Making Do with Unfinished Rooms


20-Minute Strategies to Survive the Wait Without Painting


So I have this room. It's my master bedroom, and it's not going to be renovated for quite some time.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has rooms that aren't at the top of the list yet. You know? I mean, we all have plans for our homes, but we can't do it all at once. Especially if your home (like ours) is a top-to-bottom fixer-upper. Doubly especially if you, like us, have a budget to follow and can't (or don't want to) just throw money at the problem. Or things that take up your time, like, say, you know, jobs. Or a toddler in the house. (Is it just me, or does having a toddler make everything take about 5,238 times longer than you think it will?)


Bottom line, we have rooms we don't love that we have to live with, and we need some strategies to survive the wait until they make the top of the list. Because I don't know about you, but I can't spend year after year sleeping in a room that looks like a dive motel and feel good when I wake up in the morning.

So, usually the advice in situations like this is to paint. "Just paint!" they say, enthusiastically. "You can completely transform a room with a simple coat of paint!" they crow. 

The thing is, this is TRUE. But as you and I know, with our busy lives and toddlers-in-tow is that "just painting" isn't the 20-minute endeavor that they'd like to make you think it is. By the time you clear everything out of the way, cover all the furniture, find a place to sleep while the paint dries, clean all the baseboards (because who wants that gack rolling into the paint???), prep the walls, patch the holes, prime the woodwork, probably prime the walls, too, because the paint is so dark.... 

Ok, I'm already exhausted and we haven't even painted the dern walls yet. And let's not forget about how the fresh new paint is going to make everything else in the room look dingy and dirty and depressing.

Painting isn't a "quick fix." At least not for me.

Here's some strategies to perk up a room that actually only take about 20 minutes.


Add some bling

A little sparkle can make any room feel better. For this room, I chose to add a little chandelier that I already had. It had brown accent crystals, so I ordered some pink ones on eBay to replace them and spent about 20 minutes changing some of them out. I love it.



Add some color

Adding some of your favorite colors to a room can really help it feel more like home while you're waiting for the big renovation. The trick when doing this is to modify your colors just a touch so that they blend well with the existing room. For example, since this room is painted and carpeted in beige, which is a dirty color, my usual pink and orange became mauve and coral, with cream accents to blend it in. If I had added clean colors (my personal favorite) it would have made the room look even dingier. 


Add some thrifted art and accessories

Adding art and accessories is a great way to add personality to a room and draw your eye away from the things you don't love. But don't invest it any "final" pieces, since it will be hard to predict how the items will work once the room is redone in your new color palette. Just pick up some thrifted things for a couple of bucks each and prop them up on a ledge or shelf. Here I'm trying out some different art, frames and pottery to see how I like it. And since it's on a ledge and nothing was more than $1, I can change it out as often as I want to.


Collect pieces as you find them

That isn't to say you shouldn't buy things! As you find great pieces for the room, go ahead and collect them. This is especially true of furniture items you intend to paint or refinish because you can work on space planning and placement even if the room isn't the right color (assuming you're not going to be completely changing the layout of the room in the future. And again, if you thrift your furniture, it's not a huge investment if you change your mind. For example, in my room I've collected this antique dresser to use as a nightstand and put vintage green class handles on it.


Add some coziness

Of course, every room benefits from being cozy, in whatever way that means to you. If it has a place to cuddle or snuggle or curl up with a book or kid or kitty, it's probably a winner. Our memories and experiences affect our feelings about a room, so look for opportunities for happy experiences in the room and you may find the decor doesn't bother you nearly as much. In this room, I chose to add layers of vintage linens and spreads so the bed was inviting to all (our cat is demonstrating for us).

The end result

Is this room perfect? Is it exactly the way I want it? No, of course not. But it's cozy and soft and has some personality, and it has plenty of places to cuddle and a little color and sparkle. It's definitely enough to make do until we can get around to doing this room "to the nines."

Here's a side-by-side of the original master bedroom before we moved in, and the room now.


What about you?

Do you have a room that you need to make do?

What are you doing to make it work for you?

~Angela :-)