Before and After: A New Build Guest Bed and Bath Goes From Basic to Beautiful

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My mom and I have always shared a passion for interior design. While I know this ticks the boxes of many gay stereotypes (artistic and a mommy’s boy, for starters), we’re actually quite the dynamic duo when tasked with selecting anything from quartz countertops to patterned table runners.

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So I wasn’t surprised when she asked me to fly down to my hometown of Naples, Florida, to finalize design details for her and my dad’s home in a brand new 55-plus community. The trade-off was that I had creative control over a guest bedroom and bathroom that I would eventually call my own when visiting. To keep things as neutral as possible, I wanted light gray walls and darker gray carpeting in the bedroom. The original floor was tiled, so we had a smoky colored wall to wall installed for some coziness underfoot. For the bathroom, we asked for black and white finishes (tiles, countertops) and satin nickel fixtures for an old-school meets modern look.

With the bones and of the space in place, I basically had a blank canvas to work with but ran into one quick and unexpected issue: My parents were welcoming guests in two weeks’ time and wanted the space fully furnished and decorated for their visit. Furniture delays — compounded by me not being physically present at the house — topped with my overwhelming tendency to chase perfection in every single project proved that this would be a difficult task, but I was up for it.

So we came up with a plan of action: Start big and then delve into the details and choose in stock furnishings from online and IRL big box stores that ship fairly quickly. Of course, this technique is nothing novel, but it helped us limit what could be endless options to settle on a general design direction and aesthetic. The foundational pieces would skew industrial – think metal furniture, abstract artwork — while textiles and accessories would introduce a lighter, more natural vibe into the space with shades like cream and fabrics like linen.

My mom had already purchased a (now discontinued) black bed from Amazon to serve as the anchor and focal point of the bedroom. To match, we found this gorgeous all-black dresser and nightstand set from Safavieh on Overstock. The pieces’ raised fronts brought a bit of texture and geometry into the space, and I’m not afraid of a matching set, even though designers often say to break these kinds of pairs up. I think the set works here, and it was the easiest way to bring ample guest storage into the space within our tight timeline. Plus, we decided to buy only one nightstand and go the mismatched route with a simple wooden style on the other side of the bed. We added lamps for reading on these perches.

For bed linens, we went to Target. My mom is obsessed with the Casaluna linen line of bedding. The linen’s relaxed but plush appearance helps to soften the harshness of solid black furniture. This bedding’s also ridiculously comfortable — I can attest to that personally — which is a necessity to wow any future houseguests with a night of great rest.

Next, we turned our attention to the blank spot next to the dresser. Every corner with dead space could benefit from an accent chair, and the cane option I chose does a nice job of mixing that boho, ’70s vintage charm with a more modern silhouette. It’s a great place for guests to drop bags or just sit to read or even put on shoes. The linen upholstery also matches that of the bed, which easily ties these two pieces together stylistically from across the room.

Other bare wall spaces needed filling, too. For the area above the dresser, we loved the look of this distressed mirror’s copper accents, but it arrived a bit smaller than anticipated. To remedy this situation and bulk up the display in this area, we installed two basic Walmart floating shelves and rounded them out with sentimental photos and travel souvenirs to bring in an element of personalization. Similarly, the seashell wall art that hangs in the blank area of ​​the bed above is a nod to the nearby Florida coast, but not in a way that’s entirely predictable (like being navy, white, and nautical).

The bathroom didn’t need much. What we faced here was more of a matter of not going over-the-top glam, since the the flecks of gold in the quartz countertop and shower subway tile already make this small bath lean a little Hollywood Regency.

Framed linear but curved art prints from Target brought in a more organic touch, so that the space felt less like something you’d find in a high-end nightclub and more like an oasis with modern spa vibes. The CB2 bathroom rug we laid down in front of the glass shower softens up the space and proves that something so seemingly simple can actually warm up an entire expanse of white tile. Finally, like many people these days, I’m a firm believer in bringing plants into a living space. Aside from the proven health benefits of lifting one’s overall mood, they’re just aesthetically pleasing and make the perfect addition to this window ledge that looks out to the house next door.

What we learned most during this rushed process is to never underestimate the need for a neutral guest bedroom or bathroom. They are easy to adjust and revise at a moment’s notice, and most pieces can be removed, upgraded, and even altered without having to undergo an extensive remodel or renovation. While it’s not perfect or what I had completely envisioned, the guest area is fully transitional and a space I can’t wait to revisit when I’m actually in town.

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