before and after

Before & After: A Yorkshire Bedroom Goes from Beige to Beautiful

by Maxwell Tielman



IKEA, as a store and a concept, can be pretty divisive. On one hand, there are those IKEA zealots who hold the low-priced furniture retailer in the same regard as a church—fanatically obsessed, somewhat understandably, with the store’s seemingly limitless bounty of affordable designs. On the other hand, there are those that seem to have taken on IKEA-bashing as their own personal mission, taking any opportunity to deride the company’s ubiquity and assumed shoddy quality. I’ve never quite understood these detractors, though. While I wouldn’t align myself as far as the zealots, I have to say that I do love me some IKEA. With the right vision, a bit of imagination, and a willingness to assemble flat-packed furniture, IKEA designs can be made to compliment almost any space beautifully (and the affordability is a major plus)! This project, sent to us by Yorkshire-based blogger Anna Nicholson, is a perfect example.

Faced with a bedroom that looked like something out of Privet Drive in Harry Potter and a relatively finite budget, Anna and her husband Mat knew that they would need to get creative—and creative they got! “We moved into the house a few months ago,” Anna writes, “and have begun gradually dragging the décor out of the 1970s. The bedroom was our first major project, and we knew we wanted to bring in some bright colors and be more daring decorators than before. So we went with greys, turquoise blue and bright yellow and weren’t afraid to mix patterns and prints.With a whole house to renovate, we kept the cost as low as possible by shopping at IKEA, DIYing and upcycling.”

After removing some built-in cabinets that were doing nothing for the space, Anna and Mat wasted no time in completely transforming the room. With large pieces purchased at IKEA, the couple dotted the space with family heirlooms and simple DIY projects, all tied together with a bright, refreshing palette. The end result, despite being a mashup of sources and time periods, is beautifully cohesive. It is a energizing, fresh space that is modern while still complimentary of the older pieces in the room. Check out all of the photos, Anna DIY tips, and furniture sources after the jump! —Max

ba_yorkshirebedroom_2 ba_yorkshirebedroom_3

Above image: Bed is a discontinued IKEA design, Lack bedside tables from IKEA, pillows from H&M, curtains are Ashley Wilde’s Emerson pattern. Walls are painted with Dulux’s “Steel Symphony 2” paint.


Above image: Anna created this abstract piece of art by framing circle-cut pieces of paint chips in an IKEA Ödby Frame.


Above image: Anna repainted the bases of two old lamps using Dulux’s “Lemon Drizzle” paint. She covered the lampshades with FabricSecret’s Summerland fabric.


Above image: Malm Dressing Table from IKEA, vintage mirror from Anna grandparents.


Above image: Anna refinished and painted her grandfather’s old chair using Dulux’s “Lemon Drizzle,” the same paint used on her lamp bases.


Above image: Malm drawers from IKEA.


Above image: Pax Wardrobes from IKEA.



1. Zigzag Fabric | 2. IKEA Odby Frame | 3. IKEA Malm Drawers | 4. Dulux’s “Steel Symphony 2” paint | 5. Dulux’s “Lemon Drizzle” paint | 6. Vienna Side Chair | 7. IKEA Malm Dressing Table

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  • The footboard is too high, it would make sitting at that chair claustrophobic. Of course, that sharp-edged glass desk top looks painful and uninviting anyway. If it is going to look that unfriendly and be no nonfunctional, then why bother? Instead, just put a comfortable chair in the corner, with a small low table to put things on.

  • Bed is really awesome, but i don’t remember seeing this style in Ikea US. The rest of the room looks great. They did a nice job!

    The before & after is my favorite feature of your blog…thanks for sharing

  • Love the color palette but not sure if I would have gotten rid of the built ins, maybe just refaced them instead. English houses never have enough closet space.

  • What lovely colours! The difference in the space is amazing.

    It’s not until you flick through the photos you realise the size of the room. Maybe instead of the desk a floating shelf would’ve probably have been just as useful.

  • I love love love the gray and white! All the colors work really well. I’d be afraid to use that shade of yellow/green, personally, but it turned out so well, I might have to rethink that fear. The black bed frame is the perfect color. Anything else would have disappeared. I love it.

  • To be fair to the Ikea detractors, the quality of the flat-pack furniture is terrible. We are zero for three on Ikea purchases: splintered particleboard and nonfunctional drawer slides.

    Ikea is fast fashion for the home, a quick and temporary patch when the budget is tight.

  • Regarding the comment about the the space between the bed and the desk – while the space may seem cramped compared to North American standards where houses can be ridiculously large, in Europe and the UK people tend to live in smaller homes/apartments and tend to make maximum use of their floor plan.

  • Love the colors – especially in the curtains, but something about the balance between the small artwork above the bed and the tiny nightstands on either side of the bed isn’t quite right. The scale is a bit off. I also don’t quite understand the closets now, but I think that it’s great that they fit in the room, I just wish I had a better view of them. Really brightened up the room and kudos for getting a workspace, closets and a queen (or double?) into a tight space!

  • I rarely comment, but although the colors are lovely, I find the space planning in this room terrible. I agree with the comments about how tight the space is between the desk and the foot of the bed is – it would be very uncomfortable to sit there. Also the corner storage cabinet is large and bulky in the small space. Keeping the built-ins, or replacing them with a cabinet that just went against one wall (to read as a thick wall rather than furniture) would keep the space feeling more open.

