before and after

before & after: dark and moody bedroom makeover

by Kate Pruitt

Dark walls have been quite popular lately, and I think this bedroom makeover from Molly Molina Crawford provides a perfect example of why this trend is here to stay. The patterned rugs, the gold accents, the colorful artwork — everything just pops against those rich, sultry walls. Colors seem more vivid, whites feel super crisp and every pattern feels a little more special and sophisticated when it’s offset by a dark hue.

Molly’s done an amazing job at keeping things streamlined, fresh and bright, and I’m impressed by how many DIYs she’s tackled in order to transform the room on a low budget and reuse many of her own pieces. Last but not least, I love her decision to add the detailing on the roman shades — it’s the perfect finishing touch to this glamorous navy and red room. Awesome job, Molly! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump!

Time: 6 months

Cost: $500 (paint, bed frame, end table, fabric and trim for shades, accessories, some bedding and rug cleaning)

Basic Steps: The original room was painted yellow. We lived with it for two years before painting it Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. The room gets a good deal of natural light, and I thought it could handle the dark color. Because it is SO dark, the walls actually recede, and it does not feel closed-in at all. I created a mood board of rooms I admired and learned from them. I brought in a lot of white — white bedding, white shades, white accents. I also kept the colors in the room pretty controlled to a certain palette: navy, black, red, white, gold. These colors were found in the rug, and also in my husband’s artwork that hung in the “Before” room. I was most surprised by how much more pulled together the exact same elements looked in a navy room rather than the yellow one. Even his Fender guitar amp fit in perfectly.

I painted the bedside spindle table Martha Stewart’s Vermilion. On top of it is a lamp from Goodwill that I sprayed black and added a Target shade to. On the other side of the bed is an old brass trunk that was mine as a teen and a brass lamp from a thrift store with a new gold-lined black shade. Above the dresser I hung a gallery of Italian mirrors that belonged to my grandmother. The artwork over and beside the bed is by my husband, Taylor, and the paintings beside the étagère are paint-by-numbers done by my great-grandfather.

I made the Greek key roman shades using ordinary mini-blinds, fabric and trim. My husband and I also undertook a fairly extensive (read: pain in the neck) stripping project to get the walnut-stained Jenny Lind bed down to its natural wood. We really love the way it brings a grounded, earthy element into a room with its fair share of glitz.

My advice: Take time to think about what you really want and how to get there. Build a board (hello, Pinterest!) and figure out why you like what you like. Then don’t be scared to go for it! Be confident in your vision and give yourself time to do it thoughtfully. If you are dealing with a lot of family hand-me-downs, try to think of them in a new way. I love classic pieces, but try to make them less old lady-like. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new projects. Making the roman shades and stripping the bed were hugely daunting, but because we were doing the work ourselves with a minimal cash outlay, I figured we didn’t have a lot to lose. And in the end, we have a room we really love. — Molly


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  • Lovely! Most of our walls are white, but my favorite room in our condo is actually the guest bathroom, b/c it’s painted this same lovely shade (or really darn close) and everything pops so beautifully.

  • Molly’s guest room is as comfortable as it is beautiful!
    We were guests last week-end.

  • I adore this! I have to say, I am exceedingly confused – are there two beds in there? Or did you change your mind about the bed frame at some point? Forgive me if this is clear to everyone else, I may not have had enough coffee this morning.

  • Ok, seriously I have to say that stripped bed is really beautiful. I have seen those around and never resonated with it, NOW, your bed is one of my favorites! Great room, Great job!

  • I love Jenny Lind beds and have been searching for one for a while now, but all I come across are 3/4 or single beds. What size is your bed, Molly?

  • Thank you all for the nice comments!

    Abby, the bedframe was added later. So some of the pics show the room before we finished stripping and sanding the frame. But it’s in there to stay now!

  • Really like this, and I never thought I would like a dark blue room, it really made the bookcase and artwork pop. Love the assymmetry and that the furniture is not matchy matchy – yet works! The lamps, red side table, and mirror collection are killer!

  • Please share how you made the shades – I so want them for my little studio apartment! Thank you!!

  • Lovely room! (Though when I looked at the ‘before’ pic before reading the post, I thought, geez, it doesn’t look too dark and gloomy to me!)

