I’m so excited to finally share my “secret project” from last November! I had the pleasure of being a part of the first episode of Megan Nicole’s new YouTube show “Adult-ED”! Adult-ED will tackle a new “adulting” subject each episode and I got to be on episode 1 as an expert in home decor for a small space, especially for renters.
It was such an exciting day… This was my first time transforming a place in only about 8 hours — usually I spend at least a few days or sometimes weeks or months working on one space, so it was a fun challenge! I thought it would be fun to share some more behind the scenes, photos of my preparation for shoot day and more details and links for each DIY we worked on and piece we bought.
If you haven’t seen the episode yet, take a look first here (and be sure to subscribe to Megan’s channel to see the other episodes as they come out):
Marissa lives in a small studio back-house. It was really fun to design because it’s just one big open, rectangle so there was a lot of freedom! I really liked the way Marissa had everything arranged, so we left the general layout pretty similar but traded out some of her borrowed/found furniture for some updated pieces and covered the wall of dark cabinets to lighten up the room.
There were 3 main issues Marissa had with her current space and we tried to address them all:
1. She wanted some type of room divider to give her bed area some more privacy, especially for when she has guests over — We wanted to come up with a pretty way to say “please don’t sit on my bed.” (lol)
2. The giant wall of cabinets is super convenient for storage but especially since the wood is a darker stain it tends to make the room feel smaller. We wanted something to lighten it up and make that area feel more open/modern.
3. Overall she wanted the whole place to just feel more homey and more “Marissa.”
The creators of the show, Adult-ED also had a couple goals I wanted to meet:
1. Keep it within a budget that your average millennial could realistically afford. For my own house, I’ve found that I can transform a room for about $1000 if I’m tight on budget but need to include new furniture. I also know that I care a lot more about having a beautiful home environment than many people do so I was guessing my budget is higher than many other people my age with a similar income. I wanted to make sure to stay under a thousand dollars for SURE for that reason, and aimed to come in a few hundred under that.
2. Choose a few DIY projects that someone with little experience could easily recreate. This was a super fun goal for me! I love DIY because it usually saves money and always challenges me to work with what I have. We ended up with a DIY project for the curtain rods, the room dividers and the headboard for the bed. I explain all of those projects briefly below, but I have a whole blog post on how to make the headboard (with more details and links) from my own bedroom here.
Before shoot day, I was in touch with Megan and the rest of the team preparing design ideas, discussing needs with Marissa, gathering measurements, and shopping for equipment and furniture!
Thankfully the timing lined up with some Black Friday and holiday sales so I was able to find some amazing deals, but even without sales most of the pieces I bought were really affordable.
The sofa futon was a gift from The Novogratz (thanks, guys!!), but it’s actually a piece I’ve wanted for myself for years because it’s a great price, looks nice and modern and has the benefit of folding a couple different ways depending on what you need. We got it in dark grey — it looked a little bit lighter in real life than in the photos online, and we loved it for Marissa’s space. Super happy with this gift!
Everything else that we bought was $50 or less!
I did some shopping at Home Goods for the small things, like the vases, the teal velvet ottoman and the white side table, so unfortunately I can’t link those items here (Home Goods’ stock depends on the store), but I linked everything else that we purchased below.
The deals I was most excited about were the neon sign for only $50 (it is real glass — not LED)!!, the Moroccan-style rug for $49 (amazinggg deal for this brand — usually I see it for over $200) and the grid screens for the room divider for $20 each.
The Yucana tree was also a great deal for an artificial tree of its quality. It looks very real and it was under $50 during the Black Friday Sale. Right now it’s $75 which is still not bad for what you get.
SHOP the episode:
THE DIY PROJECTS
I got all the supplies for the DIY projects ahead of time but we assembled everything together on set. One thing that was fun about filming this project was that I really didn’t have to fake things — I really was teaching them how to make these DIY’s on the spot and it was fun to do them with a couple friends instead of just on my own like I usually do!
I actually made this same style headboard for my own bedroom, and I created a full blog post on that process — You can read the detailed instructions with links here.
There are only three differences between my headboard and the one we made for Marissa — The first is that Marissa’s bed is slightly larger than mine, so we got some extra pipe to make it 5 ft long instead of 4 (6 vertical bars across instead of just 5). The second is that I decided it was better to glue the pieces together for some extra stability. We used this glue which was perfect for this material and dried completely within 30 minutes!
We also decided not to paint Marissa’s. I liked the look of the bare copper in her space so we just left it as is!
