Before and After: A Blank Box Bedroom Gets a Stylish, Functional Redo for $3,000

published Mar 31, 2021
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About this before & after
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Before: empty bedroom with white walls

If any areas of your home were under-used before March 2020, they’re likely getting a workout now — especially as makeshift home offices. But those spaces probably have to do other jobs, too, which can be a tough balancing act. For fresh ideas on how to create a multifunctional space that’s also beautiful, look to this project from Sarah Wissinger and Nick Malburg of the blog Sarah & Nick.

The couple started out with a tiny guest bedroom that was initially pretty featureless, Sarah says. It was where Nick kept his clothes, and it had a (pretty plain) bed where they could host guests. “But other than that,” Sarah says, “it was just a room we didn’t need to use on a daily basis.”

That changed last year when Sarah’s company shifted to a full-time work-from-home policy. “I spent the first six months of the pandemic working at a desk we tucked into the corner of our living room but it felt really intrusive to have my work setup out on display right in the heart of our home,” Sarah says. Eventually, they decided to turn their empty room into an inviting guest bedroom and home office combo.

Sarah and Nick started by removing the room’s old stained wood trim, skim coating the walls, painting them a fresh white, and installing new white trim. “That already made the room feel a million times better,” Sarah says it made the room look brighter and cleaner, and made the old floors look brand new, too.

Sarah wanted to move the bed into the corner of the room to maximize floor space. To help it look more like a luxe daybed, the couple built a wraparound upholstered headboard. They took inspiration from a post on Emily Henderson’s site, but rather than wrapping full pieces of plywood with batting and fabric, they wrapped plywood frames; the swap made Sarah and Nick’s panels super light and easy to hang.

Next to the bed, the couple installed a small wall-mount nightstand and a simple sconce to serve as a reading light so the room is guest-ready once they feel prepared to host visitors. They also swapped out the ceiling fan with a stylish gold light fixture from Illuminate Vintage.

Relocating the bed made room for a desk for Sarah. This one is a Nick-and-Sarah original, made with an IKEA IVAR cabinet on one end. “Inside the cabinet, we have my computer tower so that it’s hidden from view,” Sarah says. “We added a vent in the side and cut a hole in the back to allow airflow and prevent it from overheating.” The matching plywood desktop is attached to the wall on the other end. An open shelf above and a few potted plants make the desk feel super inviting (even if it’s used for work).

On the other end of the room, Sarah and Nick installed a bifold door on the open closet, and added trim details to give it a custom touch.

All told, Sarah and Nick spent $3,000 on this project, including all of their materials and supplies for their DIYs, plus furnishings and fixtures.

“I love that we took an empty room and gave it a function!” Sarah says. “I’m over a year into working from home, and most days I don’t see anything outside these four walls, so I love getting to utilize a space in our house that wasn’t especially needed before.”

And the view within those four walls? Pretty good, Sarah says. “I get great light through the window. It’s truly a nice place to work and I feel tucked away from where I like to relax in our living room, which is much less intrusive than my previous setup.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.