One Room Challenge

Before and After: $1,500 DIY Built-Ins Transform an Unkempt Basement into a Productive Workspace

published Aug 11, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Office & Dens
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: A room with a bear skin on the wall and containers and various objects on the floor
Credit: Amanda Rice

Built-in storage may seem complicated and expensive, but homeowner Amanda Rice wants you to know that “built-ins are completely doable as a DIY project.” (And these green bookshelves, these pinkish beige ones, and these white ones in a dining room all prove it!)

Amanda was looking to transform her cluttered “catchall basement guest room” into a space for organization and productivity. “Somewhere to do my work and create instead of on every table in our home,” Amanda explains.

With $1,500 worth of materials, Amanda created a sleek new home office during the Spring 2022 One Room Challenge — a far cry from the room before that “never got used and just collected a bunch of stuff [she] didn’t want to deal with.”

Credit: Amanda Rice

First, Amanda ripped up the carpeting and added luxury vinyl planking for the floors; the wood-like finish is a classic look, but the vinyl material is more affordable (not to mention durable). Then, Amanda added new baseboards (painted dark for added drama against the white walls) that she married with a wall of dark-painted built-ins.

Amanda made the built-ins — a combo of a desk and shelving — using 1/2-inch MDF boards. For texture, she used pole wrap on the wall behind the desk (painted black to match the built-ins) as well as on the drawer and door fronts. On those, though, she kept the color a light natural wood tone to add some extra dimension to the built-ins. That little detail is Amanda’s favorite part of the project; she says it adds organic texture and warmth to the room.

The whole project was a DIY endeavor. “I did all the work completely solo in this project!” Amanda says. “Every time I walk in this room, I am reminded that I built this myself completely from scratch — every single piece!”

Amanda’s best DIY advice is this: “One step at a time and it can be done! You will surprise yourself and then have something in your home you are incredibly proud of!”

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