before & after: melissa’s “dungeon bedroom” makeover

today’s final before & after is one of my favorite i’ve seen in a while. melissa from ISLY recently made over her “dungeon” bedroom using…less than $100! i’m so floored by her thrifty chic makeover that i had to give it its own post. here’s the background on melissa’s bedroom: while looking for rentals last year, melissa and her husband found this apt listed as a two bedroom. however, the second bedroom was this basement bedroom that was basically a mess (including a mysterious puddle in the middle of the room). they signed a lease agreeing that the owner would fix the room, but nothing happened (apparently the landlord’s grandson was accepted to dental school while refinishing the basement and left before the job was done). after living without a closet or dresser for nearly two months, melissa’s husband decided to install a metal rod into the ceiling studs of the closet using industrial chains (the closet was never finished or framed out) so they could have something to hang their clothes on. after 5 months of living downstairs melissa and her husband decided to make the changes themselves. those included: a total white paint start-over, new bedding, some additional storage, and lots of colorful accessories that would brighten up the space. i really love what they did with the ceiling- it looks like they’re sleeping under clouds. i’m so, so impressed with their determination, craftiness, and budget-conscious ways i can do nothing else but give them two very enthusiastic thumbs up and a huge “CONGRATS!”. click here to read more about melissa’s makeover at her blog. thanks, melissa!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

CLICK HERE for more images from melissa’s basement bedroom makeover after the jump!


Oh My gosh.. isn’t white the best “color” Ever? It makes everything so clean & bright.. such a fantastic job on the dungeon bedroom!!


*long pause* they did this for less than $100?! I’m blown away! It’s really pretty. And I too love, love, love the idea of sleeping under all that fluffy goodness. It’s beautiful, and looks nothing like a dungeon anymore.


this is a perfect thing to do with wood paneling that is beautiful but sometimes too much.


can you share the details on how you created that cool ceiling treatment?


Absolutely stunning! This was really all for under $100? I’m so impressed, and now I feel guilty about constantly thinking/telling myself that I’ll remake some of my rooms “when I have the money.”


all for under $100?!!
can’t believe it’s the same room!


All I have to say is… IMPRESSIVE! You would be hard pressed to call that room a “dungeon” now. Congrats to them!


That is the kind of decorating I can really get behind! Great before and after photos!

Enjoy your new room!


I love what she’s done and I’m blown away that it was done for that cost! Love the color combo.

I would be scared of the ceiling (Will it fall and smother me? Are there spiders/bugs gathering in it?) but those are just my hang-ups :)

Great Job!


it certainly is a great effort, and its certainly no fault of theirs, but… no windows?


I LOVE this! Could we maybe get a rough break-down? I’m curious to what they bought or already had- like that headboard?


Not a big fan of the “clouds” but beautiful job with the rest of the place!


I love the little wooden boxes/frames on the bedside table and shelves. Anyone know where I can find something like that?


This looks lovely, but I am concerned about this room being used as a bedroom. I don’t see any egress windows; I see a small awning window, but that is not large enough for a bedroom. Most building codes require a window of a certain minimum size in any bedroom — not necessarily to let the occupant escape, but to permit a fully-outfitted firefighter to get INTO the room.
I hope I’m wrong and there IS another window not shown in the pictures. If not, please, please, please reconsider using this space as a bedroom. It’s just not worth the risk.

Kelli Davis

Um, I’m going to need a pricing breakdown. I’m sorry, but I can’t see ANY way they would have spent less than $100!!!

Sarah Ann Noel

This gives me hope and a vision because I am converting a basement “dungeon” (with wood paneling too!) into a creative studio. Wish me luck!


This is a really fantastic before & after. Who would have thought that something as simple as white paint could make such a difference? And the ceiling is a such a creative way to also transform the room. But what I love most is that yellow rocker!


A lot of the stuff I used to decorate the room I already had on hand, i.e. curtains & curtain rods for the closet, bedding, side tables, artwork, rocking chair etc; which is why the revamp cost so little.

The bedroom has a window, it’s about 2 feet x 3 feet. you don’t really see the full size because of the billowing sheets. The house was built in the early 1930s which explains the tininess of the window. It also hasn’t been updated downstairs and it’s located in a historical district, both likely reasons why it isn’t larger.


