If you’ve been around for a while, you know that room makeovers are probably my favorite thing to share around here. I mean, I did do a whole year of room makeovers last year for 12 rooms in 12 months, so it makes sense, right? And for the last couple weeks, I’ve been working on another one…only this reveal wasn’t at my house. It’s at the Invitation Homes Make It Home Show House.
Today I’m sharing all the before and after photos, along with my renter-friendly DIY ideas for decorating a space to make it feel like yours, even when you don’t own the home you’re in. Click through for the dual-purpose room I designed: a relaxing guest room meets fully functional home office – all in one space.
As someone who has been renting myself for years and years, this project is near and dear to me. And I’m not the only one – many people are choosing to rent more and more because of the flexibility it offers. Which is one of many reasons working with Invitation Homes on this felt like the perfect match.
If you’re not already familiar with Invitation Homes, they’re a premier home leasing company with more than 80,000 updated and upgraded homes in great neighborhoods (in 17 markets across the US). The Invitation Homes family wants to make sure that people who choose to lease are able to make their house a home. So, their team put together a handful of design experts to create the Make it Home Show House and share lease-friendly ideas for making a house feel like home. And as you may have guessed, I am one of the designers that was selected.
The other designers involved are so amazing btw – each is designing a different room in the house. The full list includes myself alongside:
Renter Friendly Design Solutions
I don’t know if you can tell from the before photo, but the room itself is on the smaller side. It’s basically 11×11, but some of that footprint is cut into with the closet, so it’s actually a bit smaller than that. Needless to say, the fact that it needed to serve not one but two different functions (guest room AND home office) made it challenging.
I am always up for a challenge though, and I really related to this particular problem. When you’re renting, chances are you don’t have an extra room that you can dedicate fully to a guest room, but you may have a space that can serve as guest room / home office or something similar. In fact, our guest room currently doubles as a small home office for Jeff as well, so I get it.
I was really excited to brainstorm ideas for how to make both of these things work in a tight footprint. My solution? Your first thought might be to go with a futon or a pull out couch that serves as a place for guests to sleep while saving on space. And that’s a great option….It’s not the one I went with though! I wanted this space to be a relaxing spot for guests when they’re visiting, so I decided to go with a full size bed in leu of the other options.
To make that work, I had to get clever with the remaining space in the room and also be aware of the fact that a lot of the time, it would solely be functioning as an office space…which means I went custom with a DIY desk that you can totally make on your own! I’ll share all the details on how I made the desk in a separate post but the gist is a handful of L brackets, a bunch of measurements, several pieces of wood, and some custom cuts with my trusty compact circular saw.
I wanted a desk with plenty of tabletop space AND storage underneath for books, office supplies, etc. So I sketched out a quick plan for what I wanted the desk to look like and based the storage cubbies underneath off of the custom DIY seating and storage built-ins I shared from my old studio space. The end result is a pretty solidly-built desk for under $100! And when it’s time to move out, all you’ll have to worry about it patching up a few holes in the wall. Easy as can be.
Another thing I’ll touch on later is that vintage desk chair I reupholstered with fabric from one of my favorite artists/designers, Jenny Pennywood. It was so easy to do and I’ll share all the details in a separate post, but wanted to mention it here as well because it’s a great way to add personality and pattern to an otherwise simple piece of furniture.
Back to the space-saving solutions though, let’s talk about the vertical storage. Above the desk area, I decided to hang a peg rail wall shelf because when you don’t have much floor space, you have to go vertical. It’s perfect for hanging items and storing small decorative pieces. I’ve made peg rails in the past (check out my DIY peg rail organizer here), but I wanted to limit the number of big DIYs for this makeover AND needed the added bonus of a shelf on top. So, I found an amazing shop on Etsy called Henry + Elle that makes peg rail shelves in various sizes and ordered two of the longest (12 pegs) natural pine wood shelves. They were super affordable and took infinitely less time than it would have taken me to make them myself. Win-win!
To balance out the remainder of that long wall and mimic the window, I added a large floor mirror (this one) and then softened the lines between the desk and mirror with a big variegated plant in a simple, neutral planter. Love the leaves on this guy!
And then I made a $5 curtain rod (and I think I love it). I used a 48 inch dowel rod – the window is 40 inches to give you some context – and two scrap pieces of leather. And then I rested a level on the dowel rod while I nailed the leather straps directly into the wall. Probably the easiest project of them all and one of the most satisfying. I added a simple linen curtain (this one) to bring in some texture and add some softness to the window surround and then it was onto the bed. Are you sensing a theme with the number of times I’ve used the word softness so far?! Haha.
Okay, so let’s talk about the bed. The wood headboard is more of a clever sourcing trick than a DIY because it’s actually just a wood panel art board (like this) that you can buy readymade at a local art supply store. I used to buy these a lot when I was in college for paintings and realized recently it would make a great headboard because it has some depth on the sides and comes in tons of different dimensions. All I had to do was add a couple of nails to the wall and hang it right above the mattress and bed frame to get the look of a headboard for a fraction of the cost. You could also use heavy duty Command strips to make installation completely nail free.
I wrote a little message with chalk on the wood frame to add interest, but I think this would be a cute place to write a quick note to guests to welcome them to your home as well. And then you can just erase it when they leave. OR for a more permanent decorative touch, create a design / pattern, write a love note, etc and then use a matte spray fixative (like this) to seal it in and make it smudge proof / permanent.
To cozy up the remaining bed space, I went with lush linen bedding and lots and lots of pillows…including one in particular that might look familiar…my $10 DIY reversible pillow made from placemats. To take a page from nearly every hotel room I’ve ever visited, I also added a simple throw (this one) to the foot of the bed for another pop of (earthy) color. And the print from that throw became the inspiration for a last minute piece of art that I made for the room. I went with something simple but graphic that has a little personality but doesn’t overpower.
Last but not least…the light fixture! One of my favorite ways to transform a space, whether I’m renting or not, is to switch out the light fixture for something more in line with my personal style. I found a really cute unglazed clay ceiling light from Cedar and Moss that feels like it was made for this room. I’m definitely going to buy one of these for my house now too! I really love it. And it’s a great renter-friendly option because when you’re moving out, you can simply remove the new light fixture and reinstall the old one. Then take the newer one with you to your next place and start fresh again.
That’s it for me! Hope you found a project or two from this room makeover that you can tackle in your own home. Visit InvitationHomes.com for more lease-friendly tips to make a house you’re leasing feel like home.
And let me know below in etc comments if you have any renter-specific design questions that I can answer for you.
This post is in partnership with Invitation Homes. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Paper and Stitch running.