Projects & Improvements

Before and After: A $4,000 Spare Bedroom-Turned-Home Office Includes a Semi-Custom Murphy Bed

published Jun 6, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Office & Dens
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Before: bedroom with blue rug and gallery wall
Credit: Mai Townsend

Some of the best design advice is simple: Great rooms are those that actually work for you and your routine. If you exercise more than you host dinner parties, why not turn your formal dining room into a cycling studio? If you WFH more than you have overnight guests, consider converting a spare bedroom into a home office, like Mai Townsend (of @maispaces) did in her 1965 home, which she’s been slowly renovating since 2018.

“The main reason for the change was that I decided to open my own design business in 2020, and space within our home became a premium,” Mai says. “I tried for months to see if I could pack materials and samples in my garage, but it was unsustainable.”

Credit: Mai Townsend

She needed an office space, and she knew that the spare room was only sporadically used a few times a year anyway. “The guest bedroom offered a well-lit area for a personal office where I could play with textures and a modern palette,” Mai says. “The original room was in pretty good shape, and it offered around 135 square feet for this new space.”

Her project took about three months. She hired professional electricians to help with adding outlets, but the rest of the work she did herself, including adding a cool desk and a Murphy bed so that there’s still room for guests to sleep if needed.

Credit: Mai Townsend

The desk is made from a combo of birch butcher block counters from Home Depot, IKEA SEKTION cabinets and KUNGSBACKA cabinet fronts. One lesson learned here? Don’t be afraid to use materials meant for the kitchen in an office — or an any room where storage is the priority. Mai cut a birch counter slab in half to create shelving, too, which she hung with metal brackets she found on Etsy and painted black. She also found the brass pulls for the cabinetry on Etsy.

Credit: Mai Townsend

The Murphy bed opposite the shelving unit is a big box find, but Mai added some DIY customization. “A bit of research can really help you build anything you want,” she says. “Following the manufacturer’s guide made the project a breeze and allowed me to still create something unique for the front of the unit that is fun and different.”

She cut and added the wood slats to the door fronts herself using 1/4-inch plywood, and she painted the outer frame black (Magnolia’s Blackboard). She says that the slat-plus-matte-black duo matches well with other DIY details in her home.

Credit: Mai Townsend

The Murphy bed is one of Mai’s favorite parts of the multi-use space. “Knowing that I built it makes me very proud,” she says.

She also loves the new details the electrician installed. “Having additional plugs above the counter so I do not see the cables (my CPU and printer are nicely hidden in the cabinetry) and having different layers of lighting was a top priority for the space,” she says.

Credit: Mai Townsend

Mai used much of the existing decor from the guest bedroom, but she finished off her space with new window treatments, new rug tiles from Flor, a Crate & Barrel coffee table, vintage chrome lamp, and a bench from Burrow. Her total room redo cost came in at $4,000.

“The final look is modern and uses lots of natural wood tones to add warm to the space,” Mai says. “Having a brand-new space that is cohesive, clutter-free, and functional brings me happiness.”