Our bedroom makeover

This fall, Alex and I were in desperate need of a bedroom makeover. Since I work from home, I spend approximately a gazillion hours a week in our bedroom, and it was feeling a little drab. We were nervous about heading into a cold, dark New York winter with a dreary room, so we asked our dear friend Jenny Komenda–the genius interior decorator from Little Green Notebook–to help us make our bedroom bright and cheery, on a budget. Here are the before-and-after photos, taken by Oh Darling Photography, if you’d like to see…

Here’s the “before” photo of our bedroom. At first, we liked that it was simple and calm, but the blue/gray color scheme started feeling dark and drab for the wintertime. Spending so much time here, I was nervous about getting winter blues.

Jenny, the genius behind the blog Little Green Notebook, agreed to help us make the room feel happier. “We were envisioning ‘folksy Domino,'” says Jenny. And since we weren’t starting from scratch, Jenny was glad to work with eclectic pieces we already had. “I don’t love when rooms look super matchy-matchy and overly decorated, and I’m glad that your bedroom feels real,” she says.

The craziest part of the room is the tufted headboard, which Jenny made herself. It’s not only beautiful, but also comfy to lean against when working, reading books or drinking a sneaky cup of hot chocolate before bed.

Our striped duvet was inspired by J.Crew’s creative director Jenna Lyons, whose gorgeous bedroom appeared in Domino. She had an Olatz duvet, but since that bedding was (way) out of our budget, Jenny decided to make it herself! She hired a seamstress to help. “You can easily find affordable sewing rooms on Craigslist,” she says.

We wanted the room to feel happy and personal, so we decided to cover it with family photos. We printed three favorite black-and-white shots–one from our England summer vacation, one from Alex’s childhood and one from the first moment we saw each other at our wedding. These photos make me feel instantly centered, even when I’m feeling overwhelmed or worrying too much. :)

Jenny found the two adorable mid-century bedside tables at the Antiques Garage flea market in Chelsea; they have so much personality! I feel like they have little faces:) The rugs were from Turkey, purchased on eBay and then cleaned in New York. “I always think it’s a good idea to have old rugs cleaned professionally,” says Jenny. “I used Big Apple Carpet Cleaners.” (The bedskirt is from DwellStudio.)

That’s it, I hope you like it! Thank you again to Jenny, who will be posting about these DIY projects (tufted headboard, striped duvet cover…) on her blog Little Green Notebook soon. She is a genius! We love you, Jenny, and are so thrilled with our new room and feel so lucky! Thank you so much for reading, my lovelies, and feel free to ask any questions below… :) xoxoxo

P.S. The best part is that Toby approves! :) Plus, our living room and Toby’s nursery

(“After” photos by Oh Darling! Photography for A Cup of Jo. “Before” photo by Karen Mordechai)

  1. I love your bedroom. How beautiful and fun!!

  2. beautiful, joanna!

  3. The makeover looks amazing! I’m so inspired to redecorate now.

  4. Oh, what heaven! Jenny is a genius, seriously! If there ever was a reason to hire an interior designer, this is it. I love the headboard, photos, bright colors- it makes the room feel so big.

  5. It looks great; so cheerful! It’s amazing to see what can be done in such a small space. Thank you for sharing!

  6. such a big difference from the ‘before’ picture. i’ve been wanting a headboard like that but they’re so expensive. i’m definitely going to try the diy version. =]

  7. Absolutely love the bright colors and personal touches. It feels like you brought the sunshine in!

  8. Wow, I love this, (although I have to say I thought it was gorgeous before too!) Extra – gorgeous now though!!

  9. Love the Josef Frank fabric (i’m a little obsessed with right now)/headboard combo! The bold color and all the photos makes this a special room. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Jo! It’s beautiful!

  11. Lily D. says...

    Jo, I’m surprised you hadn’t heard about it, because it’s all over (including the Google home page) — check out for more information on SOPA. As a blogger who’d likely be found liable, and without any due process rights, you’re directly affected. And I don’t mean to single you out at all – basically ALL bloggers who use pictures that they did not take could be found liable! Hope you check it out and take a stand in solidarity with the rest of the Internet community.

