I had the age-old issue of not feeling like there was not enough space in my home for my growing family. Downstairs, we have a decent size living room and dining room and a tiny kitchen. Upstairs, our bedroom is large, the boy’s bedroom is on the smaller side, and we have an extra [small] room that was used as an office when I was finishing up my degree.
Since I graduated, I didn’t have as much use for the office. After a year, it became more of a storehouse for things we needed to get out of the way. The door was always closed because I was afraid to face what was inside and a bit ashamed by what it looked like.
This room is tiny. I did the math and it’s approximately 70-75 square feet. And, clearly, there was a lot of stuff in the room. First off, we had the beautiful 5-ft Hemnes desk from IKEA, an 8-drawer dresser (over four feet wide) that I was in the process of refurbishing to sell before having Ethan, and another dresser by Hemnes in the little nook in the room (not pictured). This space was also not being used to its potential.
Since turning 3, Joshua has taken less and less naps. The boys share a room and Ethan is a light sleeper, so if Joshua’s not sleeping when Ethan is and they’re in the same room, Ethan almost always wake up early. I try to call it a “quiet time” but it’s hard for a 3-year-old to be that quiet and, more often than not, he wants to play with his toys downstairs in the living room. All that means I don’t get a true break from the kids, I don’t get to clean up in the way that I would like and I feel pretty spent by the time my husband gets home, like I have nothing left to give him.
So, a few weeks ago, I decided we needed a change. My plan was to take that current spare room we had and make it into a playroom/office where Joshua can stay during his quiet time. I wanted it to be a place that he never wanted to leave, a place where he felt safe and comfortable. I wanted there to be more organization, less clutter, and more open area for him.
So, we removed everything but the Hemnes furniture from the room to paint it a light blue/green color (Sunken Pool by Behr).
I found out two things at this point: 1 – the Hemnes desk was way too big for the space (so I convinced my husband for us to build a new 4-ft desk). 2 – I fell in love with the paint color, which I had not previously tested, and loved how it went with the color of the chair, which I had spray painted the week before.
After the painting was finished, we went on two shopping trips over the next 24 hours to IKEA and Home Depot. To buy us more productive time, we took the boys to the pool to tire them out (thankfully, the plan worked and they slept for THREE hours!). We went back to work when they went to sleep and literally worked through the whole night. Less than 48 hours after starting, this was our final product:
We built a desk using IKEA legs (which we already had) and the storage “leg” by Klimpen, which was perfect for storing the printer and some books. We also combined two 1x10s and one 1×6 from Home Depot to make our desktop. I liked the light color of the wood, so I just did a few coats of polyurethane without staining it.
We used the same wood for wall shelves and got some storage boxes from IKEA so I can
hide organize a bunch of my things. They’re sturdy cardboard boxes that came at less than $5 each and they fit everything perfectly.
We got a nice high pile rug for $30 from the as-is section at IKEA. It’s so soft, I feel like I could easily fall asleep on it! I was concerned about the color at first but figured it was a good deal for an area rug in good condition, and we needed one to warm up the place and add to the sound-proofing. We used a kid’s table (also from IKEA) that we had in storage from when my niece was little. Not staining the desk meant that I didn’t have to stain or paint this table (as I had originally intended). I might still make cushions for the chairs, if I come across a good fabric one day, but for now I’m satisfied with how they look.
To display the books, we used a picture ledge (guess where from? ;)) that we had in storage from when we took it out of the boys’ room because it no longer fit. Since we kept the Hemnes dresser (which serves as storage for some of Joshua’s toys/crafts, as well as storage for my own “toys” and crafts), I like that the espresso color was tied in a bit.
We also got a hanging bar with hooks for a total of $2.99 from the kitchen section at IKEA and some pails from Target for organizing different writing/drawing tools. For coloring books and paper, I splurged on a cute organizer from Home Goods. Speaking of cute, I painted some wood letters from the craft store and put them on the wall with adhesive magnets to spell out the names of the boys. Also on this wall is my favorite art project to date: an old cork board that I redid with some spray paint, acrylic paint, and painters tape.
On the other wall, we used chalkboard paper from Amazon to cover the closet door. Once we got in a groove, it was simple to use, and an overall easy and cheap fix for a plain, unappealing door for the closet. In spite of the closet, though, we still have to utilize other space in the room to hang winter coats. To maximize space, I made the last minute decision to transform the nook into a type of cave for Joshua, complete with a mini road play rug from IKEA (a whopping $7.99). We made a “roof” from a curtain panel and added in his own little wall light for a cozy effect.
This room has easily become a favorite in the house. It’s definitely my favorite and I am proud of the work that we did to see this vision through. I love that there is a spot for everything in this room, so even when there are toys everywhere, it isn’t difficult to clean up. Ethan loves crawling on the rug in this room. Joshua is obsessed with playing with his new play-doh set in this room.
The longer I live in this small home, the more I realize how little space I need in my life for my family. In an age where bigger is often equated with better, I find myself becoming more and more satisfied with the notion of living small. After completing this room, especially, I’ve learned how just a bit of creative thinking could be used to redefine the confines of square footage.
Moreover, I’m thankful to God that I have this place to call home, that I have a space for my boys to play (both inside and out). I’m grateful for all that I have, that I could surprise my son and brighten his day. And I’m especially grateful that every day, He is teaching me to be a little more thankful.