Guest room: Before and After

by Christina Geyer on February 20, 2012 · 21 comments

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Why haven’t I been blogging much? Because I’ve become obsessed with decorating my house. Today, I’m ready to show you all our guest room.

We didn’t really have anything in the budget for the guest room. It’s not used often, so putting a lot of money into it doesn’t make any sense.

We bought a new bed for ourselves (king-size, yay!), so my old American queen size bed went into the guest room. Also, Oliver’s old dressers and a wardrobe left to us by the previous owners of the house.

But first, the guest room before (previous owner’s decor, they left the futon and the wardrobe in the back corner for us):

Guest room: Before

It’s just a regular room, perfectly capable of housing over night guests, but in my opinion, not all that cozy.

I really wanted our guest room to be welcoming, despite having very little to spend on it, so I decided to paint the furniture. I bought two new paints and used two other paints that were leftover from other projects in the house.

The Wardrobe: Before

Wardrobe: Before

It’s a plain, cheap, but perfectly usable wardrobe.

Wardrobe: After

Wardrobe: After

I bought 2cmx90cm strips of wood at the local home improvement store, designed the layout I wanted, and cut them to size. I like knobs better than handles, so I filled the holes in the doors with wood spackle, then drilled holes for knobs. I lightly sanded the wardrobe, put on a coat of primer, marked out where the wood strips would go, then painted three very thin (that’s the key) coats of paint, then 2 coats of clear coat. I painted the strips separately, then glued them to the doors with wood glue. This seems to be holding fine, but I have some small nails just in case I need to nail them on (I had planned to glue, then nail, but the glue held so well, I decided to wait and see).

I had thought about getting some funky knobs from Anthropologie, but that wouldn’t really make sense to put that much money into the furniture in this room. I looked at the home improvement store, and even the knobs there were too expensive. Finally, I settled on some from Ikea that had the right price.

The Dressers: Before

Dresser: Before

A perfectly good dresser for a guest room (they’re Ikea Robin), but the tops were not in great shape. There were several water marks on each dresser.

The Dressers: After

Dresser: After

I sanded down the tops pretty well to try to smooth out the water marks. These are made of pressboard, so I didn’t want to go at them too hard. I primed them, then painted three coats of paint and two coats of clear coat.

And finally, here’s the end product. What I think is a warm, cozy, inviting guest room:

Guest room

The table lamps are from Habitat in Köln.

Guest room

The metal decoration on the wall above the bed, as well as the overhead lamp, are from Maisons du Monde in Luxembourg.

Guest room

The duvet cover is a Marimekko design from Crate and Barrel.

Guest room

So what do you think? Are you working on any decorating projects?

Guest room

  • Ginny

    Love how you transformed your guest room! It does look super cozy now. I had a few questions regarding the products you used. I notice you purchased your new bedding via Crate & Barrel, did you have to pay a lot more when it shipped via customs? I’ve avoided purchasing from some of my favorite American retailers because of this. Also, you said you purchased a new King size bed….did you go with a German style bed or did you find somewhere in Germany who sells American styled beds? Thanks for the help, as I am in the process of decorating myself. Love your blog!

  • Michelle

    Decorating goddess! Love the colors and it looks a lot more inviting now. When you run out of projects on your house you should start your own business.

  • Christina Geyer

    @ginny: I brought the Crate and Barrel bedding with me. I look at the site every once in a while, but haven’t ordered anything yet. I almost ordered something from CB2 but stopped before final confirmation. The shipping cost was outrageous (it was a side table, so not something small, but I wasn’t willing to pay that much to ship). You could always do the same thing just to see the shipping charges.

    Our bed is an American style bought in Germany from Marriott. They sell their beds and they’re quite comfy. I think some of the other hotels also sell American style beds, so it’s worth checking around. I had just slept at a Marriott and saw an advert in the room that the bed was for sale.

    @michelle: Still plenty to do around here 😉

  • Andrea

    I love the dresser/wardrobe. Was it hard to get the paint to adhere? I have 2 Ikea tables and a wardrobe I’d like to paint and use in the kids playroom so it’s all somewhat matching. I was worried it wouldn’t be able to be painted.

  • Carol

    It looks gorgeous!

    How funny that you’re in Germany and went to great lengths for an American bed and we’re in America and go to great lengths to get German bedding! (I normally have to beg friends in Germany to send us duvet sets from Ikea in Germany…) Let me know if you need bedding for your queen size bed… maybe we can do an exchange! :-)


  • Christina Geyer

    @andrea: It was easy to paint. I used Max Bahr 2in1 Buntlack, which includes a primer, but I painted it first with a separate standalone primer just to be thorough.

