Bonus Room Ideas: “Crew’s Quarters” for the Lake

Ah, the bonus room… We get so excited when our homes have one. That is, until we have to decorate it. Unlike most other rooms in our homes (e.g. the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom), which have defined purposes, bonus rooms are blank canvases. And blank can be intimidating! The possibilities are endless: Home office, study space, game room, crafting area, bar, guest quarters, etc. It can really get your wheels spinning. Furthermore, these kind of “flex rooms” are notorious for offering challenging/awkward layouts.

Wondering how to maximize the potential of your bonus room?

This post will walk you through one space-usage idea (designed to add sleeping space to a cottage), plus some budget-friendly ways to personalize your space.

bonus room decorcrews quarters signCrew’s Quarters Sign | Sailboat Wall Art (similar)| Eyelet Bedskirt Striped Coverlet (similar) | Nightstand

The Space

This bonus room sits above the garage at our family cottage, which serves as a retreat for not only our immediate family, but also cousins, aunts/uncles, and friends. The Sturgeon Bay cottage, on the shores of Lake Michigan, is routinely the site of our family reunions (think 15+ people for a week). Yes, we are one of those weird families that actually enjoys reunions. The reunion-situation (we used to do it yearly) put bed space at a premium. In fact, we used to build a tent “city” in the side yard to accomodate everyone. Each family had their own tent.

The bonus room offered a perfect alternative…

bonus room design scheme

This sizeable space, flanked by angled ceilings, could serve as a dormitory of sorts. We just needed 5 twin beds and a unifying design scheme! Because this is a vacation spot, there was no need for the accoutrements of a traditional bedroom. Our visitors just wanted a cozy and serene sleeping spot.

The Design Elements

My family loves the water, so our cottage has an understated nautical vibe. Consequently, a blue and white theme felt natural. My mom (the trained designer of the family) pulled inspiration for the space from her porcelain collection, which includes beautiful plates and vases like these. We even duplicated the porcelain look with a DIY lamp project (more on that below). However, the real “glue” that holds this room together is its assortment of twin headboards.

relaxing bonus roombonus room design tips

White Crochet Top | Crew Sign | Sailboat Wall Art (similar) Bedskirt Striped Coverlet (similar)

A Headboard Haven

The headboards are all thrift/consignment finds painted white. [Wait, I forgot one is original to the house. It was tucked in the back of the garage. Isn’t repurposing awesome?] Anyhow… While each headboard is slightly different, their eye-pleasing, graceful lines combine to create a cohesive whole. The subtle differences between the pieces help the room avoid feeling “stuffy” or overdone.

As a cottage space, you really want your rooms to feel inviting and casual.

While we searched for headboards for more than a year, you can duplicate this look without the hassle of collecting, sanding, and repainting. Here are a few new headboard options that offer a similar vibe…

bonus room sleeping quarters

Lovely Lamps

In between each bed, rests a small nightstand with a lamp. To mimic the porcelain collection, I used acrylic craft paint to create blue and white detailing on plain white lamps. Each lamp has a slightly different design, much like the headboards. Some have stripes, others dots and floral. The trick is to use a light touch while painting. Additionally, you want to plan out your design before you pick up the brush.

Have a lamp you hate, but think the base has potential?

You’ll be amazed what a little craft paint can do! If your base isn’t white to start with, you can use spray paint to get your blank canvas. Allow it to dry completely, then add the detailing with your craft paint and paint brush.

Afraid all this pattern will look chaotic? Don’t be! If you stick to a limited color palette, with lots of white, you will always retain an edited, shabby chic feel. I know someone will ask about the cat… This is Will, my mom’s cat and quite possibly one of the most beautiful on the planet! You can’t really see in this pic, but his eyes are a piercing blue. Doesn’t he match the room perfectly?

bonus room decorBonus room ideas

Breezy Bedding

The final piece to this bonus room puzzle is the bedding. A cheerful print and feminine bed skirt really sets the tone for a restful retreat. We opted for a mix of stripes/floral, using the sham from the opposite bed for balance ( e.g. floral sham w/ striped coverlet). However, there are so many directions you can take your bedding. There is a plethora of blue and white options for cottage retreats and nautical spaces. Here are a few…

Need more inspiration? Check out these other beautiful blue and white decor items!

Now, I’m curious… Do you have a bonus room in your house? How are you using the space? Please comment below and if you have any questions about our project, let me know!


  1. Victoria Martin | 26th Jul 19

    My favorite room!!

    • laveremis | 26th Jul 19

      I figured it was time to give this one some attention. Everyone – including the cats – seems to love it! 🙂 Thanks Vicki!

  2. Computer Console | 21st Aug 19

    Hello there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my zynga group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

    • laveremis | 22nd Aug 19

      You bet – please share away! Anyone who loves lakeside decor and subtle hints of nautical life might enjoy this.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *