Christmas Project Breakthrough

Christmas Project Breakthrough    

I feel as though I won the Christmas Lottery!  This year, the holiday project was at our house instead of at our daughter’s house.  When we first looked at this house, we found it a bit quirky.  Fortunately for us, the quirky characteristics caused many potential buyers pass on it, leaving it for the more adventurous.

We have not yet figured out what the original intent was for the add-on room, our project room.  We believe the room was added on about 25 to 30 years ago, based on materials used.  The do-it-yourself person who built the room did not have the qualifications to do a really good construction job, especially with the electrical system.  The room has seven good quality, floor to ceiling windows, all dual glazed, but none of them open for ventilation.  The exterior door, off the driveway, is the only access into the room; fortunately there is a screen door for fresh air.  This room was not good for not much more than a sunroom or storage, which is how we have used it.

However, we always intended it to be a guest room, knowing we would need to upgrade many aspects of it.  Most important was constructing direct access to the rest of the house from the room, without having to go outside walk down the driveway and enter the house through the back door.  Having an accessiblebathroom without having to go outside was primary.

The plan was to cut a door through a wall in the second bedroom aka my husband’s office.  We could see there had been a window in that wall prior to building the add- on room; therefore, there was an existing header in the wall.  That wall was the logical place for a door.  The window was simply walled over from the inside and left exposed on the guest room side, though disguised by a make-shift closet.  

The biggest problem was cutting through 1938 stucco and about an inch of concrete.  I was grateful to have a much younger person doing the cutting: our gallant son who was willing to do the very, very dirty work.  Once the cuts were made and the wall removed, we all finally could imagine the finished project.

Sadly, there is much left to do before I can jump in and share with you all the fun decorating plans I have; but be patient, it will all be recorded here for you in the coming weeks, and months.

There is a need for only one step down from my husband’s office into the newly created guest quarters.  After some discussion, we agreed that making the step into a full platform would serve best.  First, my husband would not have to level the pebble path that ran under the window before the room was added, and I would not have to deal with an awkward step into the room.

We purchased an old, entry door from Pasadena Salvage, as the door that would offer the necessary privacy for our guests.  I opted for a Speakeasy door to add to the interest and maintain the quirky quality of the house.  This door will slide on barn sliders for access to the rest of the house.  Stepping down from my husband’s office into the room and onto the platform will offer very secure footing.

Currently, my husband is working on the electrical system in the room; there will be plenty of outlets, USB ports, and lighting options.  Having the platform, will afford an outlet or USB port in the riser, wires running under the step, and no encroachment on the very limited wall space, since two sides of the room are all windows.   

Progress beyond the electrical will be fun to share; I am expecting the door hanging to be a whole new story—stay tuned.

Design and Function—The Beauty Within

Not everyone will agree on what beauty is, but it is one’s perception that counts; however function is a bit more concrete.  As a designer and decorator, I strive for both, it is in my DNA.  I know that not nearly as many people will find a storage shed a thing of beauty as will find a pretty fabric or the lines of a lovely chair; but to me, the shed illustrated here is a thing of beauty.

I do a great many painting and refinishing projects that add to the aesthetic quality of my life and the lives of my clients; so having a place to work on these projects is particularly important to me.  I wholeheartedly subscribe to the designer mantra that form follows function.

I purchased an eight-by-ten foot shed last fall, and my handy husband spent a couple of weekends getting it set up; first he built a frame for the foundation so the shed to sit level on the back patio that was sloping for drainage.  Suffice to say that he built the shed and foundation with his usual precision.  There are still some additions to install, such as lighting and a box fan for exhausting paint spray and fumes.

Fitting the interior with a tall, wire-frame shelving unit was key to storing the many cans of paint and other necessary supplies.  I thought it would be a good idea to wrap the wire-frame shelves with an insulation blanket meant for a water heater.  My hope it to help preserve the paint, which degrades in extreme temperatures— since the shed is not as well insulated as the garage.  Investment:  Insulation, $22, shelving unit was a donation from my daughter, $0. 

I bought a set of adjustable saw horses to hold a discarded, standard interior door; this serves as my work table. Investment:  Saw-Horses, $59, Interior Door, $0, Lighting, $140 and the Box Fan, $25.  The shed was certainly the most expensive, but I did get it on sale.  I do not remember what the pressure treated wood and flashing cost, but probably somewhere around $100+/-, and the labor was based on pure love which is priceless.

Without the lighting or the fan installed yet, the room has been a valuable addition.   My husband was the first to use it.  I insisted that he spray paint some auto parts for the restoration of our 1930 Model A, which has not seen any attention in 50 years!  Next up was the painting of a cabinet my daughter uses to conceal the litter box in a bathroom.  The shed, which we have nick named "The Dexter Room", has been deemed a great asset and in my mind, a thing of beauty. 

A word about the decision to purchase a pre-made shed; we looked into many less expensive options of which there are many.  First, was the least expensive, was inspired by the popular TV series Dexter but, involved assembly and take down after each use.  PVC pipe fitted to make a frame, and heavy sheet plastic sheeting attached to the PVC constituted the “room”, and would cost about $50.  I liked that, but from a realistic stand point, I didn’t think I could do the assembly by myself, and weather might be an issue.  The next idea was a simple pop-up tent, a bit more expensive, and certainly easy enough for me to assemble; but it would limit the size of the projects.  The ability to use the Dexter Room shed in just about any weather for large and small projects drove the decision to acquirea more formidable structure.  My daughter and I have plans to spray paint some custom doors for the newly installed cabinets in her laundry room; a couple of the doors are quite tall and require a fairly large area to work on them and allow a place for them to dry without interference.

From the outside, the shed is a pleasant enough looking piece, with a cottage look, but the interior is pure function.

Dormer Windows Offer Interior Opportunities

The charms of an exterior ornament can be a decorating challenge for the interior, but the ornament also can also be a true asset when viewed with an open and imaginative mind.  For instance, dormer windows or slanted windows in some architectures will add interest to the outside of the home and welcome light on the interior.  While these attributes are welcome, many find the decorating or furniture arrangement more than a little challenging.

Take the customary trio of dormers in many homes—lovely to look at, but what do they offer on the inside?  Depending on the spacing between the dormers, there are lots of options.  One of the first things that comes to mind are comfortable window seats.   If the windows open, you have the additional benefit of good air circulation in an attic space that has been converted to a bedroom.  Window seats can afford great storage containment that can be left open or closed--an excellent use of space.

Another option would be a writing or computer desk for.  Usually on the second or third floor, these spaces may offer great views for inspiration or just a great place to read for your own enjoyment.

If your dormer or slanted walls are generous you might consider adding an alcove bed--an easy way to add extra sleeping space without taking away from the room’s intended use, be it a TV room, office space or a well-organized storage room or craft/hobby room.  The possibilities are endless.  To find a bed to fit your alcove is not difficult and custom is not always out of your price range.  You simply order a bed from a sleep shop--one size larger than your opening--and give the shop measurements you need your bed to become.  It takes about two weeks and your custom-sized mattress is ready for pick-up or delivery.  If you build a low box below to serve as the boxed spring, you can use it for storage.  Build the box a little higher and you can have more useful storage with full extension pull-out shelves for linens, pillows and extra blankets.  This will have a captain’s bed, look, which is fun for children and teens.

Making the best use of your space is always an asset to your home’s value and your enjoyment.