Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Craft Room

The previous owner of our home is an opera singer. When an addition was built onto the home, he needed a practice space, so he had a fairly small sound-proofed room sandwiched between the master bedroom and another small room. The practice room and small room were connected by a doorway.

As with most of our home when we purchased it, both rooms were loaded with shelves. One wall-filling set is in good condition, and is quite useful. The rest basically looked (and functioned) as if I'd given Connor a hammer and no ruler and told him to build something. Also in this room was an uncomfortable couch that had been built by the previous owner, which may have also functioned as an uncomfortable bed. Beneath it were falling apart drawers. The fabric on the couch could only be described as gross (though Helen and Connor insist that they need it).

Almost two years ago, our au pair at the time took a design class, and decided the craft room would be her project. For that effort, she removed many shelves from the walls, applied stick-on tiles to the floor in the practice room, and painted the walls pink and yellow. It was a huge improvement.

Still, the space was barely above awful. The two rooms did not function well together, and importantly, there was not adequate horizontal space for both Helen and Connor to be working on projects. If I wanted to paint with Helen, we had to go to the dining room, which is not my favorite thing to do. And, if someone left a project out, it was sure to be messed with by the other party.

Since the space serves as Connor and Helen's designated craft space, a lot of crap tends to land there and not move (yay for closing doors). Over time, this became a huge problem.

The space was such a disaster, that I have no "before" photos. I think I just couldn't bear to record it! This, however, is a half-way photo where all the shelves, except the one decent set, have been removed and my nieces are helping Connor and Helen paint the walls before the carpenter arrives.

I'm not sure what inspired it, but Ed and I decided it was time to fix this room once and for all. We had the wall removed (which was somewhat scary since it is load-bearing - the original back wall of the house), had a second window installed, had the super disgusting ceiling replaced (it was previously yellowed and cracking), had two overhead lights installed with real switches (where previously we had rigged up a power strip with a switch that Helen could reach), and then Ed built two desks from The Container Store, a recommendation from my friend, Ellen. We also had a closet installed so that this room can now be considered a bedroom for re-sale purposes, which seems a lot better than a random ill-defined space that it was prior to this renovation. For my part, I hauled out probably a full can of trash / abandoned art projects, and organized almost everything into small boxes that could sit easily on the shelves. I had the walls painted lime green which makes me smile every time I walk in the room.

I need to hang the print sitting by the (freshly painted) radiator and make curtains. But other than that, we're in business!

Key points of the remodel were:
  • Defining separate workspace for both Connor and Helen, to avoid interrupted projects.
  • Clearing out all the clutter and organizing the items that were left so that they are both accessible and usable - including my stuff!
  • Providing each child with a plastic shoe-box for "in process" project tools. This will hopefully control clutter in the future.
  • Having horizontal spaces that can be raised and lowered over time as Connor and Helen grow.
  • Having horizontal spaces large enough for painting boards, and having vertical storage space for the painting boards.
  • Installing desks that did not have to be screwed into the walls. The desks are stand-alone, which is important, because the plaster walls in this room were riddled with holes from all the previous shelves, so it took a substantial amount of effort to make them nice. I didn't want to immediately disturb that.
  • The addition of a window means the space has much more natural light.
  • Long-term planning. This room will be able to function as a homework space in the future. And, in the way beyond future, it will make a great nursery for whatever young couple buys my home from me in fifteen years.
Let the creative juices flow!



  1. Love it, and can totally you and the kids all working on different things at the same time in it!

  2. Congratulations! And, I love that it used to be an opera singers practice room. That's good creative karma!

    1. In some ways, it's sad to destroy the practice space because it is such a great story, but I like your take on it that the karma stays, even though the wall is gone!

  3. So exciting! Would love to check it out and hear about the Container Store table construction!

    1. Ed is the master at this stuff, so he was able to put the two tables together fairly quickly (a few hours?). They were sitting in our bedroom in boxes for a week while the work was done, so there was a huge incentive to put them together as soon as possible!

  4. So glad that the container store stand alone desks/shelves worked out for you. Great way to get the shelves without having to drill in to the walls !

    1. I actually liked the table you sent a picture for better. It is the perfect height for Helen now, but it's too low for Connor. The next height it can be is pretty tall, and it's pretty expensive to get it to the next level. These desks were sitting near the one you suggested and work better, though don't have that great under desk storage that the one you pointed out had.

  5. there is no mistaking that the young lady is Linda's daughter. I did a double take.

  6. To say that I am jealous of this space would be an understatement! It is gorgeous and promotes creativity and independence. I want a room like this when I grow up.