x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A makeover takes a bedroom from blah to bright

An Abu Dhabi student finds focus and comfort after her conventional bedroom is made into a warm, uncluttered space.

Before the makeover, old furniture and plain white walls created a cold atmosphere that didn't reflect Iman's personality. Courtesy Home Centre
Before the makeover, old furniture and plain white walls created a cold atmosphere that didn't reflect Iman's personality. Courtesy Home Centre

When Iman Zeyad Nihad finally got a bedroom to herself, she had mixed feelings. With her brother moving out of the family's apartment in Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi, to return to Jordan, Iman no longer had to share a room with her three sisters. Instead, the 20-year-old Petroleum Institute student would have her own space, and be able to read, work and relax in a quiet environment. The room would also be a private place in which she could entertain friends.

But even after Iman and her possessions took over the room, the old, outdated furniture and decor remained just as it was when her brother had occupied it. The plain white walls, old ceramic floor tiles and strip ceiling lights created a cold, clinical atmosphere and nothing about the room reflected any of Iman's personality or identity. A lack of storage also meant clutter was a big problem in the small space, making it difficult for Iman to relax or concentrate.

"Whenever I went into the room and saw it like that, I couldn't study and I certainly didn't want to invite friends over," she says. "I wanted a pretty, girly room, somewhere that was mine."

A few months later, the room has been transformed. Iman was so fed up with the way things were that she entered a room makeover competition organised by the Home Centre furniture store. She was among 15 selected to win.

The first part of her prize was a consultation with a design team. In her brief, Iman said she wanted a room that was more fitting with her and her lifestyle; somewhere she could feel proud to show off to her friends. In terms of the room's style, she wanted to see an imaginative use of pattern and bright colour. Most importantly, it had to be somewhere she would feel comfortable enough to study.

The first things to be tackled by the team were the room's key challenges: the lack of storage, the unflattering lighting and the need to inject colour and warmth.

Iman's favourite colour is green, and though she didn't want the room to have an entirely green theme, she was keen to see elements of it in the room. The team responded with accent pieces, such as a dark green velvet-effect footstool, acid bright desk chair, green tea light holders and a couple of leafy indoor plants.

More colour was introduced courtesy of the plum-coloured curtains and a large, patterned rug in warm shades of plum, chocolate and cream, which also covered up most of the unsightly floor tiles. A selection of soft, tactile cushions in matching accent colours added interest to the classic white bed linen. To offset the vibrant colours and bring more warmth to the room, a soft taupe - a neutral shade that works well with many colour combinations - was used on the walls and the ugly, unsuitable strip lighting was replaced by a funky pendant shade and a matching pair of chic white table lamps.

The pine shelving unit was replaced by a wardrobe and chest of drawers in a white, high-gloss finish to providing plenty of concealed storage and help create a clean, contemporary look. A bed from the same range was also chosen. The new glass and chrome desk with below-eye-level storage is a practical piece that also adds a touch of glamour - its light-reflecting finish, together with the wall mirrors, help boost the light levels in the room and create the illusion of space. Above the desk, a focal point was created by grouping together some of Iman's favourite photographs in uniform chunky white frames.

Overall, the room has a comfortable, fresh and sophisticated feel that meets Iman's brief and is certainly more in keeping with its young, female occupant.

Although these results were achieved by a team of professionals, they demonstrate the possibilities for a small, unassuming apartment bedroom, and without having to spend a fortune. The total cost of this makeover was Dh10,130, but simply by using smart storage solutions and introducing a strong, unifying colour scheme, or accents of colour and complementary soft furnishings, a whole new look can be created.

And for Iman, this relatively simple makeover has transformed her home life. "I love the way my room looks now," she says. "It's so pretty I want to spend all my time in here - and I do. As a result of this, I'm definitely studying more. The room is so comfortable it helps me to focus and concentrate.

"My dad loves it," she adds with a smile. "When he saw it, he joked with me that he was going take it for himself. But I can understand this. It makes me feel happy just to spend time in here.