Creative Closets: Maximizing your household space

By Rebecca Hermance
For the Journal

Whether you are working from home or just need a space to sit down with a laptop or store craft supplies, consider turning a closet into an office space. Following a serious decluttering session, we found the closet in our guest room to be relatively empty. I was also wishing for a space where I could set up my sewing machines and leave them (that was not the kitchen table). I work on things in spare moments when my kids are briefly occupied or when they are sleeping at night. The guest room closet turned out to be the perfect solution: I can close the door when I am not working and it is right next to the basement play area.

The first step toward making the closet into a sewing/craft space was to remove the dilapidated wire shelves that were hanging precariously from the wall.  After patching the holes, I used a mixture of leftover paints and painted the closet walls. My handy husband reused an old hollow-core door and cut it to fit the closet. 

Smaller spaces are great because they are a fun place to play with color and pattern. I chose a lively purple/pink (Pantone’s Radiant Orchid) for the desktop. I used a sample sized jar of paint and sealed it with no-odor water-based Varathane to make it easily wipeable. To balance the color and give a neutral base for hanging up tools and taping up images, I hung a large piece of pegboard painted glossy white.   

We added some storage to the sides of the closet using recycled wood from an old deck. I left the wood unpainted for an industrial look. I hung two thread racks on the wall to keep thread untangled and off the desk. Since there is no electricity wired to this closet I use an extension cord for now. I would eventually love to have an overhead pendant and an outlet wired into the closet, but need to check electrical codes first.

To open up the space, we chose to remove the doors to the closet.  Since my sewing space is inside the guest room, I can close the doors to keep little hands away.  If your closet is located in a more public space, consider sliding barn doors, hanging a curtain or leaving the doors on.

If you have a closet space–or even a small corner somewhere–to spare for a craft area or mini office, here are some things to keep in mind:

Clear out the closet completely before beginning. Get rid of unnecessary items and find a new home for items you plan to keep.

Measure the closet and decide how you want to arrange it. Make a sketch of your design plan, including measurements.

Add power, whether it be a power strip or having a new outlet wired to the space (according to code).

Find or make a desk that fits your specifications. If you rent, a removable desk is an easier option than something more built-in. 

Use your walls for storage. I like to keep my workspace clean, so I hang as many items on the walls as I can. Pegboards and shelves offer many adjustable storage solutions.

Above all, personalize your closet office and make it a place where you can be at your most productive. 

Rebecca is a local interior designer, educator and all-around fun mom. Check out more of her projects at UniquelyYouInteriors.Com.

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