Before and After: Spare Bedroom (Catch-all room)

This week, I’ve been working with a mom-to-be, getting space ready in her home before her baby is due at the end of August.  She’s in the midst of renovations in the house — redesign of the baby’s room, from the floor up, being top of that list!   In the meanwhile, when we spoke about her home, what she really wanted to work on was the third floor spare room.  This is a someday-bedroom, a finished attic space that, once it has a closet and a door, will be the third bedroom in her home.

Before Wide

Right now, it’s a space that has many purposes:  library, office, knitting supply storage and… well… a place for everything else to go. It’s served her well while her home was in transition with various renovation projects (you always seem to need a place for things to go temporarily), but with the end of her main home renovations just around the corner, it was time to tackle this room.  The main goal:  When guests come in for her baby shower, she’d like to have a space for one of them to stay on an aerobed.  Ideally, if there were space enough to walk around it, would be even better.

So, we spent the last two days (shower is tomorrow!) working on cleaning out the room, and boy, what a transformation!   We had a few goals and boundaries we needed to work with:

1)  The desk should function as a desk.  Maybe even a place for a sewing machine at some point.

2) Books needed to stay in the space, but not ALL the books needed to stay

3) Knitting is a really important hobby of the client’s.  A longer term view involves building a closet and permanent storage for things like that, but for now, we at least needed to have good temporary storage for a sizeable supply of yarn.

4) Exercise equipment — some should stay, but some will go.  Would be great if this could be a space for yoga, since there really isn’t another good answer for that elsewhere in the home.

5) Until the renovations in the baby’s room are done, the flooring for that room, and the baby gifts that keep arriving, need to stay in the space.  Once that room is done, those things will live there, not here.

6) Paper is a problem.  There is already too much shredding for the client to imagine doing it herself. But safety was an issue, so we need to find the right answer for those documents, and the many other documents yet to be reviewed.  (We ordered an On-Site shredding truck in advance of our days together… and boy, did the client get her money’s worth!!)

7)  CD’s and Photos — we’re going to find a lot of them, and we’re going to keep them all… just not ready to tackle those at this point, but it would be good to consolidate what we find.

I don’t know about the rest of the country, but this week in Boston was HOT!  We lucked out with our first day being the best (overcast and cooler) of the week, and only our second day was in the hazy and humid 90’s.   I’ll tell you something, though:  seven months pregnant or not, this client worked her TAIL off!  It’s great to have a motivation of a deadline in sight, and she said the best part about having someone like me working with her was to keep her focused and on-task.  We made the most of her great motivation and energy, and tackled the whole space.  There are still a few more things to do, but we ABSOLUTELY met her primary goal of having space for an aerobed for tomorrow. Heck; she could now do a king-sized bed in there!

Here are some of the great before and afters that really highlight what we faced and how we tackled it.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

The landing area, when you arrive on the third floor.  It needed a clear-out, with decisions about magazines, bags, and books.

before bookcase

after bookcase

The Left hand side of the room, including the desk area.  Baby items, building materials, bins, bags of paper… much to go through!

left side 2

After left side

The desk: from landing pad to functional workspace:

before desk area

after desk

The right hand side of the room, which houses three bookshelves, boxes, and the art to review for consignment in moving boxes:

before right side

After right side

The book collection, totaling about 500, didn’t stand a chance against the client’s openness to weed through her collection, by grouping, to stick with what she loves, and part with whatever she feels she can (she did, after all, get rid of every magazine!):

before books 2

after books

Finally — the big picture and big question —  Will an aerobed fit??  Heck, yes!

after wide todo


  • Two car loads of donating household items, electronics, artwork, picture frames, exercise equipment, etc.

  • 150 books!  Over 100 magazines!

  • Three full 64-gallon trash containers for shredding (one was confidential, two were regular recycling)

  • 5 large bags of trash

  • Dozens of now-empty cardboard boxes

  • Three printers, a small tv, a cd player and a Tivo

  • Some things found other homes, like 4 chairs to go to mom’s house, golf clubs to a better space.

All in all, the client said she was really surprised at just how much we ended up getting out of the space, how much she was able to let go of, and all within two days of work.  I’m excited for her that she’s able to breathe a tiny bit easier when she thinks about this house being new-baby-ready, and knows that this big item is crossed off the list!



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