Using a Spare Room to the Max

Living in a two bedroom house means we have one extra room that has to be everything – it’s the piano room, the bedroom for guests, our overflow closet, the office, and even the storage area for extra dining room chairs. So how in the world does this translate into a space with an exciting design, let alone a pleasant place to be in?

It starts with making some layout decisions. We didn’t really want a bed or even a sofa bed in the room because those are both really big footprints, and our experience when we briefly had a sofa bed in there was not great. For a while we looked at Murphy beds, which sounds fun, but good ones are really expensive, and they still infringe on the room space quite a bit. I decided to look at airbeds as a temporary option, and found they make some really nice ones now, and that’s actually become our guest bed solution! It’s not for everyone, but it works for us, and fits in our storage cupboard when not in use. 

The actual design evolved over time – we had a red sofa and desk from our previous home, which we initially had in the room. Then I fell in love with a Farrow and Ball paint colour, Vardo, and we were going to just do a feature wall, but I couldn’t stop, and the whole room was a deep turquoise and it was awesome. I actually really liked the combination of the turquoise and red, and one day I was walking along Amwell Street and saw this fabulous cushion at a pop-up shop by Blackpop.

It was the perfect combination of everything in the room, so I got a brochure and a sample and went home to google and dream. After months of trying to decide if I should splurge on the wallpaper, I finally did. It was several months after that before the wallpaper went on the wall! The red sofa and desk were gone by this point, but I still loved the turquoise, and when my piano moved into the room, we had a desk and wardrobe built in, and it all started to come together.

But it wasn’t quite there yet. There was too much clutter in the room. And this is where organisational philosophy/practical living intersects with design – you just can’t have a beautiful, perfectly crafted space, if you have piles of miscellaneous items everywhere and too much ‘stuff’ to be able to see the floor/walls/furniture and decorations. But it is HARD to reduce clutter, unless you’re born with that gift. We have been on a four year journey of reducing the clutter, starting when I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying.” I’m not going to make this a post about that book or any similar approach, but I will say that we have taken the process of de-cluttering as a journey, and it has been rewarding each time we’ve made a breakthrough (this room is so clean! And open! And everything has a home!) and the spare room was the last phase in the journey. I can’t lie, it did feel good to have it done!

The biggest reward was that through the process, I created space in the room to have a seating area. I started my search for the perfect chairs, and in the middle of that search I was reading a lot about #dolessharm in interiors, and really wanted to not buy something brand new for this. I am fully aware of how late in the game it was to start considering the sustainability implications of everything in the house, but better late than never, right?

This train of thought led me to remember I could get the fabric that matched the wallpaper from Blackpop, which reminded me that back when I first found them, there were these four dining chairs that had been upcycled in the Blue Note and Blue Note Vibe fabric! I’d never had a space to put them until now, and a quick visit to the website revealed they were still available – obviously I was meant to have them! So the room really is 95% done now – it just needs a rug to set everything off and reduce the conflict of the floor, which I’ve always felt doesn’t work with the rest of the room. I will update or write again when I’ve got the finishing touches!

Also turned the desk into a dressing table, something I’ve always wanted!