One Room Challenge

Before and After: A “Bland” Guest Room Transforms into a Colorful, Cozy Home Library

published Dec 18, 2023
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About this before & after
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For those proud library card-wielding members who always seem to have their nose in a book, a home library or reading room is something that’s bucket list-worthy. Imagine a dedicated space filled with your favorite books where you can get lost in the pages, surrounded by plush furniture and tons of bold, inspiring decor to match.

That’s exactly what DIYer Mehnaz Khan (@yourcolorfulhome) achieved. Her project was part of the Fall 2023 One Room Challenge, and she transformed her family home’s “drab” guest room into a reader’s paradise.

Credit: Mehnaz Khan
Credit: Mehnaz Khan

Floor-to-ceiling bookcases fill in an empty room.

Hoping to “lure her teen and tween boys out of their bedroom by providing alternative ambiance,” Mehnaz decided to convert the all-white space into a library-study hybrid that could be enjoyed by all of the family. 

“The room was nothing but bland, boring, and builder-beige; over the past two years it was only used a handful of times to accommodate overflow guests,” Mehnaz says. “On an everyday basis, nobody wanted to spend any time there, and the reason is very obvious. The room had no personality or character.”

Frustrated by its lack of purpose, Mehnaz took action to transform it into a versatile area so the family could maximize its potential. To kickstart the project, she hired a professional to build a floor-to-ceiling bookcase that houses the entire family’s book collection. 

One takeaway from Mehnaz worth noting? “The beauty of a built-in is that it’s another canvas to express your personality,” she says.

Credit: Mehnaz Khan

An imaginative space gets an imaginative paint color.

For the wall color, Mehnaz opted for a deep and sophisticated red-purple paint (Benjamin Moore’s Elderberry Wine). The shade instantly injects a ton of personality into the room and exudes a romantic elegance. As a self-proclaimed color psychology enthusiast, Mehnaz also considered the emotional benefits of this bold shade, saying on her blog that it “promotes deep contemplation.”

While the new hue oozes depth and personality, it didn’t come without its setbacks. Mehnaz explained that it took her four months (and many, many coats) of painting the walls and the bookcase to achieve the vibrancy she desired. 

Throughout the project, Mehnaz “had to shift gears multiple times, dealing with unexpected bumps,” she wrote on her blog, Color Conscious Living. “But this is all part of the design journey, hiccups always come up.”

Credit: Mehnaz Khan
Credit: Mehnaz Khan

Wallpaper adds texture and character on the ceiling.

The ceiling is covered in a vintage-inspired vinyl wallpaper from Phillip Jeffries that further enhances the glamor of the room while adding in some depth. 

Another refresh for the ceiling was replacing the beaded light fixture from before with a more modern, statement-making lantern from Visual Comfort.

Credit: Mehnaz Khan

Furniture upcycles helped save money.

Mehnaz already owned most of the furniture in the room, and she modified some pieces to make them look more luxe. For example, she updated a decade-old blue velvet wingback chair, adding fringing to the base of the chair and wrapping the legs. She also decided to cover her existing lamps with fabric to give them an expensive feel that complements the rest of the space without having to fork out on completely new lamps. Even new items got some customization, though — like new desk chairs from Ballard Designs that Mehnaz upgraded with a fabric of her liking.

The project cost $9,000, and Mehnaz couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Her project adds purpose and color to the space, but her favorite part of the renovation is her family’s love for the room. “The whole family is in love with every bit of this space,” she explains, and they’ve taken to calling it “the parlor.” 

“My boys are using the room every day, and the family spends their evenings in the parlor,” Mehnaz says. “This transformation was a true success.”

This project was completed for the Fall 2023 One Room Challenge, in partnership with Apartment Therapy. See even more of the One Room Challenge before and afters here.