The Great Merge: Combining My Office and Guest Room (Part 1)

As you know, my husband and I are expecting our first little one at the end of April (and by "little one" I mean a baby.  It's not an oompa loompa or anything.)  Considering we live in a fairly small rental townhouse, this has sent me into a bit of a streamlining/decluttering frenzy.  The big issue?  Room for a nursery.

Though our place technically has three bedrooms, they are all very small and oddly shaped.  Up until now, one was our bedroom, another the guest bedroom and the third was our office.  And, while the baby probably WOULD fit in a desk drawer, I have a feeling that might be frowned upon by general society.

It quickly became pretty clear that we needed to somehow merge the office into the guest room before starting on changing over the smallest (and wonkiest shaped) room into a nursery.  As you might imagine, this is no small task.  I've spent the past few weeks playing large scale Tetris (with the help of my loving and oh-so-patient husband who somehow puts up with my OCD).  I have to say, it's coming together far better than I expected, but it is definitely still very much in progress.

One of the first problems was that, as I said, both the office and the guest room are quite small and were already crammed with furniture.  Figuring out what I could live without and how to finagle all of the remaining pieces into one small space together was daunting.  In large part this is due to the fact that nearly nothing in either room is there purely for looks but for functionality. (In fact, I never actually got around to styling the guest room at all.  It was more a mishmash of whatever I had that got the job done.)   So herein lie -

The Issues: 

1.  Combining 2 rooms worth of furniture

The Guest Room Contained:
1 Tall wood shelf (brown)
1 Queen sized bed (no headboard due to lack of room)
1 Bureau (another refinishing project I have yet to start)
1 Outdoor console table (don't judge - I told you the guest room was a mishmash!)
2 Nightstands

The Office Contained: 
2 Tall bookshelves (black)
1 Printer stand (plus file storage)
1 Leather topped antique desk
1 Tufted leather desk chair
Shredder/Computer tower/Trash Can, etc.

2. Each room had a different color scheme 
The office had a seaglass and black palette (with leather colored accents)
The guest bedroom was done in mostly cobalt blue and white

Not the worst of issues, but still something to consider.

3. Continuation of Storage: 
The Newly Renovated Guest Room had to be able to store all of the junk that we'd already barely managed to shove into each room.  This included my husband's clothes; musical instruments; spare blankets; photo albums, magazines, and a variety of books; craft supplies, camera supplies and wrapping supplies; computer, printer and all things related... so yeah.  A lot of stuff. 

The Process
1.  Evaluating Storage Potential and Level of Importance
The first thing that we had to do was decide what HAD to be included in the room.  Obviously the bed, the desk and the printer were in.  The black bookshelves from the office held a significant portion of our stuff and were pretty much a must as well.  This left the leather chair, the nightstands, the console table, the bureau and the brown shelf.

The next step was to sketch out a floor plan and see how all of the essential pieces could fit.  There was nowhere else for the bed to go, so it had to stay put.  The bookshelves and printer table replaced the console on the far wall (something narrow is required there to access the bed).  The desk was set up next to the bed, forcing me to pull one of the nightstands out of the room, and shimmy the other brown bookshelf over to the wall opposite the printer. This move meant I also had to pull the bureau where all of my husband's shirts and sweaters were stored.  Yikes!  

Movin' ain't purdy, that's for sure.
The console table was pretty much immediately pulled and shoved into the garage, as it never provided much storage but was only a temporary solution until we could get to that room.  One of the bedside tables also had to be stored, as the desk replaced it, but the other was small enough to fit between the bookshelves and the bed. The brown shelf and the bureau were a toss up as both provided function, but ultimately the bookshelf won as it gave height and balance to the side of the room opposite the black shelves.  

The bureau and the leather chair moved into the Soon-To-Be-Nursery as a temporary holding, until I could figure out what to do with them.

2.  Sifting, Sorting & Sacking 
The relocation of furniture, meant unloading everything in it, and dumping it in giant messy piles around the upstairs.  While I may have gained a few grey hairs stepping over these piles for a day or two, it did provide me with a great opportunity to sort through things that I normally don't think about and PURGE.  I sorted all of the books on my shelf, as well as some of my crafting supplies from the closet and created three piles: To Keep; To Donate; To Be Determined.

After going through everything, I wound up donating four large boxes of things we no longer needed or wanted.  This cleared up several shelves, which allowed me to start moving some craft and wrapping supplies out of the soon-to-be-nursery's closet. 

3.  Reevaluating Needs and Potential Solutions
Finally I had to come back and take a look at the primary issues that remained.
  • My husband's clothes still had to be accessible
  • Without the leather chair, there was no seating for the desk or for guests
  • Many things still remained to store: instruments, blankets, camera equipment, etc. 
The desk chair was an easy enough solution.  We decided that until we could find something small that we liked, we would use an upholstered stool as a stand in.  The stool fits neatly in the knee hole, so guests aren't tripping over it getting in and out of bed, and its location is convenient and functional.  I'd like to recover it to coordinate with the room at some point, but that's a future project.

Regarding storage, my first thought was that we might need to buy a storage bed frame - something with drawers underneath.  The trouble was that a) they're expensive and b) the room is so small that only drawers on one side would open.  Not a match in heaven made. 
It was my husband that came up with the solution: bed risers.  Because our tiny bedroom didn't fit a proper headboard and frame, the mattress and boxspring had always sat on a low, basic metal bed frame.  With barely any room underneath the bed, I'd never been able to store anything there.  Enter the large, ugly hard plastic bed risers that my husband purchased on Amazon.
Okay, confession time: I REALLY didn't want to use these at first.  I mean, I put up a good ol' fight about it.  They're ugly and look like they'd break in a second.  However, in my desperation, I finally agreed to at least give them a shot.  And boy, was he right.

 The risers provide TONS of room under the bed: enough for instrument cases, bins of tissue paper and gift bags, kitty-cat storage and more.  Reviews on Amazon said that they were amazing, and the long white bed skirt covered the hideousness of the risers themselves, so the parts that I dreaded weren't issues at all!  Woot!

I considered buying additional under-bed bins for my husband's clothing, but it seemed so inconvenient for him, and it still left the problem of what to do with the bureau.  Finally, I decided to move the bureau out into the hallway and replace a small round table I had refinished.  To be completely honest I don't LOVE the bureau right there.  It is just a smidge too big and it still needs to be fixed up (although perhaps having it out in plain site will encourage me to get a move on it!).  But it's very convenient for my husband and it doesn't have much of a footprint which is a necessity in the small area.
Maintaining Momentum 
With a project this big, there are times when it gets overwhelming and I just want to walk away from it (which I do, from time to time, to maintain sanity).  But to make sure that I keep my spirits up and the momentum going, I always try to find the little details along the way that have come together well and make me happy.  Below are some of my favorite little mood-lifters.

1.  The bookshelf wall isn't that different from how it was in the office.  A few things got streamlined, a few crafts were added.  But mostly the cute storage bars (from Ikea), the bright craft supplies that sit waiting for their next project and the shelves filled with my favorite books (organized by SUBJECT.  Colors be damned!) continue to make me smile when I look over at them.  (Added bonus, guests have plenty of reading material to choose from!)

Cute and easy storage wall for books, crafts and supplies
2.  When I was putting things back on the bookshelves, I found that the basket I had for ribbon and the various containers I had for crafting supplies were not only lacking in function and conformity but also kind of difficult to store together due to their random shapes and sizes.  A trip over over to Michael's led to the happy purchase of 8 matching photo boxes (all with metal tag holders, and all for 1.99 a piece!).  Sorting my ribbons, buttons and supplies into boxes and labeling them was a huge win.  Everything fits neatly, looks pulled together and is much, much easier to find now.

A small investment of 1.99 a box garnered me huge rewards in organization and style. 
(The rest of these are simply little details that have come together well or make me smile)
3.  Although I don't love it, I found a printed canvas at Ross Dress for Less for $10 that pulls both the cobalt blue and seaglass green together.  At some point I'll probably rework it or replace it, but for now, it gives a little bit of harmony to the colors in the room.  
4.  The nightstand that remains holds silly little books for guests, a lamp for reading and a dish for jewelry.  
5.  My mint green faux alligator desk organizer looks so cheerful with business cards, gold shears, a silver stapler and giant gold paperclips.
6.  The top of the black bookshelves also provides a small space for a few favorite photos and mementos.  This picture of my husband as a little boy, along with his favorite wooden plane, always makes me smile.  

The (Current) Results 

Obviously there is plenty more to do: the bedding needs to be updated and tied together with the seaglass; the wall next to the door (where the brown shelf is) is in desperate need of some attention; some of my larger photography supplies still need storage; the lamps need updated.  BUT, large strides have been made and I'm really happy with the progress.  (AND, I now have an empty room to Nursery-fy, which of course I'll probably start while finishing this.  Because who DOESN'T need total chaos in their life?).

But today I'm celebrating the Where We Are instead of focusing on the Where I Want To Be.   It's about the journey right?

Click Here to Read Part 2!

TDC Before and After

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