Remodel and tiling of fireplace in a Victorian bedroom

Why I Designed Our Guest Bedroom First in Our New Home

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At this point, our house is (mostly) livable, but few projects are completedโ€”most are far from it. So it gives me great joy that we finally finished one room from start to finish. In fact, I love it so much, I can often be found just standing in the Lemon Room, gazing at it lovingly.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

But first things first: We had to strip the carpet, scrape the ceilings, sand and paint the ceiling, cover the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Swiss Coffee and have a hardwood floor guy come and refinish the poplar that lay beneath (yes, this is the original 1800s floor). This was what it looked like when we moved in:

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

The inspiration for this room came from a lone chandelier. While visiting a friend down in Shelbyville for lunch one day last summer, I popped into an antiques mall. I’ve never overly wild about yellow—and I didn’t even own a house at that point—but I saw this beauty for $45 and had to own it.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Little did I know, a few months later, my collection of yellow home accents would be out of control.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

But next, I found the gray (non-matching) bedside tables after I went and picked up our own his and her dressers from an antiques dealer I met via Craigslist. She sold (past tense, she no longer works there) out of La Vie en Rose Cottage in Nashville; I have since become pals with the owners and buy many of my antique pieces from their store. They ran for $50 and $65, I believe.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Then I bought the curtains. We have a whole lot of windows—66 to be exact—and due to the hexagonal shape of them in many rooms, we can’t hang drapery. The Lemon Room was one of the few we could add a couple curtains for decorative effect, and so I snatched up these Z Gallerie Mimosa panels in charcoal when on sale last fall. (You’ll soon learn I don’t really believe in buying things full price.)

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Next up: the runner. I wanted something to lighten up the room more and give the open space some pizazz, so I found this zigzag wool rug from West Elm for $149, and waited until they were having a 30 percent off special to purchase it. I mean c’mon, like I was going to own my first house and not have a trace of chevron anywhere!

Chevron rug

We still had my beloved Vera Wang queen mattress from San Francisco and decided to put that in the guest room in favor of a king in ours (for the record: the Lemon Room bed is far more comfortable than ours, and I sleep across the hall often as a result!). I didn’t think we’d do a headboard, and then I found this scroll frame at Pier1 Imports on sale for $149, so I bought it and we spray painted silver to match the rest of the room.

Katy in the Lemon Room

SVV found the antique armoire from the 1920s via Craigslist in Brentwood for $265 and hauled it home in a huge storm, which was fun. I have been known to peruse sites likeย One’s King Lane regularly and found this mirror for $80 on Joss & Main.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Over Christmas in Memphis, we went to my cousin’s favorite homes store, I.O. Metro, where I purchased both the geometric pillow ($70) and the umbrella stand ($80). The lamp stands and shades came from World Market (around $40 per lamp), and the mug ($8) and water glasses ($4 each) came from Anthropologie. The other little odds and ends like the vintage clock and the frame ($5 each) came from various nicknack and secondhand stores.

Lemon Room

I then put fake flowers from IKEA and Z Gallerie (around $8 a bunch) inside it in lieu of umbrellas, and this might be my favorite part of the room because the guest doesn’t know it’s there until they shut the door to go to bed, then bam! A colorful pop of sunshine greets them.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

In January, you may recall that we finally tiled the ugly painted fireplace. It went from this:

Lemon Room, Before

To this:

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

The new sunflower hue added a lot of character to a formerly drab room. Finally, last week, we hung the three city prints I bought from BirdAve last fall (a bundle of three 16x20s for $120)—the three cities near and dear to my heart, San Francisco, New York and Nashville—in the silver IKEA frames I purchased in Atlanta ($15 each).

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Just when I thought the room was done, I was in Pier1 with my mom last week and found these turquoise pillows for $15 apiece. Originally, the whole room was going to be canary yellow and slate gray, until I added the city prints and really liked the shade of blue BirdAve offered.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Now all that’s left to do is find some cute tie-backs for the curtains. I had thought I wanted to hang one of our photos in canvas form over the fireplace, but I think there’s enough going on in the room already. Besides, then it would distract from the lovely piece of artwork my cousin Kelly made.

