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How Shavonda Made This Small Guest Room/Office Functional, Beautiful, And BRIGHT

Hi everyone! It’s been a little while since I was last here with the EH community and I’m SO EXCITED to share this project with you all. I was honored to take over the reins as VELUX Brand Ambassador and host of the Brighten Up Any Room Giveaway and I’m thrilled with how the space came together. So let’s meet our winner and take a look at the space they nominated for the makeover.

BUT FIRST! Holy wow! We had SO MANY amazing entries and it was really, really difficult to decide on just one. In the end, we chose Viet as the winner! Viet lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David, and baby, Ocean. How cool is Ocean’s name, right!? He’s also the coolest little toddler, but I digress. Viet and David purchased their first home and gave birth to their first child around the same time during the pandemic and quickly realized the room Viet was using as a work-from-home space also needed to function as a guest space as well. Shortly after moving in they discovered the room was likely the original primary bedroom and they also unearthed some pretty amazing original hardwood floors hidden under the carpet. We love an old house original detail discovery! While the floors were an amazing find, the room itself is pretty tiny coming in at right around 100 sq ft. After returning to work from maternity leave, Viet had to rely on the space a bit sooner than she thought and was at a loss for what to do with it. They painted it a sunny marigold yellow color and she envisioned a “feminine cozy library vibe” but it fell just short of her vision. My job was to get her closer to that goal, but also make it a workspace AND a guest sleeping space. Challenge Accepted.

A VELUX skylight installer did a site visit to determine if the space was structurally a good candidate for skylights and with their green light, myself and the VELUX team headed to L.A. As someone who is passionate about small-space living and designing bold color-filled small spaces, I was so excited to see this room nominated. I LOVED that they embraced its small size and wanted to maximize its potential to be a workhorse for their family. I also LOVED that Viet and David love colorful and bold spaces! So often I’m trying to convince folks to be daring and lean into color, but Viet’s home is full of color and playful patterns from the moment you step in the front door. This was already shaping up to be a bit of a dream project for me! Ok so now that we have a bit of the back story let’s have a look at the space we are working with.

The room wasn’t bad, but it could be better. 1. It relied heavily on artificial light as the two windows in the space are on the smaller side and one them faced a fence so it didn’t get the most ideal light streaming in. 2. Viet’s book storage wasn’t quite giving off those cozy library vibes. 3. The trundle bed didn’t exactly scream “hi guests, I hope you have a good night’s sleep”. 4. Her work area (hello amazing mid-century desk!) could use a bit better storage and streamlined organization.  

The one thing we all loved about the space was the wall color! Viet was open to anything we wanted to do with the room and said we could either keep the color or go with something different, but there was no way I was getting rid of this color! I actually had a plan to really lean into it, and if you know me you already know that meant taking it all the way to the ceiling and on the trim too!

After visiting with Viet and getting a sense of the space and her overall needs I came up with a plan to help transform its small footprint into something dual-use, functional, and beautiful. Here’s how it turned out.

Skylights | Room Darkening Shades | Paint Color

So much to break down here, but let’s start with the skylights, of course! The VELUX Solar Powered Fresh Air Skylights are the real hero in this space! When the installer realized we could basically replace most of the ceiling with them we said, “Let’s do it”! And boy are we happy they did!

They flood this room with much-needed natural light and fresh air, and provide such amazing visual impact in the space. The room-darkening shades give Viet total control over the light concentration and allows her to adjust them according to how much (or little) natural light she wants to experience in the space, which is ideal for an office area with multiple screens. Viet really enjoyed having her desk placed nearby the window so we kept it in its existing spot and with the limited footprint it was the best choice overall.

Murphy Bed | Art (left) | Art (right) | Bedding | Orange Pillow (similar) | Lumbar Pillow (similar) | Rattan Wall Shelf

The key to really maximizing this small space was bringing in a Murphy bed with side cabinet storage that spanned the entire length of the back wall from pretty much floor to ceiling. It allowed us to bring in a queen size bed for guests, storage for all of her books, and a new place for her work files to tuck away. Murphy beds really are the secret weapon in a tiny space that also needs to function as a sleep area. I wanted this piece to feel like a beautiful piece of built-in furniture so we selected a pretty walnut finish that complements her vintage desk and other midcentury pieces they have throughout their home.

Gold Desk Accessories | Desk Calendar | Desk (vintage)

Rug | Baksets

On the wall that used to have the bookcases, we created a mini gallery wall of some of their family photos and beloved art pieces, and brought in a couple of small benches that serve as both a place to sit when the space is being used as the office and a place to for a bag or personals when it’s being used as the guest room.

To complete the room we brought in some art from Minted to complement her existing pieces, beautiful bedding from Brooklinen, the gorgeous rug from Jungalow, the benches, pillows, and accessories are from Home Goods, baskets and planters from West Elm, the arched rattan wall shelf is from World Market, and of course, several plants. I always try to infuse as much of a client’s own things into a newly designed space and Viet’s gorgeous textile, which I used as a bed scarf, was a big inspiration for other overall design and color story of the space.  

