A Simple Makeover for the Catchall Room

Better Homes and Garden's contributing editor Stephen Saint-Onge takes an empty, boring catchall room into an inviting guest room with a hidden home office.

Before: The Everything Room

This room had become the token catchall room with miscellaneous furniture and a makeshift desk for paying the bills and working on the computer. Designer Stephen Saint-Onge came to the rescue to transform this once boring room into a useful and stylish place to work or relax.

The Plan: Stephen wanted to take it from bland and boring to lively, energetic, and stylish -- serving two purposes: home office by day and comfortable guest room by night.

Pick the Colors

The walls were white and boring so Stephen chose a two-tone color scheme for this room. Stephen painted a progression of green, giving the space a very bright and vibrant feel.

Add the Molding

To divide up the walls Stephen took very simple baseboard molding that he bought at a local supply store and turned it upside down. He painted the molding white to match the existing baseboard and trim in the room.

Designer Tip: Molding adds a simple detail to the wall that makes the room come to life. Plus it's very inexpensive and easy to install yourself.

Painting Time

Stephen painted two coats of paint for each color. Once dry (it will take about an hour), he put up the already painted molding. Then it was time to patch and fill the nail holes and touch up the paint.

Instant Update

You can put the chair-rail molding up at any height. In this case, Stephen used the grill molding on the windows to choose the height.

Designer Tip: When choosing the height for a chair rail, Stephen says to consider where your furniture will hit the wall. "For this room, I knew that furniture would cover a lower chair-rail height," says Stephen. "That's why I went up higher to make sure it would be seen when you walk in."

After: A Place for Everything

With paint, a few new pieces of furniture, and a unique chair rail, this room was transformed from a catchall room to a cozy place to work and welcome guests.

Hidden Work Area

Stephen chose an Ethan Allen computer armoire because of its smaller scale, which was perfect for this guest room. He also loved the clean lines of the black armoire against the vibrant green walls.

Designer Tip: An armoire makes the perfect piece of furniture for a catchall room. For the office -- the doors are open and you have all you need to get your work done. Then, close up shop and everything is hidden away. The movable surfaces allow the work surface to move out, the doors retract to allow for ample use of space, then everything closes up and you're ready for guests in a second!

Add a Personal Touch

To dress up the inside of the armoire and add visual interest while you work, Stephen decided to showcase photographer Wendy E. James' beautiful work (www.wendyejames.com). Her black-and-white images were perfect for this space.

Get the Look: Take simple, store-bought mats (no frames here!) and place the images inside. Hang them with gum tack -- that way the surface of both the mat and the cabinet are not harmed and can be changed as you wish.

Chair Revamp

Stephen took the existing chair and gave it a new look with a washable slipcover from Pine Cone Hill.

Store It

This handy storage armoire is perfect for stashing office supplies on one side. Then slide the doors over and you have instant guest room supplies -- music, CDs, bath supplies, water bottles, etc. To hide the clutter, Stephen used simple wrapping paper and tacked it to the inside of the glass door sliders.

Guest Room Transformation

The sofa sleeper from Ethan Allen is also designed for small spaces. A twin-size sleeper is concealed within the "chair and a half" couch. This sofa bed also has a pillow-top feature that inflates. This way, there are no more sleepless nights with that metal bar across your back like old sleepers.

Designer Tip: Bedding is something that can take a boring bed and make it feel expensive. Buying a featherbed layer to cover a mattress can make all the difference. Put the sheets and blankets on top to create a lush, inviting, comfortable bed. Top it off with a nice comforter and extra blanket. Add several pillows and throw pillows and you're set.

Hidden Storage

Stephen matched the sofa with a new storage ottoman for hiding all the guest bed supplies. It rolls away to become a side table so you can open the bed easily.

Finishing Touches

Stephen thinks the details are what make your guests feel right at home. Add fresh flowers, a bowl of mints, new best-selling books, lush towels, a crisp robe, slippers...anything they might need (or want). Your guests are sure to be impressed with your hospitality.

Resource List

Like what you see in this makeover? Recreate Stephen's look with these resources:

About Stephen

Stephen's keen understanding of the homeowner has moved him into the spotlight in recent years through his work on television and in magazines. This understanding, accompanied by his friendly, approachable, and creative style, is making design accessible to everyone -- no matter who they are, where they are, or what their budget may be.

As a husband, father, and homeowner, he understands the needs of the family-focused lifestyle. "I have the same to-do list on my refrigerator that everyone has. There is always something to be to done with our homes and hopefully what I bring to the table will help everyone see the best in their homes," says the designer. He draws upon his background in film and design to help homeowners create a home that truly captures who they are, but at the same time captures a mood they are looking to bring to life that represents their home in the right light.

Good home design has the power to change lives.

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