A Light & Airy Guestroom Renovation

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Before and After Guest Room Renovation

The mantle that I salvaged and restored really inspired me to update the rear bedroom in our house. Until that point, we’d used it as an office that quickly turned into a storage room. Since all of my family lives out of state (and we have plenty of friends in other cities) I thought that turning the rear bedroom into a guest bedroom (with a small desk for me to use when needed) would be the best way to breathe some new life into our old house.

Before Image of Rowhome Bedroom Renovation
After Image of Rowhome Bedroom Renovation
Before Image of Rowhome Bedroom Renovation
After Image of Rowhome Bedroom Renovation

When we originally moved in, the first thing we did was rip up the carpeting and refinish the original hardwood floors so luckily for me one of the biggest parts of this project had already been completed! The other larger projects were refinishing and installing the mantle that I salvaged and building a tiny desk inside of the room’s only (and tiny!) closet.

I sanded, patched, and brightened up the walls with Bistro White in eggshell and the trim with Ultra White in semi-gloss. The ceiling was also updated with new paint and a brass ceiling pendant from West Elm.
This was also the first time I ever put up curtains  – and I found it was a lot harder than it looks! Inspired by some curtain rods from West Elm, I painted hardware from Ikea with gold spraypaint and found some fantastic antiqued bronze curtain clips to hang the sheers and curtains from. If there is one thing I learned from my first time hemming curtains, it’s to make sure that you wash, dry, and steam all of the wrinkles out before you start pinning! My curtains gained at least an inch or two in length after steaming them.
A lot of old rowhomes in Philadelphia have tiny, shallow closets that don’t even have enough depth for hangers! In most rentals I’ve just added shelves and folded clothes and shoes on them, but we decided to add a shelf at desk height to make a tiny workspace.
It just barely fit my computer, and finding a saddle stool that would fit underneath the desk took some digging, but it’s actually really comfortable to work at! The top shelf also fits a lot of storage with wire magazine holders and a chalkboard milk crate.
Bright Guest Bedroom with Snake Plant
Renovated Guest Room with Filing Cabinet Side Table
I love how the iron bedframe works with the vintage file cabinet that I used as a nightstand – and an old gumball lamp that I painted with the same paint from the curtain hardware. I really love the metallic stud pillows (Nate Berkus, no longer available) to add a little bit of pop. A vintage brass-plated trunk (I stripped, sanded, and sealed the interior over a weekend) adds even more storage.
Guest Room with Vintage Mantel and Gold Mirror
Mantel with Gold Mirror Decor
Mantle Decor with Pillar Candles and Throw Blanket Basket
Mantel Decor with Gold Mirror and Brass Candlesticks
My favorite part of the room is definitely the mantle that I restored – it didn’t take up that much actual space but really creates a focal point for the room. The vintage mirror was a fantastic find from Jinxed Philadelphia that really opens the room up and is a great backdrop for a few favorites like one of my grandfather’s cameras, some favorite books, and some antique brass candlesticks. There’s no fooling anyone that it’s a faux mantle, so instead I piled up some pillar candles, candlesticks, and a basket with a throw blanket and sequined pillow along the floor to fill in the space).

Guest Bedroom Makeover Source List

You can also find more sources, ideas, and inspiration on my guest room Pinterest board.


  1. Popped over from Apartment Therapy to see more pix. Nice job! I live just outside Philly and used to live in the city and had brass candlesticks just like those. Wondering if you bought them from somewhere I donated them in a cleanout and hoping so!

  2. Could be! I picked up these candlesticks years ago when I was in college, and had actually painted them black! When I was going through this room I was digging through old boxes to look for anything I could use and I found them, cleaned them up with some paint thinner, and they look fantastic! If they were yours – thank you! 🙂

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