Inside a Dreamy Bedroom Makeover for a Deserving Mom
When a deserving mom needed a bedroom overhaul, Real Simple pulled off a top-to-bottom makeover. Dana Gentile, a fifth-grade teacher, lives in Hawthorne, New York, with her husband, Carmine, and their children, Jordana, 5; Gia, 6; and Santino, 4 (all pictured here). Last November, the parents received heartbreaking news: Their older daughter, Gia, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a form of cancer. Suddenly their time and efforts were overtaken by medical visits, treatment sessions, and fundraising efforts. (In partnership with a local business, the family raised $30,000 for Cookies for Kids Cancer in Gia's honor.)
Before Gia’s diagnosis, the parents had worked to upgrade the common areas of the home along with the kids’ bedrooms. “The kids spend a ton of time in this playroom,” says Dana. “It’s set up like a classroom so they always know where the games, books, and art supplies go.” Last on their to-do list was their neglected master bedroom. Once the family’s story made its way to Real Simple, the editors swooped in to transform this mom’s cramped bedroom into a serene and airy space. The finished room is full of fresh ideas and some easy DIYs you can try in your own home.
Like most spaces, this room posed its share of challenges. To start, there was limited lighting in the bedroom and closet and limited floor space to lay out a symmetrical design beneath a window. Using a few ingenious tricks, our team was able to implement some easy strategies to solve these common challenges. First up, hire an electrician to install overhead high hat lighting and motion sensor lights in the closet. Then, use a little visual trickery to balance out the offset layout. Take a look at the finished product and see what new ideas you can use in your own home.
Brownish-yellow walls and a hodgepodge of dark, dated wood furniture made the room feel confining. Like most homeowners, Dana and Carmine Gentile had envisioned a master bedroom that felt like a restful retreat. But when they moved in seven years ago, most rooms in their house needed some fixing up—and this “small, uncomfortable space” landed last on their list, says Dana. “I’m a super-organized person, and seeing all our mismatched furniture and cluttered surfaces in this room pained me every day. But we were set on putting the kids first, so we started with their rooms and common areas, like the kitchen and yard.”
The bedroom feels lighter and brighter after the big revamp. “Sitting around in hospitals is so hard on your neck and back; we were desperate for a new bed to get a good night’s sleep,” says Dana. “But this makeover went way beyond that. The colors are lighter and cleaner, and we finally have furniture—and systems!—to keep our stuff tucked away. The kids love coming in to lie in our cozy bed. This room used to be just a place to stash our clothes and sleep, but now it’s our favorite hangout spot.”
To buy: Contemporary upholstered storage bed, $1,199 (queen), organic washed cotton Euro shams, $39 each, Mid-Century Circlet Ogee quilt, $149 (queen), and Bark Texture Jacquard curtains, $59 per 84-in. panel; westelm.com. Amelie sheet set, $268 (queen); serenaandlily.com. Marble Stripe pillow in navy, $224, and Floral Medallion reversible pillow in blush, $169; rebeccaatwood.com. Washed linen throw in terra-cotta, $295; clic.com. Symple Stuff memory foam mattress, $460 (queen); wayfair.com. Real Simple down comforter, $130 (queen), Real Simple down pillows, $50 (queen) and $60 (king), and Bedding Essentials ultrasoft European square pillows, $20 each; bedbathandbeyond.com. PB Essential endcap finial drape rod in cast iron, $59 (medium); potterybarn.com. Gray New Zealand sheepskin area rug, $80, and gray metallic woven jute Alden area rug, $80 (2½ by 8 ft.); worldmarket.com. Paint: Filtered Shade by Valspar, from $32 per gallon; lowes.com for stores.
RELATED: How to Put on a Duvet Cover
Putting on a duvet cover is no easy feat and a lot of people dread the process. Sometimes you’ll end up with a tangled mess, or it will take you a long time to put it in place (just think about what you could do with that wasted time!) Watch our easy, foolproof tutorial on how to put on a duvet cover in just a few minutes—you’ll be amazed. All you need to do is turn the duvet cover inside out, lay your comforter on top, and roll. You’ll never have another frustrating bed-making experience after doing your laundry again.
Curate an Art Wall
A jumble of framed photos can junk up a dresser. For a neater, gallery-like look, switch to all-white frames hung a few inches apart. In this room, the bed was originally centered in front of a window. We moved it slightly left to open up space, using the art wall to offset it.
To buy: Framebridge custom photo frames, from $39; framebridge.com. Rubber Fig Ink Drawing by Kate Roebuck, $130 (12 by 10 in., framed); artfullywalls.com. The Sassi by Amy James, $126 (16 in. square, framed); minted.com. Threshold faceted metal lamp base, $38; target.com. Amazon Echo, $180; amazon.com. Hemnes 2-drawer chest, $100; ikea-usa.com. Gold modern clip lamp, $59; landofnod.com.
Dress Up a Dresser
All it takes is an easy drawer-pull swap to make a low-cost piece feel high-end. Deep drawers made this Ikea dresser an ideal catchall for Carmine’s clothing; we customized it using leather pulls from Walnut Studiolo.
To buy: Hemnes 6-drawer chest, $199; ikea-usa.com. The Hawthorne wide leather drawer pulls, $18 each; walnutstudiolo.com.
The Vanity: Before
A small table topped with a mirror served as a getting-ready station, but “it didn’t match the rest of the room’s furniture, and the stool wasn’t sturdy,” says Dana. The hard working mom needed a prettier and more functional replacement where she could stash her daily essentials.
The Vanity: After
Choose Pieces That Hide Clutter
Keep makeup and hair products neat and within easy reach with a vanity that has a lift-up top and interior compartments. We placed the new vanity farther away from the bed, upgraded it with a chunky metallic drawer knob, and paired it with a cushy storage ottoman.
To buy: Brimnes dressing table, $100; ikea-usa.com. Threshold round tufted storage ottoman, $60; target.com. Flea Market wire ball bin, $39; landofnod.com.
Play With Shapes
To offset a bedroom’s bulky, boxy pieces, weave in a few round ones, like this circular metallic mirror and glass-globe lamp. Use Command strips to mount a clear acrylic necklace holder to keep favorites in sight instead of buried in a jewelry box.
To buy: Threshold 28-in. round mirror, $50; target.com. 11-Peg acrylic necklace wall rack, $10; containerstore.com.
Give Shelves a Style Boost
Lining the back of a shelving unit with patterned adhesive wallpaper makes it look special and boutiquey. Consider it your visual cue to keep this area tidy.
To buy: Rebecca Atwood x Chasing Paper Fleur removable wallpaper in blue, $40 per panel; chasingpaper.com. Pax wardrobe frames, $80 each, and Tyssedal doors, $120 each, Komplement glass shelf, $25, Komplement pull-out tray with insert, $35, and Komplement drawer with glass front, $45; ikea-usa.com.
A Big Thank-You to These Vendors for Their Donations: