Thursday, November 11, 2010

The HELP Flag is Up! Tell Us What We Should Do With This Room!

Alex and I are ready to get started turning a somewhat awkward space in our house into a useful room with purpose!  Problem is, we don't quite know what it should we need your help!!!!  The room in question is off of our master bedroom (while we still haven't gotten started redoing that room, it is definitely on the to do list as well).  This picture is taken from our master bedroom. Between our 'too stinkin tiny for all the stuff we have' his and her closets, there is an archway with a glass panel door that leads out to what we have called 'the sunroom' since we moved in.
This room was an addition built on to our house at some point in time.  Originally it was a 2nd floor outdoor patio/ balcony.  We know this because all of our neighbors have them, and one neighbor has an identical house without the addition.  I was trying to research why all the houses around here have 2nd floor balconies/ patios, but I still can't find a good answer.  During some of my research I did stumble upon a  New York Times article from 1895 about Dutch Colonial Homes that was kind of fun.  It detailed a Dutch Colonial home's layout which was pretty spot on with our house. I think I am going to start calling one of our rooms a 'parlor', I love the old lingo!  But yes, it is titled 'Cheap Colonial Homes' since suburbs didn't exist and families were building homes themselves.  They quoted these homes costing around $4,000-$5,500, which matched the price on the original building card to our house which I blogged about here.

But back to the room we need help with...
Here is the opposite view of the door from the 'sunroom'.
Now you can see why we need help, it is a LONG and NARROW room with 5 large bright windows.  A few people have suggested making this a closet, but I can't seem to fathom turning a room with so much natural light into a closet.
Oddly, when we saw the house before buying, we thought this room was kind of cool. I guess we still think it is cool, just fun and unique with the slanted ceilings and all the windows.  We are just a little stumped as to what we should do with it, so we need some ideas before we get started! (we already know the nasty carpet has to go ASAP!) 
Keep in mind, we have a guest room and office already, so what should it be?  Sitting room?  Reading room? Extension of master suite? Exercise room?  I have no idea!  I just know that once we get a good idea and get started, this could likely be the coolest room in the house!  If you do read this pretty, pretty, PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT letting us know what we should do with this room!  I would love to get lots of new ideas, who knows, you might have one we haven't thought of!  Once we get a good idea, we will put a plan in place and start blogging the room redo!


  1. Hi Carla!

    What a great space! Here a couple random thoughts that just fell out of my head...I would LOVE this to be my exercise room! There is nothing I would love more than to line up my equipment and be able to look out as I was working out. But, that doesn't mean you have to compromise style. It could be soooo cool but yet functional!

    But, if working out looking down on the world isn't your thing, it could be a great sitting room. A long space is nice because you could break it up into several "areas".

    Can't wait to see what you do...I know its going to be awesome!


  2. Because this room is so long, can you break it up into two areas? Maybe exercise one end and then sitting/library/lounging in another. Maybe put two distinct area rugs to settle the spaces.

  3. Well my first thought was a closet, especially given your comment about your current closets being too small.
    Since you don't want to do that, perhaps you could do a combo? Make a section a closet, but also have seating area and some books. I can see spending weekend mornings there with coffee, reading magazines...or even for yoga/stretching. I suppose you could put a piece of exercise equipment in there too if there is enough space. (gee, will you ever leave this room?? get a mini fridge too :-p )
    I gather that you can only get to this room from your master bedroom, so in that way, think of it as extension of your bedroom. Will be an awesome place to unwind when you have kids.

  4. Can you knock down the wall and then have all those gorgeous windows as part of your master bedroom?

    I'm actually down with the closet idea though. I think natural light is perfect for a closet. You could make it an exposed closet with big beautiful racks and shelves to display shoes on and have like a beauty area -- I'm imagining a full length vintage mirror next to some kind of table with drawers to keep makeup and stuff in. Imagine getting ready in such a lovely area each morning. That would make me happy!

  5. Does the room get really hot in the summer and cold in the winter? That might be a factor in deciding if it would be a good exercise room. I think it would be divine to exercise with all those windows and light coming in, though.

    Another choice would be to make it into the best craft room ever with a long table in front of the window to take advantage of the natural light and shelves along the wall behind for storage.

    I could also see it being a lovely sitting room, but it doesn't sound like you need one.

    If you are really stuck for ideas, I know someone who has a gift room and I always thought that would be the coolest. She stores all the presents she buys ahead of time at Christmas and for birthdays as well as having all her gift wrap and cards all organized so she can wrap things easily. What a treasure of a spot it would be to get all your wrapping done.

    I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the space.

  6. I love this space!! I immediately thought a sitting/reading room and craft room! I love the windows! I cannot wait to see what y'all decide to do. And I wish you lived closer because I have tons of fun decorating stuff I would give you to help jump start the project! I adore your blog, Carla Marie!

