Style + Storage: A Bare Wall Transformed

By Kate Riley January 10, 2011

Ever wondered what to do with those bare walls in your home?  That unused square footage along empty hallways or entryways ?  Do you add storage, or do you use that space as display for your art and photographs?  Well why not have both!

This wall space presented that very design dilemma:  how to take this busy family’s unused square footage in their upstairs loft and make it work for their lifestyle.  They wanted to display family photographs, but like most families, also needed extra storage. 

I tackled their dilemma in three simple steps:  first, by adding architectural interest that complemented the style of their home with the addition of a board and batten wall treatment.  Next, I introduced hooks and a storage bench below for added utility.  Finally, I allowed for space above the wall treatment for a mini gallery of family photographs.  Take a peek at the transformation!


wall before



cg loft bench after


The first step was the addition of the board and batten wall treatment.  My ‘How To’ to follow tomorrow! 

loft left side jackets


Next, I added some inexpensive hooks found at Lowes, originally brass, but I painted them with espresso colored spray paint to complement the bench beneath.  Perfect for hanging sweaters, jackets, backpacks or handbags!

hooks on board


I found this perfect size storage bench on sale at The Company Store ~ it has a drawer for each of the three girls whose ages range from 1 to 7.  To personalize it, I upholstered it in a girlish floral stapled over some two inch foam trimmed to the size of the bench. The punchy pattern can be switched out later for a more sophisticated fabric as the girls grow older. 

I also sewed some accent pillows to coordinate, and also to add pops of color to the basic white and tan backdrop.  

toy storage bench


Recognize that sweet plush owl? 

penny and joy owls

Find it here


I made my semiannual trip to IKEA for frames for this wall gallery.

wall frames and hooks


This family has a one year old, so I find it impossible not to frame that sweet little girl’s feet!   

baby feet


This entire makeover took about five hours including the installation and painting of the board and batten, plus the addition of the hooks, the bench and a wall gallery.  You can apply these very same concepts to any mud room or foyer.   

cg loft after


Oh yes you can have both style and storage!

All it takes is a weekend’s worth of time. 

My basic board and batten tutorial tomorrow!  


cg kate signature




  1. this looks ah-mazing! love, love the oversized frames and photos.

    and the board and batten with the hooks … stunning!!! who couldn’t love that..

    and the owls are so cute! beautiful all around!

  2. I’m really looking forward to your tutorial. I am wanting to switch my dining room and my family room this year. And I want to put board and batten in the family room that will end up being the dining room. Very cool transformation.

  3. Brilliant makeover, Kate! What a great transformation. I really love the addition of the board and batten, and the fabric on that cushion is to die for-fun! Great job! When can I fly you out to VA to help me??! ;)

  4. I love the look. I can’t wait to see your tutorial on the board and batten, I have been wanting to do it in my mudroom!

  5. can’t wait to see your tutorial! I have a long, narrow wall in my daughter’s bathroom, and was thinking this idea might look great in there. I could use the same idea for the hooks to hold towels. I think I’ll go in there now, with a tape measure and double check. Thanks for the inspiration! Your wall looks beautiful! (and love those little baby feet!)

  6. awesome job! Can I send you MY address? :-p Looking forward to your tutorial tmw!!

  7. LOVE this!! and having “both style and storage” are my thoughts exactly! Not only, does it transform a space to create beauty, but it also gives one the DESIRE to keep it organized & clean. Great Job!

  8. Love this! So fresh looking. I can’t wait for the board and batten tutorial. Thanks so much for sharing!

  9. Love it! It doesn’t even look like it could be the same home with all of the architectural detail. Very very charming.

  10. Love the transformation. Noticed that the light switch from the “before” picture has disappeared in the “after.” Where is it hiding or did it get moved?

  11. GORGEOUS! I am so inspired to try this look in my own home! I love the touch you give all your projects…great job :)

  12. Wow! What an amazing transformation. I can’t believe it only took you five hours! You did such a great job, thanks for sharing!

  13. This is incredible – and in 5 hours! Can’t wait to see tomorrow’s post, already dreaming about these dog-stained walls (needing dog-high wainscot). Love this look – fabulous!

  14. Love it! looks great.

    I am new to reading your blog so sorry if you’ve already answered this question, but where do you go for fabric in the north bay? I have a hard time finding great prints!


