See the “Desperate” Transformation That Made This Hallway Cozy and Inviting (For $70!)

published Jun 7, 2024
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About this before & after
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Rental Friendly

Front doors, vestibules, and entryways are all about first impressions, and for Sarah Badar (@dr_biophilic_mom) and her family of five, their house’s “plain, dull white boring” entryway was making a lackluster first impression. Worse yet, it wasn’t very functional for coming and going.

Sarah, a renter, wanted to add more personality and more storage to the space. (Specifically, she wanted it to be able to fit five pairs of shoes.) She made it happen with an approximately $70 project. The heroes in the Before & After are an IKEA LACK bench, a DIY cushion, and statement-making (renter-friendly, of course!) peel-and-stick wallpaper. In fact, there are two different wallpapers, and that wasn’t originally planned. Read the renter’s recap of her project below.

Apartment Therapy Before & After Survey

Describe what this space looked like before.

It was a plain, dull white boring space and felt very uninviting. It’s relatively a newly constructed house — however, a typical builder-grade. It’s the first place you see when you step into the house. There is a designated corner for the entryway.

Why did you decide to make a change?  

We are a family of five: me, my husband, and three teenagers. I desperately wanted to make this space look inviting and warm, and I needed something to store at least five pairs of shoes.

Credit: Sarah Badar
Credit: Sarah Badar

What were the important steps in the project?

No major structural changes were done. The major impact came from the wallpaper. There is an electrical box on the side wall. (It can be seen in the before pictures.) It is now covered with the wallpaper but still accessible, as I carefully made the cutouts around it.

Were there any setbacks or surprises along the way?

I did not plan to cover the entire corner with the peel-and-stick wallpaper. However, when I was done pasting the paper, the junction between the beige paint and the wallpaper felt odd or incomplete. 

After a considerable decision-making process, I decided to make a scalloped border with a green peel-and-stick wallpaper. (I had to order this one and wait to complete this space!)

Surprisingly, the scalloped border became my new favorite element of the makeover. This is the reason I believe that one should not limit their imagination and should try whatever they fancy.

Credit: Sarah Badar
Credit: Sarah Badar

What do you love about the space now?

The bench with its upholstered cushion serves the purpose I was looking for. The feeling of warmth from the bold wallpaper as you step into the house is very satisfying. I love plants, so that plant on the side is also one of my favorites.

What did you learn in doing this project?

Peel-and-stick wallpaper is a life-saver for renters who really want to create a charming living space for themselves. 

Shop your own home. Moving things from one place to the other can give a whole new look to a piece. Nothing new was bought for this project except for wallpaper. The bench and rug were picked from my own home!

Credit: Sarah Badar
Credit: Sarah Badar

Did you use any budget-friendly tricks? 

I used an old IKEA LACK bench and gave it a new life by spray-painting it. The plaid fabric for the cushion was thrifted. Even the wall decor is all thrifted. That wooden mirror was thrifted from Spitalfield market in London, and the frames were secondhand finds from a thrift market in Pakistan.

This submission’s responses and photos were edited for length and clarity.