  7. Thanks for all the posts so far! To answer a couple questions, the room isn't heated or cooled in the summer (yet) depending on what we decide we will most likely add some sort of heating source to the room to get through the cold Minnesota winters. Also, the room is only accessible from our bedroom as of now, if needed we can add a door from the office (directly opposite side from the current door). I think I'm liking the idea of making 2 sort of spaces, or at least 2 purposes. Ideally I guess I want to have a TV in there, currently we have none upstairs, would be kind of nice to have one but not really in our bedroom. Keep the ideas coming PLEASE!!!!

  8. Hey Carla! Love the action you're getting on your blog. Nice work.

    I have no idea what to do with that room, but I know two people who will give you the perfect amount of advice: Sarah Susanka: "The Not-So-Big House". This a great resource, and although the photos in it are very 1992, the ideas are perfect for utilizing every space to its maximum potential and understanding the dynamics of light, alcoves, altered ceiling heights, etc. I think you'll get a lot of inspiration from this book.

    The next one is "A Pattern Language" by Christopher Alexander. My gut tells me that this book will become your bible for thinking about space and physical design. It's mine. The next time you're at Barnes and Noble look for both "A Pattern Language" and "Timeless Ways of Building" by Alexander and spend 15 minutes with each of them. These two books are influencing the modern movements on sustainability, design and new urbanism in more ways than I can count.

  9. I was thinking it could be broken up too. You could add a door from your office and partition the space off with a wall. On the bedroom side you could even add more closet space along that divider wall for extra storage or out of season clothes.

    Or.... make a bowling alley. I hear they add resale value ;)

  10. What a cool room! Maybe to save some $$$ you could put in an electric fireplace? We did that in our living room but since I loved Layla's fireplace surround we did that around the electric insert and then placed our tv on the mantle...then did bookshelves on either side...not sure on your measurements however you could still put the tv on the mantle or above it and then put in two slipcovered chairs and ottomans so you could kick your feet up and read, etc. Maybe some cool bookshelves with chunky molding around them. You could do PB wall plug in lights to save some space since it looks fairly narrow. I think a neat wall treatment such as beadboard going horizontally in white with black and white photos on the wall(if you have an Abercrombie check out their walls!!) Honestly, if you're like me, an exercise room sounds like it would be fun but would it get used? I'd make it a fun getaway room personally. You could always put in an antique armoire to house seasonal clothing items or coats you're not would be pretty but yet practical. I think you could get away with a deep color on the side walls if you did the beadboard either all the way up that back wall or almost to the top...I am picturing a deep grey/green/blue color...white slipcovered chairs and ottomans, wool rug or jute...can't wait to see what you guys decide you have fabulous ideas and always love to see what you come up with!!

  11. My first thought was to convert this room into an awesome closet / dressing room. I've always wanted a dressing room! My second thought was a nursery :) But if your not in the market for a baby anytime soon then that doesn't make a lot of sense. Otherwise, maybe a nice relaxing oasis to unwind in after a long day... soothing colors with lots of textures... I'm loving the idea of a fireplace in there, it would be so cozy. I also think it would be a great idea to add a doorway to the office, depending on what you choose to do with the room. Good luck!

  12. Our friends have a similar balcony off two of their bedrooms but it's already broken up with a wall. They want to tear it down eventually so I'd really think hard before putting a wall up. It might be nice to add a door through to the office, if you can, especially if that'll be a kid's room someday.

    I agree with a lot of the previous comments that two distinct spaces might be the best use of the space, but don't divide it with a wall, rather just think of it as an open floor plan (which is an increasingly common desire for lots of houses in the living/dining room area).

    As for the heating/cooling, YHL ( ) just added a baseboard heater to their porch which might be helpful for you. We wanted to do the same thing for our porch but it isn't insulated well enough to keep any heat we pump out there anyway. It might be a good fit for you though!

    Although you don't want the entire room to be a closet, you still could put a wardrobe on one end for extra seasonal storage. Here's the one I'd get if we had taller ceilings in our master bedroom: They have it in white and brown too!

    Ok, enough words, I hope that helped!

  13. Even more great advice! I love the ideas from YHL and Lettered Cottage, Alex and I regularly read those blogs too! Will research all the new comments since some have links, lots of reading up for us to do! And Mike, we LOVED the bowling alley idea! We both laughed out loud, if we really weren't going to sell in the near furture, we might have done it!

  14. Wow! Love the room and all of the natural light!

    I would put built ins along the back wall across from the windows. Some could be open shelving for books and the rest could be closed storage for off season clothing and goodies.

    A comfy chaise and side table would make the room a perfect lounge/library.

    This will also help with your closet issues, but know one has to know because the storage is behind closed doors!

    Stopping by from DIY! Love your blog!


  15. I would have to agree with some of the above answers. When I first saw it I immediately thought a really cool study/reading nook area. It has a lot of potential.. or you can make it into a crafting area/reading nook?

    good luck.

    <3. steph.

  16. I couldn't imagine a home not having a library. I grew up with one in my parents home, and now I have one in mine.


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