Eight Year Old Olivia’s $200 Bedroom Makeover

OK, we’ve been bursting at the seams to reveal this fabulous before and after and it’s finally finished (insert party kazoo sound effect here). And the reason that we’re so excited to share this perky pink makeover is that it’s a little girl’s room (we often do adult rooms but kids rooms are so much fun). To add to our enthusiasm, we were also able to reinvent amazing thrift store finds and raid Ikea to transform little Olivia’s bedroom on a serious budget ($200 to be exact). So without further ado, the blank slate before pics:

Eight year old Olivia’s house is a new construction here in town, and her mom (who just happens to be John’s lovely sister) was looking to add plenty of playful pink along with a major dose of personality (for her fun loving and fabulous daughter). The room had great bones to begin with (a giant picture window and that amazing built in shelf behind the bed to name a few) so we couldn’t wait to create a whole new room for Olivia without breaking the bank. One of the first pieces that we found was this desk at a local thrift store. It needed some love, but the open shelving and the clean lines had us at hello. Not to mention the $15 price tag. That was a major selling point too.

A coat of oil based primer followed by two coats of punchy pink paint (Benjamin Moore’s Milano Red) took the old desk from drab to fab. Here it is living happily ever after in the corner of Olivia’s reinvented room:

But our affordable desk overhaul didn’t end there. We also picked up a custom cut piece of plexiglass to lay across the top of the desk to protect it from endless scribbling while lending a crisp modern look on a dime (well, more like 300 dimes- it was only 30 smackaroos).

We also snagged a $5 desk chair at the same thrift store where we found the desk, and even grabbed two magnet boards from Ikea, which we covered with some cheeky wrapping paper (that says “there’s no place like home”) to add even more texture and fun on the cheap. And for even more pattern and pinkness, we snatched up a $20 Ikea desk lamp to complete the layered pattern-on-pattern look. Now Olivia can file in style (we kid you not, the girl has a serious office supply obsession).

And because we wanted to create balance and inject some more of that poppy pink paint, we also painted Olivia’s hand-me-down dresser (located on the other side of the bed) the same punchy hue. Plopping a $9 green Ikea rug in front of it added even more fun and freshness, and also helped to tie in the color of Olivia’s existing bed skirt as well as her darling Olivia sign above the bed.

We also softened the windows and framed that gorgeous view with some easy, breezy grommetted curtain panels from Ikea. And even upholstered her headboard by hand (click here for our oh-so-simple tutorial). Then swapping out her existing duvet for something a bit more graphic and mod really polished off the entire room (for $13- gotta love Ikea).

And because creating a personalized and inviting space for Olivia was the name of the game, we grabbed a few of her favorite books (which just happen to share her name) and lined them up on that great architectural shelf above her bed. It doesn’t get much more customized than that…

And because we know you guys like to see how we worked with our $200 budget, we included a little price breakdown for your viewing pleasure. We may have spent every last penny (well, we actually had a few of those left since we rounded all of our prices up to the nearest dollar) but we’re definitely proud of our penny pinching purchases.

Olivia’s Cost Breakdown:

  • Thrift store desk: $15
  • Thrift store chair: $5
  • Custom cut plexiglass desk topper: $30
  • Pink dresser: free (it was Olivia’s brothers old desk that we painted)
  • Two grommetted curtain panels from Ikea: $39
  • Two Ikea magnet boards: $26
  • Orange wrapping paper to cover magnet boards: $3
  • Ikea heart duvet: $13
  • Upholstered headboard: $40 (click here to see how we made it)
  • Round green rug from Ikea: $9
  • Ikea desk lamp: $20


So what do you guys think? Isn’t Olivia’s new bedroom cozy and cute? Do you have any simple and affordable decorating tricks up your sleeves for transforming a kids room on a dime? Share and share alike.


  1. Lori says

    Wow! Awesome changes. It looks so much more pulled together. I’m a native of your hometown…could I ask what thrift shops you like to haunt? I’m always looking for another one.
    Great job, Olivia must be thrilled!

  2. says

    You forgot to add in the cost of the paint to your total. Having said that, this is a super cute kid’s room you achieved here. I’m also wondering about the white drapes in the after picture. Where are they from?

  3. says

    I love the finished product. Great way to add pink and color to a room without painting on the wall. BTW you didn’t talk about the head board, it looks custom. I love Ikea too.

    Take Care,

  4. says

    John! I got to meet your sister just yesterday! KK and I were in Richmond and she was at our client’s photo shoot. There was lots of talk about the fabulousness of the blog. Small world!

  5. says

    Love what you did to this room. Can you explain what you did with the wrapping paper and magnet boards? Is the paper cut to the exact size of the board and then glued on? It’s darling.

  6. says

    Thanks for all of your great feedback on my little Olivia’s room!

    Thrift stores in Richmond that we faithfully visit are “For The Love of Jesus” on Midlothian Turnpike and “Habitat for Humanity Restore” in downtown Richmond.

    In terms of the wrapping paper, we just cut the wrapping paper to size and used little circular magnets to attach it to the boards so we can swap out the paper if we ever want to. The white drapes are from IKEA as well and the poster is from http://vllg.com. It was featured on the cover of Domino magazine a couple years ago and I ordered it way back then.

    Hope this helps. We had lots of fun. Just one of the many perks of being related to John and Sherry…..

  7. says

    I’m glad I’m not the only person who considers outfitting a room almost entirely from IKEA!! For kids’ rooms I think it’s especially efficient. When I have kidlets I’m totally scouring IKEA for inexpensive fixes. Thanks for such great tips, Olivia’s room looks fantastic!!

  8. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey everyone,

    So glad you’re loving our latest makeover. We were so excited to see what you guys thought about our kids room redo! We hope you’ve noticed that John’s sister Emily answered everyone’s questions just three comments above this one, so feel free to check out her response to see what thrift stores we haunt, where we dug up the curtains and the poster, and how we made that adorable little magnet board covered in wrapping paper. It was such a fun little project for such a great little girl!


  9. says

    Wow! Please come do our nursery in a couple months.

    I have to ask: why oil-based primer on the desk? I understand why on Kim’s kitchen cabinets, but a desk isn’t in a grease-filled environment, so why bother with the mess?

  10. YoungHouseLove says

    Hey Erin,

    It’s always waaay safer to use oil based primer on any wood surface (grease or no grease) due to the fact that wood stain can be oil based which will cause any stained wood that you paint without using oil based primer to bleed brown goo all over your fabulous paint job as the paint dries. It looks great for an hour or so and then the goo starts rearing its ugly head. Total nightmare- trust us. And sometimes even raw wood that hasn’t been stained has been known to ruin a good paint job thanks to a knot in the wood that releases oily discharge when the paint comes into the picture (which is exactly what happened to us when we made a pedestal table using an unstained table round from Lowe’s).

    In short, we’re always careful to use oil based primer on anything wooden from an old chest to wood cabinets. Hope that helps!


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