Ideas for Ugly "Bonus" Room in New Rental?

Good Questions

Q: I'm moving into a place that's perfect for my husband and I. Most of it is in great condition (hardwood floors, nicely painted walls), but there's this weird and very ugly "bar" room in the back that doesn't match at all with the rest of the place (or our style).

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The plus side: it's a complete bonus in terms of space we need. We could shut the door that leads to it, never use it, and not miss the space. But it's a ton of square footage and has huge possibilities in terms of being a comfy lounge/bar area. We've signed a two year lease, and so I'm willing to put some work into this room, although not a ton of money since it's a rental.

The problems with the room are the huge mix of different materials: dark brown slatted wood, white painted concrete, linoleum tile that reminds me of a classroom, yellowish carpet on a ramp into the room, and horrendous plastic tiles covering the ceiling. The landlord seems pretty open to us painting things. But I don't even know where to start. We are big beer and football fans, so I think we would definitely use this for its intended "bar" purpose, but I want it to look a little more modern. The photos show the entrance to the room, which is a carpeted ramp leading out of our kitchen with the brown slats on either side. The second photo shows the view of the room from the bottom of the ramp. The third photo is more zoomed in of the bar (I forgot to mention — the bar has a built in aquarium, currently with paper mache fish in it.). Help! I need ideas!

Sent by Sarah

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and children in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.