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How Can I Do Something Fresh and Fabulous for Less Money in My Bedroom?


I have a standard-sized bedroom with good closet space in my Brooklyn apartment. How can I get a new look for less money since times are tight right now? (from Ellen in Brooklyn)


Ellen, our current financial times are frightening many people, and rightfully so. It's important to spend and save money wisely when the economy is uncertain. We thought we would answer your question by inviting interior designer Oskar Torres to show how he made over a Manhattan bedroom with great style and minimum expense. The secret, according to Oskar, is to "use big ideas to decorate small rooms." 

The Apartment's BEFORE PictureMy client gave me a real challenge: in designing her bedroom, I had to incorporate her Asian heritage with her love of modern furniture. “I love yellow and modern furniture” was the directive she gave me. Since she would not be in town to shop and give final approvals, e-mail and the Internet became an essential component of this project.

The existing space was a typical New York room. Bare, pinkish-white walls. Uninspiring furniture. Lots of clutter, clutter, and more clutter. A saving grace was that the master bedroom was large enough to accommodate a queen-sized bed, two night tables, a desk, and an occasional chair. No dressers were needed since there were four large closets, a surprising bonus.

Interior Designer Oskar TorresI applied a “no-brainer” concept to transform the bedroom into an Asian-infused oasis. I wanted this oft-traveled young professional to recharge her batteries in a great space whenever she was back in New York.

I painted the walls in a soft-hued Benjamin Moore Yellow Lotus 2021-50 for a calming and quieting effect. The modern white lacquered Ikea bed is finished with a mixture of modern and vintage fabrics. I had a graphic yellow pillow fashioned from a vintage Obi. The bed’s bolster was created from a faux-sheepskin blanket I spotted in a Salvation Army in Florida. 

I kept the window treatments soft and flowing so as not to detract from the great views of the New York skyline; I used an unlined multi-color striped silk from Mood Fabrics. The square cut-out yellow lacquered night tables were a treat, little splurges created by society designer Celerie Kemble.

In a nod to my client’s Asian heritage, I included a pair of chinoiserie lamps from the flea market on Manhattan’s 26th Street and updated them with custom shades using Benjamin Moore Poppy 1315 red paint for a girly look. The brown sisal carpet from Misha Carpets is a remnant from a prior project. I paired a very reasonably-priced West Elm desk with a chair from Housing Works, newly covered with a showroom fabric sample. The art is from the client’s own collection.

Cool, calm, and collected. The simple unlined silk stripe curtain fabrics soften the room. Anchoring the wall is a sunburst metal mirror from Crate and Barrel.

Rooted in tradition. I chose all the linens on the bed for their texture and color. The Chinese vase with orange roses provides an inviting vignette to any bedroom.

Well matched. A corner of the bedroom creates a cozy reading spot. The Deco gold leaf table interacts with a Vintage Safari leather chair by Michel Arnoult and Murano vase (all from

Pure serenity. A constellation mirror from Bond & Bowery creates a focal point over the desk from West Elm. The Rosenau Collection side chair from Robert Allen (to the trade) was upholstered with a fabric sample. The gourd Chinese porcelain lamp keeps the Asian fusion intent. Desk accessories are from Home Goods.

“This is exactly the feeling I wanted in this space!” exclaimed my client upon returning from one of her monthly trips to Japan. “Thank you for helping me create my vision.”

Music to any designer’s ears! I love to mix vintage and modern (new) furnishings in my interiors, and I think this is a great way for you to achieve a “big idea” design in any small space or apartment. My motto Be Green, Buy Vintage is integrated in each project I do, and it felt great to my client to help the missions of the Salvation Army and Housing Works by including their recycled materials in her new bedroom.

Big Idea:
Inject new life into used and vintage finds. For example, you can create new pillows from old airline blankets or re-lacquer a flea market chair and upholster it with a modern fabric. These special touches and attention to detail add an element of whimsy and uniqueness to any interior.

Oskar Torres is an interior designer based in LIC, New York. For more information, visit the Oskar Torres website.

Reader Comments (4)

An excellent post. I linked to it over at Design Hole, where I also do makeovers. I love the way this was presented. The ideas are well presented and very useful. Thank you!

Oct 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Jennifer, you're very welcome -- and many thanks for your comments and link. Have a great October, and we encourage everyone to visit Jennifer's savvy Design Hole site!

Oct 10, 2008 | Registered CommenterDesign2Share

Now there is a lot of dezaynerovskih ideas as for small money alone you can remodel the interior of the room and make it more comfortable.

I like the lighting in niches, but I also think this is the last century, why take away your useful space

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