One Room Challenge

Before and After: This Dramatic $1,400 Bedroom Redo Proves the Power of Thrifting

published Jun 17, 2023
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About this before & after
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Neatly made bed in room before renovation.

If a room feels almost complete but feels like it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi, it’s helpful to look to the walls. Is there a paint color, painted shape, wallpaper pattern, molding design, or textured treatment you can add that will complete the vibe you’re going for? Choosing a single wall-focused project to complete can go a long way.

In this approximately $1,400 guest bedroom redo that DIYer Emily Huxford (@happilyhuxford), completed for the One Room Challenge, all of the walls got some TLC. Before, “The tan carpet and tan walls created a basic beige box that didn’t have much pizzazz or personality,” Emily says. “The basics of the room hadn’t been changed or updated since the house was built in 2007.”

After, the most dramatic difference in the space is the dark greenish-gray wall color. “I’m obsessed with the new color!” Emily says. (It’s Sherwin-Williams’ Greenblack.) That change, of course, is one of a few that Emily undertook in the course of the bedroom redo. Over eight weeks, she and her husband ripped up the old carpet and replaced it with new flooring, painted all of the walls and ceilings, and added molding to the room to give the 2007 build a little more character. 

“We had never done box molding before!” Emily says when referring to their wall project. “We were originally going to do board-and-batten, but pivoted due to the cost of wood/MDF. It would have cost a lot for the materials … so we switched and figured it out!”

Instead of board-and-batten, Emily and Sean opted for a PVC material to create their box shapes. Although it was cost-effective, Emily says it was tricky to work with. The material is lightweight and flexible, so it was difficult to get all the pieces exactly level, she recalls. Plus, box molding requires a lot of caulking.

“I cannot over stress how much caulking was involved,” Emily says. “I felt like I caulked and painted the boxes for weeks on end to get them all finished.” Post-caulking, getting an even cover on the walls and molding with her dark paint color was also a bit of a challenge, she adds. 

“Any time you added a little extra coverage to one spot, that spot would read a slightly different color than the rest of the wall,” Emily says. “We ended up doing a lot of coats of paint to try and get a nice, even coverage on all of the dark walls.” 

Emily says if she could change one thing about the project, she would have used a paint that was more matte, which would have been more forgiving.

One thing that was easier than expected was piecing together the standout wall in the space: the mirror wall. That wall has DIY two-thirds molding, too, but over top Emily hung a collection of gold-framed mirrors for a truly dramatic display. She sourced all of the mirrors secondhand over the course of the One Room Challenge’s eight weeks. 

“I thought for sure I’d have a tough time finding enough mirrors at a price point I could swallow … but I fortunately found every piece I needed to complete that gallery wall,” she says. “I’m very proud of how that wall turned out!” And she’s particularly proud that the mirror wall altogether cost just $141. The most expensive mirror in the bunch was $40. 

The mirror wall is representative of Emily’s overall DIY advice, which is to shop secondhand when you can; the lifecycle of your furniture doesn’t have to begin and end with you. In fact, Emily sold some of the furniture she didn’t want from the bedroom’s “before,” so her net cost for the redo was about $900. 

“Basically this entire room is made of thrifted, secondhand treasures,” Emily adds. (Everything but the gold velvet curtains, curtain track, laminate oak flooring, and rug!) She bought the bed and dresser from a friend who collects vintage furniture, her nightstands are Red Lion side tables from the 1960s that she found at a yard sale for $15 with brass handles that she re-shined, the armchair is Arhaus thrifted for $15, the lamps are from a salvage store, the fox art above the bed and tabletop decor are thrifted, and the capiz shell pendant is something she nabbed on eBay for $40 last fall and couldn’t live without (even though at the time she didn’t know exactly where she would put it). 

“I spend a lot of time thrifting pieces for my home because it’s sustainable and it’s affordable,” Emily says. “It’s a lot more work to slowly curate and thrift pieces for your home, but I think the outcome is unbeatable. No other guest room will ever look exactly like mine, and I love that!”

Emily says her favorite part of the redo is definitely the thrifted mirror wall. “It’s such a beautiful statement wall in this space, and I really don’t think the room would feel the same without it,” she says, adding that overall the room feels like a boutique hotel. 

“I’m jokingly inviting everyone I know over to stay the night so they can see this new space,” Emily says. “I love that I’m able to take a plain beige box of a room and turn it into this beautiful, moody masterpiece that feels like it belongs in my home.” 

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.