One Room Challenge

Before and After: A “White Box” Bedroom Is Now Packed with Storage, Thanks to IKEA

published Jun 10, 2023
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Before: Bedroom with tufted headboard and blank tan walls
Credit: Rebecca Rajs

Even though it can be tempting to start on your big design plans for a new home the moment you get your keys, sometimes there’s virtue in waiting — in spending a little time in your space so you know how it would function best for you and your routine. (Plus, that gives you a little time to build a budget for it, too.) DIYer Rebecca Rajs (@rebs_home) agrees, saying that waiting a year to renovate her primary bedroom was worth it. 

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

“When we moved into our house one year ago, I knew I wanted to redo our primary bedroom but I wanted to live in the space for a bit before doing anything permanent,” she says. “During that first year, we bought nightstands and a dresser off of Facebook Marketplace to temporarily furnish the room while I dreamed up what my ideal bedroom would look like. I wanted to make sure I fully understood our needs before making any changes.”

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

What Rebecca gleaned from her year of inspiration-finding was that her bedroom needed more storage and a bit more color and texture. Before, “it was just a white box,” she says. During the Spring 2023 One Room Challenge, Rebecca totally changed that. She cleared out the entire room, and then she started on her priority: storage. 

“I started with building a few IKEA PAX wardrobes along one wall,” Rebecca explains. “After I built them, I secured them to the wall and then added some filler to make the wardrobe go all the way to the ceiling. I used IKEA doors but added some trim detail to make them look custom.” 

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

After that, she painted. Rebecca wanted to make the sliding closet doors in the space a focal point, so she painted those black; then, she painted the walls, trim, and custom closet a sage-meets-gray (Benjamin Moore’s Sea Haze). Rebecca adds that she finds the shade very calming — an asset in any sleep space — and that it’s one of her favorite elements of the “after.”

Next, Rebecca added crown molding along all of the walls, which was a DIY first for her. “I did a lot of research before and just took the plunge,” she says. “I made some templates for my cuts first and ended up referencing them quite a bit during the process. I went in with the mentality that this was not going to be perfect, and that helped a lot.” In addition to precise measurements and cuts, adding the trim took lots of finishing work — caulking, wood filling, and painting — but she says it was the important last step to make her IKEA wardrobe look built in to the room. “It was a lot of work to do in eight weeks, especially working around travel, a full-time job, and other commitments,” she says. 

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

After the tedious crown molding, Rebecca moved on to electrical work — replacing the ceiling fan and installing sconces on both sides of where the bed would go, and then she furnished and accessorized. That’s when she brought in canvas curtains, a channel-tufted headboard (also seen in the before images), soft bedding, and throw pillows.

One more DIY to call out in the space? The artwork! “I knew I wanted to splurge on the light fixtures, so I tried to save money in other areas, like the art pieces I chose,” Rebecca says. She created a textured artwork on a large canvas using joint compound and then built a simple wood frame around it. For the art piece above the bed, she thrifted a black frame, downloaded a free public domain print, and then had it large-scale printed at a local copy shop. 

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

“I am so happy with how the room turned out!” Rebecca says. Her favorite part of the redo is the storage she added — and on a budget, too, as her cool teal closet system cost under $1,000. “We have SO much more storage now — we actually have more storage than we need (although I’m sure we’ll fill it all eventually)!” Rebecca says. “ It turned out exactly how I imagined it.”

Rebecca’s design advice (which relates to her new storage setup!) is to “really think about the function of the space you’re renovating,” she says. “It was tempting to just buy a large dresser, but I knew deep down, we would still be short on clothes storage, so I had to come up with a different solution. Of course you want a space to be beautiful, but function is even more important.”

Credit: Rebecca Rajs

Lucky for Rebecca, her new bedroom is both — and it was totally worth the wait and careful planning. “I’m so happy that we have a space to relax in at the end of our busy days,” she says. 

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

Inspired? Submit your own project here.