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Client Reveal: Moody Guest Suite

We’ve all heard heard of “nesting,” right? Well,  there is also something very similar that happens when you become an empty nester…. And that is where the story of this room begins.

One of my very best friend’s youngest son graduated and moved out. (You can see when her oldest son moved out here) He’s doing so well and we’re so very proud of him. But this meant what was his old room needed to be something a little more versatile for guests (and a whole lot less teen boy). So we started dreaming and scheming for the perfect room.

Other than the wood wall that had to stay, it was pretty much a blank slate. She wanted it to be dark and moody and a little masculine… basically the foil to the first room we did (that all her guests love staying in and call “the spa room.”) She also wanted dark green. Other than that, I had a lot of creative freedom to form the plan. So let’s start at the very beginning. Here’s what it looked like after her son moved out…


 And here is what we envisioned for the space.

And here is what we got….


Moody, check.

Masculine, check.


It’s such a dreamy space so let’s pick it apart a bit and see what we can learn. 

1. It’s more than picking a paint color: getting the color right is vitally important. Colors will look different in every space. This room is massive, but it has one smaller window that has a tint on it. We also were coordinating with the wood wall AND an amazing wallpaper you will see later. I gave her three colors to test and she instantly knew what was the one (Benjamin Moore Topsoil- not my top contender actually, but it was totally the right decision.)

But here is the key, are you paying attention? Picking the color is easy if you know what to look for (and you hire a skilled designer who helps you narrow the choices, hint, hint) but we took extra time deciding WHERE the color would go… and that doesn’t just mean the walls.

1. The angles: This room has the strange angles from the roofline jutting out on the wood wall. Once you see them, you can’t unsee them. Scroll back up and look at the before. I'll wait. when they were the ceiling color instead of the wall color, it made them look like gigantic ears on a tiny face. Taking the wall color up to them, was like getting the right haircut so your ears don’t dominate your entire face. It’s small thing, but a game changer.


2. The bathroom: This bathroom connects to the room and the hallway so it’s really the shared upstairs bath for the bonus room too. It was overkill to make it all the dark green so we went Top Soil on the vanity and a creamy white on the walls. 

But the toilet/ shower room section was a different story. We covered every inch, ceiling included, with the dark color and that might be the very best decision. I know there was some serious indoctrination about dark colors in small spaces but it’s really the best place to do it. Don’t be afraid to drench a teeny room with a deep color. It’s truly magical.


 3. The dresser: we debated so many things that this wall could be but it really boiled down to keeping a TV (free design tip: husbands are 9,000x likely to get on board with a design plan if it includes adding or upgrading a TV) and cutting the budget for this room exponentially. The best decision was to keep the dresser, but paint it the wall color and upgrade the hardware; matching the bathroom to tie those spaces together. What was a cheap, boy room dresser is now this amazingly luxurious furniture piece that makes the room. The power of paint! 

 2. . Budget: I have clients who literally have no budget constraints and those who want to do an entire room on ninety seven cents (if we’re being honest, that’s me. I’m on the under a dollar budget) my bestie here is more in the middle, she wants a bargain when we can find it but will splurge for the right thing at the right time. But here’s what happened… life. Another unrelated project went over budget, vacation, all of life. So we took a very strategic approach from the beginning. I outlined all we would need and an estimate for each item. We cut a few things, changed a few things and worked together to make it happen. We ended up well under budget on all the big things. 

We were on a good track but then she ripped out my heart and cut my Installation day budget by more than half. (I’m being dramatic about the heart part, but not the budget) I negotiated a little bit back but I still had to shop so carefully. I wasn’t willing to let a low budget keep me from getting this room to it’s potential. I shopped at Dirt Cheap, I even negotiated a discount on a broken item at Hobby Lobby then touched it up myself. I found a Walmart chair on sale (and it’s so comfy!). I am a pretty experienced bargain hunter but I even surprised myself on this one and stayed under budget. I really want you to hear me: You can have a beautiful home no matter the budget. It’s a matter of being sure of your priorities and trusting the process.

3. Fill it with Family: This was a nonnegotiable for me and a surprise for my friend. They have family members that are spread out and use this space; it will be a legit guest room now that both sons are out of the house so I wanted everyone who might stay here to be represented. Her mom and son helped me find all the family pictures and I surprised her with a black and white gallery hallway filled with her favorite people. I saved big here by downgrading the frames (message me if you want details on the budget frames!) The big art piece (more on this later) made such a statement, the black and white gallery wall leads the eye that way and you don’t need any other art.


4. Art: It’s not really fair that this “budget” room contains such amazing art but when the homeowner is a gifted artist, you “commission” a piece. When I was planning the space I tried all kinds of art. Even things more outdoorsy to pull in their son and his interests but it really had to be big, bold and graphic. Anything else just didn’t stand up to the wood wall but this made all the difference. She named the piece “Empty Nest” which is perfect. (She did the art in the previous room too! See how talented she is?)  Because this piece is so big, the other walls needed to breath (also a budget saver) so the gallery wall + giant art saved us tons if money too. I added small pieces in the bathroom but that’s it. Anything else on the walls would have felt like too much.

Can you believe we have a whole other spot cover in this room that isn’t finished? We’ll revisit the last area and where that magic wallpaper come in soon but isn’t this an amazing space? It makes me so very happy I hope many guests will enjoy it and their time with this amazing family.

I'm going to leave you with some true before and afters to enjoy... 




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