Converting Wasted Places Into Beautiful, Functional Spaces

When I design a space, function is my first priority. Yes, I want the space to be lovely and reflect your personality, but I want to know about your lifestyle and how your space is or is not meeting your needs. Mood matters, but function wins. We do not like rooms that don’t work for us, especially now that we’re spending so much time at home.

What do you really want?

That’s not just a quote from Ryan Gosling in “The Notebook” (super fan). It’s a question I ask all my clients. In this case, it’s a family of four, taking a second look at their neglected bonus room. In its current state, it wasn’t offering much function or style, but it had plenty of space and potential to become a multi-purpose room for two teenage sisters. I was excited to help them figure out a solution.

After meeting the whole family and learning more about their needs, the design plan began to take shape.

Going with a coastal vibe.

First Things First: The Study Zone

They needed a comfortable place to sit for extended periods of time while attending their online classes. This corner of the bonus room seemed like a good area to place a longer desk with better storage and style. Here’s how it looked the first day I saw it.

This space could be functional and fun! Look at that cool wall.

This space is perfect for studying! Stephen King says he always places his desk in front of a wall rather than a window. No distractions. Seems to have worked for him! We could still spice this wall up just a bit without interfering with their classes. I found this affordable peel and stick wallpaper from Target for just $29.95/roll. It really changes the mood and maybe even makes coming to school kind of exciting. Ok, that might be pushing it. I scoured a few retailers until I landed on this IKEA desk. It checks all the boxes, including the price tag!

Here’s how the study area looks now!

It’s their favorite area now!

Going with our coastal vibe, I found the wicker and brass sconces from Serena and Lily. I love how cozy they make the space. There was enough room next to the desk to place a mini frig (Amazon) to store drinks and snacks for school or sleepovers. Keeping it simple and bringing in some more texture, these Pottery Barn shades help block that bright, afternoon sun.

That doesn’t mean you want them eating on the sofa. That’s just asking for stains and crumbs (although we went with a performance fabric to prevent that possibility). And of course, everyone needs to get up, stretches those legs and take a break.

Second: The Break Zone

If we’re going to put in a small frig, then we need a designated place to eat. Bringing in a small bar table and stools are all they need. After sourcing several tables on Wayfair, I struck gold with this vintage number. It gives the space personality, and the girls love having a specific place to have lunch, check phones or hang out. Mom and Dad like it, too! It’s extra seating for family events and sleepovers. Makes me want a milkshake and a cheeseburger! The magnetic letter board from is a great way to share a message.

Someone ate all the M&Ms!

Third: “Give me Some Space” Zone

Having raised three teenagers, I know how important alone time is. That’s how Zone three was created. When I first saw this wall, I imagined a window seat with storage.

However, It would have meant raising the windows and going over budget. Instead, we opted for low seating options with these groovy, velvet bean bag chairs from West Elm. They set up the perfect place to take in a little of nature and are great extra seating for those sleepovers. I wanted to make use of that wall, so I designed this built-ins to the ceiling and even over the windows for displaying some of their personal pieces. In keeping with our coastal theme, I added these wood planks from Stikwood. Here’s how it looked when I stopped in to visit.

Four: “The Relaxation Zone”

No teenage hangout room is complete with a super comfy sofa. This old one had outlive its time.

We knew they needed something big, soft, and comfy with storage. And it had to be a sleeper sectional for those out of town visitors and sleepovers. This one from West Elm fit the bill!

Ready for those sleepovers!

Final Touches

Now, all that remains are the accessories, like a creamy throw, some floor lamps, and a few pillows and plants. I’ve sent the girls one final design board with some options.

Trays, throws, plants and pillows, please!

Thanks for taking the tour of this fun project. Here’s a quick video to see the room in its entirety.

4 thoughts on “Converting Wasted Places Into Beautiful, Functional Spaces”

  1. That is such a great use of what looks like that strange “room above the garage!” I know those girls will use it for productive study time and casual relax time – great balance!

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