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

Ella approves.

Ella in the Lemon Room

So…what do you think? More importantly, now that one guest room is all ready to welcome visitors, when are you coming to stay?

Guest Bedroom Renovation: Yellow and Gray

  • April 3, 2013
    Karen Loftus

    Love it!!! you are amazing!

  • April 3, 2013
    Briel K.

    For some reason when I saw this room on Instagram I didn’t realize it was at your house. I thought it was a cute little b&b somewhere. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love it!!! I love the colors and the curtains and the bedspread…everything! Nice job!

    • April 4, 2013

      Why thank you! Maybe someday (way, way, way down the line), it will be a B&B =)

  • April 3, 2013

    I think it looks great! I love the prints over the bed and need one! Atlanta and Chattanooga!

  • April 3, 2013

    I absolutely LOVE this!! Looking at interior design and gorgeous rooms are absolutely my favourite thing, and I love what you did with all of this! The yellow is an amazing touch – who would’ve thought it would go so well?

    • April 10, 2013

      Thank you so much! I got a bit obsessed and just ordered a set of patio chairs in the same color ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • April 3, 2013

    You are AMAZING!!! I love how this came out! Who knew lemon yellow could be made into such an incredibly chic statement!

  • April 3, 2013

    Love this!! So awesome! I am loving the yellow + teal, I am in the process of reworking my living room with mustard and peacock, so this post hits the spot EXACTLY!


    (Did I mention I love it? Oh. I love it.)


    • April 4, 2013

      Oooh I love the mental image of mustard and peacock! Hope you post photos!

  • April 3, 2013

    Wow – what a beautiful home!!

    My husband and I ran away from home six years ago and we have been traveling full-time in an RV and a sailboat since then. We are now accustomed to living in very small quarters, so all those bedrooms and beautiful furnishings look like truly divine luxury to me!!

    Someday we’ll go back to sticks and bricks — I dream of a home like yours eventually — but for now our lives are on the road!!!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

    • April 10, 2013

      We can switch lives and homes at some point, k? Scott and I loved our RV lifestyle two years ago and dream about someday doing a longer trip (we only had two months last time).

  • April 3, 2013

    Man, I wish MY bedroom looked like that, never mind the guest room. Beautiful!

    • April 11, 2013

      Oh yeah, my master is nowhere near as inviting (other than the fireplace!). That will be a task we tackle somewhere far down the line… =)

  • April 3, 2013

    Wow! The room looks so welcoming! Thank you so much for including our city prints. Very honoured to be on your blog again. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 4, 2013

      You are welcome! I’m so glad I found your site through Misadventures with Andi, as the three prints are my favorite part of our whole house =) I’m sure I’ll be buying more from you guys when we get to the home office reno!

  • April 3, 2013

    It looks really beautiful–I love the colors and how bright it is.

  • April 3, 2013

    I really like the Lemon room even though yellow is not usually one of my favored colors. I’ll stay, just don’t know when. Is it a working fireplace?

    • April 4, 2013

      All six fireplaces are functional; however, five are coal-burning and one is gas, so we’ll probably never actually use them!

  • April 4, 2013

    1. I love original hardwood flooring- it’s gorgeous!
    2. I second the chevron pattern. Can’t live without it.
    3. I hope you’ll save a night for me this summer when I swing through Nashville ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Awesome job Kristin! And I love the color scheme.

    • April 11, 2013

      I hope you really mean it because I would LOVE for you to come stay! You know you’re always welcome! (And I totally own you an email.)

  • April 4, 2013

    I want to come and stay in your house!

    • April 4, 2013

      Come whenever (assuming I’m here)! =)

  • April 4, 2013

    What a beautiful, stylish room! I love that you shared the shopping info. It’s enough to make me want to buy a house and start decorating (if not for that whole mortgage business.)

    PS – who would cover that gorgeous wood floor with carpet??

