One Room Challenge

Before and After: 6 DIY Projects Totaling $1,500 Make This “Blank Slate” Bedroom More Cozy and Character-Filled

published Jan 30, 2023
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About this before & after
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Before: Blank corner of bedroom

Moving into a newly-built home is certainly exciting (hello, flawless floors, new paint smell, updated appliances, and contemporary hardware!), but it can also feel a bit anticlimactic, design-wise, especially if the home wasn’t custom-built for you. Because builders want to appeal to the mass market and optimize their budget, they often choose neutral paint colors and no-frills finishes — but this doesn’t mean you can’t update a cookie-cutter home once you have the keys.

That’s exactly what Shweta Pathak (@houseofsuris) and her husband, Rajeev, have been doing, room by room, in their 2020 home. Their $500 paint-fueled kitchen redo was first on the list and made a huge difference. And most recently, they’ve tackled their guest bedroom.

What was once a “blank slate” — empty with very little furniture — is now charming and cozy, thanks to six DIY projects completed during the One Room Challenge.

“I made a weekly task plan and was able to execute it and finish all the projects in time,” Shweta says. She created a green accent wall for behind the bed, wrapped the rest of the room in green wainscoting, personalized an IKEA dresser and nightstands, updated her old bed, painted her white-framed windows black, updated some thrift-store art, and creating a custom sliding closet door — all in eight weeks.

During the challenge, Shweta says she learned how to use two new power tools: a miter saw and a nail gun. She wasn’t originally planning to add wainscoting all the way around the room, but she liked the green of the accent wall so much, she decided to add more of it on the walls. The color is “perfect for adding relaxing vibes” to the room, she writes on Instagram; it’s aptly named Retreat by Sherwin-Williams.

Though you wouldn’t think it on first glance, the headboard is also a paint project. Shweta took an old gray upholstered headboard and painted it white using a blend of Folk Art’s fabric medium, which transforms acrylic paint into fabric paint, and an off-white Behr paint. “I was super nervous about this one, but I am so happy with end result,” Shweta writes on Instagram.

Shweta also updated her window, painting the frame black to make it pop. She even added a few faux “panes” in the process. “I spray painted using Rust-Oleum’s Flat Black paint and used electrical tape to create the grids,” Shweta describes on Instagram.

A couple of other DIYs to note in the space? A thrifted landscape portrait that Shweta painted over to make it match the new room’s color scheme, a couple of customized IKEA pieces (a TARVA dresser and nightstand stained using Varathane’s Special Walnut stain and updated with black hardware), and the sliding closet door, made using the original builder-grade, door plus some 2x2s, beadboard, and a barn door hardware kit.

“I work 9-5, so planning was the key,” Shweta says of finishing the six big projects in the space. “Balancing it all and hitting daily milestones really helped.”

To complete the space, she added warm-toned decor: a Loloi area rug, a circular mirror from Target, a gallery wall in the corner, a cream-colored vase and lamp, and cozy textures throughout. Shweta’s best furniture-ordering advice? “Measure every wall, every corner of the room because they are not all perfect, mark furniture sizes before you order anything,” and try to order your supplies and materials before you being the project. “I planned well in advance — bought all the materials weeks before challenge started — which really helped save time and avoid those multiple Home Depot trips,” she says. “I also had all the IKEA furniture ordered before so any shipping delays were avoided.”

Thanks to careful planning, Shweta’s guest bedroom is now exactly what she had envisioned: “I love all the moody and calming vibes in this room,” she says, adding that the space is now “beautiful and welcoming for guests.”

This project was completed for the Fall 2022 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.