  • Every room in England looks like the before!! I have slept in the exact same room, just different owner. The after looks super swish!!

  • This is exactly how a home should look like. Ingredients: Old things you have and love, new once you like and a big part of DIY and Ideas with the feeling for the personal design. Whether the furnitures are from Ikea or a Design Studio, best way to choose a piece in my eyes is you see it, you have the feeling this must be yours and you buy it. Ok, I have to admit the money. But if you are creative you can master it with even the smallest budget.
    What you write about Ikea reminds me to a funny situation. A good friend of my parents, proud that her son did so well, told my mum in disgust:”Can you imagine, they bought an Ikea kitchen! Ikea in his wonderful house! Driving a Porsche and having an Ikea kitchen! Impossible!”
    Answer of my mum: “Oh, my girl has an open kitchen to the dining room. Kitchen from Ikea, dining room from Rosenthal. She has our family’s antique doll’s kitchen as eye catcher there, beside metal flowers by a designer and did smash the tiles to make a special mosaic combined with Rosenthal china on the floor and did a sideboard in the dining room herself.” Unfortunately I could not see the face of the friend. ;-)

  • Yeah! A room size that most people in the UK can relate to. Land price is far too high to build the barn sized homes that are so popular in the States. It is much harder to be creative when space is limited. Utility rooms are a bonus. Mudrooms are practically unheard off and even hallways are not always found ! We even usually manage with one bathroom … Yes, that’s ONE bathroom. It’s easy to artfully arrange furniture in a large space but I think Anna did a great job fitting everything she needs in the space. There are huge numbers of this type of house in the UK and this bedroom will no doubt be the largest . The second will be the same size or slightly smaller and the third will be barely big enough to fit a full size single bed and a bedside table. Occasionally the attic will have been converted to make another bedroom. These homes , depending on where they are in the UK can be priced at £500 k if not more. So not cheap, lower class housing. I lived in a house like this when i was younger, with 6 people!I would like to
    see American designers cope with these types of houses. Fitting everything in that is needed for everyday living and keep it stylish. Well done Anna . I appreciate what you did in the room with the space constraints. The people who left slightly negative comments just have no idea

  • Hi everyone, and thanks for the positive comments! As you say it’s not the biggest room but it’s pretty standard for the UK. And you’ve got to work with what you’ve got! As I said to Max, we spent a lot of time thinking about layout and planning and it feels lots more spacious this way. The old built-ins were weak and falling apart and if we’d put the new ones there in their place we wouldn’t even have been able to fit the bed in! There is ample space at the dressing table and it has a big drawer for my make up and jewellery – which is an advantage over a shelf. Every morning I sit there and think how lucky I am and how much I love this room!
    Bradford – the budget given here included replastering but not flooring. We bought the solid oak flooring several years ago for another project but never used it. The value of it is probably about £300.
    Thanks again everyone for your feedback!

  • The built in closets from the before picture would have made it impossible to fit anything other than a single (twin) bed. Love the renovation and creativity. Trashing Ikea is ok (not all their stuff is quality) but the non-constructive criticism of the “after” pictures is pointless.

  • I agree with Carole about the corner wardrobe unit; I would’ve kept it flat myself, to open up the space more. I don’t see what the fuss is about the desk/chair at the foot of the bed. It looks to me like a decent enough space. I’ve been to the UK and I get why anyone would want to maximize space. Nice job on the colours. For me the bedside lamps are too matchy-matchy, but otherwise, love the grey, black and yellow combo. Lovely curtains and windows!

  • I think some people are really confused about how the average American actually lives. Most of us do NOT live in enormous McMansions. There are lots of people living in small apartments as well as smaller (often older) houses. And the point of Cyndi’s comment is not that the room is too small; it’s that the footboard is too large, and I agree. Answering her comment with what amounts to “but our houses are smaller here” is actually the opposite of a reasonable rebuttal – if you all live in such small spaces, you should know how to make the most of them. A bed with an enormous footboard is not making the most of the available space.

  • I was born and raised in England, in a “two-up, two-down” (2 rooms upstairs, 2 rooms downstairs), and I have lived in America for over 3 decades. I do not live in a McMansion, however, everyone in my English family is awestruck when seeing my 2800 sq ft home. The color scheme, though not my taste, is brilliant and the arrangement of furniture is practical for the situation. Any negative comment on space should be discounted because unless you have actually lived in a normal European space, you have no idea.

  • i had the privilege of living in England for a year when I was 11. My bedroom looked EXACTLY like the one pictured. down to the color of carpet and curtains and the wall of built-ins. the only thing different was the view out of the window!
    row houses are very narrow and “cozy” :). awesome change of scene! and I’m sure keeping the corner unit is out of necessity – where else will they hang their clothes as there are no closets? we live in an older home now with no closets, no bathroom cabinets of any sort (i’ve fixed that with a dresser) and our dining room armoir doubles as our closet.

  • Oh, this is SO nice! Loving the chevron pattern and the bright yellow and green hues! Such a nice makeover this is.

  • I think its great! its lovely to see some before & afters in the UK, especially ones that are outside of London. :)

  • I think you did an amazing job of making a drab space lively and happy. The proportions see to be in order for a UK home. There seems to be an ample amount of space between the bed and the desk chair. The colors are so perky and beautiful. Great before and after.