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Gym Makeover on a Budget: Luxurious and Neutral Colored

When the pandemic hit 2020, my rigorous gym life came to an end. Well, only the gym membership. We quickly build up our own gym in the backyard. It was fun to exercise outside but the Texas extreme weather (heat or freeze) was definitely impacting the quality of our workouts.

We were thrilled when we moved into our new house in 2021 and dedicated one of the 4 bedrooms as our home gym. We bought some new equipment. added some decoration, but it was never a room to show off with that “wow-effect”. After one year I finally decided it was time to change this.

I never liked that most gyms are black and red. I hate red! I wanted a luxurious feel with neutral colors so that the next home buyer could easily envision a bedroom or neutral nursery instead of a gym. In addition, I wanted to add more character to the room with an accent wall.

Glamourous and Neutral Mood Board

Over several weeks I browsed thru Pinterest for inspiration. The accent wall was tricky because I needed a design to tie in the two small windows. After a lot of back and forth, these two pins influenced the most the final outcome:

Gym Accent Wall with Windows

I choose a staggered board and batten design for the accent wall which allowed me to easily tie in the windows.

The small windows didn’t come with any frame or window sill (Typical builder-grade home). They were just surrounded by drywall which got dirty quickly with no chance to clean. I simply added a piece of 1/2in plywood as a window sill and attached it with liquid nails and caulk around the edges. Then, I applied walnut stain and finished off with two layers of oil-base polyurethane for floors clear semi-gloss (Rust-Oleum Parks PRO Finisher). I didn’t worry about the edges from the plywood because they would be covered by the window frame.

Once the window sills were installed, I framed the windows using 4 inch wide MDF strips. Believe it or not, but I reused the MDF strips which were used as packaging and bracing material from my treadmill I had ordered I few weeks earlier. To cover the braces of the blinds, I had to create these little notches so that the MDF board sits flush. I simply used my router to create the notches:

Remember, if you renovate on a budget, nothing goes to trash. Sooner or later you will always find a purpose for such material!

To add a little wooden accent to the windows itself, I created these wooden keystones.

Once the window frames were installed, I continued adding my vertical stiles for the board and batten accent wall. To keep this project budget friendly, I use drywall cut into 4in wide strips for the remaining boards (Fore more details, read my other accent wall post Cheap Board and Batten Accent Wall (No Wood or MDF needed!)). Given the width of the windows and the wall in between them, it was impossible to create identical panels. As you can see, the staggered look helped to distract from that and to create an illusion of equal panels:

For the sage green color I went with SW9130 Evergreen Fog.

Glamorous Gym Accents

Golden Wall Letters

When it comes to wall décor and accents, there is no better place than Hobby Lobby. I found these big glamourous wall letters, which were exactly what was needed to make this wall pop. Of course, I only bought them when they are on sale and 50% off! The best, they came already golden colored so I could simply hang them with nails to the wall without further modification.

Accent Lights: Wall Sconces

The accent wall is an exterior wall which made it very difficult to run additional electricity from the attic to add these luxurious wall sconces. It was easier to run an additional wire from each of the two outlets on the wall. I didn’t want to add a light switch, which came with the drawback that I had to install wall lights which come with an on/off switch. For some reason, these were not easy to find, especially as I didn’t want to spend more than $50 for both lights together. Luckily, I found the these golden sconces on Amazon:

Golden Flush Mount Ceiling Fan with Dimmable Lights

Our gym in on the 2nd floor above the garage facing primarily the south side. This causes the room to be usually warmer than the other rooms in our house. A fan definitely helps with overall air circulation during the workouts. I was searching originally for light fixtures to replace the builder grade light in the room when I came across this ceiling fan on Amazon. A flush mount ceiling fan was the only option for this room given the low 8ft ceiling and needing all the head space in a gym. This fan has it all: the golden accent, flush mount ceiling fan and dimmable lights. We are very happy with our choice.

Gym Mirror

Does a gym need a mirror? This may be debatable, but I feel it is in itself an accent piece adding a luxurious feel besides making the room appear to be bigger. You can find cheap mirrors on Facebook Marketplace, however, you may need a van or truck for transportation. We only have a car which can fit mirrors up to 3ft in width. I decided to buy two identical mirrors from Walmart so that they can fill one of the walls. They were originally black, so I sprayed them golden to match the golden accent theme.

DIY Wooden Shelf

It is very easy to create a simply small wooden shelf using some scrap wood. There is really no need to spend a lot of money buying a flimsy shelf using fake wood from the store. I build this ladder-style shelf to hold the few essentials such as towels, drinks, phone and gloves:

LED Gym Sign

There are some nice LED gym signs on Amazon, however, I feel they look a little naked when they just hang on the wall as is. I decided to pimp up the barbell LED sign with some material I still had:

I had some old exercise foam mats like these which I cut in the shape of a circle. It is relatively easy to cut with a pair of scissors and pug in hole to push thru the wires of the LED sign. Then I attached a border using 3/4in plywood edge banding (stained with my favorite Varathane Dark Walnut wood stain) with the glue gun. And here it is, the Barbell LED sign:

Gym Storage Wall Rack

Originally, most of our workout equipment was just laying in a corner. A storage solution was absolutely needed but I wanted a wall rack which also serves as a design accent piece. This is how I came up with a slat wall storage rack:

I simply used a leftover OSB board and painted it in the same color of the wall: SW7029 Agreeable Gray. Then I used 1×2 strip fur boards as slats, painted them in Urban Bronze and attached them to the OSB board with a brad nailer. I drilled these heavy duty garage hooks from Amazon into the slats. Then I hang the entire board with wood screws to the wall (I marked the studs first with the stud finder). 

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