    @carol: Thanks, but since it’s my old bed, and doesn’t get used every night, I think my old bedding will be fine for a while. I am going to the US in 10 days though and would be happy to pick up some duvet covers at Ikea for you and send them once I’m in the US! Let me know which one(s) you would like.

  • Florian

    Looks much better, even though I’m not sure, if it is not a bit to much color for my taste :). Actually what is the difference between American and German style beds?

  • Juliette

    I just love the duvet cover! I know it’s old, but I just can’t get over how I like it.

    I’ve been complaining about our bed for the past few months and am suddenly verrry intrigued with the idea of buying a Marriott bed! =D It would be a splurge to save for, but considering the 2-mattress predominance (and my annoyance with that), this might be a nice solution…

  • Carol

    Thanks Christina! I’m headed to Ikea now to shop with my daughters. Will let you know if there’s a duvet pattern Ican’t live without!

  • Christina Geyer

    @florian: American beds are made up of a mattress set on top of a box spring, a covered frame filled with springs. German mattresses are set on a wooden frame (Lattenroste). American mattresses also tend to be thicker, so American beds are often much higher off the ground than German beds.

    @juliette: I do love that duvet cover and wish I could have it for my king size bed! I look at Crate and Barrel every season to see if it will come back (or something I love just as much will show up), but no luck so far! Actually, I like my duvet just fine too, although my bedroom is not as colorful and whimsical as this. I plan to feature that room next.

    Check around about the beds. When we were looking, there were some showing up in furniture stores too, but they were more expensive than the Marriott bed. I’d recommend staying overnight in a Marriott too, to try it out. Don’t just go on my word 😉

    @carol: Just send me a message on FB if you see something you love!

  • Jillian

    You are so talented! Thank is an amazing transformation. I seriously need style help! White walls and black furniture….

  • tammy

    That looks awesome! If you are looking for cute knobs still, the Mobilium (across from Arcadin) has some really cute ones. I keep meaning to go back there to have a look for come of our projects.

  • Tom


    What’s the name of the primer you use? Also…….[ahem]….what is primer auf Deutsch?

  • Florian

    @Christina This is an interesting difference – even though I’ve been to the U.S.A I didn’t remember the beds – but thinking about it now I remember they were like this. Is there any advantage of one method over another (apart from the different height) or is it mostly a historic difference? I could imagine they are a bit softer then german beds? Maybe it is just a matter of what one grew up with and is used to? I mean there are even differences between german and french blankets – so I wouldn’t be surprised if part of it is mostly for historic reasons.

  • Christina Geyer

    @jillian: White walls and black furniture is a look 😉 You could try just reading some magazines or blogs to get inspired. It helps me a lot.

    @tammy: Thanks! I did look at Moebelum, but it was also more expensive than Ikea. I needed 18 knobs and Ikea was already 2,99€ for 2 knobs while everywhere else was at least that much per knob.

    @tom: I used Max Bahr Vorstrichfarbe (Max Bahr is a Baumarkt, so you won’t find it anywhere else). Primer would either be Vorstrichfarbe or Grundierung. If you want help, you can usually ask at the Baumarkt. I’ve found people there incredibly helpful.

    @florian: I guess it’s historic. I believe beds in the UK are more like the US style. Of course I prefer US beds, but so does my husband, so who knows.

  • federal income tax

    for a small amount of money you got incredible results, congratulations!

  • Expat Mammy

    Wow that’s looks amazing, can you come and do my guest rooms please

  • Jan’s Travel and Tours

    Oooohhhh!! great transformation…..the wardrobe and dressers look like new now (the colors are perfect)…

  • SnookerInBerlin

    Wow! There is some COLOR!
    Not something you see often in a German home.
    Very nice.

  • Moonwaves

    I know you’ve gone inactive on the blog front now but I’m very behind the times on my blog reading. Hopefully you still get comments because I just wanted to say that you have totally inspired me to do something I’ve sort of half been planning to do for a couple of years but was never really sure about (painting an old tall boy white). I’m completely in love with your different colours and now I know exactly what I’m going to do. Turns out the idea of white just wasn’t inspiring enough on its own :)

  • Petit Pont

    Very good ideas. I have seen something like that in an blog called IKEA Hack – Very interesting

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