before & after: gray malin’s guest room!

the photographer's guest room gets a beach-inspired revamp.

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.

written by  SHANI SILVER photography by  NICHOLAS SCARPINATO artwork by   GRAY MALIN

Gray Malin, Fine Art Photographer and New York Times Bestselling Author (and domino favorite!), recently completed a total makeover of his guest room. Inspired by work of his own (swoon), the space evokes a vacation vibe all year long—exactly the message you’d want to get across when hosting guests. Below, the before and after process Gray used to bring his vision to life. Now, about our invite…


ART Medium White Framed print of “Man in Red Shorts, Bora Bora” Medium White Framed print of “Girl in Pink, Bora Bora” BEDS Balboa by Serena & Lily LAMPBrass Ring by Serena & Lily

WHAT INSPIRED THIS REDESIGN? I wanted to redesign my guest bedroom for quite some time. It was that one room in the house that I was never quite satisfied with but wasn’t sure what to do instead. The inspiration behind the redesign was threefold. I recently released new aerial images from Bora Bora, which have such a tranquil feel to them, so I knew they’d be perfect to greet our guests. Then, when it came to the decor, I was inspired by a friend’s guest room I recently stayed in during a trip to Santa Barbara. She had chosen to use twin beds rather than an expected queen. Though smaller, they were more playful to me and certainly more versatile for guests. Once I had these two design components in mind, I turned to Serena & Lily, as I had a feeling they would have just what I was looking for and as luck would have it, I was right!

ART Day Trip, Bora Bora sized at Large with a White frame LIGHTING FIXTUREMorro Pendant

WHAT WERE YOUR PRIMARY GOALS FOR THE SPACE? Based on my Bora Bora print selections, I knew I wanted to create a ‘coastal cabana’ feeling with the decor, yet not too theme-y. The goal for the room was to feel warm and peaceful for our guests.

WHEN REDESIGNING AN ENTIRE ROOM, WHERE DO YOU START? I often find people think of artwork towards the end of a redesign which is unfortunate because artwork really sets the mood of a room or space. If you begin with the art it can actually be a very helpful starting point in order to base follow up decisions on like color, texture, and scale of furniture and decor accessories.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THIS REDESIGN PROCESS? I loved working with the Serena & Lily team. It was fantastic having them to consult with on decisions, especially when it came to the bedding. However my favorite memory is when I first got under the covers and experienced the completed room as though I was a guest in my own home… it felt like a calm and peaceful escape with the Bora Bora artwork.

WHAT IS THE BEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE RECEIVED ON THIS SPACE SO FAR? We just had our first guest, actually. She couldn’t stop talking about what an amazing night’s rest she had because it felt like she was on a vacation (even though she was in for a work trip). Hearing that really gave me a smile as I felt that we had accomplished exactly what I had set out to do with the redesign!