before & after: rustic boy’s room redo

The neutral, sophisticated style of this boy’s room makeover from Kathleen Hertzler may be a change from the usual bright rainbow hues we associate with kids’ bedrooms, but I find the rustic, log cabin-y vibe so cozy and welcoming that I have a hard time imaging a kid not loving this room. The ceiling is gorgeous, but beyond that, I think it’s so unexpected and delightful — the perfect fuel for a kid’s imagination. I also love that Kathleen wisely perked up the neutral walls and dark ceiling with the addition of crisp gingham curtains and pops of fire engine red. Well done, Kathleen! — 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: Some evenings and a few Saturdays over the course of about 3 weeks

Cost: The only real cost was a gallon of paint ($25), the ceiling fan ($143) and the jelly jar light ($5). Everything else we already had, purchasing them at thrift stores or auctions, or they were free cast-offs.

Basic Steps: First we painted the room. It’s amazing what a little paint can do. In this case, it transformed a room from a baby nursery into a boy’s room that isn’t too “kid-ish” but will grow with Ryder. For the ceiling, we had to break down the wood, sand and clean the boards and then attach them to the ceiling. This was the most time-consuming part of the renovation but totally worth it. Lastly, we decorated with vintage items that we’ve collected over the years.

Our advice is to collect over time — there’s nothing like using something that you love and have collected over the years in a space to make it cool, unique and truly “yours.” Also, if you see something you love (and have the room to stash it somewhere), buy it. You’ll find a place for it later, I promise. I bought little boys’ decor things before I was even married. I loved what I saw and knew one day I’d (hopefully) use it, and sure enough, when the time came, I pulled them out and it was a match made in heaven.

Also, be patient; deals are out there if you take the time to look for them. I go thrifting pretty much every week. Part of it is just because that’s how I like to unwind from a long day, but I also love the thrill of finding deals. Also, I live in the country where there are auctions all the time with items that go for next to nothing. I try to take advantage of that unique opportunity. Don’t forget Craigslist, and check the free section. Many times you’ll find something someone considers trash, and you can get it for free. Think outside the box; we saw several projects that featured pallet wood on walls, but never on the ceiling. Be adventurous and just go for it! Nine times out of ten, you’ll be glad you took the plunge. — Kathleen

  1. kelly says:

    Love, love, LOVE this room! The ceiling is fantastic!

  2. monica says:

    I have three boys. This is beautiful.

  3. Elena says:

    looks like a great big boy room, ready for imagination adventures!

  4. elaine says:

    wonderful! Love it all.

  5. Thisisjoon says:

    Love the ceiling!! How cool is that and those check pattern curtains.. ding ding. Want one ;)

  6. maeve says:

    Wow, I can definitely see this used by a young boy or a teenager. Great job creating something that will give you many years of use!

  7. karoline says:

    I adore that ceiling!

  8. Andrea says:

    What an awesome room! I was just thinking that my son’s blue room was looking a little dated for his age, but didn’t know what else to do. This is very inspiring!

  9. Kaitlyn says:

    Gorgeous! I love the look of the ceiling, but I would be wary of using pallet wood because some times it’s treated chemically and those chemicals can be harmful over time. I always wonder when I see these kinds of projects if the people used heat treated pallet wood! Let’s hope so!

  10. Really handsome. Great makeover – love the play of pattern! ;)

  11. Ashley says:

    What is the paint color? I love itQ

  12. jantzie says:

    Love this ceiling!

  13. Pam says:

    Where did you get that great white cabinet in the corner? I really like it.

  14. jenn says:

    what is the paint colour and brand here? I LOVE the grey–it is ageless!!!

  15. Eileen says:

    nice contrast of ceiling fan to rustic wood…where’s the fan from?

  16. Beverly says:

    Is there an issue with bugs in the wooden ceiling pieces, inhabiting them before they come to be used as decor? I wondered about this when I saw recycled wood used as the kitchen backsplash on Design*Sponge a few weeks back.

  17. Kat says:

    Hey guys, thanks for all the awesome comments! You can find answers to your questions here–it’s a detailed post about my son’s room. And no, there weren’t any bugs in the pallet wood before we hung them on the ceiling. That would have deterred me, I’m pretty sure!

  18. finn says:

    panel walls that look great! love this.

  19. Heidi says:

    There is no way on earth I would put pallet wood inside my home, much less in my child’s bedroom. Off-gassing in a small space of potential toxins and carcinogens, bacteria and insects are some of the reasons. Outdoors only for me.

    With so many DIY projects of pallet wood these days, it’d be great if you at DesignSponge could give folks some info about possible dangers. thx!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      we’ve spoken about the possible dangers of pallet wood many, many times. there are ways to treat it to avoid the off-gassing, and i think people who want to pursue a project like this have the right to. if you choose not to have it your home, that’s clearly up to you. but i think there are a lot of people (with and without children who don’t mind putting a little extra work into the wood to treat it so it’s safe.


  20. The ceiling is fantastic. Well done and a beautiful use of pallets. I love pallet wood! Bravo!

  21. Dr. Marisa Bosler says:

    really really cool(: love it

  22. Tora says:

    LOVE IT!! Such a great blend of grown up and young boy without being too themed.

  23. RETROSMITH. says:

    A wonderful project! Have always loved upcycled timber walls/surfaces. Go Kathleen! Love the outside-the-box thinking :)

  24. Jennifer says:

    What a wonderful room!

  25. mopar says:

    What a stunning room. Love the ceiling and the gingham. And the pegboard shelf.

  26. Ilene says:

    That ceiling is the bomb! Love all of the vintage touches. I painted my teenager’s room gray and it makes a huge difference. So mature compared to his solar system room.

  27. Jordan says:

    That looks amazing!
    It really is funny how much a different paint color can do.
    Also, I have a tough time thrifting, I would love to find pieces of furniture that have been lightly used or just furniture that I can refurbish myself, but I have no Idea where to find that kind of stuff.

  28. Kat says:

    Jordan–my usual hot spots are Goodwill, local thrift stores, and auctions. I’m constantly amazed at what people consider “junk” that you’re able to get at next-to-nothing prices. Of course, some of the stuff is junky-looking, but I always look past its current condition and see if it has potential. There’s so many things that were in really rough shape that I painted–this whole room is a prime example. Every single piece of furniture was either free or thrifted. I love the thrill of thrifting–you really should try it! You’ll be hooked!! You can read about all my finds from this room here.

  29. Peregrine says:

    How did you mount the pallet wood to the ceiling?

  30. Sarah says:

    Very sweet room – I love the idea of more ‘grown up’ (i.e., less cutesy) spaces for children that can integrate well with the rest of the house. I would have died for a room like this as a kid! Ryder is a lucky boy!

  31. Amy says:

    I’m dying to create a wall or even just a headboard out of recycled wood. I’m pinning images using it like crazy! I did read in a post on a blog somewhere that there are pallettes made without urea formaldehyde and other toxins. You just have to ask for it. Maybe places like Whole Foods would do that? I’m not sure, I haven’t started researching yet.
    Great job!

  32. Jillian says:

    i love love love love love this

  33. Jenna says:

    This is so grown up, I LOVE it. What a dramatic change from the nursery!! :) We are currently collecting stuff for my sons new “big boy” room, and this is just so inspiring!! FANTASTIC job!

  34. Heidi says:

    Grace, maybe my tone didn’t come across right. I have seen a large amount of posts in blog land about pallet wood without discussion of possible dangers. (And, although I am a faithful DS reader, I unfortunately didn’t recall any discussions about it.) Because it wasn’t mentioned in your post or hers, I thought it warranted a comment. I wasn’t trying to pass judgement, just that it scares the flying bejeezus out of me.


  35. Kayla Rae says:

    Love this! The celing in particular is amazing, I would love to do this somwhere in my home.


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