Let’s Turn a Guest Room into a Hobby Room

Sometimes the entire function of a room has to change to make it work for new circumstances, so go into it open minded and with creativity! 

This particular before and after is an actual functional change to the room as well as a decorative change.  These are usually pretty involved since so much of the room is going to be different.  A functional change almost always means the furnishings are going to change, and when that happens it’s the perfect opportunity to make the room look better than it ever has before.


That’s what happened in this old guest room. Tough to admit, but it looks familiar doesn’t it? Most guest rooms end up this way.  It’s filled with an old bed without a headboard, old bedding, a piece of exercise equipment, mismatched furniture and paintings push pinned to the walls.

And, that’s the hobby, watercolor painting and drawing.  Do you see a table to draw on?  Storage for painting materials? Good lighting? Well of course the answer to all of those questions is no.  So, the first thing Matt and I did was to interview the homeowner to find out what he needed to do what he loved.  You can just imagine the wish list; a desk or table, storage, lighting, a way to mount paintings to be thought about and possibly reworked, and maybe even some display space for the finished art.


Those of you who have followed Matt and me for years know I usually start with some sort of inspiration piece.  Well, in this room, I wanted the artwork to be center stage, so we started with the main piece of furniture, the desk.  It had a rolling storage cabinet to go under it or roll around to a more comfortable spot.  There was also a turn on wheels.  It was quite a convertible set up and we all liked it very much. It was a very sleek, contemporary style and it really seemed to fit with a new look for that room.

beforeandafterhobby3From there, we chose a paint finish for the room that was called “river rock”.  It is more or less a suede finish on the walls with tiny speckles of light, medium and dark grey – very chic. This got us working on the backgrounds of the room which include the window coverings, ceiling and floor.  We did tear up the old carpet, cut it into 2 foot wide strips, rolled it and tied it so it could be taken away by the trash people on trash day.  Every community has its rules on disposal of carpeting so check that out before you try to dispose of any flooring materials for that matter. We replaced the old carpet with a new tight loop pile that would allow the rolling desk chair to move around easily.  It was also stain resistant since paint would come into play in this space! (Sorry about my photo, I don’t know what happened and of course Matt and I took only one photo of the room – what a bunch of dummies!)


To keep with the contemporary clean lines, we chose a neutral but geometric fabric to make simple roller shades for the room.  These added a touch of pattern, but not so much to detract from the main focus, the art.  You can learn how to make them by checking out our Custom Fabric Roller Shade article in the sewing section of the site. We topped them with grey wool flannel covered cornice boards which you can read about in our sewing section as well.  The project is called Fabric Covered Cornice Boards.

Lighting was a key ingredient in making this room successful.  We started by removing the center ceiling fixture and adding track lighting that we could put all around the room to highlight the art and give good general lighting to get around the space.


You might notice that we have the desk positioned so the natural light from outside comes over the right side of the body while seated at the desk.  This was just the right spot for our artist and we positioned the desk before anything else. This is perfect when painting in the daytime – on a bright day – but for all other situations, we added task lighting as well! The back corner sported a torchiere so there was light bouncing off the white ceiling as well.

In the photo above you get a sneak peek at the system we used to hang finished and framed art.  The mechanism to hang pieces was a piece of art in itself, but it didn’t distract from the paintings when you were in the room.


Unfortunately, the wall opposite the window, that we never took a photo of, was covered completely in a tack surface that was black wool felt. It was well lit and became the place to tack something up that was a work in progress so the artist could study it from a distance and make changes accordingly. It looked fabulous and functioned beautifully.

So, there are several lessons to be learned in this project.

One, use the space you have in your home to YOUR benefit.  Don’t save a place for guests who come once a year or keep a dining room available for holiday meals only.

Two, inspiration can come from something as simple as a desk.  We learned that our room could be black and gray, simple and clean lined all from our very cool desk.

Three, always take many before and after photos….in EVERY direction.  Get close ups of furnishings, lighting, accessories…(and then send them to me and I’ll write an article about them)…hahaha!

Well, I hope you learned just a little bit more about how to decorate a room and found some things to apply to a room you are decorating in your own home!


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