Wednesday, March 6, 2013

before and after: our spare room

I want to thank everyone, particularly EcoCatLady for your support as I navigate the craziness of my six-week stint in intensive outpatient treatment for my eating disorder. Normally it's three nights a week for six weeks but today most of D.C. shut down for the "Snowquester," or probably more aptly termed, the "No-quester." They predicted six-to-ten inches of snow. We got three and it all melted as soon as it the ground...but we did get a day off! I have time to blog and declutter and I haven't done either in a while so I thought I would reward everyone's patience with some before-and-after photos.

We have a two-bedroom condo and out back room has always confused us. It's a normal room, huge at a generous 11 x 16 feet. It'll eventually be our kid's room but for the moment we don't really know what to do with it.

What are we using the room for? What do we want to use it for? I want an entertainment room with a futon and a TV. The Chief Engineer wants a bedroom with a desk. He wants space to play with his k'nex. I want a place to curl up with my feet up and write or read or watch netflix. I don't want a lot of furniture. He wants to have a guest bed. Neither one of us is happy.

Check out the room back in the Fall.

Ginormous desk. Big enough for both of us to work.
It turned out that we didn't need that much work space.
The gigantic queen-sized bed competed for space with
my huge quilting hoop, my guitar, and a poang chair from Ikea.
See that huge square bag in the middle of the photo?
It's a bag full of pillows. Ten pillows, no kidding!
The closet. Not an inch of space to be found.

Then Snowquestration happens and we have free time to organize!

We got rid of quite a bit of stuff. The ikea chair got moved to my work office a while back. The quilting hoop found a home in the living room, the folding table found a home in the foyer, the guitar went into the living room, the cello has vanished, the lamp got donated a while back. Then the Chief Engineer added the k'nex set in the corner, but I'll live. Here's the room as it was this morning. It's got a long way to go and is very messy but I'm much happier with the new layout.
The pillows are now getting used as backrests for the bed. 
I get a couch and the Chief Engineer keeps the spare bed without having to buy a futon.
He keeps the bed -- I keep the bike.

The ironing I haven't done in weeks. And my skis needed a temporary home.
Still need to figure out where those will live permanently.
Hey, at least they're not in the bedroom!
(*cough* like the Chief Engineer's skis *cough*)
Our biggest achievement was breaking down the desk. Being an ikea desk, it was modular .
We took one of the smaller end pieces and re-attached the legs and made a desk small enough
to fit in the closet. There's much less surface area to dump junk and we can close the closet door on it when we're done. I still need to convince the Chief Engineer that we should donate larger top of the desk to a homeless family that can use it.  For now it lives in our free storage unit in the basement.
We have a long way to go but I'm pleased with the results and am lounging very comfortably on the couch/bed writing this post. Hopefully we'll make more improvement in the coming weeks.

So what do you think about what we did with the space? Any suggestions for what we could do with it?


  1. Love the desk-in-the-cupboard solution! It's definitely a good idea to get rid of excess desk space that just becomes a dumping ground. (My boss has a huge desk at work, and it ends up covered in junk).

    With our guest room, I try and keep it totally clear of our stuff, so it is just for guests. (Which is perhaps a bit of an under use of the room, but does mean I don't have to spend much/ any time getting it ready for the occasional guest!) But then again, we don't need it for office space, or sitting space.

    I think you're doing well with it- looks loads better with less stuff in it- but I guess it would help if you decide between you exactly what it is for, as then it will become obvious what should 'live' there :)

    PS hope that the eating disorder treatment is going well, and glad that you got an unexpected day off- hopefully that will make the crazy busy time easier to handle!

    1. Maybe it's okay for rooms to be underused. I realize there's nothing wrong with it, particularly if it makes life a little more serene. I think you're on to something with the single/double-purpose room, instead of trying to have the room serve many purposes. Treatment does seem to be going well enough. Thanks for the good wishes!

  2. Awwww... no thanks necessary. I've been there and I know how hard it is, but I have complete and total confidence in you.

