One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Dingy Basement Becomes an Elegant Bedroom— with a Surprising Paint Choice

published Dec 25, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Rental Friendly
Before: an empty room with lots of wooden shelves

If you’re lucky enough to have a basement in your home, you know how valuable that extra space can be. And you know just how dark and dreary that space can be, too, owing to little natural light and frequently low ceilings (it is underground, after all).

This project by DIYer and blogger Suzannah Stanley (Create/Enjoy) is all the proof you need. Before she started her makeover, Suzannah’s basement wasn’t exactly inviting. The unfinished concrete floors and walls made the space dark and cold — and even a haven for bugs, according to Suzannah.

But she envisioned so much more for her 1,100-square-foot basement than a place to quickly skirt in and out of to do the laundry. After tossing around a number of ideas, including an office, music room or small playroom, Suzannah finally settled on transforming the space to include an extra guest room, which she finished as part of the One Room Challenge.

The entire project came together over the course of six months or so, thanks to a combination of professional help and DIY projects. Suzannah had pros do the drywall and electrical work earlier in the year, then painted the new bedroom (PPG’s Safari Brown) and installed the trim herself. (The shapeshifting color is a favorite element of Suzannah’s, she says — “Is it brown? red? pink?”) Then, of course, came the new decor to turn this space into an actually usable sleeping area.

The room’s style is a bit vintage and a bit modern, but 100 percent soothing. The earthy wall color helps this room feel lively even without a lot of extra decor — crucial for a small space. Suzannah stuck to the basics here: a bed (outfitted with a headboard she scored for free and revamped with Calico fabric), a couple secondhand stools to serve as nightstands, and a small dresser.

Plug-in wall sconces on either side of the bed are practical for reading. To get this cool custom look, Suzannah bought plain sconces and recovered the white shades in a blue fabric that ties in with the new bedding.

Another smart DIY: Suzannah downloaded free museum art and had the pieces printed at FedEx before placing them in vintage frames. The display looks high-end, but for a fraction of the price.

While the basement may have started out cold and buggy, the bedroom Suzannah carved out has become a peaceful haven nestled in the rest of the finished basement. And its sophisticated look comes courtesy of Suzannah’s daring decor choices. “Choose lots of pieces and colors you love, and you’ll probably be able to combine them in a way that harmonizes,” she advises. And here, they absolutely sing.

This project was completed for the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.