  12. Katie says...

    Can you link to the headboard DIY once it’s posted? It’s gorgeous

  13. Oh my, this room is the best. I feel so happy looking at it?

    Any additional specific advice re:finding a seamstress on Craigslist? I’m dying for curtains for my non-standard NYC windows! I have sheets hanging up right now!

  14. Anonymous says...

    Totally gorgeous. I really love the colors and that beautiful pillow.

  15. Awesome. Can’t wait for the headboard DIY!

  16. I would love to know how Jenny mounted the large photo onto the particle board. Do you know what kind of adhesive she used?

    I love the room; it looks so bright and comfy!

  17. I love your Bedroom! The Bed looks great. nice pictures! I am inspired! xoxo selma

  18. I love your Bedroom! The Bed looks great. nice pictures! I am inspired! xoxo selma

  19. what an amazing redo! it looks fabulous but totally lived-in. great job!

  20. LOVE the after!

  21. love this glimpse into your home! The room is gorgeous and definitely cheery!!!

  22. Meadow: these photos were taken back in late october, so there were still green leaves on the trees. now they’re more brown :)

    returner: yes! it’s alex’s metronome, he uses it sometimes when he’s playing guitar. toby loves playing with it too.

    jenny: hmmm, i actually don’t know the exact dimensions of our room, i’d guess maybe 15×15?

    j., the black dresser was from craigslist (another jenny find) and the cords for the shades are actually quite short so even when the shades are all the way up, the cords don’t hang down far enough for toby to be able to reach them. that was important for us, too. i think it can be done quite easily with a little measuring? xoxo

    lily, i’m going to look into this now…thank you!! xoxoxo

    h, for tunics, you might check out boden or Toast UK, they have beautiful breezy pieces!

    anonymous, yes, our baby bottle is glass with a silicone sleeve from Lifefactory. we LOVE it, toby does too:)

    aislin, hmm, the square footage of our apartment…i’m not sure…i would guess maybe 800 sq ft?

    thank you again for all these lovely comments! i was so excited to share this with you, and i’m glad that you like it. we were so lucky to work with jenny, she’s going to be sharing the DIY tutorials — including the headboard — on her blog soon.
    thank you!!! xoxo joanna

  23. The transformation from the winter blues to a bright and eye-catching room is stunning! I love the simplicity of the duvet and shades, but the way the pillow brings out the pops of color in them. Your bedroom is awesome!

  24. THANK YOU so much for all these sweet comments!!! i know jenny will be super chuffed. she is the best :)

  25. the silver reading lamps on the wall are from West Elm, we got them a few years ago. the white hanging pendant lamp in the “before” room (which we still have hanging in the “after” room) is from IKEA for like $5.

  26. Wow. The room looks great! I adore the pillow and headboard. More importantly, how adorable is Toby?? He is getting so big, I don’t think you can call him a baby anymore!

  27. oh my that first picture of you and toby is amazing!! the room looks great too!

  28. The room looks amazing!!! What wonderful pieces!

  29. A masterpiece! But as I am experiencing –35 degrees (before the wind-chill), I am most envious of the beautiful greenery visible through the window.

  30. I’ve been eagerly waiting this post! And it did not disappoint! I really love the whole thing. I love your style and how Jenny captured it into a cozy, comfy, colorful room.

  31. It looks wonderful. May you have many blissful hours of sleep here and hopefully you will feel better working in your bright new room! I love the ‘Josef Frank-pillow’!! I was lucky to be in Stockholm in December and I visited Svenskt Tenn ( Oh my the fabrics they had there… Lovely! Should you go to Stockholm someday (I would highly recommend it), be sure to visit this store.

  32. wow, i love the brightness of it! and the closet area is adorable. good for you, doing something special for you guys :)

  33. wow. just wow. i love it! i would be so happy to spend half my life in a room like that.

  34. WOW, beyond impressed!

  35. i. love. it!!! you have inspired me to save up some dough and add a little color to where the magic happens.

  36. i love how bright the room is now! well done :)

  37. completely perfect!

  38. looking so fancy must make getting out of bed difficult :)
    Congrats !!!

  39. its perfect! I’m moving to Toronto soon with my beloved and this is just the kinda color one needs to get through winters.

    how wonderful!


