Reader SOS – How to Design a Budget Bedroom

I’m back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space”. My plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips and tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some of my favorite design solutions from this series…

Reader SOS from the DIY Playbook

Today, I’m tackling a question from a reader, Jaclyn, who is struggling with furnishing and styling a bedroom on a budget. Jaclyn is specifically struggling with her guest bedroom.  She wants it to look pulled together and inviting for her guests, but she has a strict budget she would like to stick with for this makeover. Let’s take a look at her design dilemma for this budget bedroom…

How Can I Improve My Space on a Budget?


reader sos guest bedroom

We are in desperate need of help in our guest bedroom. Currently, it is a mixture of things that have been in our home since we were first married (11years ago, eek!). I really like Scandinavian style, lean towards blue tones, and want it to be a cozy space for our guests. 

reader sos bookcase

It’s totally uninspiring and I’d like to give it some personality with an accent wall, curtains, new bedding, perhaps a bookshelf makeover (although we need it with all my husband’s books) and I would like it to look more cohesive.  All on a budget of course too (hoping for under $600).

Tips to Create a Budget Bedroom

A $600 budget for an entire room is pretty tight, so Jaclyn is going to need to roll up her sleeves and DIY a few pieces to cut down on costs. I like the bench at the end of the bed, so I would keep that but I would nix the floor lamp and mirror. The other items, we’ll upgrade…

Create a Focal Point with Personality Adding peel and stick wallpaper to a closet

First, let’s add some color and personality to this space with peel and stick wallpaper! Every bedroom needs a focal point and in Jaclyn’s guest room it makes sense to focus on the wall where she currently has her bed. It’s the first area her guests will see when walking into the room and adding a bit of style will go a long way.

Jaclyn loves Scandinavian design so I recommend painting the other walls white and installing peel and stick wallpaper on the headboard wall. A statement wallpaper will not only create that ever-important focal point, but it’s the jumping-off point for the style of the room.  I recommend not going too dark and introducing a fun, subtle pattern. I really love this wallpaper because it’s light and has an organic design (not to mention, it’s affordable!).

DIY Upholstered Headboard

Now let’s talk about the bed. I love when guest bedrooms feel like a luxurious getaway so I suggest an upholstered headboard here. To be mindful of budget, I would DIY a new headboard using the frame of the existing one. With a little foam, batting, and determination Jaclyn could DIY a new headboard in a day! This is a good tutorial using the frame of an old bed.

To save on the cost of fabric, definitely wait for a sale. I went to JOANN Fabric last month and almost all of the fabrics were 50% off!   Jaclyn may have to purchase a new bed frame, but a simple metal one could easily work with the budget. If DIY isn’t your thing, here’s a really affordable headboard option.

Functional Bookcase Refresh IdeasOld bookcases from the Reader SOS

So the bookcases in Jaclyn’s guest room are great for storage, but they’re feeling a bit busy. She mentioned that her husband doesn’t want to part with any books, so I think it’s important to invest in some secret storage. ikea bookcase reader sosI recommend adding closed storage to their existing IKEA bookcases. Ikea sells the doors so it should be an easy weekend DIY project to put new ones on the bottom portion of the bookcases. She could then hide some of the books behind closed doors, and leave the top few shelves for decor and select books. How to add secret storage for a budget bedroom

Our open/closed built-in at our old condo was super functional. The closed storage allowed us to hide clutter, while the open storage provided me with the opportunity to add personal touches that made our living room feel pulled together.How to style built-in shelves

Jaclyn has nice decor already, but I would recommend adding another plant and a few sculptural objects. Accessories are one area where you don’t have to spend a ton of money. So get creative, shop flea markets and thrift stores, and even look around your own home to repurpose other decor! When it comes to the actual styling of the bookshelves, definitely give this blog post a read as it outlines the dos and don’ts for creating gorgeous shelves.

Oh, and a fresh coat of paint on those bookcases could go a long way. Maybe a crisp white for a fresh look?!

Finishing Touches in this Budget Bedroom

If any of you are keeping track, we are just over the $600 budget that Jaclyn was hoping to stick to for this refresh and we haven’t added curtains, bedding, or decor to this space. I’m thinking of writing an entire post on this topic, but I want to say that it’s okay to invest in your home. Sometimes people have a really unrealistic view of how much furniture and decor cost. Not everything for your home can be under $100. I would urge you to forego the extra pair of jeans and instead opt for higher-quality bedding. Or instead of buying new boots for fall, invest in a new rug that will totally transform the look of a space in your house. How many times do you go to Target to buy one thing and end up spending $100 on stuff you didn’t need? Set aside money towards decorating your home…trust me, it’s worth it.

To this end, I’m going to slightly push this budget. Styling should not be overlooked and it will truly go a long way at making this guest room feel complete!

target curtains reader sos

For this space, my next step would be adding curtains. This can absolutely be done on a tight budget. I found these great textured curtains at Target. The coloring would be such a nice complement to the wallpaper and they are available in 95″ long so they can be hung high to just graze the floor. But be sure to check out this post first, so you hang them high and wide off the windows for the best look.

Next up? Art! Since the wallpaper creates a lot of interest on the wall with the bed, I recommend placing art in other areas of the room. For the bookcase, Jaclyn could thrift frames and download a couple of prints from Etsy or the Juniper Print Shopreader sos art

Jaclyn has a larger abstract piece that may not work with the new vibes of the room. If you have art that doesn’t work with your decor anymore, don’t throw it away! Instead, paint on over it. My mom and I actually did just that this summer to an old canvas she had (the process is saved as an Instagram highlight if you want to see how ours turned out!) You just prime the entire piece with Gesso paint and then go to town creating your own abstract design with acrylic paint. Paula Gibbs art for budget bedroom

Photo via Paula Gibbs

Sometimes it’s easier when you have something to “copy” in terms of colors and shapes. For this space, I’d use this artist’s work as inspiration! And if you really don’t want to DIY it, here’s a large Scandinavian inspired print at an affordable price.

If Jaclyn could push her budget a little further, I would purchase table lamps and pillows that capture that Scandinavian vibe she loves. For the pillows, I’d go for lots of texture and muted colors within the scheme. Love this one and this one! An area rug would help further the look and there are so many budget-friendly options now. It can be tricky layering rugs over plush carpet, so a flat weave like this one would work best!

Budget Bedroom – Shop the Look

budget bedroom moodboard

Budget Breakdown

  • Wallpaper (4 rolls): $168
  • Headboard: $100
  • Ikea Doors (4): $180
  • Paint: $50
  • Curtains and Rods: $110
  • DIY Art: $10
  • Table Lamps: $75
  • Thrifted Accessories: $20

Total: $713

Here’s where we ended up with the budget. It’s a  little over, but it’s a reasonable amount to spend to refresh an entire room. And remember these changes don’t have to happen all at once. It’s totally fine to start with the wallpaper and then slowly add to the space each month. Home doesn’t happen overnight and shelling out tons of money in one swoop isn’t doable for most people. Go slow and it will come together naturally.

Designing Budget Spaces

Jan's coastal bedroom refresh

A guest room is a great place to create a budget bedroom. It isn’t used constantly and you can have some fun with DIY projects. I think Jaclyn can design a really stylish guest room without spending tons of money. But I do want to stress that it’s OKAY to invest in your home, just do it wisely in the places that matter most.

Submit your Reader SOS

I always love hearing your design dilemmas. If you have a space you want me to tackle next, email [email protected] with the subject line “READER SOS”. Please include as many photos and information as possible. Can’t wait to read…


More Reader SOS Posts

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.