Before and After: Retirement Condo Makeover

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I really admire photographers that have the ability to capture the emotion an interior design evokes. I think rooms are one of the hardest things to photograph. There are no people’s faces conveying emotion, no body language. Just “things”. But somehow when you’re in a room with things, you feel something. When we started this room, this blog did not exist. So I had to beg/borrow/steal the before pictures. Also, I have not mastered the art of photographing rooms, but I’m working on it!

My boyfriend’s mom recently moved into a retirement community. It’s located in a great place, and is surrounded by tons of redwood trees. She was downsizing from a bigger space, so even though she had some amazing things, it was hard to know where to place everything. The bf and I offered to redo her condo as a surprise. She had no idea what the plan was. I never told her the concept, or showed her any fabrics or sketches. I honestly can’t believe she agreed. She is one brave woman.

right wall before

The bf’s mom is so elegant and warm, and the space just didn’t reflect her personality.

before-and-after-retirement condo

When I looked through her treasures I knew immediately that I wanted the room to have a Chinoiserie feel. She has little foo dogs and boxes inlaid with asian motifs so I was pretty sure she would like that design style.

before-and-after-retirement condo

I love that Ikea has inexpensive furniture options for times like this. However, I didn’t want to just go with the plain white backing that comes with the particular bookcases I picked. So, to kick up the glam factor, and add some pattern and texture, we taped pretty golden paper from Paper Source on top of the backing.
before-and-after-retirement condo

There is only one light source in the room that comes from a sliding glass door that leads out onto a little balcony area. So one priority was to bring in lots of lights. We used the little clip lights from Ikea on the tops of the bookcases, and two lamps, one on each side table.

And now for the “before” picture of the back wall…

back wall before

Here are the “afters”…
before-and-after-retirement condo

She also has tall ceilings. If I remember correctly, I think they are 10-12 feet high. So I knew that I wanted to do as much as I could to bring the eye up. It makes a room feel so much bigger when you use the vertical space. Part of that involved getting taller bookcases. My other remedy was hanging curtains as high as we could. As an added bonus, the curtains and taller bookcases covered up that greyish white paint color.

The star of the show is obviously that amazing screen. In person, it really glows. The gold paint is so warm and just luscious. It’s a beauty.

before-and-after-retirement condo
The red velvet pillow covers are Ralph Lauren euro shams that I got from Home Goods. The other pillows and curtains were made from fabric from Fabrics R Us, which is a discount fabric store in San Jose that I mentioned here.
before-and-after-retirement condo
The curtains are made of dupioni silk, and are embroidered with gold and cream thread.
before-and-after-retirement condo
The trim is all tassels and beads and laced velvet ribbon to match the red velvet pillows.
before-and-after-retirement condo
Another glamour shot of the screen.
before-and-after-retirement condo
The lamps are also Ralph Lauren Home from Home Goods.

before-and-after-retirement condo

before-and-after-retirement condo

blue and white garden stool


What do you think? Have you ever worked on a really tight space? What tricks did you use to make the room feel bigger and more grand? I’d love to hear them! I’m linked up to the before and after parties at Thrifty Decor Chick, A Stroll Thru Life, Savvy Southern Style, Sand and Sisal, Dwellings, Green Willow Pond, DIY by Design, The Style Sisters, Cedar Hill FarmhouseHome Stories A to Z.



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