One Room Challenge

Before and After: A Budget Office Redo Follows a Golden Rule for Brightening a Room

published Aug 21, 2023
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Some paint colors (like light blues, lavenders, navy blues, and blacks) create a more relaxed vibe, while others (yellows, bright crisp whites, neons) offer a more energetic jolt

When it came to designing her home office, DIYer Jackie Lindsay (@sewbrightcreations)  “wanted to create a bright, organized space that would motivate [her] to do [her] office work,” she explains. The walls she inherited from previous owners were a dark purple, and even with large windows, the space felt too small, dark, and overwhelming. 

“I never wanted to spend time doing office work because I didn’t enjoy being in the space,” Jackie says. In addition, the wood floors came across as too orange in combination with the purple walls, and Jackie also wanted to update her desk and shelving. 

For under $400, she completely transformed the office during the One Room Challenge — and her project included some .

A budget-friendly DIY made the built-in niche feel more modern.

“One of my favorite parts is the DIY arch shelf,” Jackie says. She used the bones of the room’s old niche bookcase to create the new arched alcove, which was crafted using a cardboard template for the top. “I think it’s so cool,” Jackie says. “My goal was to make it look built-in, which made for a few complications, but I persisted, and I love how it turned out.” YouTube tutorials helped guide her along the way.

 A fresh white paint job makes the whole room look brighter.

Although the shelf was a huge DIY win, Jackie says the biggest difference-maker in the project was the crisp white paint. “It took one coat of primer and two coats of white paint to go from dark purple to white,” she says. “It truly brightened the space so much.”

The new paint completely turned the space around and made it more enjoyable to get work (and more!) done. “It really opens up the house, makes it more modern, and I actually enjoy being in the space,” Jackie says. “I look forward to it and even now enjoy doing yoga in there in the morning.”

The only hiccup in the painting process was filling some holes in the walls and creating a mess with sanding and smoothing. Jackie’s home was built in 1968 with minor renovations, so it came with all the quirks and challenges of an old house. 

Another challenge Jackie encountered was fixing up the window casing, installed by previous owners, which left the windowsill not flush with the walls. “I was able to butt it up and use caulking to hide the seams,” she says. “It turned out great.” 

Decor and a few DIYs help pull it all together.

Some of the fun final touches for Jackie included new furniture and fixtures, choosing accent colors, and adding decor. “A large desk makes things so much more organized, and I love how the green plants go with the wood and black accents,” she says.

Jackie wrapped up the One Room Challenge with a couple other DIYs: barn wood shelves, which Jackie says were one of the most budget-friendly parts of the project, and an upgraded door leading out to her porch.

To avoid spending a ton on a new door, she opted for painting the door white, installing black hardware, and spray painting the door trim black. “I think the black trim is the focus instead of the gold grid bars, and I love that,” she says.

In the future, Jackie hopes to update the flooring, which she covered with a large rug for now, and paint the ceiling when she has more budget.

Her advice for others tackling DIY projects summarizes her own pretty well. “Pick colors and things that bring you joy, don’t follow trends, and think outside the box when you’re working on a budget,” she says. “It’s amazing what you can do with what you have when you are creative.”

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.