I know it seems crazy to sacrifice one of our precious row house closets, but I had a vision of creating an office for my 8-year-old daughter Ana, and, like so many DIY ideas, I just couldn’t shake it. Plus, she had been asking for her own workspace and she clearly wanted privacy, other than under her bed where I often find her sprawled out on blankets reading and writing in the semi-dark.
There had to be a way. Ana shares a small 8 x 10 foot room with her little sister, Nadja, and we have arranged the room in the best way we can imagine. We have twin beds side by side and each girl gets to decorate their side as they wish, with a shelf for each to display their treasures.
So, it made the most sense to make an office in the closet. Let’s start with the reveal:
Now, how it unfolded. First, make way and get everything out of the closet:
- I purged about 50% of Nadja’s too-small and non-seasonal clothes and arranged the rest in baskets under her bed. Lucky for us, she likes keeping her clothes there. Ana uses another small dresser.
- We moved Nadja’s dresser out of the closet and onto the curb (where it vanished in seconds flat).
- We hung the dresses on the back of the main door. I store non-seasonal ones in bins and so we only need to hang a few dresses per girl. Perfect. Empty closet, check!
Katie and I installed two shelves, one a bit wider to serve as the desk, and one to serve as a second shelf. (To give credit where credit’s due, Katie did ALL of the drilling and hard labor in general, on a very humid day when the A/C was out of commission. She’s a rockstar!) I had bought the wood cut to size at Lowe’s and primed it first. We attached side supports on the walls using liquid nails and screws, and let the desk and shelf pieces lay on top. Future homeowners can easily convert the office back to a closet. (We kept the hanging rod in there as well.)
Next up: I painted the entire interior with a blue as close to the sky blue we used for the ceiling. Then, I hung a bulletin board, magnetic board, and a pretty padded bulletin board criss-crossed with ribbons. Ana arranged her books and her grandmother gave her some fun coordinated bins as an “office-warming” gift. (I plan to rig up the clip-on lamp a little more discreetly.)
Finally, the chair. Now this was a great find. I took home one of these two totally hip, but fairly worn and muddy, chairs that beckoned to me from the side of the road.
I sanded the back and seat and then Ana primed and together with her sister painted the chair a cool minty color.
I tightened the screws on the legs and then we chose some decals from an Etsy vendor. We put some birds on it (with a nod to this hilarious skit on Portlandia) and Ana gave her new desk chair and office a whirl. (Total cost of project: under $100.)
Ana is so happy to have her own hideaway. She does her homework in her “private office” in the afternoons, and in the evening, we’ve hung a curtain so she can sneak away from her doting little sister and, for a few delirious minutes at a time, draw, write, and dream in peace and quiet.