    • April 4, 2013

      Right? That’s what I want to know! We thought surely the floor must be damaged beneath for someone to put that terrible carper on it. But no, we just had to have a hardwood guy refinish it (we could have done this ourselves but were in a time crunch before moving it), and it turned out to be my favorite floor in the whole house.

      Re: the mortgage business, you just need to move to Tennessee…our mortgage is less than half what our rent for a one-bedroom apartment was in San Francisco! Inconceivable!

  • April 4, 2013

    It looks awesome! My latest project has been the guest bedroom, as well. I think it’s a great place to use some bright colors, since it isn’t necessarily a space you’ll be in all the time. I went with gray and coral (both more pink and more peach), with pops of turquoise and smokey purple, but I did consider a gray + yellow theme, too!

    And now that room is nicer than the master bedroom. Better get on that!

    • April 4, 2013

      Ha! Same with ours! We haven’t done much with the master yet, aside from the windows, hardwood floor and fireplace reno.

      I LOVE gray and coral—I wanted to do that color palette but ran out of rooms! Do you have pictures of it on your blog?

      • April 4, 2013

        No pictures yet – we still haven’t gotten around to putting up the new baseboards or hanging the closet door. Hopefully soon!

  • April 4, 2013

    gorgeous! (and I, for one, enever tire of hearng about the house — in fact, would love to hear/read more! I know you’re a travel writer, not a home blogger ๐Ÿ™‚ — but I wouldn’t mind reading an odd story here and there about the renovation….)

    • April 11, 2013

      OK, good to know! I seriously would blog MORE about the house if we had more finished projects to share, ha ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • April 4, 2013

    So beautiful! I love it! You guys are amazing.

  • April 4, 2013

    The BirdAve prints are my favorite part too!! Do you accept permanent visitors?

    • April 11, 2013

      Only if they don’t hiss at me in the mornings…

  • April 4, 2013

    Gorgeous! Seriously–please help me decorate my house? If I ever get one? ๐Ÿ˜€

  • April 4, 2013

    the original url for ‘lemon room’ didnt work [dead link from home page], did you change it to ‘home renovation bedroom’? i had to dig through your archives to pull this one out since i totes wanted to see this room! –> it is stunning. you did an amazing job with SVV. esp the fireplace. wow. seriously. count me in w Ella’s approval. cant wait to see more rooms

    • April 11, 2013

      Thank you! We’re just going to attribute the fireplaces to Ella’s hard work =)

  • April 4, 2013

    I love it! Can you come and decorate my apartment, please? Or wave a magic wand and give Santiago the kind of antique stores that you have and me the ability to find the treasures you’ve find in those stores?

    • April 11, 2013

      Does that mean I get to come to Chile for the first time? In that case, SURE!

  • April 4, 2013

    Gorgeous! I’m not very good at decorating, so I never would’ve thought about gray and yellow together with a splash of blue, but I love it.

    • April 11, 2013

      Well, now that you know they work, you can do your next room in a similar color scheme ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy to be a guinea pig.

  • April 4, 2013

    After seeing those prints, I spent an hour exploring the site. I was surprised and impressed when I found a Pensacola print. I had to have it. Then I had to have Hawaii, where we spent our 10 year anniversary, and Denver, where we live now. I can’t wait for them to arrive. I already have the perfect place for them.

    • April 11, 2013

      I know, right? They have the smallest of towns. I love them for it. I’m sure I’ll buy even more prints from BirdAve as my home evolves!

  • April 6, 2013

    What a lovely room. Guests would surely enjoy their stay here.

  • April 6, 2013

    Your guest room is simply perfection!

    I L-O-V-E that chandelier – it is so cute and I can’t believe it was only $45.

    Be careful what you wish for, should I ever find myself anywhere near your house, I will make this room mine.

    I can’t wait to see how the rest comes together.

    • April 11, 2013

      The chandelier might be my favorite piece in the entire house. I wish I could find 10 of them in different colors!

