Saturday, November 12, 2016

A New Room for the Girls!

Popular decorating trends and countless searches of Pinterest and Google had almost convinced me that there was no way to have historically-accurate dark-stained wooden trim in a bedroom and still make it look fresh and feminine.  But I think we pulled it off!


This project took us ages and ages to complete.  We began in May of 2015, when this was just "Stella's room."  Flora didn't even exist yet, and it would be awhile more before we knew she was a girl and would be moving in with her big sister eventually.  So then it began to be called "the Girls' room," and as there were now two people sleeping elsewhere in the house and waiting for their room to be ready, I was feeling more and more stressed about its lack of completion.  But it's finally done, thank goodness, and we did it all by ourselves, and I'm very satisfied with the outcome.

The finish on the trim and doors was in rough shape.  The shellac varnish had darkened so much over time that it was almost black.  It had a lot of crazing and drips, and whoever had last painted the room had splattered drips of paint all over the baseboards which had then been absorbed in by the old shellac.

The walls and ceiling were both painted a very pale blue-gray color that didn't work at all with the warm wood tones, and made the room feel quite depressing.  The carpet was a similar blue-gray and covered in stains.

The ceiling fan/light fixture held only one bulb and just added to the dull dreariness of the whole room, and there were several areas of plaster in need of patching.

In Progress

Tom spent countless hours of his life removing the shellac with alcohol and rags.  Honestly, it would have been easier to just replace the trim completely, or perhaps to sand it instead.  But he wanted to preserve the original features as much as possible.

"before" on the left, "after" shellac removal on the right
Once the shellac layer was off, we were able to add some stain to darken the wood to a deep brown, and then we added many coats of polyurethane on top.  This whole process probably took up the majority of our time spent on this room.

While Tom was working on trim, I kept myself busy refinishing a lot of furniture.  We bought two similar dressers on Craigslist.  Tom sanded them down and cut off the silly country-style decorative elements from the bottoms.  I then painted the "bottoms", and stained and poly'd the tops.  I painted a lovely ornate (plastic!) mirror I picked up at a flea market and have had sitting around for a few years.  I also acquired (on Craigslist, of course) a nightstand which I repainted and put new drawer pulls on, and a bedframe for Stella which I repainted.  And we're super bad about remembering to take "before" photos of anything,'ll just have to trust me that what we did made a huge improvement!

I also asked Tom to add some decorative elements to a bookcase we already owned - he put a case and a crown, and some piping along the sides.  Then I re-painted it a girly pink-and-white.



We ripped up the carpet to find some nice hardwood underneath.  As you can see, it needed to be refinished.

We decided to do it ourselves - so we rented the huge sander with all the sanding disks, bought the fancy floor polyurethane and applicators, and spent a couple weeks working on that at night after the kids were in bed.

My verdict on DIY floor refinishing: a lot more expensive than I expected, and WAY more work than I wanted to do.  I definitely want to hire a professional to do it if we ever refinish another room (the trick will be convincing Tom to agree!).

applying polyurethane on a hot and sticky summer night

Tom replaced the ceiling fan with a nicer one that holds more lightbulbs.  He also switched out all the off-white outlets and lightswitches for brown ones, and I stained some wooden outlet/lightswitch plates to match the trim.

I patched up the walls extensively, repainted the ceiling in a flat white, and after much deliberating over the appropriate wall color, chose to paint them lavender.  I bought some pretty white floral fabric from Jo-Anns and sewed some curtains for the windows.


Stella's bed

Flora's crib

Flora's dresser

Stella's dresser

Stella's nightstand

the rug whose finding and deciding-upon required hours of my life to be wated away in internet searches, and threatened the peace of the spousal relationship in our household

done at last!


  1. Pretty! And th rug is perfect!

  2. It looks amazing! And I really, really love the rug.

  3. Please come redo my room! I want their room!!!