  40. johanna says...

    looks great! cheerful and fun yet sophisticated and “real.” LOVE the josef frank pillow and the shades. I have been wanting to have a shade made for our bedroom window (ideally from josef frank fabric – but will have to see how much that costs) but i have no idea where to go for that.
    if you could tell us who is this custom seamstress who makes such beautiful shades in NY i would be SO grateful!!

  41. great photos! aren’t dustin and whitney the best?!

  42. Fabulous! While I don’t love every individual piece (but hey, it’s not MY bedroom, right?!), I do love the overall feel the warmth it conveys. Well done Jenny and you guys! :)

  43. Pretty much my dream bedroom. Exactly the design estetic I would choose if I had a consistent home to redecorate at the moment. I LOVE the color pallete. It is so cheerful and goes together so perfectly without being matchy matchy at all. Congrats on the redo. It’s beautiful.

  44. Looks beautiful – great use of space! And I’m so jealous of your great nightstands. What a great find!

  45. just gorgeous! the changes are insanely drastic or mind boggling, but the result is simply beautiful! i love that it doesn’t look cold or set up.
    Q for you – what is the square footage of your apartment?

  46. Anonymous says...

    The room is amazing- such a cheerful place to spend the winter!

    Is that one of the glass baby bottles in a silicone sleeve? Do you like them?

  47. Stunning! It’s absolutely perfect:)

  48. H says...

    What a great bedroom! I love the simplicity look too, but sometimes brighter definitely is better!

    Joanna, can you recommend any places to get tunics? I know you love leggings and I do too! Except I can’t seem to find any simple, casual tunics to wear with them, and with ballet flats of course! Any ideas?

    Thank you (:

  49. your home is full of life! looks beautiful!

  50. Love everything about this room. amazing! I’ve been looking forward to this post ever since Jenny said she did your bedroom on her blog. hooray!

  51. We too have a yellow headboard. It’s crushed velvet and one of my favorite things in our home. The new space looks rad, I love the beach photo above the bed, what a great piece of inspiration for daydreaming on these chilly winter days!

  52. This is extraordinary and so inspiring. We have a little cottage in Pasadena, which gives us a little more room than NY but it’s still so small. I struggle with our “master” bedroom because it’s truly the size of most walk-in closets but now I’m so full of ideas and so looking forward to sprucing it up a bit!

  53. it looks beautiful!! what a beautiful job she did and i can’t wait to see her tutorials!


  54. Anonymous says...

    would it be too personal to ask about your budget? i know that can be a private issue so no worries if you don’t share that information.

    it looks amazing! i am more of a matchy person but then i see a room like this and think i could totally get used to it! LOVE IT!

  55. Love it! Im all about light walls and bringing the color in through other places. I totally agree that I hate a home that is too matchy matchy.

  56. Love the gallery frame wall! I’ve always wanted to do something like that for my own place.

  57. Beautiful bedroom make-over Joanna! You’ve inspired me to hang up more photos in my room, it really does make all the difference.

  58. Anonymous says...

    Can I ask where you got those 2 bedside lamps? They’re lovely! (Like the rest of this makeover!)

  59. Love this!! We just did a similar make over and it feels fantastic, I love how yellows make you feel especially in the winter. I would love to know where you found the lights be your head board. I have been looking for lights and can’t find any that I like. Great job!!!

  60. I adore the variety! The headboard is fabulous and the many frames on the wall is something I have wanted to do in my bedroom for awhile :) xo

  61. Lily D. says...

    Jo, did you consider blacking out in support of the anti-SOPA actions today? It’s not too late, and, as a blogger, it really matters!

  62. I literally said, “oh, I LOVE IT” out loud as I scrolled through your photos. GORGEOUS and so happy! Nice job!

  63. Beautiful! I love the gallery wall and the bright and happy pillows.

    I’ve been following Jenny’s blog for awhile and I’m always impressed with her mix of high-end and low-end finds. Inspiring!

  64. I love it! I am trying to decorate my new house and I love these ideas. The pictures by the bed are priceless and it makes me want to put lovey pictures like that up to. I like that they are actual captured life moments and dont seem to be posed.

    Enjoy your cheery room!

