This Guest Room Went From Closet to Serene Sleeping Nook in Three Days
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This Guest Room Went From Closet to Serene Sleeping Nook in Three Days

Jul 16, 2023

By Kathryn O'Shea-Evans

Welcome to DIY Diary. Each entry covers a new home improvement project. Here, a guest room comes to life after Austin designer Anastasia Casey takes on a walk-in closet and transforms it into a cozy sleeping enclave.

When they say everything’s bigger in Texas, they may as well be referencing the style factor. Case in point: this former primary closet turned sleeping nook, which is as Pinteresting as they come. “We carved the space out of nothing, and it has turned into my favorite room,” says Austin designer Anastasia Casey of IDCO Studio, who built this entirely DIY in her East Texas vacation house. “This is currently truly the sparest spare room. When we have a full house, someone takes this bunk room.”

If you’ve ever fantasized about ensconcing yourself in a grown-up bunk to wile the day away, this is it—and this particular lake is the place. “Lake Palestine is a humongous hidden secret,” Casey says. “My dream for the space was always to have a place where our friends and our family could have forever memories.”

The before: drab and dusty.

The original closet was just shy of six feet wide and tucked in the old primary suite in their home—which was constructed as a bait and tackle shop on Lake Palestine. “We thought, Can we use this in a better way?” she recalls. “We played around and thought, What if we built a platform and shoved a bed in here?” She wasn’t dreaming. “In full disclosure, my dad has helped us so much with this house. My whole family has really pitched in. But this was the first project I did start to finish. And I think my biggest takeaway is that you can do it.” While it may seem intimidating, Casey says, “when you really break a house apart, it's really just wood and nails. And this was a really good project for me to feel like, Okay, this is feasible and I really can build stuff.”

To build a bed nook, you'll need:

The bunk wasn’t without its challenges. “When you walked into the walk-in closet before, it stepped down maybe five inches,” Casey recalls. “So we made a grid to level the floor before building the bed frame itself.” To begin, she used 2x4s around the exterior perimeter creating a frame, 10 inches up from the existing floor. She then took another 2x4 and ran it lengthwise down the middle, securing with metal joist hangers from Home Depot. Once the middle was secured, she cut five additional 2x4s to span from the left frame to the middle, then the middle to the left frame, all secured with construction screws and retrofitted with joist hangers. Once the frame was in place, she installed ¾-inch cabinet grade plywood across the grid, creating a solid platform. This platform is where the mattress lays.

Check the level.

Build the frame.

Work the studs.

Adding in the $14 pieces of pre-primed MDF shiplap boards is what gave the nook character, and prevented it from looking like a basic box. While shiplap is definitely much pricier than sheetrock, it’s actually a MUCH easier DIY and way faster to install. “I absolutely love the charm and architectural interest it adds to a space and feel installing it vertically is a fresh take after years of ‘modern farmhouse’ installing it horizontally,” Casey says.

The designer also loved that these pieces click together like a puzzle and you just nail-gun them into the wall. So easy! Make sure to use a level to ensure they’re going perfectly straight up and down, and check every three to four boards. If one is installed even a little crooked, it will affect the rest. Casey ran the shiplap onto the ceiling for a colorful moment. Since the bottom edge was hidden by the mattress and bedding, Casey skipped the trim there. The top, however, was finished with ⅜-inch-by-1¼-inch pine primed finger-jointed stop moulding.

Do note, if you’re installing shiplap over drywall, use construction adhesive on the back of the boards to make them really solid against the wall in addition to the nail gun. Sometimes shiplap can “breathe” if pushed against and not properly secured and the Liquid Nails prevents that.

Shiplap all around in Sherwin-Williams Agate Green.

Because the closet was deeper than a queen-size bed, Casey built out a headboard that cameoed as a bedside table. “I love this little shelf, because it takes the place of a nightstand, which we definitely didn’t have room for,” she adds.

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Using leftover scrap 2x4s, she framed the headboard just like the platform box. This one measures 10 inches deep and 28 inches high from the platform. It’s hollow inside and closed up with the same shiplap as the walls and ceiling. On top of the headboard box, Casey used the same cabinet grade plywood that the base of the platform was made out of, finishing the edges with the pine finger-jointed stop moulding. “I like the clean, simple lines, but you could definitely use as intricate of trim as you want,” she says.

Casey's husband did the electrical work. “I mean, YouTube will teach you anything,” she adds. The bed nook was also wired for two USBC-ready outlets that lay flat on top of the headboard. This allows guests to plug in their devices without having to climb out of the bed. The closet had an existing light, but it had been slightly off center. The DIY team moved the light box over three inches for a perfectly centered fixture. “I sourced this one on Amazon and it’s made by Hudson Valley Lighting in a beautiful polished nickel finish,” she says.

Underneath it all: a pullout drawer (which her Dad helped her with) provides ample storage. The drawer was made with plywood and adorned with matte black hardware knobs.

Little black knobs give this bunk character.

Casey selected Sherwin-Williams Agate Green SW 7742 to echoes the nature beyond the windows. While the MDF shiplap boards from Home Depot come pre-primed, Casey first spackled the holes from the nail finisher, then lightly sanded for a smooth finish. “My favorite hack for filling nail holes is to add the Spackle, then use a barely damp magic eraser to wipe the excess immediately,” she says. “You won’t even need to sand! We use a tiny artists brush to paint inside the seams of the shiplap, then rolled on the rest.” Another tip? Casey highly recommend pre-painting the shiplap boards then just doing touch up after install so you don’t have to jam your paint brush inside the small cracks.

There’s no way around it, it’s a difficult bed to make, so Casey intentionally opted for simple bedding. No flat sheet, just a bottom sheet and a quilt for summer, duvet for winter. She used two euro shams in the back row of pillows so guests can comfortably sit up and read at night, then two down sleeping pillows and a small lumbar for an accent. “Because this is the most colorful space in the house, I picked vintage artwork given to me by my grandmother to give a real focal point to the space,” she adds. “I love the campy vibes of the retractable wood sconces and how they brighten up the back wall. Overall, this space turned into a super high-functioning jewel box, and I’m so glad we did it!”

Ready for visitors!

Ample pillows add to the guest nook panache.

To build a bed nook, you'll need: