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A Mini Den Makeover In 2 Days!

This post is in partnership with IKEA. All products are sourced at the bottom of this post!

Every so often, a project will land in our laps that gives us the opportunity to help our family and friends. They’re our very favorite projects to complete, because it’s one bitty way that we can show our appreciation and gratitude for having them in our lives. Recently, we were lucky enough to team up with IKEA and give Lucy’s nanny Katherine (we call her KK) and family a mini makeover for their den-slash-play-area-slash-family-nook. And guys, you know we absolutely ​​​​​​​love a nook!

KK, her husband Peter and their son Wallace definitely fall into Lucy’s favorite people category. Wallace is her best buddy and daytime playmate, and the love and care that KK and Peter show our baby girl is something we cherish. They play a large role in allowing us to do what we do every day, and we feel incredibly grateful to have them in our lives!

Den | Before

So let’s talk about this ‘den’ – if you can call it that? We asked KK what they call this space, and she couldn’t tell us, so den it is! In reality, they have a large landing at the top of their staircase, and it quickly became an infrequently used room where they plopped down a sofa, hand-me-down furniture and their television. They watch movies here, they play games with Wallace, but it was never comfortable enough for long stretches of time. There were no systems in place, so to speak. Also? It’s small. Like, a 5′ x 7′ rug filled the entire room (albeit, a super cute 5′ x 7′ rug). But what it lacked in amenities, it more than makes up for with natural light and an adorable pitched nook!

KK requested that the reveal be a complete surprise. We asked her questions – what are your favorite colors? (blues and greens), and do you prefer bright or neutral? (bright, but not overwhelming) – and we filled our IKEA shopping cart with her answers in mind. We promised her a room where she and Peter could play with Wallace, read books before bed or snuggle up to a Netflix marathon. We wanted them to want to use the room, and we wanted it to reflect their fun personalities. We wanted it to be a true family room, a room where they could simply enjoy each others’ company.

On day 1, KK and Peter emptied the room and painted the walls Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy. (We have this thing with dark walls, you could say!) On day 2, Scott and I came in and turned it into this:

Den | After

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

Den | Before

Den | After

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

Maybe you notice that the couch is the same? We used the couch as our starting point, playing off of the textured dark blue fabric and opting to go for a layered tone-on-tone look, which in turn would give the appearance of a much, much larger room! To accentuate the ceiling height, we utilized two tricks:

  1. The MERETE curtains were mounted all the way to the ceiling gently puddle onto the floor, and…
  2. We used MOSSLANDA picture ledges above the sofa and added an assortment of frame sizes.
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

We nixed their too-tall coffee table and too-large pouf in favor of the GAMLEHULT storage ottoman! Not only does it do the same job as the former two pieces, but it’s also a great place to stash books and small toys. While we were styling the room, Scott and I agreed that it would also make for the cutest kitty hideout! Please, someone do this and send us a photo. Please, please.

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

The den receives a fair amount of natural light in addition to the recessed lights in the room, but we think every room can use at least two, if not three, layers of light. With this in mind, we tucked the handsome HALKIP wall lamp (complete with its thick, pretty cloth cord!) into the corner for a soft evening glow. And to keep things feeling cozy, we piled pillows and a throw onto the sofa, too!

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

The deep navy walls serve two purposes; not only does it make the room feel larger than it actually is (dark paint makes the walls recede; give it a try!), but it also helps to disguise the television! Their old media cabinet was too shallow and overflowing with DVDs, so we replaced it with the cool, casual IKEA PS credenza and gave them this homework: Tuck all the DVDs into a storage binder! (Remember these?!) The new cabinet is deep enough to contain the binder – and a bin full of remotes and their Wii and there was so much room to spare!

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

The cabinet (which is also adorable in blue) had a lock and key, which was 100% an intentional decision. Since this will serve as a low-key play and reading area, we wanted KK and Peter to keep their electronics and small parts away from the hands of a little one! Eventually, we also imagine the television being mounted to the wall, which will give them more surface space for whatever their heart desires.

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

I think it’s time for another before and after, right?

Den | Before

Den | After

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

When we showed them the room for the first time, Wallace scrambled over to the URSPRUNGLIG floor cushions, laid them into a bed and grabbed a book. I’m not going to admit that I cried, but… well, anyway. Within the first 5 seconds, the room had already served it’s purpose!

A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home
A navy blue family room | Benjamin Moore Hale Navy | via Yellow Brick Home

We are so, so honored to have created this room for KK, Peter and Wallace. The power of paint, textiles and thoughtful decisions completely transformed this room. We’re thankful to IKEA for allowing us to make this happen, and we hope that this mini makeover inspires you in some way!

