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5 Tips for Designing a Stylish Home Gym, According to a DIY Pro

Jennifer Gizzi of Making Pretty Spaces reveals how to create a room you’ll actually want to work out in. 

Before she was a home renovator with enviable style, Jennifer Gizzi actually owned a gym. So when Gizzi, who blogs about her projects at Making Pretty Spaces, got the chance to design a home gym in her Wisconsin basement, the DIY wizard knew exactly what she wanted. 

“The big thing with a home gym is to create a space that you really like to be in,” she tells Tonal. “If you want your fitness to be consistent, you have to want to be in that room and enjoy that time. If you don’t really look forward to being in that room, you’re not going to want to go in there.” 

Gizzi installed wood-like flooring (read more on that below) and painted the walls a rich gray hue. She added wood slats to the wall behind her Tonal to give the room more texture, and floating shelves for storing her exercise accessories plus a few decorative accents. The end result is a sophisticated, luxurious room where you’d feel motivated to break a sweat. With its tasteful colors and materials, Gizzi loves how the room feels personalized as opposed to a sterile, featureless gym. 

Tips for Your Home Gym Design

Gizzi completed this project on her own, but you don’t need to be super handy to craft a stylish home gym — or just a “gym wall” if your Tonal lives in your bedroom or home office. Here, she shares all her advice for creating a beautiful space for your Tonal, including what you can do yourself and when it’s best to call in the professionals. 

Before and after of Jennifer Gizzi's Tonal wall design.

Get inspired 

Before picking up a paintbrush or tearing up your flooring, you’ll want to get a clear sense of what you want your finished product to look like. “Think about how you want to feel in that space and how you want it to function,” says Gizzi. 

For inspiration, she suggests looking at images of home gyms on Pinterest. Search for the specific look you’re going for whether that’s modern, with clean lines and sleek surfaces, or more bare bones like an old-school garage gym. Gizzi searched for “moody home gym,” and drew inspiration from similar rooms with dark color walls and warm wood tones. Play around with different keywords to find spaces with characteristics that appeal to you. 

Make a statement wall 

“I’ve never enjoyed bright white walls for working out,” says Gizzi. She and her husband, a strength coordinator for a pro-football team and a former linebacker, use their Tonal nearly every day, so it was important for the wall behind her Tonal to make a visual statement. She designed her own trim accents with wood slats to give the space depth and texture. “The trim work frames the wall,” she says. “It adds interest to make it more of a feature wall.”

Unless you’re skilled at these types of DIY projects, she says you might want to call in a woodworker or contractor for any structural changes like this. For an affordable alternative, you can also find peel-and-stick wallpaper in interesting textures and patterns, or make a big impact with paint. For her “moody” look, Gizzi went with gray walls in the color Glen Plaid from Valspar

Focus on flooring

While you can save money on adhesive wallpaper and decorative accessories, Gizzi says the floor in your home gym is one area where it’s worth it to splurge. “You want really good flooring that’s also functional,” she says. “Flooring sets the stage for the whole room.” 

She recommends avoiding tile or hardwood for a gym since these materials will be hard on your joints if you’re jumping or doing other high-impact movements. Her herringbone flooring looks like wood, but it’s actually COREtec luxury vinyl, a softer material that she tells us is “a little more forgiving.” She also suggests rubber matting for a more traditional gym look. 

Close-up detail shots of Jennifer Gizzi's home gym showing Tonal and accessories.

Store your gear

A neat space with everything in its place is much more visually appealing than a messy room. Gizzi says functional storage that makes your gear “easy to use and easy to put away” also contributes to an inviting workout environment. She made her own floating shelves out of spare lumber, but you can skip that step with a Tonal accessories shelf. It’s specifically designed to hold your barbell, handles, and rope. Like Gizzi, you can use the top of your shelf for extras like your foam roller, towels, or water bottle.

Add accessories

Decorative accents give your home gym personality. Gizzi’s leather-trimmed Rejuvenation laundry bin and Modest Vintage Player jump rope add retro appeal while the faux potted plants (she tells us they came as a set from Amazon) bring a natural look to the room. “Greenery — faux or real — instantly makes the space more warm and inviting,” she says.

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