Multi-purpose Murphy

January 7, 2014

Here’s a long overdue post about a really fun project I worked on turning a seldom-used guest bedroom into a multi-function guest room/craft room/library space.

This project was especially fun because it was for my moms, at their beautiful Madison condo, an airy, spacious 2-bedroom plus den that has been perfect for them for the past several years, since becoming “empty-nesters.”

Over the years the den in the condo had become a fully functional office, a library for books and media, and a storage space for most (but not all) craft supplies in the house. When my mother’s artistic pastimes grew to include loom weaving and stained glass work, it became obvious that the den was not going to continue to work as the “catch-all” work spot in the house, and what made the most sense was for the generously sized guest room to become a more functional multi-purpose space.

What started off as some brainstorming around adding in some simple shelving, soon escalated to ideas about pulling up the carpet and re-evaluating the furniture, even bringing in the same local Amish craftsman who had built their kitchen cabinets for some custom storage solution. They asked me to help them design a full room plan for a workshop of sorts, which could easily transition into a comfortable, mess-free guest room when needed.

I suggested a murphy bed to maximize the space during the majority of it’s non-guest usage, with a drop down table that could be flanked by built-in shelving and cabinetry with doors to hide away supplies and projects-in-process.  A few hand-drawn sketches of my ideas (here’s one: Murphy bed wall design )turned into a wonderful collaboration, resulting in an absolutely beautiful, functional space that the moms love working in, and I love staying in when I come to visit!

Custom murphy wall unit (closed) with built-in desk.

Custom murphy wall unit (closed) with built-in desk.



Two kids in one room

March 23, 2012

I recently helped a mom of three organize a bedroom for two of her boys who had just moved in together to make room for their new baby brother to have his own nursery. Making a bedroom for one into a room for two can feel a little overwhelming – especially if you think the space is small to begin with.

This room was plenty big enough for the furniture that the family already had – a twin bed, a convertible crib, a large dresser for the boys to share, and a small bookshelf.

The furniture all fit inside the room perfectly – around the outer wall perimeters, but all of the nooks and crannies (drawers, shelves, and closet space) was either underutilized or overflowing.  So we made a few adjustments by categorizing like items together, putting often accessed toys and games at floor level for little hands to reach, and we found a place for everything – with room to grow!

The convertible crib that the family already owned had built-in storage – an added bonus! Because the pull out storage drawer is not accessible when the crib side is lowered, we put extra blankets and linens into it – things that aren’t frequently used. A dual-purpose piece of furniture like this is a great thing to consider when outfitting a kid’s room.

Search Results for "crib with storage drawer"

When we were cleaning out the closet, we found a collection of adorable small storage boxes that the family had received as a gift, tucked away in the back and forgotten about because no one felt sure about where or how to use them.  We creatively rearranged some books and displayed the storage boxes on the bottom of the book shelf so that the kids could use them to stash their favorite plush toys and knick knacks.

Kids' bookshelf

The boys love being able to pick out bedtime story books on their own!

Reuse – Refinish – Repurpose

March 14, 2012
Ayesha and I recently refinished and repurposed an old buffet for our friends  who just had a baby girl. Ayesha helped them come up with a design for the nursery that included the idea of a substantial piece of furniture, deep and tall enough to be used as a changing table now, with tons of storage, that can continue being used for years to come as a dresser, as the baby grows up.

We found a great, sturdy, solid wood piece at the Rebuilding Exchange – a Chicago nonprofit that sells donated materials from sustainable deconstruction projects, as well as furniture pieces from local artists and on consignment.

We sanded the old finish down and repainted the exterior with a semi-gloss super white so it would be easy to wipe clean – a MUST for a growing family.  Inside the drawers and cabinets is a colorful pop of deep raspberry – Ayesha’s brilliant idea!

We love how it turned out!

The great thing about repurposing a buffet, side-board or other non-traditional piece of furniture like this one, is the potential for storage possibilities. Not only does this piece have wonderfully long drawers of varying depths (perfect for putting tiny little baby clothes along with diapers, blankets and other essentials) it also has nice big open cabinets on the sides – perfect for baskets of toys, blankets or other large items.

