Projects & Improvements

Before & After: A Spare Bedroom Becomes a Spot of One’s Own

published Aug 24, 2014
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(Image credit: C. Payne)

What do you do when you move into your boyfriend’s house full of his stylish things? You work on carving out a space for you. That’s what Chris did with this tiny spare bedroom that had been rented out to a tenant before. He wanted to turn the dark room into a more welcoming guest bedroom but also create a spot he could get work done while at home, too.

(Image credit: C. Payne)

From Chris:

Moving in with a significant other is never an easy task. And if that significant other already has a style that permeates the house, carving out a space for yourself seems nearly impossible.

That’s what happened when I packed up my belongings in my tiny University City studio and moved into my boyfriend’s house in South Philly. His house — a remodeled townhome with clean lines and a cool color palette — was beautiful, and filled with his modern, simple stylings. And I loved it, but still wanted to create a space of my own. Enter the spare bedroom.

He had rented out the space to friends just prior, and so all that remained when I moved in were dark maroon walls and a dark grey (read: almost black) trim. Very dark and macho, and definitely not my style. But I liked a challenge, and I definitely like an opportunity to DIY. Was I good at it? Eh, debatable. But my boyfriend was willing to let me try, god bless his soul.

So after creating a focal, stained-wood wall, adding a few coats of light grey paint on the other walls, and 3 million coats of white paint on the trim, I created a space where sunlight didn’t vanish just after entering the windows. I repeated the wood staining process on 3 2×10” boards, and floated them just under the windows to create a desk, and slid some Ikea PS cabinets on either side to create some storage. Yellow metal sphere sculptures and an Ikea hanging-light kit came together for lighting by the bed, along with some geometric pillows from West Elm and sheets, quilt, and comforter from Target. The desk chair was a Goodwill find from when I first moved to Philadelphia.

The room is still a work in progress, and the walls are in desperate need of art. But having a room where we can stash our houseguests, or where I can retreat to whenever work comes home with me, was worth the effort in repeatedly sanding and re-staining planks of wood, or the string of silent curses as I, yet again, crawled around the room adding another coat to the trim.

Thank you Chris!