The funny thing about these budget-friendly bedroom updates was they came together 37000 feet in the friendly skies right after we said our goodbyes to our youngest son (the baby) outside his dorm. The initial goodbye went pretty well.
The 50-minute drive to the airport was quiet. I kept all my emotions in check until we boarded the 2.5 hour United flight home. By the time I clicked my seatbelt I was sobbing. My husband nervously asked a flight attendant for a stack of cocktail napkins. The woman seated next to me kept her eyes on the friendly skies. I released almost two decades of hugs, reading time, tooth fairy visits and toddler memories during takeoff.
And, then? I created a list of budget-friendly updates on a dry cocktail napkin. Because nothing helps a mama bear than a to-do list.
Ten minutes into watching Season 1of Queer Eye I was giggling over Nebraska. And, had a list of inexpensive, neutral bedroom updates for the now-empty college bedrooms.
It was the needed distraction to counter my mile-high meltdown.
Confession Time: Okay, it’s not like I had not prepped a bit for a few bedroom updates. I might have measured a few walls and obsessed over paint colors prior to my son’s freshman welcome week.
Apparently, my (our) son had his own distractions as we went almost a full week without a phone call. (He is the baby so we learned to keep our distance in those first few days).
When I decided to update my youngest son’s bedroom to a college bedroom decor I ended up changing the decor in my other college-age son’s bedroom. Or, as I refer to my boys, “my lefty and my righty.”
To manage simultaneous updates I followed the same budget-friendly ideas.
My son’s bedrooms are adjacent to a Jack + Jill bathroom. We remodeled this bathroom when my older son (lefty) left for college. Because they share the bathroom I wanted their rooms to each have their own vibe but feel connected (like brothers).
Budget-Friendly Bedroom Updates
1. Less is more
Before my son left for college, I purchased a few storage tubs to store most of his lacrosse and tennis trophies. It was time. I removed everything from his walls and closet. I wanted a clean slate to transition to a college bedroom vibe.
2. Paint the Walls
The last thing my son told me the week of college dropoff, “Mom, don’t paint my room.” Well, painting his room with a bold paint color was the 2nd thing I did after I packed up his textbooks, his empty English spiral notebooks and his bouncy ball collection from middle school.
I chose a navy paint color (Hale Navy). My plan was to paint one wall as a feature wall above his bed because I was a wee bit worried about his room being too dark with a navy paint color.
As soon as I finished the first wall I painted the remaining three walls.
I loved the richer paint color so much I repainted my lefty’s room. Revere Pewter is a great neutral, but that was the problem. It didn’t bring any personality to the two rooms.
I debated between Benjamin Moore Graphite and Kendall Charcoal but decided on Chelsea Gray! It provided a much-needed warmth to this north-facing room and enough contrast that makes the accessories and furniture pop.
Chelsea Gray made the room look more like a college bedroom with opinions and knowledge and multi-syllable sentences it lacked during the Revere Pewter days.
3. Introduce framed prints.
It was time to remove the high school tennis posters and banners from state playoffs and tournaments.
Sidenote: Did you know the option on Target’s website to “notify me when back in stock,” really works. When I went online to order these prints they were sold out across the country. I signed up for the “notify me” when back in stock.
Guess what? Within 24 hours I had an email notification they were in stock and ready to ship.
I found this fun print at HomeGoods and knew my younger son would get a kick out of it. He did! I smile every time I walk past his room.
4. Add Lighting
Both of my boys’ had the overhead ceiling fan/light combo. Overhead lighting is useful when searching for a clean t-shirt buried under a week’s worth of dirty laundry. But, the overhead lights were not the vibe I wanted for their bedrooms. I bought these lamps at Target for less than $15.00/each + a lampshade.
5. Canvas Prints for Large Walls
Framed prints add up quickly and both bedrooms had valuable wall space to fill. I found this longhorn print at Homegoods. Target has a larger version.
This is a longhorn. My daughter and I thought it was a buffalo. We bought it because my son loved buffalo as a child.
It turns out it is a longhorn.
For the space above his bed, I added a horizontal canvas I found online. It fills the space and gives a shout out to his Colorado roots!
I thought I would be overwhelmed with the task to update two bedrooms. But adding the same updates made it manageable.
The reality is the boys will spend less time at home than in their dorms and/or apartments. But, I am thrilled I created a space that they can enjoy the holidays, catch up on sleep and have a space to call their own no matter where their paths shall lead.
Here is one more idea to decorate a room for less.
It’s inexpensive and the tips are in the post.