I think back to the first time we toured our home some three years ago and how we first saw the room we now call our guest bedroom. There was a queen-sized four poster bed wrapped in black linens jammed into this small 11×11 space. A broken mirror hung across from the bed and yellow, blue, and red light bulbs lit up the room. A random blob of spray paint adorned a wall as dystopian political television played, becoming the soundtrack to a sad view.

Finally, joy radiates from this room. Light bleeds through the curtains in the morning and as the colorful accents add energy and happiness. The soundtrack is now Maze and The Gap Band. Now, this room makes me feel proud.

Follow along as I slowly reveal 3 key elements of our new and improved guest bedroom.

Our 11 x 11 guest bedroom. White walls and white furniture.
Our 11 x 11 guest bedroom before.

Before the One Room Challenge, we got the guest bedroom to homeostasis through prepping the walls and painting a fresh coat of white paint. After that, we installed new carpet in all of our bedrooms as well as knocked down the popcorn ceiling to a more demure texture. Next, we got a couple of buddies to skim and smooth an accent wall where I later installed peel and stick wallpaper. 

Element 1: Inspirational art

Much of the guest room’s color scheme stemmed from beautiful artwork by New York native, Philadelphia-based artist Makeba Rainey. Her artwork features prominent Black changemakers showcased in a multitude of textures, patterns, and color.  I appreciate her art so much! I love how she features both our ancestors and current figures — from Malcolm X to Naomi Campbell. 

Art by Makeba Rainey. A purple portrait of Coretta Scott King. A yellow portrait of MLK Jr.
Art by Makeba Rainey.

To me, Keebs’ artwork modernizes leaders of the past and breaks the static view of them being ”old.” All of her subjects are black and white, yet their contexts are drenched in color. Additionally, the imagery of mixed patterns harken back to our African ancestry. From Rainey’s artwork, I interpret the main idea that everyone is complicated; we all are colorful, textured human beings all capable of being celebrated.

As a result, the colors in the pictures pop up around the room. For example, the yellow from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s portrait is reflected across the room on a big circle of happiness. The lavender in Mrs. Coretta Scott King’s portrait is also seen in the curtains that lead to the closet.

Follow the complete journey! Check out the previous weeks here! week 1 | week 2 | week 3 | week 4 | week 5 | week 6 | week 7

Element 2: Accessibility

Our guest bedroom is primarily my dad’s room when he visits. His room has to be clear as he struggles with mobility and is naturally clumsy. The room could have been more eclectic, but his needs had to be at the forefront. Those key accessibility features include:

  • No fragile items in his reach around his typical walkways
  • No table lamps to knock over (I splurged on a wall sconce instead)
  • Plenty of space for accessibility tools (i.e. a place to park his walker)
  • Only one real plant used (he usually knocks over plants on accident)
  • His favorite chair (it’s easy and comfortable to him)
A red chair sits in a corner with a Bird of Paradise plant. A red tartan blanket lies on the chair. A yellow circle is painted on the wall in a bedroom.

As a result, I don’t have to stow fragile items in this room away every time Dad visits. I guess I decorated with the primary client in mind!

Element 3: Cultivated style

The ikat wallpaper inspires the bohemian feel. Plants really bring out that vibe to me. Enter this 7 foot tall Bird of Paradise plant! I almost gave you guys a heart attack when I cut it up until you realized it was faux! Hehehe. I also added the palm leaves to reflect the height of the Bird of Paradise on the other side of the bed. The faux fern is there just because I felt like it. I guess it adds a little bit of The Honey into the room because he likes ferns.

Lavender or purple curtains hang as a substitute for closet doors.
Curtains in lieu of closet doors.

The pattern in the wallpaper is also in the pattern of the mirror. And looky there — lavender is also in the wallpaper too! Gold also gives me boho vibes, too. You see gold everywhere, even on the ceiling! My ceiling fan makeover uses gold-embossed, faux wood grain contact paper.

A corner of a guest room displays afrocentric art against an ikat wallpaper.
Gold is repeated throughout, even on the ceiling fan!

An HHG room must have a little whimsy in it! This time, I achieved that through mixing patterns. Mixing patterns in a traditionally easy way is all about scale. The small scale of the ikat patterned in the wallpaper needed a large scale pattern to pair with it. For that reason, the cabana-striped curtains were the perfect way to go! So, I hemmed them and added curtain rings to give a more custom look. Consequently, they help the stripes look a little more uniform. The euro shams also repeat the bold geometric black and white look. Adding black really does ground a space.

Black and white cabana striped curtains hang from a window. A fern in a gold pot hangs about a TV.
Pot o’ ferns

I hope that you see a method to the madness and how all of the projects mentioned in weeks 1 through seven all work together! Everything was added with intention.

A round gold mirror hangs above a headboard on a pink ikat wallpaper. Art and plants sit alongside on a white headboard.
More art via Artfully Walls. Woven African fan via Reflektion Design.

Almost one year ago, my mother passed away. Subsequently, this has been the hardest and quietest year of my life. My mom was so electric. She was often told that she was the kind of person that you don’t forget. That always made her feel good to hear. 

Mama was imperfect and quick to anger and kept it real whether or not it made you uncomfortable. Always trying to feed people. Letting people live with us when they were down. Usually carrying 6 dice to teach you her dice game to break up the boredom. Made you laugh. Cussed often as expletives were an everyday part of her lexicon. WAS THE BEST COOK EVER. Tinkerer who figured out ways to fix vacuums and irons. Wanted to be a nurse but didn’t get the chance. 

A colorful bedroom with pink, coral, red, black, and yellow accents. A gold bedside wall sconce lights the room.
Our guest bedroom reveal.

SUPPORTIVE. Mom of 3. Survivor of unspeakable traumas. Party gal. Friendly. Beach lover. Saved every report card. Only swam underwater. Terrible driver. Hands like oven mitts. Only wore red lipstick and brow pencil. Had more fun the one time she went blonde. The fun aunt.

She was colorful, textured, and complicated.

When Makeba reached out to me and offered to memorialize my mom in an original portrait, I cried like a baby. I submitted to her the last photo I took of my mom to create the portrait. As a crazy coincidence, Makeba sent me the final copy a few days from my birthday.

Commissioned portrait by Makeba Rainey. In black frame on a mid century modern bedside table in our guest bedroom.
Commissioned art by Makeba Rainey.

I intentionally chose to make over the guest bedroom this One Room Challenge cycle to create the perfect space to home one of the greatest acts of generosity that anyone has ever extended to me. For that, I’m eternally grateful for people like Makeba and my mom. Anyone of us can be worthy of celebration by generously sharing our greatest gifts to the world.



PS: The Fall 2021 One Room Challenge is over! Go celebrate the other amazing participants’ terrific spaces. Also, please follow and support Makeba Rainey, a talented and beautiful human being.

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  1. Omg this looks absolutely amazing!! I love the colors and everything you did to pull this together!!!!! Congrats on this space. I absolutely love it

  2. I absolutely love how everything came together! I love all the thoughtful details, and the portrait of your mom really is the showpiece. What an extraordinary piece of art ❤

  3. Sending you a virtual big congratulatory hug!! This room is not only decorated beautifully but also memorably…i love the art you chose…makeba’s work is wonderful (thanks for the intro).. and it blends perfect. Wonderful new look homegirl!

  4. Felicia, the entire room is very thought out and considerate. I hope you feel you mama’s presence around you. Great job.