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Rethinking rooms: turn your underused space into something useful

March 6, 2014

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Max Greenwood turned a second bedroom in his home into a giant walk-in closet for his fiancee Emily Kuykendall. A clothes rack system and some salvaged shelves, offering slots for pairs of shoes, runs the length of one wall. A vanity table and mirrors and a dresser are along the other walls.

Max Greenwood turned a second bedroom in his home into a giant walk-in closet for his fiancee Emily Kuykendall. A clothes rack system and some salvaged shelves, offering slots for pairs of shoes, runs the length of one wall. A vanity table and mirrors and a dresser are along the other walls.

By adding a vanity table and mirrors and a dresser into a second bedroom, Max Greenwood converted it into a walk-in closet for his fiancee Emily Kuykendall.

By adding a vanity table and mirrors and a dresser into a second bedroom, Max Greenwood converted it into a walk-in closet for his fiancee Emily Kuykendall.

Max Greenwood used some salvaged shelves to create slots for shoes and purses along the length of one wall in a second bedroom to create a walk-in closet for his fiancee.

Max Greenwood used some salvaged shelves to create slots for shoes and purses along the length of one wall in a second bedroom to create a walk-in closet for his fiancee.

Adding a table and chairs to the walk-in closet gives the repurposed room a more boutique-like atmosphere and takes advantage of the space, while making it your own, Kirsten Hudson says.

Adding a table and chairs to the walk-in closet gives the repurposed room a more boutique-like atmosphere and takes advantage of the space, while making it your own, Kirsten Hudson says.

If you’re creating an office in one section of a larger room, Kirsten Hudson says, you should consider how all of your furniture in the whole room works together. Hudson turned a large extra bedroom in her home into an office/closet combo.

If you’re creating an office in one section of a larger room, Kirsten Hudson says, you should consider how all of your furniture in the whole room works together. Hudson turned a large extra bedroom in her home into an office/closet combo.

So you have too much space in your home, and you’re not actually taking advantage of it. It’s actually the inverse problem of every New Yorker frequently posting their creative fixes for optimizing space in their 275-square-foot apartment online.

An extra bedroom sits upstairs untouched under the pretense of being the guest bedroom, and it’s not doing you any favors. The amount of space for your ever-expanding wardrobe is rather limited.

When Max Greenwood and his fiancee, Emily Kuykendall, were looking for a home together, he originally thought he’d be transforming an extra bedroom into an office space. Settling on a 1940s home in Fairway, the KU graduates’ concerns were the small closets and tiny bathroom with no counterspace. Greenwood decided to turn one of their two bedrooms into a walk-in closet for his fiancee.

“Now I have my own vanity area set up in the closet where I do my makeup and hair, and my clothes are all right there in the same space, so it’s really like my own little one-stop shop for getting ready each morning,” Kuykendall says.

Setting aside their first Sunday as tenants for the transformation, Greenwood went to Home Depot for supplies and got ready to work. “You definitely need to set aside an allotted amount of time for something like this,” he says.

He used drywall anchors for extra support for a hanging clothes rack, a tip he highly recommend to ensure the wall-mounted bracket won’t tear out of the wall.

“I put three mounts on top with a rod for hanging clothes, and then I had to measure the remaining available space on the wall for the bottom brackets and hangers,” Greenwood says.

They had antiqued and sanded Emily’s old dresser for a more rustic look prior to starting the project. Max refurbished and painted an old computer desk that she now uses as her vanity. The rest of the closet furniture they already had, which they placed around the room before hanging anything up.

Taking note from a few Pinterest pages before they began, they’re both extremely happy with the final product. “It’s definitely ‘pin-worthy’, and we’ve gotten plenty of compliments on it,” Greenwood says.

How to repurpose to fit your needs

It’s your home to do with it whatever you’d like, says Kirsten Hudson, Kansas City, Mo., decorating blogger and KU graduate. Time to stop thinking about what each room is “supposed to be” and start imagining what you need the room to be.

Hudson lives in a three-bedroom home, the third room up a steep, narrow staircase, which made it impossible to get a bed up the stairs for a guest bedroom. With quite a large extra space, she knew turning it into an office alone wouldn’t make the most sense. Her boyfriend had already taken over two small closets on the first floor, another inspiration for repurposed endgame: her closet/office combo.

“At first it seemed like kind of a silly idea,” she says. “Who turns an entire room into a closet? But then I figured, ‘Why should I make the room something I won’t use just because it’s more ordinary?’ So I went for it.”

Hudson’s blog, RedLeafStyle.com, showcases the many at-home decorating projects she takes on, with a special focus on repurposing. Let her ideas and these tips inspire a home that fits your lifestyle:

Imagine the room you want

“Many times people have a hard time envisioning what a space could be used for, especially if they already have it a certain way,” she says. How are you spending your time in that space? Turn the dining room into a reading room if you find yourself reading more than eating in that room.

Fill the space

As a freelance writer, an office was an obvious first choice for her, but with the large space, she had to figure out how to make the room look cohesive despite its dual purpose. “My favorite way to do this is with rugs,” Hudson says. “Rugs help section off an area so even though it’s all one large room, the office looks like it has its own separate area, without actually creating physical boundaries.” It doesn’t have to be an entire room either, she says. Transform just a corner of a room, a nook, or even a closet into an office by taking the doors off.

Organization

“Keeping everything organized is extremely important in your walk-in closet, otherwise it will look junky,” Hudson says. For hanging clothes, thrift for second-hand clothes racks (for a vintage feel). Organize the rest in a nice dresser, keeping sweaters in drawers and jewelry on the top surface area. Line up your shoes below your clothes racks. Use shelves to store hats, shoes and purses. Don’t agonize over visualization, she says, which will slow down the process. Rearrange until you love it.

Make it your own

“Just having racks of clothes doesn’t look very exciting,” she says. “That’s why I added a coffee table and chairs to my closet. It gives it a boutique-like feel. It makes me feel like I’m going shopping every morning when I pick out my clothes.” Her vintage writing desk in eggshell blue is also a statement piece in her space. You want this to be a space you enjoy.

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