Bonus Room: In Progress

bonus room makeover

You know me.  No staging. No fluffing to make it look better. Yesterday I told you why we moved the leather sofa upstairs.  Here’s what this room looks like right now. Clearly I have no shame.  Actually, it’s been much worse.  And yes, that super photogenic yet horrible for actual lighting, light fixture is from, wait for it…Joss & Main.  Apparently I’m a hermit who never leaves the house to shop.


This room is so tricky because it only has one tiny full wall that isn’t a knee wall. It’s behind the left wing of the leather sofa. We have three bookshelves but they are all really tall so none of them work in here which is kind of a pain.  And behind each sofa is about a 4 foot wide space to the wall.  Just big enough to not do anything fun with.


Right now the room is housing some extra chairs that I couldn’t bear to sell at the last Big Sale. I’m pretty sure I’m ready to part with them. Sometimes you have to suffer the consequences of keeping something you don’t use in order to be ready to part with it.  Right now we have two sofas, the leather sectional and the old denim sleeper, random lamps, Ikea drapes thrown up on the top of the blinds “just to see” an old World Market coffee table from 8 years ago that I painted with chalk paint.  And the TV stand is from Joss & Main. The rug is a Shaw from Lowes, the one I’ve had for nearly 10 years.  It was just under $800? and it’s been worth every penny.

This room is really hard for me to get excited about.  All those angles drive me crazy but it does need fresh paint.  So I really don’t know what my plans are yet for this room. Paint, a curtain rod, matching lamps and something simple and quirky on the wall and I think we are good.

Some of you have asked about the sofa.  It’s holding up great.  Surprisingly great.  My only complaint, the cushions aren’t as deep (like the seat part) as our old sofa and clearly I am spoiled so I can’t  snuggle on it the same as I like to on the other sofa. And, the arms.  The arms apparantly weren’t wrapped in much batting or magical soft sofa stuff because normally I like to lay my head on a bare sofa arm and this one hurts.  It feels like wood.  But we are hard on furniture, and we’ve yet to even have a button pop off.  And I was sure that was gonna happen the first week.  Also, the leather is so soft that I constantly find myself petting it.

The real test of a sofa is 3 years in.  So I’m happy to keep you posted!



  1. I feel the same way about our bonus room. Completely unenthusiastic. It’s also a weird shape with a sloped ceiling. I like to call it the chair cemetery because there are so many mismatched chairs up there that need to be Craigslisted…. I love seeing the unfinished parts of your home, too :)

  2. Our bonus room has a pitched ceiling in parts as well. It definitely presents challenges. I can’t wait to see what you do with your space and as a mother of boys who are younger than yours, I really appreciate the “as is” photos.

  3. I LOVE those angles … and I just know you’re going to find a way to make them be the star of the show!

  4. Oh to have a bonus room where I could hide stuff when company comes over. *sigh* Even if it ends up as a “chair cemetery.” LOL!

    Thanks so much for the leather couch update. It’s great having someone with boys and dogs as a source for couch research. :)

  5. well, seeing your room in it’s not so glory stage honestly gave me a chuckle! It is great to
    see someone else’s real life. I do love all of the angles in your room. You will make it look

  6. I love your blog, the words and the pictures. It is always uplifting to me! Happy New Year Nester!

  7. I have a bonus room just like this! Right now it is a guest room, but it’s only used about 1 time a year, so I’m thinking about converting it to a office/craft room. I’ll keep watching your progress! Have a great weekend.

  8. Ashley Johnson says

    Nester I have adored your black plaid rush seat chairs/ottomans for YEARS. If you sell them I would promise to come get them and give them a loving home where they are appreciated and prominently displayed.

    Remember your gold plaid table topper? I bought it off ebay and it is proudly displayed in one of our front rooms – its one of my prized possessions!

  9. When we were seriously looking for a house, it seemed like in our price range had these annoying sloped ceilings in every room upstairs and it was hard to get excited about them and plunking down 100k+ for something I didn’t really love! So I definitely hear you on the ceiling. I found a couple pictures on Pinterest that made the best out of the ceilings but it’s definitely a tough design.

  10. Thanks for keeping it real! It’s easy to forget that every project has an “in progress” stage and we shouldn’t expect everything to be amazing all at once.

    P.S. That non-light-giving light is amazing!

  11. I would love to have a room shaped like this! I’ve always loved the sloped ceilings that make it feel like you are in an attic hideaway. You can have a lot of fun with painting the ceiling/ walls and rearranging the furniture to highlight them. I would want something like window seats in the alcoves on either side of the tv. You could drape curtains (maybe one on each side and tie back) at the start of the alcove to increase the cozy feeling of the alcove. You could close them when you need to decrease light to see the tv better. I would use low book shelves directly behind the couch, a combo sofa table and extra storage. Is it possible to turn the ones you already have on their side and change the shelves? I would take the denim couch out completely if you don’t need it and put the two chairs in that area instead to open the room up to that great big window.

    • I was thinking the same thing, about turning the bookshelves on their sides. If they’re composite you might be able to drill holes and install L brackets with bolts and nuts to support 1x or 2x shelves long-ways, but if they’re solid wood you can just use screws or notch the sides to slide the shelving into place. Might be worth it if it means those bookshelves are use-able and if they fit the space well in that arrangement.

  12. I have angled walls all over in the upstairs of my house! All our bedrooms are like this. It is a challenge, but part of the charm of my old house, and I don’t think I would trade it for anything. I do agree it requires lots of creative decorating. : )

    Happy to see what you are doing and I am anxious to see how you that Lazy Boy Sofa holds up for you.

