5 Insider Secrets for Taking a Guest Room from Dated to Drea

See the before-and-after photos, and get top tips, straight from CL's Style Director.


When Country Living's Style Director, Page Mullins, purchased a 1920s bungalow in Birmingham, AL, she knew it was in need of a total overhaul. Room by room, she is tackling the space and giving it a fresh face with a neutral, restrained palette.

"I am always finding new inspiration on CL photo shoots. I'm constantly bringing home new textiles and antiques finds from the road and changing up elements in my house," says Page, "so I knew I needed a classic, neutral backdrop at home to build and layer up on."

Here, she jumpstarts the process with a bedroom and bathroom makeover, plus shares what she's learned along the way.

Before: Guest Bedroom


In the bedroom, water-stained walls and dated carpet needed to go. Page add a fresh coat of white paint (Sherwin Williams "Alabaster") to the walls and removed the dated carpet to expose hidden hardwood flooring beneath. 

Top tip: When starting a renovation, save the floor refinishing for last on the list. Construction, painting, and other reno tasks could damage your floor surfaces. Layered antiques rug add a vintage texture and conceal untouched floors in the meantime.

After: Guest Bedroom


Two full walls of the space are covered in windows. While great for allowing natural light during the day, the windows made it tough to use the space as a bedroom with a flood of bright light in the mornings. Page used Smith & Noblenatural shades ("Anzi" in Natural) to provide privacy and soften the bright light during the day. Neutral curtain panels with blackout lining ("Organic Cotton" in Natural) can be drawn for an extra sleep-friendly experience. 

Top tip: Extra-long drapery rods span the length of each wall and carry your eye through the space to make it feel larger.

Credits: Nightstand (; Table Lamp (

After: Guest Bedroom


For the consistent neutral backdrop she was looking for, Page painted the entire house in Sherwin William's "Alabaster." 

"It's the perfect white that adds just a hint of warmth," she says. "It creates a nice neutral canvas without feeling too stark." The woven side chair ( and turned wood lamp added texture to the blank palette, while the sleek audio system ( is a fun modern contrast.

The one wall in the bedroom without windows needed visual interest above the dresser. Page composed a gallery wall of vintage art and prints she's collected. 

Top tip: A haphazard arrangement takes the pressure away from perfecting meticulous placement and makes it easy to add new pieces to the wall over time. Page hung the pieces temporarily with 3M hooks while she was composing the wall and went back with nails once she settled on a final arrangement to avoid misplaced nail holes in the newly painted walls.


Before: Guest Bathroom


Damaged tile and grungy walls were the biggest eyesores of the bathroom space. Page used a mail-order bead board kit (, complete with all wall planks and trim pieces, for a quick solution to cover imperfect walls. 

After: Guest Bathroom


Tiled trim pieces (Rittenhouse Square shelf rail trim in Artic White; that frame the new window and shower niche, are an easy way to embellish simple subway tile, also from Rittenhouse Square, and mirror the paneling trim on the walls. A subtle marble mosaic floor tile adds the perfect dose of pattern, while still keeping the palette neutral. Page had an extra long linen shower curtain ( made to emphasize the tall ceilings in the space. 

Top tip: "With Etsy and other makers online, it's easier than ever to have items tailored to your liking. Just ask an Etsy vendor about swapping the dimension or colors when placing your order. Most are happy to accommodate a custom order for the same pricing." 

Credits: Bath towel (; Shower Toiletries (

Before: Guest Bathroom Vanity


As you can see, the small existing vanity didn't provide enough storage for toiletries.

After: Guest Bathroom Vanity


So, Page installed a larger shaker-style vanity and surface mount medicine cabinet  ( to keep small everyday items at hand and easier for frequent use. 

The medicine cabinet finish ("Harmony," was matched to the wall color ("Pearly White," to make the piece feel like a built-in component of paneling. Page used an oversized Moen faucet ("Weymouth," in Polished Nickel on the vanity. "Polished nickel is always my favorite finish," she says, "It adds a subtle hint of warmth and feels natural in any old home."


Credits: Hand towel (

After: Guest Bathroom Medicine Cabinet


The existing light fixture with exposed bulbs created harsh lighting above the mirror. Page opted for a fixture (Sutton 2 Light Bath Vanity Light, with frosted glass shades to diffuse a softer, more flattering light and kept the polished nickel finish consistent with plumbing fixtures throughout the space.

Small paper keepsakes and sketches, like the postcard shown, are an easy way to create affordable artwork. "Frame anything small with a large matte and it instantly has impact." The sleek, simple frames mimic the inset door style of the medicine cabinet.

Top tip: "Lighting in a bathroom is key because it's where you are looking in the mirror every morning. When daylight isn't an option, chose a fixture that will create a warm, even lighting and not cast harsh shadows." 


No comments

Post Your Comment:

Your email will not be published
Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.