The key to getting a really small space right is having a very clear understanding of how it needs to serve you. By fine-tuning all of her needs we were able to create a space for Viet that delivers on both function and beauty. This room feels as chic as a boutique hotel room, and it also feels like a good place to be productive for work. The best part about is Viet and David LOVE it and that’s really all that matters in the end! 

*Design by Shavonda Gardner
**After Photos by Rusty Williams Photo
***Sponsored by VELUX

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🥰 Rusty
1 year ago

Aaaaah, so good!🤗
Shavonda, this room is a vibrant, happy place to wotk, but wow!
The magic of the murphy bed is amazing!! And it gels so well with Viet’s desk.
It totally flips the purpose of the room snd turns it into a cozy cocoon for guests to snuggle into.
Great job – inspirational! 😊

well, this was just a literal ray of sunshine this morning! great room! l love skylights in a room. the art behind the bed is so good. love love love.

1 year ago

Beautiful, approachable post. Thanks!

1 year ago

WHOA!! I didn’t love the wall color in the before shots , but natural light from the skylights CHANGED. THE. GAME! Stunning! The office is a DREAM, and the guest room version has gone from drab to luxe. I’m inspired. WELL DONE.

1 year ago

Shavonda has such an eye for color. I’m always so inspired by her spaces

Karen T.
1 year ago

As always, Shavonda killed it!

1 year ago

Great job! Such a happy but calm room!

1 year ago

Aww, love how it all came together!

1 year ago

When I scrolled to the ‘after’ pic I thought WHOA! Great work. And the rug is perfection.

1 year ago

Hello, Shavonda! What a PERFECT project for you: delicious color, space planning, skylights, collected and personal vibe? Check, check, check. It has me side-eyeing my guest space! Absolutely adore the color on the ceiling. What a transformation!

1 year ago

Shavonda, this is so beautiful and considered! You absolutely crushed it!

1 year ago

“The key to getting a really small space right is having a very clear understanding of how it needs to serve you.”

So true! I’m sitting in my very small house where each room serves at least two purposes (often poorly) and this is so clarifying.

🥰 Rusty
1 year ago
Reply to  Katherine

Me, too. My cottage ain’t big, but she’s mine n she’s cozy and snuggly as the chill is in the air in Australia now.

1 year ago

I think this is the first time I’ve seen book shelves as closed storage and I really like it.

1 year ago

Stunning! Absolutely love the skylights and yellow color on the ceiling 🙂 Also those plaid pants are amazing!

1 year ago

Love the guest room version! Those pillows are so cute.

1 year ago

Can we discuss how fire everyone’s outfit is? I would LOVE a link to Shavonda’s pants!!

1 year ago
Reply to  A

Seriously! The color coordination is amazing!

1 year ago

I love this and the yellow so much!!

D Warne
1 year ago

Such a boldly welcoming space in which to work or be a houseguest. Each edited detail maximizes the whole design. This project totally lets Shavonda SHINE!

1 year ago

Wow – what an absolutely brilliant match-up of designer, product and project! Those Velux skylights and Shavonda did amazing things for that room – spectacular!

Rachel S
1 year ago

What a jolt of happiness! Love to see a Shavonda post!

1 year ago

Amazing!! It does look like a boutique hotel! That yellow paint is awesome.

1 year ago

Shavonda, MAESTRO of the small space! Gorgeous! Love it, as always!

1 year ago

WOW! Stunning design and a great use of space and color – amazing job in a tight space!

1 year ago

I’m impressed by how bright and sunny, and at the same time cozy and cocoon like, you created this space to be. It’s also very relatable as a small multi-purpose room. Glad to hear from you again on the blog Shavonda!

1 year ago

You totally fit the vibe of this room. So perfect for them.

1 year ago

Also, just wanted to weigh in on the new comments policy, as a VERY longtime reader. The comments section of the blog is quite snarky relative to how inoffensive the content is. It has gotten noticeably worse over the years. Sometimes I agree with the people who are being snarky, as I do find myself craving greater relatability (which I know Emily and her team are constantly working on). That said…Cup of Jo is my favorite blog ever, and it is known for the brilliance and kindness of its reader comments. And you better bet they moderate those comments. But as a reader, it makes my experience so lovely. They don’t squash debate, but it’s a friendly debate. It’s never nasty, personal, or even snarky. Just my two cents, wanted to share in case there is some grousing in the comments about the new policy!

1 year ago

I love this colorful, joyful, bright room! Thank you for this post! Also, we need more Shavonda!

Jeffrey C
1 year ago

Love the rug. It really pulls everything together. Personally, I’d want a different desk with a bit less of a visual footprint, but I understand why the owners kept it.

1 year ago

Ok – what is this yellow çolor? I’m in love – beautiful job!!!

1 year ago
Reply to  Heather

It’s linked under one of the pics: Pablo Honey from Backdrop.

1 year ago

Great use and style for a small room!! Could you tell me the size of the room? Thank you!