One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Dramatic Paint Color and Luxe Decor Transform a Blank Box Bedroom

published Jun 22, 2023
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About this before & after
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Before: an empty white room with beige carpeting

There’s nothing quite like moving into a blank box home to get your creative wheels turning. After all, the design opportunities are, quite literally, endless — and even when you take factors like landlords and budget into account, the options are still pretty darn vast.

So it’s no surprise that interior design student Brittney Mattis (@artofbrit) saw her bare-bones new-build apartment and decided a dramatic makeover was in store (within the bounds of her lease, of course). Because the bedroom is one of the most-used areas for Brittney and her husband, Ryan, she wanted to focus on it first. The eight-week One Room Challenge provided the ideal opportunity.

The starting point could not have been more plain — it was “utterly empty,” as Brittney puts it. “It looked exactly like you would expect an unfurnished bedroom in a 2020 complex to look.” While she didn’t love the wall-to-wall tan carpet, she was a fan of the big windows that brought in plenty of natural light during the day.

Brittney wanted the bedroom to be a space that helped the couple “feel entirely at home,” she says. “I aimed to create a space where waking up felt like a joyful experience and going to bed felt incredibly posh!” To do that, she leaned into a luxurious-looking Art Deco vibe.

Brittney decided on an accent wall behind the bed in a midnight navy (Behr’s Starless Night), which Ryan painted. If she were to do the project again, she says, she’d go all in on the rich color and do it on all four walls — but for now, even just one gave the room a bit more character. “It significantly changed the mood and set the tone for the entire design,” Brittney says.

The wall-to-wall carpet had to stay, but that didn’t mean it had to be visible. Brittney chose a large geometric rug from Amazon (a steal at just $180 at the time) that conceals much of the greige carpet and leans into the Art Deco vibes. A new bed with an oversized upholstered headboard is another glam touch.

Brittney selected small side tables instead of nightstands for the room, which meant that she needed to find ways to keep them free of clutter. That inspired her to choose plug-in wall-mount sconces over table lamps so that the couple could have their own reading lights without sacrificing valuable nightstand space. Finally, Ryan hung fresh curtains and Brittney finished the sleep space with cozy bedding. All in, the bedroom redo cost about $1,800.

“I’ve fallen in love with the design after seeing how well all of the elements work together,” Brittney says of what she calls her “moody” bedroom makeover. For anyone else who’s working with a plain starting point, she has this advice: “Embrace the drama! Don’t be afraid to make bold selections that give the room a sense of excitement and aesthetic intrigue. Drama can make a space come alive and be very unforgettable.”

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.