Transform Your Guest Room Into an Office: Before and After

7 Materials
6 Weeks

Do you have a barely used guest room but desperately need a dedicated home office? I definitely did. I think it’s a pretty common problem actually. For a long time we basically had a mattress propped up against one wall, and a makeshift desk along the other.

The Before

I wish I could say these were staged but sadly, this is what it ALWAYS looked like. When guests came? The mattress was laid on the floor. THAT’S IT. This was basically a flop house.

The Must-Haves

Here’s the deal: a lot of us are working or learning from home. There are A LOT of video calls. Messy, depressing, and not super functional has no place in this work from home world.

For this office makeover, here were the must haves:

  • Someplace visually inspiring.
  • Someplace functional.
  • Someplace task-oriented.

These are the steps I took to achieve those goals:

Replace the builder-grade ceiling light

I tell anyone who asks — swapping out those awful boob lights is the  number one thing you can do to upgrade the look of your home. I opted for a flushmount chandelier to cast a good amount of light and add some graphic interest to the ceiling.

Change the overall layout

One of the biggest issues to tackle was the layout. Staring at a wall when there’s a beautiful yard to look at was just plain silly. And if, like us, you're on Zoom all day, having a natural light source shining directly on your face is a must. You won't believe how much better you look on-screen!

In order to achieve the best light and layout, we went with this desk configuration. I lined four IKEA shelf units along the main wall and placed the desktop perpendicular to everything facing a window rather than a sad sad wall.

Now, we have access to three sides of the desk and we have the flattering natural light from the window directly in front of us.

I used an inexpensive butcher block desk top and screwed some chic table legs to it. Easy peasy!

I also drilled a 3″ hole into the desktop and popped in a power dock in order to have access to the outlet behind the wall of bookcases.

Getting there! The desk and bookcases were set up, the power was situated, the only thing left on this wall was to make it look nice.

I decided to go with my signature coat of black paint for an accent wall along with a focal piece of artwork with some cool vintage pieces to offset the functional aspect (I’m looking at you printer…)

Make a giant whiteboard

OK, now the desk wall was situated and in order to add even more functionality, I decided to create a giant whiteboard along the former desk wall.

My grand vision was to create not only a full wall whiteboard, but a full wall whiteboard MURAL. Awesome, right??

Rather than paint an actual mural, I decided to take a little help by hanging a wallpaper mural to start. Since my profession is literally design and illustration I designed a custom mural.

If you’re interested in DIYing your own whiteboard mural, check out my detailed how-to post.

The broad strokes are: hang the mural, paints LOTS of coats of clear dry-erase paint, let dry for 5 days.

In progress...

And here’s the after! Let me tell you, this dry erase wall is a gamechanger. I love it for jotting down notes on calls and brainstorming blog posts, my kids love it for drawing and practicing "number bonds." This new math kills me...

Build a school desk

Since we're doing remote learning this year, we needed even more desk space. I whipped up this DIY homeschool desk for my kids in just 15 minutes!

It's sized perfectly for the elementary school set (i.e. short) and when paired with wobble stools and that big whiteboard? It's the perfect spot for some serious learning.

Hang a clipboard wall

I had one last wall to deal with and was at a bit of a loss.

Before, I just parked my filing cabinet and a computer I never use between the two windows. The reason it’s so tricky is that it’s the main pathway from the door, so nothing can jut out more than a foot.

I didn’t want to do more art since I already had an accent wall AND custom art AND a giant mural. Adding more art in 10 x 12 room felt a little extra. However, I did need some organization…

Enter the humble clipboard. I created a vertical paper clutter corralling marvel that has made me feel like a semi-together lady ever since.

In Conclusion

This home office makeover has been everything and more. It’s a creative respite, a fun place for the kids, and a practical workhorse of a room. I can honestly say I don’t think there's a thing I would have done differently. Except maybe add some closet organization…

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Meg
    on Sep 27, 2020

    I love the whole room , but where do guests sleep now if there is no mattress and since this was a guest room? Could it be placed on a piece of wood and, drawn up to the ceiling Over the desk?

    • Great question Meg! We have since finished our basement and added a guest room. I wish it was a more creative answer! I love your idea though. I had considered trying to add a murphy bed to the closet but the dimensions didn't work out. I think the one time we were between guest bedrooms we brought the mattress out of storage and laid it on the kid's room floor.

Join the conversation

4 of 16 comments
  • Mihaela Parker
    on Oct 14, 2020

    Thank you for the great ideas! I'll be making over a bedroom into an office so you've inspired me! I especially love the giant wall erase board. Never knew that kit existed! Great job!

  • Flipturn
    4 hours ago

    Redesigning a former guest room that is used probably only a couple of times a year (?) into a home office that is used every day is smart and sensible.

    If you are one of the millions of folks who have no choice but to work from home, then you need to put your needs first over any potential guests.

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