grey paint, but for now, it’s on to tackling another project!

Give experiences not objects! Has anyone else given the gift of a room make-over or something your kids will love/use? Please share below.

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