The Home Reno’: Transforming My Guest Bedroom

John Malecki

The Home Reno’: Transforming My Guest Bedroom

Guest Bedroom Renovation with New Floors and a Fireplace with Built-Ins

min read
Aug 30, 2019

In May of 2017, I bought a house that’s about 100 years old located in the heart of Pittsburgh, PA. When I bought it, I immediately had grandiose plans for a top to bottom remodel. Being a “maker” I knew I was entirely capable or tackling these projects, but finding the time to do so -- that's a different story. Fast forward to August 2019 and I’m finally getting around the first major project in my house. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

The first room I decide to tackle for this makeover is my guest room. Why? The guest room is the room my fiance’ and I currently sleep in. When I bought my house two and a half years ago, I was single, flat broke, working 15-18 hour days in the shop to pay the bills. I started gutting the master bedroom but never had the funds or the time to keep it going. So I slept in the guest room and have since the day I moved in. 

Nearly three years later I partnered up with the Home Depot to get this house in better shape and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.

#HomeDepot #HomeDepotFlooring

The Game Plan

Refresh the Carpet & Tear Out the Guest Bedroom Closet

As you can see, it is definitely time for a makeover on this guest bedroom. At the bare minimum, I knew the room needed some new flooring. It has some gross old carpet in it now, and the previous homeowners and I have dogs. This is less than ideal for messy dog prints as well as myself who is often dirtier than the dogs. So my plan includes the following;

  • Rip up the old carpet
  • Remove the tiny useless closet
  • Repaint the trim and doors
  • Replace the flooring

I figured with this little bit of work I could get the whole thing completed over a weekend and greatly change the mood and look of this room. So I dove right in.

Step 1: Remove the Carpet

The Smart Method for Removing Old Carpet

The first thing I did was remove the old carpeting. This is never hard -- just gross and dusty. I cut the old carpet into about 36” sections and rolled them up to get them out of the house. This is the easiest way to remove the carpeting, and I recommend this method for everyone. I did the same with the padding. In about 20 minutes I had the old subfloor (which happens to look fairly decent) exposed. I removed the nailing strips and the quarter round from the trim, I then started to ponder my plan for the room.

Step 2: Knock Out the Closet

Remove a Closet... Find a Fireplace?

Guest Bedroom Closet Demo

I had a hunch there was going to be some brick on the main wall in the room. So my gut said, “show the world! Rip a hole in that wall!” 

I started demolishing the walls and such. I ripped out the existing closet and started exposing the brick, using a hammer to loosen the plaster and peeling it off with a pry bar. I have some other hidden brick in the house I have done this on before, so I was expecting a continuation of the downstairs fireplace. To my surprise, I found my own existing fireplace in this room!

From this moment my excitement skyrocketed! I mean, who finds a fireplace in their wall, especially one with this much character? It really makes me appreciate the classic Pittsburgh craftsmanship that went into the house to begin with.

I also decided that I hate the closed and it needed an upgrade. After some deliberation with my wonderful fiancé, we decided on going with a built-in open bookshelf.

Step 3: Build the Custom Built-In

Make a Fireplace with Built-Ins Instead of a New Closet

Guest Bedroom Remodel Installing Trim

After ripping out the rest of the lathe and plaster, I got the room cleaned up and all the trash removed. I then made a custom built-in to fit the existing gap next to the wonderful fireplace.

From there I sealed the brick and painted the mouth of the fireplace black. 

I then made another “off the cuff” move and decided to add crown molding to the room. This really classed up the look in my opinion, and also allowed me to hide the imperfections where the brick meets the ceiling.

I finish all the trim and the built-in inside the room by spraying it all with a few coats of Shellac Based Primer and Semi-Gloss white paint. 

Step 4: Prepare for New Flooring

Tips for Installing New Wooden Floors in an Old Home

Guest Bedroom Remodel Door Jamb

After a day of painting, it was time for some new floors! The room was looking great when it was the old decrepit sub-floor, and we were stoked. But we had no clue how great it would look with new floors!

To prep for the new floors, I first walked around the room to try and find all the creaky spots in the floor. These are super annoying, and one of the many reasons why I wanted new floors rather than a restoration of the old ones. I then used my DeWalt 18g Brad Nailer with 1.5” nails and a cordless air-compressor from DeWalt to nail down the creaky spots the best I could. This is all to your preference and something you can do if you have rickety old floors. 

My floor is relatively flat, so I don’t need to lay a new subfloor. But having a nice flat floor is super important when you’re using a click-lock floor as I plan on using for this room.

After choosing paint colors and a pallet for the whole house, we decided to go with the Home Depots Malibu Wide Plank, French Oak Montara Engineered Click Hardwood Flooring.  For engineered flooring, this product is super durable, very affordable and one of the hottest trends in flooring. I Purchased the floor from the Home Depot, so I knew the price wouldn't be beaten at a reasonable $4.08/ Sq. Foot.

To prep the room from here, I cut out all the door jams using a flush-trim oscillating tool and  used a piece of excess flooring as a spacer. This lets the floor slide under the jambs nice and flush! I then prep the floors using some 3.5 mil plastic sheets in order to help with the sound and keep the room a little better insulated. This old house has very poor insulation, so every little bit helps. I tape down the plastic and use some staples when necessary. 

Step 5: Install New Wood Floors

Guest Bedroom Remodel Flooring

From there the installation begins. I make a continuous row starting from the left of the room and working to the right. It's important to have a straight reference for your first row because everything else will be based on this. This flooring specifically is a snap-lock floor, so I went with a float technique over nail down or glue. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on the box when you do this, because different floors may have different instructions.

I work my way across the entire floor, making sure I had proper gaps (1/2” from all walls) and spacing between the board. Snap-lock floating floors go in so fast, you can get a room of this size (11’ x 14’) done in an afternoon. The floor snaps together seamlessly, and I follow along with the manufacturer's recommendation for installation. Super easy.

I work my way out of the room and that’s a wrap! I finish the flooring by adding some pre-painted quarter round over the edges around the room. This cleans up the look and makes it fly! I fill the nail holes with spackle and touch up the paint and it’s time for some styling!

Step 6: Decorate the New Fireplace with Built-Ins

Tackle Decor for Your New Guest Bedroom 

Guest Bedroom Remodel

We got a new bed and matching furniture from the Pottery Barn, which I got on a discount by purchasing the floor models at the store. Once I carried everything to the room and decorated it with the caring eye of my talented fiance, the room looked spectacular. 

That’s a wrap on this one!  The first room in my house is completely done and looking amazing! It looked good as it was with the old flooring in it, but the Malibu Wide Plank, French Oak Montara Engineered Click Hardwood Flooring from the Home Depot took this project to the next level! Finding a fireplace in the wall helped too, and I can’t wait to see the kinds of projects I take on next for this house.

Subscribe on YouTube in order to see the remodel video!

Download the Plan

Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.

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min read
Aug 30, 2019
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John Malecki

I used to be an offensive lineman in the NFL, Now I run my own furniture business and am completely self taught. In my videos and posts you'll see a variety of wood and metal work as well as some tips and tricks. Enjoy!