One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Blank Basement Becomes a Hangout-Ready, Hollywood-Inspired Movie Room

published Sep 3, 2022
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Living Room
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: an empty white room
Credit: Joy Maier

In case you didn’t know: Today, Sept. 3, is National Cinema Day. (Hello, $3 movie tickets!) But for days when you want to stay in and screen your favorites at home, this home theater seems like the perfect place to cozy up with a binge-worthy Netflix watch at the ready.

Blogger Joy Maier (@theaspiringhome_) created this family movie room during the One Room Challenge. When the home was built in 2020, it was wired for an entertainment center. Joy says she and her family decided to tackle the project once they had the money saved up (their project cost about $7,500), and because the eight-week challenge would give them incentive to finish their dream streaming and screening space.

“Our family loves movies and watching series together,” Joy says. “Our schedules are all very busy, so when we do get a little time together to watch, why not make it a special occasion?”

Credit: Joy Maier

Joy says she was going for a “Golden Hollywood-era screening feeling” for the “after.” She started by installing a feature wallpaper in the room that gives a dramatic, cinematic vibe. “I am so in love with the gentle landscape and colors,” Joy writes on her blog of the pasted mural.

She then painted the rest of the walls in Benjamin Moore’s Chelsea Gray, and she painted the ceiling a deep sea blue shade, Sherwin-Williams’ Waterloo, “for ambience and light control,” she explains, adding that she loves the contrast and pop of color. “The only thing I would do differently concerning this room? Probably hire someone to paint!” she says.

Credit: Joy Maier

Joy also says there was a slight snafu with the new sconces she chose to replace the existing builder-grade ones; she wishes she would have installed them pre-wallpaper. “The new sconce backplate was round, and the old backplate was rectangle,” she explains. “We had to get creative and merge the two sconces to make a “custom” sconce. It worked out, but we were sweating it out a little.”

Joy’s favorite DIY in the space is the custom coffee tables that she and her husband made by attaching legs to real film reels. “The old movie reels belonged to my husband’s dad,” Joy says. “He was a movie projectionist back when it was an art form.”

As such, Joy says that in her redo, creating a true theater-like experience was important. “The speakers, projector, screen, and more really create the magic in the room,” she says. Her advice is to “research the best equipment you can buy for your budget, and upgrade when or as you can.”

Credit: Joy Maier

To add to the theater vibe, Joy hung vintage movie posters and also created a concessions area with a bar cart; she spray-painted its black metal legs gold to create a more luxe Hollywood feel. The golden gumball machine on the cart is also a spray-painted creation.

Finally, Joy says, “seating was a big deal.” Her family already owned a leather sectional, but Joy supplemented the seating with a bar setup great for not only movie and TV watching but also snacking. “I purchased very reasonable barstools and reupholstered the seats in a stunning fabric,” Joy explains. “The barstools’ glam factor was enhanced by changing the black metal to gold with a little Rub ‘n Buff gold wax.”

Credit: Joy Maier

Now, she has a spot where family and friends love to gather regularly. “We took a boring, blank space and turned it into a real gathering spot,” Joy says. “Don’t be afraid to have fun with the theme of your movie room and do a deep dive into finding what makes you and your family happy.”

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