  15. WOW, love that!! Such a great idea. And can’t wait to see your tutorial — would look cute in our baby room! :)

  16. You did an amazing job. It’s gorgeous! Perfect for a family needing some storage space. THe whole area looks perfect.

  17. WOW! Incredible transformation!!! It’s amazing that you turned a simple empty space into a cozy and inviting corner of the house!

  18. Kate is Great, and Brilliant as Usual!! Surely you will one day soon have your own Designing Corporation? You must!! “Centsational Design”…Love, Pam

  19. It looks great. I continue to be so amazed at the speed you get your projects done. The bathroom the other day and now this. You should do a post on time management because you have obviously mastered that skill! I really enjoy your blog, constant inspiration!

  20. This project turned out great! I love the look. I plan to do something like this at my entryway. Can’t wait to see your tutorial tomorrow.

  21. Hi Kate,

    I have been reading your blog for quite some time. I must say I absolutely love the board and batten! I think it is a great transformation. It gives the space added character and depth. My question is how much board and batten is too much? We are currently renovating our new home and we have an open layout, we want to do board and batten but feel it might just take on a character of its own!

    Again, I love your blog and all your tips. Many thanks!


  22. OMG! This is on my 2011 to do list for our pool table room. I was back and forth on this style, and the style you did with the picture box things. (great description, right?)

    I’m in AZ, and have textured walls, and the hubby is wary of using the panelboard like you did in your room. Any other suggestions? I can’t wait for the instructions! Perfect timing!

  23. I love it!!!! Sooooo cute! I may have to try something like this myself.

    Can’t beat those IKEA frames. I’ve been putting off MY annual trip there (it’s about 45 minutes away) but I think you’ve just inspired me to brave the highway.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  24. OK, Kate…now you are far more talented, creative, amazing and inspiring than Martha Stewart! I love your transformation. It’s functional and fun!

  25. I cannot wait for your tutorial!! I want to do a board and batten treatment in my Living Room. One big question…what do I do about my orange peel walls?? I am used to that treatment with completely smooth walls, so I’ve always shied away from that project because I didn’t know how to fix the bumpy walls. PLEASE tell me your ideas because I am dying to do this project!
    ps…I LOVE your blog…I just found it 3 weeks ago and I’m addicted to all your wonderful projects!

  26. This would work well in my back entryway…I’ve been mulling over how to hang jackets without it looking overwhlemed. very nice!

  27. Do you know how much you spent on this project? I want to do something in our entryway and this looks a cheaper solution! Thanks!

  28. I looked at that “After” picture and literally shouted, “Shut UP!”

    Well done, CG, well done!

    Can’t wait for the tutorial.

  29. Oh my goodness I am totally drooling over this! INCREDIBLE! Fun, Fresh & Functional! I can’t get enough! Thanks for the inspiration!


  30. That is such an awesome job! I love it all! Terrific design! Love those frames! How come when I go to ikea I never find such great stuff! I see great stuff online and people say “ikea” and then I get to the store after an 1 1/2 drive and find ZIP = ZERO! It must take having a designer with you to find great stuff at ikea!

    ~ Ali

  31. Love this idea. That really made the wall beautiful and functional, can’t beat that! My niece’s birthday is coming up, I may have to score one of those owls for her, they are too cute!!!

  32. Love this! Looks so fresh and crisp it would make me smile to walk in and see this every day. I did a board and batten treatment with wallpaper above, in my powder room. Made all the difference. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Ohh! I love this. It’s a perfect storage solution and super stylish and chic at the same time. The little feet are way too cute!

  34. Wow.. this is wonderful… It’s one of my favorite projects of yours.. and there have been many favorites to date !

  35. Gorgeous! Could you share how you redid the cushion? I have a bench and I have the foam but I am stuck on how to do the cushion from there. Also, where is the fabric from?

  36. Thank you! Thank you! I have been trying to come up with an idea to replace our tacky hat rack in the entryway. Most of our entry wall has bookshelves, etc. that ends in this ugly bare wall with just a hat rack. What a great solution! I love the board and batten treatment, it will add interest to an otherwise bare wall and we will still have room for guests coats. OK – I’m adding this to my to-do list!

  37. Such a beautiful space! Please, please include the dimensions used in your tutorial. I’ve been contemplating a similar project in my new laundry room and I am stuck trying to figure out spacing….how far apart to space the hooks, how far from the top of the bench or floor. It’s beautiful and definitely gives me more to think about! Would also like the cushion instructions. And for you to come over and do the whole thing! ;)

  38. you are a machine! You just keep whipping out amazing transformations! Functional, beautiful, cutest owls ever, b&b…what more could they ask for?? And why don’t you have your own HGTV show?