  • April 9, 2013

    I loved the way you renovated your guest bedroom. But the only one question aroused in my mind is about yellow color. Why so much focus of yellow color? BTW I loved the color amalgamation as well.

  • April 9, 2013

    Wow – that’s one talent right there. This room looks like something out of one of those home-thingy magazines!! If this is what the guest bedroom looks like, I’d love to see what you’ve done with the master bedroom ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 11, 2013

      The master is in a holding pattern now. We have some cool pieces of furniture and we redid the fireplace in that room (which I love) but the rest of it is undecorated. That will probably be one of the last rooms we tackle, oddly enough!

  • April 12, 2013

    I absolutely LOVE IT!! The pops of color are absolutely wonderful and those floors!! I love old houses – so much character!

  • April 14, 2013

    Love it!!!!!!!! We have our BirdAdv prints in our bathroom.

  • April 15, 2013

    Wow that’s really amazing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • April 16, 2013

    Wow. Seriously, the room looks fabulous and the yellow accents are just gorgeous. Love the City prints but still getting over the fact you have 66 windows! Found you through the commentluv search engine ๐Ÿ™‚ Look forward to coming back!

  • April 16, 2013

    Beautiful! I love the yellow chandelier!

  • April 17, 2013

    Wow, I am so impressed!
    I can’t wait to visit! (no, really)

  • April 18, 2013

    Kristin!! Can i be your guest?
    Your home is well decorated…
    I like it…I will also manage my room like you..
    Thanks for sharing…

  • April 18, 2013

    Love it! The bright pops of color are a fun touch.

  • April 23, 2013

    Great renovation! Even your dog looks quite comfortable in the guest room. We are always redoing a room at our Florida house – we are trying to make the bedrooms look like our favorite Miami golf resort (a little bit anyway) since we are on a golf course. Thanks for the tips and especially the photos.

  • November 16, 2013

    Love your room! I’m in the process of redoing our guest room in yellow and gray with pops of coral and turquoise. Very similar to yours! What color did you order your Nashville print in? I can’t tell which of the colors available it is!

  • November 29, 2013

    Wow ! This all looks so classy and superb. You are simply amazing. It is very beautiful.

  • April 16, 2014

    Contractors should always consider the functionality of every part of the house. Not just because it looks good doesnโ€™t mean it has to be there. Never sacrifice it.

  • June 2, 2014

    Um, I want to live in this room. Like, seriously.

    • June 1, 2015

      Remodeling can also take on the form of revamping or adding a bathroom, redoing a kitchen, overhauling your home’s exterior for improved curb appeal, or completing an addition to increase your home’s square footage and add valuable space. Big and small changes can both have an impact and will improve the way your home looks and functions, increasing its value and making it more enjoyable for you and your family.

  • March 8, 2017

    Hey Kristin,

    I love the awesome results of your great work. Beautiful! I love it. They’re all looks interesting to try. Thanks for sharing this such a cool idea.


  • August 25, 2017

    Indeed, renovating is a crash course in compromise. But that’s one of the great things about it, because compromise often creates the best design. “I believe itโ€™s really joyful when you can find a way to work with both styles and come up with something better than either,โ€

  • September 5, 2017

    It seems you refurbished your bedroom in a very organic manner, started with the yellow chandelier and then added more yellows and complimented with the grey and over a period of time rewarded yourself with a beautiful bedroom.

  • September 13, 2019
    Franke NZ

    How lucky would it be for a guest to stay in this fabulous guest room. I just hope one day, I’ll be invited even just a night’s of stay.

  • October 30, 2020
    jay harris

    I need to take the time to share this article with my wife. The yellow color is her absolute favorite color. The color schemes are a perfect compliment to one another.

  • March 6, 2021

    It looks amazing! Great job!

  • April 17, 2021
    Carolyn Lynch

    This article is something that we need to share beacuse of the information that might help others.

  • November 15, 2022
    Seth Parent

    What a wonderful labor of love! I wish I was invited as a guest to live and experience your amazing creativity in this beautiful room. I think you can give it out to Airbnb and generate a good income from it.

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