  65. looks so great-you and jenny have done so well in the space you have. favourite parts-the photographs (love your beautiful balck and white shots) and the antique wardbrobe! a very happy room!

  66. This is so pretty Joanna! I love the headboard… and all of the pictures on the wall! Of course Toby is adorable, but when is he not? :) Thanks for sharing!

  67. OK, now I really need a bedroom makeover. It looks great! What a nice little retreat in your own home. :)

  68. This is a FANTASTIC room! You are so inspiring. My favorite parts are the tufted bed, the storage baskets, and where you hung your art. Ah, heck. I love it all! Thank you for being an inspiration. As usual.

  69. Anonymous says...

    Looks great! Do you mind sharing the dimensions of your bedroom? We’re in NYC too and dealing with a small space — would be great to know how much area you were working with. Thanks, Jenny

  70. j. says...

    Love the new room – so happy and yet calm at the same time. And oh, the tufted headboard – how I long for one myself!!

    *Can I ask you where you got the black dresser?
    *also are your shades cord free?

    I love them and want shades made for our room but have two little ones and worry about cords hanging around.
    thanks! Jill

  71. Joanna, is that a metronome next to your bed? Do you actually use it?

    The makeover looks great – so cheery and warm!

  72. Such a gorgeous happy room – I can’t even begin to pick my favorite part!

  73. The tufted headboard is GEN-I-US. I might have missed this link, but does she have any more info for a DIYer? And the material- looks like a thick, brushed twill or linen? How is that holding up? Thanks Joanna! The place is to die for.

  74. I lovelovelove it! that headboard is gorgeous and i love all the colors!

  75. These pictures give me such a warm and fuzzy feeling – she did such a great job! No more winter blues, for SURE

  76. Love it! What a warm, happy space you have now! I’m sure you’ll spend many happy, productive hours there.

  77. Great makeover! Definitely nailed all your goals. I especially love the headboard and the way that the three black frames are hung all left-aligned. Thanks for sharing!

  78. Wowie, it looks great! I’m overhauling some rooms in my house on a limited budget (just did my home office for under $150). Your and Jenny’s tips are great!

  79. This room is PERFECT! Even though it was cute and simple before, when I scrolled back to the top I got a little depressed looking at the before picture. It’s definitely much more cheery now. I would love hanging out in that space!

  80. Wow it is exquisite! Enjoy.

  81. looks amazing! i would love to buckle down and get on the decor part of our house – so many lovely photos have yet to be displayed!

  82. I love it! We plan on buying a house in the next year so I am at a stand still on doing anything to the house. Our bedroom is so drab. I long for a pretty grown up room someday!!

  83. Your bedroom looks SO cute, but the part that struck me most is the adorable look on Tobey’s face in that last picture!! :)

  84. Love it! So much more warm and inviting!

  85. Your rooms looks fantastic!
    That LAMP looks so great! As does the rest of the space.

  86. its so beautiful! great job, jenny!

  87. Gorgeous room redo, I love it :-)

  88. OOHHHH THE YELLOWS!!! I love it Joanna!

  89. Suzy says...

    I have a huge water print over my bed too – love it!

  90. Your room is beautiful! I think Jenny is beyond fabulous, she has this knack for making a space so personal to the homeowner but yet you can still tell she helped design the space. Oh and that headboard? Seriously I don’t think there is anything she can’t do! But sorry to say I think that sweet baby boy is the best thing in the room! (Oh and I love that I know I’m not the only one who does most of her work in her bedroom!)

  91. Love the custom shade and pops of yellow… very bright and cherry!

  92. I love it! Your headboard is my favorite part of the transformation. It makes the bed look even more cozy and inviting. How does it stay in place? Does it go IN your bedframe?

  93. ahhhhhhh i adore all the photos. so lovely. i need to do this in our bedroom!

    room looks so good i think we need to rent your apartment again. =) i love nyc.

  94. what a happy, sun-colored space! I have a total crush on your rugs, and that max wanger photograph is sweeping me off my feet! lucky you!

  95. wow, I loved how the bedroom looked before, but I LOVE this transformation! so warm and homey. I also think this perfectly captures what I imagine “folksy domino” would look like. :)

  96. Love the colors — what a great update! I’m in home-makeover-mode this week, too, and am updating my own bedroom (though it won’t be nearly as nice as yours!)