  39. You need your own tv show! I watch the Nate berkus show daily and he has nothing on you. Your blog is ten times more helpful and creative. I have learned so much and have been so inspired by you!

  40. You’ve done it again, young lady! It looks absolutely brilliant! I’m sure the homeowner is thrilled! Great job!

  41. So beautiful & functional! I would love to do something like this. I’m looking forward to the tutorial.

  42. This is gorgeous!!! You did such a great job! And the way the pictures are framed and hung… perfection :) I can’t get enough of the board and batten look. I want to do this somewhere sooo badly!

  43. Wow I just found you!
    Love your site, been on it for about and hour now!!!
    I love your stairs and the wall you painted! So beautiful, you must have a very steady hand!
    And the furniture you’ve re-done!
    I am SO going to become a follower!

  44. I just found your blog & I have to say I love it! Do you know what paint color in on the wall? Thanks!

  45. Love the little bench (and see from the website that it’s on sale). Do you think it would be strong enough to support an adult sitting on it? I am thinking of using it as a seat at my dining table.



  46. Yep, Fiona, it’s very sturdy! I’ve never had a problem with anything from The Company Store.

  47. Thanks – I didn’t know of The Company before so it’s good to have a recommendation before purchasing. THANKS!! Love your blog – I am a new follower.

  48. Wow! Just wow! Once again I’m blown away by your vision. How about you and your handy hubby spend a weekend in Baltimore? I can think of a house that could use a little Centsational vision!

  49. I love this and can’t wait to see you do it in a whole room with corners, etc. I would LOVE to do this treatment in our upstairs living/play room, but it’s oddly shaped, with an alcove and one wall ends at the stairs, so I wouldn’t know where to start and where to stop! Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!

  50. Where did you find that awesome fabric??? Love it!!!!
    I am new to your site and LOVE IT!

  51. Wow, what a transformation! We are currently designing a new mudroom and have something like this in mind; even bought a bench already. Thanks for the inspiration.


  52. Absolutely gorgeous! I am curios though…the bench looks much darker in your photos than it does on the website. Did you paint/stain it??

  53. Love this! It pays to have ‘flat’ walls. All mine are textured which makes it a challenge to do a board and batten or fake wainscoating. Great way to create extra storage!

  54. Could I please get the name of that orange/brown color on the other wall…you can just see a little of it in the before picture. I’ve been looking for a color near that forever and can’t find it! Thanks so much.

  55. I was reading through your posts and love this one! It looks so nice and I will use this as inspiration somewhere in my home. My daughter also has the Joy owl pillow from PBK.

  56. just love this! do you know the wall color that was used? it’s a great contrast but still neutral.

  57. revisiting and would also love to know the name of the new wall color. have many ideas for my kitchen and hallways and needs to be neutral but not a yucky neutral plus it has to match with oak trim and floors since my husband will not let me paint any trim white. have been trying to talk him into it for over 18 yrs. to no avail. thanks!

  58. Love board and batten! I need to find a room to do this. Just like Kimberly, I love that orange on the wall. What is the color name and brand? I have something similar (caramel latte by Benjamin Moore) but would love to see a swatch of your color. Pllllleeeeaaaaassssseee!

  59. I love this, I would love to know what color beige is on the after wall… and who makes the color? Thanks soo much.. You do a great job.

  60. Hey ladies, shameful I know, but I do NOT know the paint colors… I’ll ask my friend Mia, this is her house, but I do know she told me they are Benjamin Moore!

  61. I’d love to try this in our entryway and our mudroom… but am wondering how to manage the baseboards. If I convert baseboards to fit the battens… do I have to redo all baseboards in the house? Or where to start and stop? Thank you for any insight!

  62. I know this is a year and a half late, but I really want hooks for my entry that are just like that! I can’t find them anywhere. Do you think you remember at least the brand?

  63. Hi Kate,

    I love what you’ve done with the bench and I see it’s still on sale. Can you tell me how dark the wood is? I am hoping it would match our existing furniture that are very dark brown. Thanks!

  64. Hi,
    I love what you did here! What is the height of the hooks and the heat of the middle of the pictures (approximate)? I’m trying to recreate this look but am worried the pictures may be too high on the wall after the hooks get put up. Thanks.

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