Before and After: Sorority House Makeover

See how a crash course in home improvement, painting, and power tools helps college women give their sorority house a one-day makeover.


How-to coaches from Be Jane, Inc. help the women of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority at Iowa State University transform their house in about 12 hours. The library and meeting room were prepped the night before by removing furniture and masking floors and woodwork.

Library Before

The first room the crews tackle is the library. The library lacked a focal point and needed extra storage.

Library After

The Be Jane, Inc. coaches show the women how to take advantage of the home's architecture by turning the niche into the room's focal point. They add floating shelves and install new ceiling fans to turn the room into an ideal place for both studying and chatting.

The next six slides show the steps the women took to transform their library.

First Edition

The library features unique architectural features that are currently hidden behind books and trophies. Be Jane, Inc. helps the ladies transform the mirrored niche from a storage space into the room's focal point.

Demolition Day

Be Jane, Inc. recommends dividing the crew into work teams and giving the teams specific tasks. Make sure each team has the instructions, tools, and materials needed to complete the assigned projects. Here, the demolition crew removes the shelves from the niche.

Smooth Surfaces

Next, the crew patches holes and sands drawers.

Tip: Don't wear lip gloss while sanding; the dust sticks.

Perfect Fit

The crew glues a plywood panel over the mirror in the niche to create a smooth surface for painting.

The Right Niche

After a few coats of paint, the niche becomes the library's focal point. The built-in drawers also received a facelift. Crew members painted the drawers and added new cabinet hardware for an updated look.

Tip: Mistakes are bound to happen. But don't panic, there are fixes for almost every home-improvement mistake. The women had to fill, sand, and paint incorrectly spaced holes for hardware.

Finishing Touches

In the library, they add floating shelves to replace the storage lost in the niche makeover. The team uses a hammer drill to penetrate the plaster walls. They also add detail to the room with curtain hardware. When the curtain-rod brackets won't extend past the exposed pipes, they create mounting blocks from scrap wood and paint it to match the walls.

Meeting Room Before

A second crew tackles the meeting room. Their challenge is to de-clutter the room without losing storage. Be Jane, Inc. shows the ladies how to blend fun and function in one space.

Meeting Room After

The finished meeting room means business. The "credenza" is simply a piece of medium-density fiberboard cut to size, finished with edge molding and set on top of file cabinets.

The next nine slides show how the meeting room gained order.

Chaos Theory

The first area the crew tackles is the message center, which consists of multiple storage units and calendars fixed to the walls.

Under Cover

First, the women prepare to paint the room by covering the floor with a protective sheet of plastic. Be Jane, Inc. advises masking every surface, especially the floors, not receiving a coat of paint.

Tip: Use carpet mask, a thick cling film with an adhesive back, to shield the floor.

New Heights

When painting use ladders to reach the tops of walls or ceilings. Prevent injuries by making sure the ladder is stable and close enough to the wall for easy access.

Tip: Add a capful of vanilla extract to your paint to cut odor.

Making a Mark

The women use a tape measure to determine where to place the new message boards. Once the space is marked, painters will add sections of magnetic paint, which will become the photo and calendar boards.

Tip: Use magnetic primer to paint your own magnetic board right on a wall. Top the dark primer with your choice of latex paint.

Frame Game

The power miter saw comes in handy for cutting molding to frame the calendar and photo displays.

On Display

The finished message center is now organized with magnetic calendars and photo frames that stick to the walls.

Storage Nightmare

Before, storage units were placed all around the meeting room. Consolidating storage to one side of the room opens up the area.

Some Assembly Required

The furniture assembly crew put together storage shelves, chairs, and trophy cases. Cordless drills really speed up this process.

Tip: Read the directions before you begin to avoid making mistakes.

Storage Masterpiece

A full wall of storage keeps the meeting room tidy by giving the women a place to keep important items.

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