Organized Kitchen

February 6, 2012

I worked with a client this weekend on an ongoing kitchen organization project – and I’m having a blast. I love organizing kitchens more than ever – now that I’m cooking more than ever in my own home and can truly appreciate how a well-organized kitchen can help with preparing meals, storing ingredients, cleaning up and all of the other living that happens in the heart of many homes.

Here are a few of my go-to tips when it comes to making sure your kitchen is well-organized:

  1. Rev-A-Shelf Spice Drawer Insert

    Keep necessities within reach of where you use them. Everyday items should be kept between waist and shoulder height – things used less often should go up high, and heavy items should go down low. It usually makes the most sense, for instance, to find a place near the stove either over or under a counter space for spices, oils, and vinegars. Storing everyday items like plates, bowls and glassware, close to the dishwasher makes unloading clean dishes quick and simple.

  2. Kraftmaid Deluxe Roll-out Tray

    Group like-items together. This makes things really easy to find. Keep all of your mixing and serving bowls together; all flatware and utensils near each other; baking dishes should be grouped; as well as pots and pans.  Do you have a number of small mobile appliances that you only use occasionally – like a blender, hand mixer or Panini press? Store those together in an area near where you might use them to make accessing, and putting away, as easy as possible. A roll-out drawer or tray – found at most most home supply stores and online – is easy to install and eliminates crouching down and digging around a lower cabinet space.

  3. Modular Storage Canister Set

    Clear containers are a pantry’s best friend. Basic mason jars are affordable, classic and easy to replace, and great for liquids and leftovers because they don’t absorb odors or colors like plastic sometimes does. There are also a number of companies that make tall, slim and stackable canisters that are great for limited dry goods storage and small spaces. No need for labels if you can see the contents, plus air-tight containers keep food fresher longer.

  4. If you don’t use it in the kitchen, don’t store it in the kitchen. Sounds logical, right? But how many people end up with a “junk drawer” full of pens, tape, tools, rubber bands, buttons, and other random items in the kitchen? We had a drawer like this in my house growing up. Try to relocate these items to their proper place in the house – or if you really need a catch-all collection place, use a cool basket with a lid or designate one drawer off to the side, and keep it sorted and organized with labeled plastic baggies or drawer dividers.

“Purge and Merge” success story!

February 17, 2011

From storage depot to happy home.  Here is a success story from one of my first clients:

After years of owning, but never really living in her property, this client called me to help her transform the condo that she’s been using mainly as “storage” space into a comfy, cozy home where she and her significant other could make a life and family together.  I met with both of them to talk through goals, objectives and the desired end result and I designed a blueprint and worked out a timeline and plan of action that everyone agreed on.

We tackled the WHOLE place – a generous two-bedroom, one bath, with large living, dining, kitchen and a bonus sunny front den, along with basement storage.  Each week we concentrated on a different place in the house and gradually transformed the chaos.

For two and a half months, I worked with the client to sort, group, purge, and re-purpose her belongings in a way that helped her create a new place that welcomed her partner and her partner’s belongings.  Along the way I taught her some tips and tricks for organizing and arranging her space that best suited her needs, so that she could keep it up after I was gone.

Watch the transformation below!

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Client testimonial:

As Jess’ client’s partner, I have to say I was amazed at the transformation of my new home when I arrived with my belongings on moving day.  I could never have envisioned having more than enough space for my furniture, clothes, and personal items just a few weeks before.  But it wasn’t only about creating space – I was thrilled to discover that Jess also has a knack for rearranging rooms and organizing “stuff” into aesthetically appealing configurations that made our home very livable, cozy, and easy to navigate.  In the midst of our hectic and busy lives, we have Jessica to thank for leading and guiding us through a well thought out plan that resulted in a moving and settling-in process that was much more relaxed and easy than either of us could have ever imagined!  



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