One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Builder-Grade Entryway Gets a Welcoming DIY Refresh for $2,000

published Jul 27, 2023
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If you live in a new-build home, you might be looking for ways to add a little character and personality to plain walls. Paint is a great starting point, as is fresh art. But you can punch the walls up even more with custom touches like molding, wallpaper, and more. Need inspiration? Take a look at this entryway redo from DIYer Julia Cole (@twentylot).

When Julia moved into her new-build home in 2021, she immediately got started on adding her own personal style throughout. But one space that sat untouched for a while was the entryway — a long hall that led to the open-concept main living area. It had potential to function as its own independent space, but it just needed the right design vision. 

Julia decided to tackle the project as part of the One Room Challenge, which gave her a firm eight-week timeline to complete the makeover. “It was very much a blank slate, which made it easy to execute, but also difficult to land on a concept because the options were basically endless,” Julia says of crafting the plan for the new space.

Credit: @twentylot
Credit: @twentylot

An eager DIYer, Julia dove into this project headfirst, tackling multiple new-to-her projects at once, including the new board-and-batten wall treatment. For that, she first smoothed out the textured walls with backer board before applying her stiles (the vertical trim pieces) and rails (the horizontal top pieces). Time constraints forced her to reach for wood instead of less-expensive MDF for this part of the project, which increased the total project cost. Julia recommends fellow DIYers stick with the lower-cost MDF option for their own board-and-batten projects.

Julia tapped her husband, Hieu Tran, for help installing the floral wallpaper around the door. “We have 10-foot ceilings, and being 5’2″, I found that reaching the ceiling, even with a ladder, was difficult,” Julia says. A second set of hands was a huge asset.

Credit: @twentylot

Hieu also helped install Julia’s DIY faux beam overhead, which she made out of leftover plywood from a cabinet refresh a few months prior. She designed it to match the existing beams in the adjacent living space. “I’m not sure anyone would notice other than myself, but matching the stain color of the faux beam in the entryway to the beams in our great room, which was done by a professional, was a huge accomplishment!” Julia says.

Credit: @twentylot

After fresh paint on the door, Julia finished with practical additions (a mirror, a bench, and coat hooks) and some new decor — it all makes the space feel cozy and welcoming. In the end the space cost about $2,000 to remake, but provided Julia with tons of new DIY experience as well as some much-needed creative inspiration.

“I poured my heart and soul into that space and, at the time, used it as an outlet to channel myself out of a mental rut,” she says. “It was eight weeks of project after project. It not only brought our entryway to life, but also brought me back to life in a sense!” How’s that for the power of DIY?

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