Space of the Week: Sarah Sherman Samuel's Basement Guest Room Makeover—and the One 'Easy' Project She Always Leaves to the Pros
By the time interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel had decided to turn a space in her basement into a guest room, she had already gone through more than one major change in a short amount of time. Her family had recently relocated from California to Michigan, and she orchestrated the gut renovation of the common areas in their new home. Meanwhile, Samuel had given birth to a daughter, too. "We had a lot going on when we renovated the main living spaces," she says. "By waiting to update the guest room, I was able to tackle it with fresh inspiration and without a serious case of decision fatigue."
As it stood, the guest room was a blank slate—to put it nicely. "There was just the concrete subfloor, and the walls were clad in faux-wood paneling that was so popular in the 1970s and 80s," Samuel says. "The walls had been painted white, but the irregular texture was still prevalent."
Focus on the Good
And yet, in keeping with her personality, Samuel mostly focused on its potential. It had a sliding glass door on one wall and a large window on another, creating ample sunlight that lasted all day. Samuel wanted to make the most of those natural attributes, and envisioned a calm yet colorful hideaway where guests would truly feel like they were on vacation. She started by painting a purple abstract pattern on white fabric for a headboard, and built the rest of the room's saturated palette around it. New wood floors were installed, and the paneling was covered by new drywall. "We then carried the wood up three-fourths of the wall behind the bed, and painted the rest 'Panda White' by Sherwin Williams," she says.
Play With Scale
Perhaps the biggest challenge of the design was figuring out how to make the queen bed look large enough to fit its designated spot. Given the longer-than-usual size of the window above it, the bed appeared to look smaller than it is. Thankfully, Samuel had an ingenious fix for that. "I made the custom headboard to be the same width of the window to balance it out," she says.
Call in the Pros
And there's one more tip she'd like to share about how this guest room became the latest happy shift in her surroundings: Sometimes the so-called "easiest DIY" is best left to the professionals.
"We did a lot of the work ourselves, like installing the wood, making the headboard, and hanging the drapes, but we hired out the painting," she says. "People often save money by painting walls themselves, but getting a professional to put on that final layer makes a huge difference. A quality painter who can fill in all of the holes, sand, and finish the room will make everything look more elevated."