You would never know that this room was in a basement by looking at the after photos! They did such an awesome job.


Wow! I couldn’t see the “After” photo on my screen until after I’d read about the situation & scrolled down. I thought oh, maybe they made that dismal room somewhat livable, but in fact it’s beautiful! So cozy and inviting – what a wonderful re-do!


Talk about a makeover. Sheesk. That is amazing! I knew she was talented but to rescue that room under any conditions was miraculous, let alone on a shoestring!


From dank dungeon to sleeping in a cloud! So beautiful and creative.


Nice!! I hope your landlord gives you a break for doing all the work yourself after waiting and waiting. It look fantastic. did you make the headboard?


i love love the clouds ceiling! where did you buy the ceiling material and how can you keep it clean?!


Beth, I bought the headboard at a thrift store for $8, can you believe it?

Ish, I just bought 4 white bedsheets at a thrift store & stapled them to the ceiling. They stay pretty clean because there’s faux wood paneling also stapled to the ceiling supports. Haven’t had any problems with bugs making themselves at home, either.


Ok Melissa – now we HAVE to see the rest of the house. If you did this with limited resources I’d love to see what you did in the rest. Hey come to think about it why aren’t you sleeping in the other bedroom?

Emilie R.

Did you have to sand the walls first? I’m working with varnished wood in my house and can’t find a primer that works.

a little glimmer

Wow!! From dismal to delightful. What a fantastic job and on such a tight budget. Love the ceiling, love the white, but especially love the yellow rocking chair. Bravo.


Amazing change! So chic and simple. Makes the room look brighter and bigger. I love the colour combination. Looks like the one in my blog!


Not sure why you would say dungeon. It sure looked like a sauna to me. Anyway I like it but it looks sort of old swedish to new swedish (ikea) to me. A whitewash tint would have done the job. Love what she did with the ceiling – it adds a dreamy element to it.

jessica define

Wow, Melissa! Great new basement room, from the pictures it looks much much much nicer and brighter! I adore your rocking chair!

Design Fixation

A perfect example of turning lemons into lemonade. Wow! The pops of citrus inspired color are genius, they really make the space feel HAPPY.


Absolutely wonderful! It’s so bright and well lit- The ceiling is so whimsical! Great job!


I usually sort of glaze over these Before & Afters because I feel like many times they end up not being my style. But HOLY COW. This is beautiful. Absolutely inspirational. I wish I had wood paneling (almost), just so I could paint it white. Nice job.


melissa, i don’t even know you and i’m glowing with pride for you!! great makeover! :)


Hardwired lighting fixture pulled through drapey billowy fabric? HUGE no-no. Major fire hazard.


Wow! This is absolutely incredible! I’m worried about a potential fire hazard with the drapey fabric on the ceiling though.


The ceiling looks great, but all I can think of is: Fire Hazard. Did you use flame-resistant fabric/padding? (I’m sure it’s doable.)

I hate to say it, but that could be a very pretty death trap. :(


and the 2010 word(s) of the year is (are)….death trap. i can’t tell you how many times people seem to throw around that term these days…


Lovely…but again….what a little good lighting will do….


Wow…I actually exclaimed out loud at that transformation! My sister wondered what was so amazing and came into the room to see what I was so excited about. She and I both agreed that the room is absolutely fantastic. GREAT job, Melissa and husband! This has given me great inspiration. Even more impressed that you guys did such a wonderful job for under $100!


Where, oh where did those bins come from? The ones you can stack and still get into? Must have.


Response to Emilie R.: My husband and I are painting over similar (but maybe older) paneling in our kitchen. We have been sanding, priming with an oil-based primer, then using a latex paint. Working well for us so far! On her blog, she says she spent only $28 on paint so I’m also wondering what she did about sanding/priming.


Such a difference, it’s gorgeous! I LOVE the chair and the ceiling.

What did you use to do the ceiling? I’ve been wanting to do something similar (my bedroom ceiling is abysmal)

kathleen switzer

would love to know how to do a ceiling like that……this room is awesome !


I love this makeover…but the spider hater in me just KNOWS they are there lurking in all the folds of that fabric lol! This is beautiful though!!!!