    Looking at the bed brought up a question: when I put a queen-size comforter into a queen-size duvet cover, it never seems to fill up the cover completely, and I’m left with a few inches of “empty” fabric hanging on either side of the bed, which looks awful. I tend to use lightweight (thinner) comforters — could that be the problem? I just can never get that nicely plump, filled look to my comforter, so the bed looks a little… sad.

  • Huh, I thought I’d hate it but I love it, I really do. Love that navy blue shade, esp with the semi-gloss finish. Great job!

  • @Rachel, ours is a double bed. They are definitely more common in the smaller sizes, though!

    @Cynthia, I followed a couple different tutorials for the roman shades. You can see the whole endeavor here:

    @Alix, I have had the same problem. On this bed the duvet looks good because it’s a Full bed and since so much bedding is a Full/Queen it appears a little oversized. When we got our Queen bed, it went the other way–puny looking! So, I go up to King duvets for the Queen bed so it looks more luxurious. And don’t we all deserve luxury?

  • @Molly: Do you put a king-size comforter into a king-size or queen-size cover? You make a great point about going a size up from the bed… I just wish my comforter didn’t look so deflated all the time!

  • Amazing – that bedframe is exactly what I am on the hunt for. I have a small Jenny Lind bed I painted red for my son, but now I am thinking that when he gets older I should strip it back and make a pretty day bed. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  • Lovely! We’re planning to paint our bedroom a very dark blue/grey and your room has confirmed to me how great it can look.

  • wow, this turned out great! I got navy wall paint standing idle in a cupboard somewhere. It’s a bit more blueish than your shade. Maybe, in a next home :)

  • My guest room is seriously sad right now (graveyard for discarded furniture, unattractive mismatched linens…super lame), so you have totally inspired me to try a new paint color and totally new “look.” Thanks!

  • Alix and Molly: Tailoring down your duvet cover to fit your comforter snugly is soooo easy to do–Just turn the duvet inside out, pop in the comforter and shake it over to one side. Now fasten a row of safety pins along the ‘line’ where the comforter edge is. Pull out the comforter and sew up that line and it should be the correct fit (if you need to ‘center’ your textile pattern then just pin up each side to fit). Turn back to the good side and it’s ready!

  • @Alix, my mom used to work at Restoration Hardware … Trade Secret: she told me they PUT 2 COMFORTERS IN ALL THE DUVET COVERS. That’s why they all look so poofy. Sets unrealistic expectations, yes?!

  • wowza. i really love that this is purely some paint and furniture rearrangement. really isnpiring!

  • I’ve been wanting to paint my master bedroom navy and had almost pulled the trigger. Then, like a fool, I spoke to a real estate agent about resale values and prepping the house for eventual sale. She said only taupe and sage green paint After seeing your lovely room with the light I’m doing it. Navy all the way.

  • Thanks again for the awesome comments, everyone.

    @Lisa—Sneaky, sneaky! I will have to try this trick!

    @CV JN, what you pointed out is one of my favorite parts about the whole makeover! I love my furniture so much more with the navy backdrop.

    @Kim, go for it! Sure, you may have to repaint it eventually, but YOU’RE the one that’s going to live there now. Might as well enjoy it!

  • Lisa … your room looks beautiful. A local chocolate/coffee shop has the same colours and I have never seen it before – its the most wonderful place to visit; It feels so luxurious and stylish! You a brave for giving it a go .. especially seeing just about all new houses in Australia go white…white…and yes..white! Well done – everything blends together beautfully

  • Love the change. I have never been afraid to use dark colors on walls… gorgeous transformation.

  • Wow, stunning! I have the exact same bed painted black; I look at it every week thinking ooooh I want to sand you down, but I don’t know if I have the gumption to see it through. Just HOW hard was it? Any tips? What was your process? I absolutely LOVE the look of the natural wood in your photos, and I’ve never seen it in a J.L. bed (probably for the very reason I’m dreading doing it – all those spindles!). The paint-by-numbers are beautiful and charming additions since they’re family heirlooms!

  • It is amazing how a simple change on adding contrast, layers the elements of the space bringing the details more recognition.

  • Love this! Our bedroom is Benjamin Moore Champion Cobalt…..a lovely deep warm blue that evolves beautifully with changing light. I challenge anyone to paint at least one room in their home a deep saturated color, you’ll be amazed at how wonderful it will make you feel.