    Bless you friend!

  13. I love bonus rooms as one can do so much with them and have fun at the same time. Will look forward to your finished room
    Have fun
    Thanks for sharing

  14. Christine Vandormolen says

    Love it…You are so honest, and have NO SHAME…lol….nicely put!!!! I am also just working on our Bonus/Play Room…..made lots of progress, but not finished !

  15. I can’t wait to see how you use your magic to transform this space! We don’t have a bonus room, but we do use our, as-yet unfinished, basement in the same way.

  16. Clementine says

    Thank you so much for showing the unfinished parts of your home! It makes me feel so much better about my own in-progress house. I love gleaning inspiration from blogs and Pinterest, but sometimes I get very discouraged. This post reminds me to enjoy the process and not just the finished result. You’re wonderful! :)

  17. Your light reminds me of a tornado (in a really cute way), which is appropriate for a bonus room light b/c everyone’s bonus room I’ve ever seen looks like a tornado has been through it. I think that’s what bonus rooms are supposed to be. :)

    Also, I’m not design-ish and have no idea what your bookshelves look like, but could you turn them on their side under your short walls and use them for stacked or free-form book storage?

  18. I love those little knee-walls. But that’s probably because I loved a bonus room just like that. My husband DIYd board-and-batten on the knee-walls, and we heavily textured the sheetrock to look more like plaster. It was our TV room too.

    Our kids were too little to homeschool while we lived in that house, but if we were there now, it would definitely be a school room and hang-out room. In my old room, I could have fit two taller bookshelves on either side of the window. I would have lined the shorter walls with shelves too.

    As a renter now, my shelves all move with us. Those little shelves that fold flat to move are pretty sturdy and are about 36 inches tall.

    Looking forward to seeing what solutions you come up with.

  19. With a house full of boys I think your idea for the man room is great. Fill it with “guy style.” Could be great as a home school room with a big work table and the leather couch. The boys could build book shelves or cubbies to fit those knee-high walls. Lots of great options. It is a fun decorating challenge for you. Enjoy!

  20. In progress is always chaos, but end results are so worth it! I have developed (partly thanks to you) a laid back let it evolve decorating process that has been so calm while in process and left me with rooms I am really happy with. Sure, the living room took a few years to declare finished, but I am so much happier with it than I would have been if I had just rushed out and bought stuff to do it all at once. Our daughters’ room has been the same. And, because of the experience I have gained with the laid back approach, I was also able to easily come up with the basic nursery stuff for our “surprise, you don’t need a fertility doc to help you make a baby” baby and will fill in the rest when I am good and ready rather than stressing over having a perfect room all ready for his arrival.

    I can vouch for the quality of La-Z-Boy sofas (that is what yours is right?). We purchased an 8 year old set from people with small children, then used them for 8 years ourselves, then passed them on with some life left in them. They had only just started to noticeably lose their spring and sag a bit and all the frames and upholstery were still in great shape. (They had been in daily family use rooms, not fancy hardly used rooms.)

    I can also vouch for Crate and Barrel! I wanted new living room couches from there, but was a little scared because they are so expensive. So, we devised our own kinda spendy, but worthwhile quality test. We bought a slip covered “Willow” loveseat and put it in the playroom. Our children use it like a piece of playground equipment – the only rule is no food/coloring at the couch and to remember that this is the only couch in the world they are allowed to use this way. We’re talking jumping on it with and without cushions, using the back and arms as balance beams, etc etc. It’s two years old and it’s still like new. We get the added benefit of laughing when our kids want to show visitors their neat tricks and skills and said visitors freak and go, “No, don’t walk on the couch!” or “Are you sure your mom lets you do that?” :)

  21. Oh, I would love to have a bonus room! Any shape, angles, whatever! I agree with others about turning the bookshelves. You could probably just cut them down to size also. I think this room would also look nice with those industrial type shelves made from wood boards and plumbing pipes. Durable and manly. ;) Looking forward to seeing what you do to transform this space as well!

  22. You pet your sofa, that’s hilarious!

    Play up the angles of the room by maybe putting the couches facing each other and put the tv in front of the window?

  23. Can’t wait to see what you do with the paint. Just had a friend ask me last night about painting a space just like yours. I told her you would be the place to check! :)

  24. Have you tried placing your sofas at an angle instead of squaring everything up? :)

  25. Your so lucky to have a bonus room, never mind the state of it! It looks great, and I’m sure it will look even better before long. I miss my old bonus room, from three houses ago! That’s the military for ya though. Maybe in my next home!

  26. That ceiling fixture is amazeballs!

  27. Oh I would give quite a bit to have a bonus room like that-they make the best computer rooms EVER, because you can box in all the wires and cables along that knee wall without really taking away from the space in the room. It goes without saying, however, that this really only applies if you’re married to someone with a serious computer problem and have multiple PC’s, laptops, a router or two, a server, a couple of printers and multiple desks, one with 3 monitors. (He has 5 on his desk as his job). But yeah…if any of your guys decide to go absolutely bananas over computer building and networking, you’ve got the perfect room there for it!

  28. I too have a bonus room with sloped ceilings on both sides. I had a carpenter come in and build out a wall of storage, tv space, shelves, etc. It was built out to where the fronts go to the top of the ceiling but the storage behind them contains the slope. but it look so pretty.

    • I said the fronts went to the top of the ceiling but they actually go to the middle of the slope. so I still have a slope but it’s not until about 6 feet up so plenty of headroom.

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