  97. Fantastic makeover! Congratulations.

  98. I was literally JUST thinking about how i could make a tufted headboard. Creepy…thanks!

  99. I love it, of course :) I struggle with injecting color into our bedroom without making it seem too feminine. We’re all blues and browns for the most part.

  100. K says...

    It looks so great! I mostly adore that Josef Frank pillow, though. Totally worth the splurge!

    I was luck enough to find one of his Svenskt Tenn trays at a thrift store. I had no idea what it was at first, but I was so drawn to its bright colors. Now I’m hooked.

  101. So cool…Loved every detail, hope you enjoy working there for the rest of the year, not only the winter!
    Marjorie Espinal.

  102. Beautiful! Can she come decorate my house next? Seriously…love.

  103. I work from home a few days a week, would love a makeover!! One thing I do that has helped — at least make things a bit cheery — is sitting at the kitchen table. We have a huge window that lets in lots of sun, and it’s a great place to sit and work!! :)

  104. Gorgeous! I wish I had an ounce of your style!!

  105. Fabulous makeover! I love the headboard!

  106. Joanna!! I love this! I love all the color and it completely changed your room! I’m loving the new blinds on your window, your armoir, and your headboard- both for the pop of color and the tufting! You guys did such a great job!

  107. looks amazing! so fresh & bright…. adore the tufted headboard, can’t wait to read her DIY post on that project.

  108. Looks great, but I noticed some green leaves on the trees. Were these photos just taken? Where I live in Canada, sadly we don’t have green on the trees (or any color really) after mid October. THAT gives me the winter blues. Plus the -30 celcius weather we’ve been having the last few days. Maybe I am just bitter haha. We had it great until this week… barely any snow. I really should re-do my bedroom like yours!

  109. MG I love it! the colors, very etnic-chic!!! Love the tulips and the head of the bed is really beautiful and useful too.

  110. Where did you get that lantern from your original bedroom? I’m looking for one for my dorm room.

  111. Aaaaaaah!!!! LOVE! I need summa’ this! Beyond jealous of your fun new bedroom Joanna :)

  112. So nice. I always make sure I have space on either side of the bed for getting in and out — can be a problem in small flats! A cosy improvement. x

  113. Oh wow this is so inspiring! I love the colors and easy DIYs. love it.

  114. Looks amazing!!! Thanks for inspiring me to to get off my butt and tackle my own room!!!!!

  115. Love it!!!

  116. Jenny always does SUCH a good job. The room is exactly what you said – bright and cheery but not too overly done. Great job Jenny!

  117. Your updated bedroom is both inspiring and amazing! Jenny did a fantastic job :)

  118. Amazing re-do! Love all the yellow–makes it feel so happy and sunny!:)

  119. Joanna, your bedroom looks super snazzy:) I love the bright pops of colour and the family wall is simply heartwarming:) Congrats on a fantastic room! Kisses

  120. Am I losing my mind? Didn’t you already post this?

  121. Looks fantastic…I need some more sunshine inserted into my bedroom too!

  122. It made me smile, and I’m happy you have a happy place to be/sleep/work. Yellow is so cheery.

  123. OMG LOVE IT!!! Great job… the colors are beautiful, so fresh. The picture over your bed is perfect. Thanks for sharing… perhaps I should think about a bedroom make-over of my own! ;)

  124. Beautiful and cozy!

  125. oh my god I love it! So pretty.

  126. great remodel, love the colors and all the photos.

  127. Gorgeous redo! I adore the colors. Everything is tasteful and comfortable but not boring in the slightest!

  128. This looks fabulous! Love the headboard and the photo above your bed especially. Really creative ideas.

    And love the two windows/fire escape view…so NYC!!

    • I simply love the headboard. I think the color really stands out the most against the white splashed walls and that is a good thing because you do want to add life into your blue/gray room that you claimed to be dull and lifeless. I agree with you that the initial room layout does look calm and relaxing which is really suitable for a home office. However, if you were to spend the entire winter in such a dreary atmosphere, I am pretty sure your work performance is going to get affected. The storage bins that you have just gotten are pretty neat and are just great to conceal any mess that you might have lying around the room.