When Kate Maunders, 30, and husband Phil, 35, moved into their three-bedroom semi-detached home in Essex, they knew it needed a fair bit of work. Luckily, it didn’t deter the couple in the slightest and they slowly began to renovate the Victorian house.


Priority went to the living room and kitchen before the pair turned their attention to the upstairs, where the first stop was the guest bedroom as it needed the least amount of work. ‘There wasn’t anything too intimidating to tackle in this room,’ recalls Kate.

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
Think about multi-function furniture for smaller rooms. Ladder shelves, for example, work as bedside tables and display space

‘The messiest part was skimming and replastering the textured ceiling, but we got someone in to do that – my DIY skills don’t stretch that far!

Aside from that, the work was purely cosmetic, which made a nice change to the rest of the house. We were nervous that we’d uncover rotten floorboards or dodgy electrics, but we were lucky in this room – there weren’t any major issues.’

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
Good idea! Don’t waste leftover wallpaper – Kate used hers to wrap birthday presents and everyone commented on what lovely wrapping paper it was!

As the previous owners had used the space as a kid’s bedroom, it had decals of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and various woodland animals all over the walls – not a look that Kate was going for.

The couple don’t have children so they were keen to create a more grown-up space, which meant redecorating the room from scratch. ‘The walls were a curious shade of brown with a sky-blue feature wall,’ says Kate. ‘It also had a really old, threadbare carpet that we wanted to replace with something a little more luxurious.

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Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
The pièce de résistance is the emerald-green Isla chair from Dunelm, which adds a big hit of colour to the far end of the room

Then there was a strange pull chord above the bed, as well as a regular light switch, to turn the light on and off!’ Kate scoured Instagram and magazines for inspiration on how to decorate and fell in love with the trend for leaves, palms and all things tropical.

A Google search for tropical wallpaper threw up the perfect palm design for a feature wall and its green tones inspired the rest of the colour palette.

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
Soft-grey carpet gives the room a luxurious finish and provides guests with a soft surface to step onto when they’re getting out of bed

With the ceiling skimmed, the couple hired a painter-decorator to paint the walls and hang the wallpaper. ‘We both work really long days in London and I just love coming home to the work having been done to a great standard,’ says Kate.

‘Hanging wallpaper is not something within my skill set, especially with such a busy pattern, so getting someone in to do that for us was definitely a good decision.’

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
For symmetry, Kate placed two leaning shelf ladders either side of the bed. The shelves also function as an alternative to bedside tables for lamps, alarm clocks and other essentials

The room is south-facing and benefits from lots of light, so Kate and Phil decided to emphasise this by painting the non-papered walls in an off-white colour to create a light, bright space that also feels restful and calm.

‘I learned the hard way about measuring for wallpaper with a busy pattern,’ laughs Kate. ‘You need a lot more than you think – the poor decorator ran out halfway through and had to come back the following week to finish the job! It looks amazing though and really gives a focal point to the room.’

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
Various art prints, including a few from Attiki Art and Oso Twee, have been used to create a gallery wall, in keeping with the tropical scheme. Different sizes create interest, while the black frames keep the display cohesive

With the decorating complete, it was time for a new light-grey carpet to go down and curtains to go up. ‘The curtains were actually a made-to-measure pair from Dunelm that I got in a sample sale for £5!’ says Kate.

‘They were far too long but totally beautiful, and I knew I could take them up and that they’d be perfect for this room. I did GSCE textiles and I’ve always loved to make and craft things, so I hemmed them myself.’

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
‘My first love was Scandi, whereas now I’m definitely moving towards a more traditional feel' says Kate

The pair then moved onto the furniture and accessories. They’d bought the bed a few years previously, along with the leaning ladder shelves, but couldn’t resist the emerald green velvet cocktail chair from Dunelm, which is one of Kate’s favourite items in the room. ‘My interior style has definitely changed over the years,’ she muses.

‘My first love was Scandi, whereas now I’m definitely moving towards a more traditional feel – although the bed and shelving in this room have a real Scandi feel, as does the pattern on the curtains.’

Bedroom makeover: 'It turned out exactly as I imagined it!'
'It’s just how I hoped it would be – light, bright, airy and calming' says Kate

Both Kate and Phil are thrilled with the new scheme and love that it feels so much larger than before. ‘I think that’s down to the colour of the walls and carpet, and adding a mirror to one of the walls,’ says Kate.

‘Creating a gallery wall with lots of framed prints has also made the room feel much larger, as it shows just how large the wall is and how high the ceilings are.’

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As the first ‘finished’ room upstairs, this bedroom has turned into something of a sanctuary for the couple. ‘We moved in here while tackling the master bedroom,’ says Kate. ‘It was so nice to sleep in a space that was actually done to our style and taste! It’s rare that we finish a room and there aren’t things I wish I’d done slightly differently, but I’m so happy with how this space came out. It’s just how I hoped it would be – light, bright, airy and calming.’

Shopping list...

White Mist matt emulsion paint, £18 per 2.5L, Dulux. Alfresco Palm Leaf wallpaper, £14.99 per roll, Wayfair. Carpet in Dove Soft Noble, £13.99 per sq m, Ramsden Mills. Bed, £99 from Dreams – for similar, try House Bonn Upholstered bed frame in Saga Grey, £199 (double), John Lewis & Partners. Bamboo and white ladder shelves, £60 each, The Futon Company. Isla Cocktail chair in Emerald, £139; curtains in MissPrint Fern Carbon fabric, £18 per m; Clara Cotton velvet rectangular cushions in Dusky Pink, £10 each; Clara Cotton velvet cushion in Emerald, £12; Jones alarm clock in white, £12; Elements round wall mirror in black, £20; black picture frames, from £4, all Dunelm. Animal Jacquard bedding set, £39.50 (king size), Marks & Spencer. Plantosaurus porcelain planter, £15, Oliver Bonas. Round concrete table lamp, £15, Urban Outfitters. Small faux fern plant, £7; ivy bush, £10.50, both Blooming Artificial. Skold sheepskin rug, 60cm, £25, IKEA. Oro pendant drum lampshade in White Clay and Copper, £32, Made. Scandi Tree print, from £5; Tropical Leaf print, from £9; Minimalist Scandi Trees print, from £5, all Attiki Art at Etsy. Wonderful print, from £7.50; Ampersand print, from £7.50, both Oso Twee. The Adventure Begins typography print, £30, Green Lili. ‘The Bee’ print (on shelf), £7.99, Andy Thomas Artworks.


This is a digital version of a feature that originally appeared in Your Home magazine. For more inspirational home ideas, why not subscribe today?