IKEA Items Used In This Makeover:

LÖ​​​​​​NHOLT rug | IKEA PS media cabinet | GAMLEHULT storage ottoman | MERETE curtains | HALKIP wall lamp | KONSTANSE + BLÅGRAN​​​​​​​ pillows | URSPRUNGLIG floor cushions | MOSSLANDA picture ledges | HOVSTA + SILVERHÖJDEN​​​​​​​ wall frames | JOHANNE throw blanket

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  • Jane6.3.19 - 5:58 AM

    I love the furnishings, the color, not so much.  The dark navy is super depressing.ReplyCancel

    • Debbie6.3.19 - 8:57 AM

      I also am not in love with it being so dark, especially because the family said they were into brights. This is not a bright space. Hoping they love it and all is well, and Hale Navy is a lovely color but I would not like to be in this room. Claustrophobic!
      BUT! I do understand what Kim and Scott were trying to do, and the tone-on-tone makes sense if you’re trying to expand the space visually. I also think it’s fairly difficult to photograph a room this dark and have the “mood” show up right. It could be reading more moody that it is IRL.ReplyCancel

      • Kim6.3.19 - 9:44 AM

        The room does receive a surprising amount of natural light. In editing my photos, I have been pulling back on over-brightening them, as I would prefer to show the most true-to-life representation! That said, we understand that dark walls won’t be for everyone. :) We do enjoy showcasing the different ways that paint can have an impact on a space – one of our favorite ways to transform a room in a day.ReplyCancel

      • Ann6.3.19 - 3:22 PM

        I love blues, but the dark blue wall, sofa, and curtains might be a bit too much for me in one place as well.  It is, however, really impossible to tell without seeing how the natural light from the window lights it in the daytime, and how all the lamps light it after the sun has set.  
        I’m guessing that since the owners did the work to paint those walls themselves that they were 100% on board with the wall color – as I’d have a hard time, myself, to keep rolling the paint on if I thought the end result would be too dark for me.  
        Definitely a nice improvement over the before – a cozy room now.ReplyCancel

  • Karen T.6.3.19 - 6:29 AM

    I personally LOVE the navy walls-the space looks so much bigger! What a sweet little family–it looks like a space they’ll love and use. Gorgeous!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.3.19 - 8:14 AM

      There’s a misconception that dark paint will make a room feel closed in. It CAN do that, but when used in the rght context, it can open up a space tremendously. Thank you, Karen!ReplyCancel

  • Sara6.3.19 - 8:00 AM

    Looks cozy! When you use picture ledges, do you secure the frames to the wall in any way? My kids tend to bump in to the wall when we’re playing and I’d fear those frames would tumble down.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.3.19 - 8:13 AM

      These ledges have a ridge in them, so the frame tucks into that, keeping them more secure. However, I totally feel ya! If you were worried, you could secure the top that rests against the wall with command strips!ReplyCancel

    • Ann6.3.19 - 3:16 PM

      I had that thought about the pictures on the ledge as well – my older siblings and I would definitely have bumped into them and knocked them down when jumping on the sofa (even though that was strictly forbidden!) when we were kids – and we wren’t particularly rowdy or rambunctious little girls.
      Also, I hate to be THAT person, but I will:  I also wonder if the TV is just sitting on the Ikea unit, as little kids get injured very frequently (and sometimes die) from toppling large flat-screen TVs over onto themselves – as the TVs are very top heavy with slim bases.  Maybe it is anchored to the newly painted wall with straps, as it should be – but I’m guessing it may not be, as the wall is newly painted, and anchoring wasn’t mentioned, but plans to mount it on the wall eventually were.  Wall mounting is the safest option – but if that eventuality is more than a few weeks away, anchoring that TV to the wall in the meantime should be a priority.
      I’m not meaning to be needlessly critical – I just think blog posts about designing rooms like this are a great way to spread the word about the risk of injury to children, which are far more common than most people realize – and to let people know what can be done to mitigate the risks – because how many parents end up saying – “if only I knew” or “I wish I had thought about that.”ReplyCancel

      • Kim6.3.19 - 5:20 PM

        We agree with you, which is why we made sure to mention that the television will ultimately be mounted on the wall – definitely the safest option!ReplyCancel

  • Monica6.3.19 - 8:02 AM

    I love the navy as well as the look and feel of the whole room!ReplyCancel

  • Sonia6.3.19 - 10:17 AM

    Absolutely love it!!  The colors, set-up, overall feeling of coziness and family.  Amazing update to the space!ReplyCancel

  • Jaymalea6.3.19 - 10:29 AM

    I agree that the dark walls work in this room. I noticed that upon “use” of the room, the flower vase was removed. Maybe show drinks on the new “coffee table” next time? Also, where are that plant and bendy art guy going to sit while a movie is on?ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.3.19 - 10:39 AM

      Haha, Wallace and Lucy wanted the flowers so bad, so we removed them for the family shots. :) The eventual goal is to mount the television on the wall a little higher, and then the family can stack books or small toys on top of the media cabinet.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Taylor6.3.19 - 10:30 AM

