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Before and After: A $1000 Boho-Modern Redo for This Brown-on-Brown Guest Room

published Aug 23, 2020
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Before: room with brown carpet, brown walls, and minimal seating

Dark spaces can often feel warm, inviting, and cozy—but sometimes they just feel, well… dark. That was the case in Sarah Nadarajah’s guest room/office, where brown walls, tan carpet, and wood paneling made the space feel dated and cave-like. Sarah, who blogs at Rocky Canyon Rustic, was over it: “It really needed some updating and brightening of the space,” she says.

Originally, Sarah had just planned to smooth the wood paneling and add some fresh paint, but a leak in one of the foundation walls prompted her to turn a small project into a much bigger one. She pulled out the carpet and got started on an extensive renovation of the space that involved fixing the leaky wall and totally overhauling the rest of the room.

To replace the old orangey tan carpet, Sarah reached for luxury vinyl plank flooring with a wood look; it instantly made the space feel brighter and bigger. She kept the paneled walls, but smoothed out the ridges with joint compound before sanding and painting. In looking at the walls, you’d never know they weren’t drywall! The new white color on the upper walls and dark gray wainscoting on the bottom (complete with a modern herringbone design) looks way more fresh and modern.

Sarah used the same dark gray on the fireplace for a bold contrast. On the left side, she added functional shelving overtop a green-and-white star patterned accent wall. It looks like wallpaper, but Sarah actually created the look with a stencil and paint!

Sarah already had a daybed for the space, but it was a blah off-white with cottagey knobs; repainting it black and replacing the knobs with sleek gold pulls made it feel much more grown-up.

Since this space also functions as an office, Sarah wanted to make sure there was room for a comfortable desk. She made this one by adding a long desktop and legs to an existing dresser. Once she painted the bottom pieces a matching black, it was impossible to tell this wasn’t a desk all along.

Sarah’s redo took about six weeks and $1000 to complete, including the new flooring. “In the end the dated space is now an almost unrecognizable boho style guest room!” Sarah says. “I love the black and white walls with the light oak floors. It feels so much brighter and more open.”

For others who find themselves taking on a bigger project than anticipated, Sarah says, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. I had never done flooring before and, at first, it was frustrating. But once I got the hang of it, the process was pretty straight forward. And my flooring cost was cut in half by doing it myself.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.