THE ROOM DIVIDERS:
The room dividers were a really fun project and one that I had never done before! I absolutely loved how they turned out and how they transformed the space so dramatically even though it was such a simple set up. I had several different ideas for a room divider, but we wanted something that would be very thin so as not to take up too much space and actually make the room smaller. I showed Marissa a few Pinterest photos for inspiration and she loved all of the dividers that were covered in plants and felt more natural and feminine. We decided this photo was our favorite, but we needed a version of that that was temporary and didn’t involve any installation into the ceiling or floor, since she is a renter.
After a discussion with Austin and Wendy (director and producer), we finally came across these Standing Grid Screens from Store Supply that were within our budget, totally removable/portable, and didn’t take up a lot of space.
After assembling the screens (thank you, husband), I used some green plant wire I already had around my house to attach the plants to the screens. You can find similar wire here — any basic wire will work.
I bought a couple of these eucalyptus garlands at Ikea and cut them up into pieces to attach. I also used one garland from Michael’s (similar to this one), but since faux plants can get pretty pricey I also used some leftover leaves from a $10 plant I found at Goodwill several months ago. I highly recommend Goodwill for plants if you’re willing to cut them up and rearrange a bit! The plant I used came in a weird basket that I hated, but the leaves were great if I just cut them off and put them on the screens — it saved a lot of money!
I also added just a couple of flowers last minute — I had some from Michael’s left over from our wedding so I just used those.
Figuring out how to cover the cabinets was a big challenge at first — I had hesitations with curtains for a few reasons: 1. Curtains tend to be very expensive and would put us over budget. 2. I had already thought through ways to do a temporary curtain on a long wall in my own bedroom and eventually gave up and drilled 2 holes in the wall. 3. Curtains make it a little less convenient to access the cabinets, so I preferred to cover the cabinets another way if possible.
Though we did eventually decide curtains were the best for this space, I tried another experiment first. Since Marissa has SO many cabinets, it ended up being over budget (and would take too long for our 1-day shoot), but it would be worth trying if you have only a couple of cabinets.
I recently discovered a trick to make wall paper temporary and I think this could be a great way to cover cabinets if you have only a few. I first put down several strips of painter’s tape on the cabinet and then used a stronger adhesive to stick the wall paper to the tape. This way the strong adhesive doesn’t touch the cabinet itself and keeps it easily removable. To finish the edges, I experimented with adding a border of painter’s tape (because it’s what I had), but I think it could look great with some washi tape or something prettier.
You could also add a thin foam board in the middle of the cabinet door to even out the space so that there is no air between the paper and the middle of the cabinet door, depending on what yours look like!
I didn’t quite finish experimenting with this because ultimately I decided wallpapering 50 cabinets would cost too much and would take several hours, which we didn’t have! But, I want to come back to this idea when I’m ready to transform our kitchen and see how it works with the correct materials.
After Megan found these $5 set of 2 curtains from IKEA we decided it was definitely worth re-visiting the curtain idea for Marissa’s space!
The next challenge was finding a curtain rod that could be attached temporarily, from the ceiling since there was no wall space there (and an uneven ceiling at that), within budget, and sturdy enough for curtains, but light enough to stay up without drilling into the wall.
I found these dowels at Michael’s only a couple of days before the shoot. I think there are probably longer options online which would have been even better probably, but these 3 foot rods definitely did the trick.
I experimented on my own ceiling at home first to make sure the command strips we got would be able to hold the weight of the rod plus the curtains. The command strips claimed to hold 2 lbs each (4 lbs total since we had 2 command strips per dowel), but usually the weight listed is meant for holding weight from the wall, and hanging from the ceiling, like we were doing, is going to usually require more strength, so I wasn’t 100% sure it would work.
Thankfully, it worked perfectly so we replicated the process at Marissa’s, and voila!
The challenge with the ceiling being angled was solved with some simple string loops hanging from each hook so that the dowels would make a straight line across the top of the cabinets and the curtains would hang straight, not at the angle of the ceiling.
After we had the DIYs all finished, the rest went very quickly! The whole team helped set up all of the furniture, we arranged the decorations and then we took some photos and filmed the final shots of the video. It was SO fun seeing it all come together so quickly — I wish I had taken a time lapse! Here are a few more photos of the finished space. Unfortunately I only have iPhone photos from after it was dark, but you can see more in the episode itself!
I had such a great time working on this project — Thanks so so much to Megan and her team for including me on episode 1 of Adult-ED! If you haven’t subscribed yet to Megan’s channel or my channel, make sure to do that now for more episodes of Adult-ED and more design projects on my channel!
Let me know in the comments here or on YouTube if you have any questions on the process or are looking for any other links. Would love to help!