    Love, love, love it!! Deep navy is my jam. I use Valspars Night View all over my house and it never disappoints :)ReplyCancel

  • Laura6.3.19 - 12:32 PM

    Love the makeover!  I know it was there when you started but can you tell us anything about the couch?  ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Reynoso6.3.19 - 12:59 PM

    What a sweet makeover!  I LOVE the way the color makes it cozy and inviting.  It truly transforms the space!  I also love the ottoman and am making plans to get one of my own soon!!ReplyCancel

  • Cynthia6.3.19 - 1:51 PM

    It’s a really beautiful room but I do wonder about your design process when she said she preferred bright rooms and you went dark. As a designer how did you decide to go the dark route?ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.3.19 - 2:00 PM

      I think the words ‘dark’ and ‘bright’ get mixed up quite often (it’s happened recently a few times with clients, and upon more questioning, they realized that they meant one thing but said the other!). In this case, we don’t think a navy room = dark, rather, it’s the backdrop to a space that we think reflects their fun personality. It only accentuates the ‘bright’ items in the room: The kid-friendly white media center, their own blue couch, the floral and pinstripe pillows and floor cushions, their vibrant artwork and family photos. While the walls are a dark color, we think – we hope! – we created a room full of cheerful (bright) items. :)ReplyCancel

  • AmandaKB6.3.19 - 6:33 PM

    I love it.  Navy walls are my fave.  I painted our sun porch a deep blue color, and I love how our plants pop against it and how the color changes throughout the day.  I like it so much that our master bedroom is getting some blue walls next.  It’s sweet you were able to do this makeover for your friends.  Sometimes it’s nice to do a quick project that doesn’t involve demolition.  Don’t get me wrong, I love demo.  Ha,ha.  But life is about finding balance right? ;)  Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.3.19 - 7:24 PM

      Totally! These quick projects are so necessary to refuel the tanks between the REALLY big stuff. Thank you, Amanda!ReplyCancel

  • Leah6.3.19 - 9:36 PM

    I love the navy walls! I want a little nook just like this in my house!!! ReplyCancel

  • Ling6.4.19 - 8:26 AM

    Love what you guys did in this space! I wish I had a small nook to do this to :) sidenote: your source links to Ikea are not working in chrome on mobile.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.4.19 - 12:56 PM

      Thanks for the heads up! They do seem to be working for me on mobile in Chrome. Is anyone else having this issue?ReplyCancel

  • Amy6.5.19 - 7:52 PM

    I love how this looks cozy and welcoming, without looking at all cramped! Nice work! I couldn’t tell from the photos if this was it’s own defined room or more of a landing, but it has me thinking… If the space is more of a landing without defined breaks/doorways/corners in the walls, how do you decide when to stop painting, especially with such a bold (beautiful!) color? Or in that case would you just pick a color that would suit the whole landing, staircase, etc?ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.6.19 - 9:14 AM

      Great question: In this case, we stopped the navy at a CORNER, which is a pretty safe bet. Of course you could just continue the paint throughout, but that would be up to you! :)ReplyCancel

  • Tanya6.5.19 - 9:13 PM

    I love this makeover! It’s amazing how much paint makes a difference. Such small changes made a huge impact. I love how you showed that with a small budget. Keep doing these makeovers!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.6.19 - 9:10 AM

      We will, we will! Thank you for the feedback. :DReplyCancel

  • Amanda6.10.19 - 6:25 AM

    This is an amazing transformation Kim + Scott! You did a great job at making the room feel lived in, cozy and casual. A great space for a family.
    I know you often say dark can open up a space when used correctly. Which you definitely did here! Would you write a post about the right and wrong ways? I want to go dark in our bedroom.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.10.19 - 3:31 PM

      Hi, Amanda! I hesitate to write about what’s ‘right’ and ‘wrong,’ because really, you should always just do what YOU love. That said, I think going dark works really well when there’s enough lighting in a room – whether that’s recessed lights, overhead and lamps or natural lighting. If you’d like to email us a photo of your room, maybe I can help a bit more!ReplyCancel

      • Emily Jane Zarov6.15.19 - 10:53 PM

        Years ago, before it was as common on Pinterest etc. (which is just to say there were fewer examples, which meant more trepidation),  I painted my bedroom matte black (chalkboard paint!) with glossy black trim and an almost-pink ceiling (that sometimes glows in the most beautiful fashion though I’m not sure how/why?) and although it does not receive a ton of natural light, it does feel expansive (but simultaneously enveloping?) AND accentuates every color that lives in the room (fyi: gallery walls siiing with the dark backdrop : ). I love this makeover -a wonderful balance of cheerful design and comfortable function. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen11.1.19 - 10:07 PM

    I love this room so much! You did a great job. What curtain rods did you use?ReplyCancel

  • Phyllis9.25.21 - 9:45 AM

    I just found this makeover and I have no words, it’s gorgeous! ????????????ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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