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A Playful, Budget Hand-me-down Bedroom for Twins + Shop The Look

Welcome to these twins’ playful, casual, and extremely budget friendly bedroom (the famous lake house twins). Three years ago I designed the lake house, and one of the projects that was emotionally important (but not financially) was the twins’ bedroom. It had a lot of potential, without a lot of dough – like most of us when we were 22. Here is where we started:


Technically that wasn’t even the “before.” The “before” was beige walls and bad flooring. I just can’t find all those photos. So jump forward 6 months, to when it looked like this. We started with a simple gray on the walls. I believe it’s Windham Gray by Pratt & Lambert (it’s absolutely insane that I remember that).


They already had the beds and the dresser which were fine but you know, not amazing. But since it was their weekend house, and these weren’t pretentious fancy people, we figured they were good enough to use. So we tried to make them work the best we could.

Things started to get pulled together. The room lent itself to two different niches, and those tents were the perfect opportunity to add in a bit of imagination play.


Let me be clear – I shot that and it was not my intention for it to be the after.  I knew that we would eventually shoot it for a magazine, but what I forgot was that magazines only take like 2 photos per room, whereas we bloggers take 119 different shots in the same room. I thought all the angles and details would be covered, so I didn’t properly shoot this space. My little iPhone photos aren’t exactly cutting it, but that doesn’t stop me from blabbing about this bedroom . . .



We had one fun idea – making the two niches into tented areas for the kids so they could have their own fort. We bought 6 dollar-a-yard cotton that looked like thin denim from the fabric district, then used Ikea hospital tracks to install them on the ceiling. It was DIY and budgety for sure – stuff that honestly I don’t do anymore and I leave to the professionals (like my nursery ceiling mount curtains). But we went for it. It looks cute until you get to the top, where it got messy. The problem was that where you attach it to the drapes is a few inches down on the ceiling fixture, so the fabric sagged a bit. It wasn’t that big of a deal, and the client knew that it was us trying to save them money, but if I were to do it again, I would hire a pro to do that kind of work.

The tent idea though is a very cute one if I do say so myself. Those plug-in sconces were from Ikea that we spray painted orange.


Not having more actual professional photos kills me. How annoyed are you guys of me disclaiming that when I don’t have good photos? VERY????


The following two professional photos are what ran in Country Living Magazine a couple years ago.


If I remember right the kids helped me pick out the art for the little gallery wall. All Etsy, except that always lovely Sharon Montrose whose twin bunnies were certainly appropriate.

The light fixture was from a vendor on Etsy and it is EXTREMELY adorable. I wish there were more people who turned really cute kids toys into  one of a kind chandeliers. Trust me that there is a market for it.

These two nuggets are now 6 (3 here, I believe), and live in LA only 4 miles from me. It’s a blast from the past, but one that I couldn’t help but share. Better late than never, right?


I’ll call this “playful hand-me-down chic.” For Twins. Now go get an even better version of “the look.”


1. Outer Space Poster | 2. Dinosaur Comforter Set | 3. Rocking Chair | 4. Giraffe Head | 5. Navy Dresser | 6. Red Stripped Rug | 7. Grey Drapes | 8. Baby Bunnies Print by  Sharon Montrose | 9. Airplane Pendant Light | 10. Navy Bed Frame | 11. Red Wall Sconce | 12. Rocket Sheet Set | 13. Whale Pillow | 14. Wood Rocking Horse | 15. Bulldog Lamp

To see the Lake House project from the beginning take a look here: Lake House Post #1 | Lake House Post #2 | Lake House Post #3 | Lake House Post #4 | Lake House Post #5 | Lake House Post #6 | The Lake House Makeover – Kitchen Edition

*After Photos by Björn Wallander for Country Living.

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8 years ago

What a great idea – using the curtains to make the room symmetrical. Love the way you put the room together without making it too colorful. You are my design hero Emily……….

8 years ago

I feel so proud of myself! I bought some pillows and a throw in this basic color scheme on Saturday for my kids playroom, and I think they would be possibly Emily Henderson approved-ish. (Had to put the ‘possibly’ and ‘ish’ in there just in case I am way off base 😉 It was hard, but I resisted the try-too-hard stuff, and went with simple textures and appropriate pops of color, and I really like it. So I can at least credit my avoidance of super tacky stuff to following this blog every day for a couple of years 😉

8 years ago

These are some of my favorite posts. Makes me feel like I too, can have w little em hendo Magic in my own home. Don’t need a boy’s room now, but if I did, I’d be popping all these goodies into my cart!

Love tha orange and blue color story for the room. It’s fun and quirky, but will age as the boys do!

8 years ago

I love this. Especially because it’s authentic, attainable, kid-friendly but still original.

8 years ago

We forgive you for the photos-it’s still a great post! those kids must love those curtains. what a great room! And that gray paint color looks amazing, I can see why it stuck in your head.

8 years ago

Hey Emily! I recognized the picture so I thought I’d mention that in your top 10 paint colors post (which I used religiously for my new house, thanks!) you have that room listed as BM Oystershell!

8 years ago
Reply to  elizabeth

Yes! I noticed this too! And I actually chose Oystershell to paint the main level of our house based on that picture, and I was blown away when my house turned out to be more of a light blue than a gray. Now I have my explanation at least. 🙁

8 years ago

Ah, the lake house! One Kings Lane had the living room photo yesterday…

8 years ago

Great post! Dying over those orange pom pom tiebacks and that chandelier is so cool!

8 years ago

This bedroom is so fun! I love how budget friendly and functionable it is for those boys!


8 years ago

I know this is a fancy shmancy blog and I absolutely love everything about it and you, but sometimes these old crappy iPhone pictures make me feel happy. I think it’s because it makes it more real life. I have a nice camera but when I’m in a hurry (or just don’t give a f*!@$) I snap a picture with my phone and its fine, for me. So I for one say “stop apologizing for these pictures” 🙂 your a creative genius and we all know it.

The light fixture is amazing! I like the spirit of the curtains being a fort, too – and as a budget-friendly option.

8 years ago

I LOOOOVE the iPhone picts. Often with professional photos, I wonder what the room truly looks like, how we’d actually see it if we were in the room. Professional picts are great, of course, but when you live in the room, you don’t have huge photo lights and reflectors to bounce it all over. You don’t make over a room for professional photos, you make over a room for the people who live in it.

Also, Sharon Montrose picts KILL me.

8 years ago

I would take iphone pictures any day over no pictures!! Cute room – love the curtains around the beds, and the colors.

8 years ago

ADORABLE! The beds with the curtains are so fun!

8 years ago

I am so glad you showed us the ‘real’ photos. It is such a relief to know that even when a room is perfectly done, it does NOT look like it does in a magazine!!!

As you say in your tagline, perfection is boring. 🙂 (Although, the truth is probably that it is unattainable, since magazine photos don’t show reality.)

Very cute room & it’s thrilling to see the work you’ve done on a limited budget!

8 years ago

I love it! And that airplane chandelier is amazing. It was one of the first things I noticed. I also like the iPhone photos. As someone else pointed out, it is great to see rooms without professional lighting.

8 years ago

Yes yes yes to more iPhone pics. Don’t apologize – embrace them. They feel like truth to me. You’ve been in these rooms, snapped the iPhone pics and seen the professional ones. I’d be interested in a post on where reality lies on that spectrum. You did a post a while back showing befores and afters of photoshopping. That post was a lightbulb moment for me. I love my home and no longer expect it to ever look like a magazine spread. Even the magazine spread doesn’t look like that in real life.