One Room Challenge

Before and After: A “Dumping Ground” Bedroom Nook Gets Dreamy New DIY Built-Ins

published Sep 10, 2023
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Small rooms certainly have their design challenges, but sometimes big rooms can be tricky to furnish, too. That’s especially true for big rooms that feature odd nooks and corners, which don’t always fit seamlessly in with the rest of the space.

Take this bedroom nook belonging to Tiffany Tcheng (@tiffanytcheng). Located in Tiffany’s primary bedroom, the nook was actually pretty sizable — 10 feet by 6 feet — but for a while was nothing more than “our dumping ground/storage spot for anything that did not have a home,” Tiffany says. “I would go to sleep and wake up staring at boxes and bins of stuff that we had accumulated over the years.”

A few years ago, though, Tiffany found out she was pregnant, so she and her husband decided to convert the space into a temporary baby nook until their child could move into their own bedroom. “We attempted to add a faux shiplap with thin plywood and paint, and it looked absolutely TERRIBLE,” Tiffany says. They lived with it for a few years, but Tiffany knew that this spring, she wanted to prioritize transforming this space into a relaxing retreat that wasn’t just full of stuff.

She decided to do her project as part of the One Room Challenge, something she recommends for other DIYers looking for a kickstart. “The ORC community is amazing! They’re such great motivators to help cheer you on,” she says.

DIY built-ins were the basis for this redo.

“I was fortunate that I did not have to demo anything before starting this project, because nothing existed in the space,” Tiffany says, so she got right into planning her build. To create a space for an electric fireplace and TV, Tiffany needed to build out the wall that was already there. She started with shelves on either side, created with pre-finished cabinets and DIY bookshelves. She made enough room in between for the electric fireplace, which she framed with a DIY wood surround (it’s made of scrap wood). Drywall above completes the “always-been-here” illusion.

“I had never built cabinets or built-ins from scratch before,” Tiffany says of this mostly DIY project. “Drywalling was also a first for me. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be, but it’s very messy! The hardest part is waiting for the mud to dry between coats.”

One thing Tiffany did hire out a pro for was the electrical work. They wired for sconces on both bookshelves, and added outlets for the fireplace and incoming TV.

Neutral colors support the relaxing vibe.

Once everything was in place, Tiffany added in the decorative touches. That included a neutral paint job (Sherwin-Williams’s Intellectual Gray on the built-ins and Dunn-Edwards’s Droplets around the fireplace) as well as the new picture lights on either side of the fireplace. She also filled the shelves with decor.

Finally, Tiffany added two cushy new chairs that are perfect for curling up with a book or for kicking back to watch TV. 

“If I could do anything different, I might try to add more functional storage,” Tiffany says. “Our home doesn’t have coat closets or linen closets, or any other really meaningful storage space, so I am always looking for an opportunity to add storage that makes sense for us.”

Even so, she’s happy with creating a new space for her and her husband to unwind. “What I love most about the “after” of this project is that the space is now defined. It has a purpose,” she says. “I really love coming into our bedroom after tucking the girls in for the night and being able to connect with my husband and relax for the evening.”

This project was completed for the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.