    I have the same sorts of spare room issues and it's just me! Should it be a spare bedroom? A photography studio? A bicycle repair station? A storage area? At the moment I fear it's all of the above, and not terribly neat and tidy either! It's not nearly as neat as yours looks, but it's better than it used to be.

    When my boy kitties were kittens, I needed a place where I could put things that weren't safe for kittens... and that room fit the bill because I could close the door and easily keep them out. Well... soon it became an all purpose dumping ground. I'd just open the door, toss stuff in, close the door and forget about it. BAD NEWS!

    But, the "karma of clutter" came around and deposited a mouse in my little disaster room, which finally got me to clean it up. I'd still love for it to be more functional than it is, but at the moment it will just have to do. Sigh.

    This is probably off topic, and perhaps I'm displaying my western bias here, but why is it lately that every time it snows in the northeast it's a national news event? "Snomageddon" "Frankenstorm" "Snowquestration"... I don't get it? I mean we're expecting another foot on Saturday and nobody really thinks it's a terribly big deal.

    Listen to me... I sound like some old geezer. "Back in my day we walked to school in 3 feet of snow... uphill both directions!" :-)

    1. oh yes, ever since snowpocalypse the DC area has named its storms. This town is so scarred. I wish people would get over it!

      And no, you don't sound like an old geezer, because in college we had a small valley between the off-campus dorm and main campus. Four flights of stairs up and down the snow both ways!

  3. I like the desk-in-closet solution too! And yes, any extra horizontal surfaces are likely to just attract clutter. I also like the bed-couch combo solution, as it meant you didn't need to go buy anything new and both got what they wanted.

  4. I always liked the idea of a murphy bed in a spare room - the convenience of having space for guests to sleep without losing all that floor space the 95% of the time there aren't guests in your home. I saw a travel trailer with a murphy bed that folded down over the couch, genius design.

    Love the desk in the closet. You'll love being able to close the doors and close off the visual clutter. =)

    1. it's refreshing to be able to shut away visual clutter, isn't it? makes me glad that whole room has a door, not just the closet :o)

  5. My spare room is currently a library/attic/furniture store/spare room! I'd like to cut down on all the boxes and clutter in there and be able to make it more like an office/spare room so I can clear my dining room area of papers. Really liked how you've changed the space to make it and the things in it work best for you. It's hard when a room has been in a certain layout to see other possibilities, I loved the desk in the cupboard, wouldn't have thought of that!

  6. Just found your blog and love it! My mother was a hoarder. I've been a hoarder too but thankfully no where near her league! lol However I have made a conscious effort in the last 10 years or so to de clutter my house and life. I have some wins but still feel I have too much stuff! :-(

    1. Maria, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you're enjoying what you're reading. I think part of us has to let go of the idea that we'll be able to put a stop to the clutter at some point. "Good enough" which translates to "better than my parents" is my metric right now. Sounds like you've been doing an awesome job making your home and life less chaotic than your mom's. Great job and hugs to you!

  7. You should hang the skis on the wall. They are pretty and would make good artwork.

  8. Loved this post and seeing the before and after photos. That got me thinking that we moved from a one bedroom apt to a two bedroom 20+ years ago. When we moved in we had very minimal furniture so just what was in the 2nd bedroom? I know it was the man cave from the get go but except for a bookshelf and some CD racks it must have been empty. I only remember it jammed to the rafters with stuff. We've changed apartments a couple times since then and it is still a man cave and still jammed with stuff--just higher quality furniture including a love seat. I remember buying a fairly comfortable office chair for the man cave early in the day so I'd have some place to come in and sit. I had to do that before hubby posted a 'no girls allowed' sign. LOL!

    And we'd never ever put a bed in the 2nd bedroom as people might want to stay with us and by 'people' I mean relatives. EEK!

  9. huh. Now that you say it, i probably want the bed gone so that my parents won't ever stay with us again! lol


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