Few things excite me more than gaining extra space at home.  (There are probably about fifteen things that excite me as much but it’s still a pretty big deal.)  When we moved our office into our design  studio and out of our home in November, we gained a family room and an office nook/ room.  We moved the boys’ easel from Santa in over the holiday and spent so much time in there!  We also were able to move about half of our work things out of our garage and into the studio so now we can park our cars in the garage!! (What a novel idea.)  Entering the the garage means we now use our “mudroom”… which is really just a teensy tiny hallway with a closet in it whose doors we removed and replaced with shelving and a bench.  BUT it changes everything:

 

{Our “mudroom”}

The kids come in and immediately hang up their gear and put away their shoes in a basket.  (This is of course after me telling them to do it but on occasion, it happens naturally.  And it thrills me way more than it should.  (I’m pretty sure I clap when Louie -now a year and a half- puts his own shoes away.)  For the past week or two- as we’ve been putting Christmas away and have been using the garage for all of the boxes- we’ve been parking in the driveway and entering the house through the foyer.  Yesterday my husband commented that “life just feels better when we come into the house from the garage.”  I couldn’t agree more.  It’s like one of those life-to-chaos barometers like laundry.  If we can’t park in our garage, it means things aren’t organized because there’s a bunch of stuff out in the garage and then we come in through the main part of the house and our mess eeks into the foyer and living room because there’s no real place to put it when we walk in that door.  So… when we enter the house through the foyer, we’re a mess.  (Heaven forbid we walk all the way through the house to put it back in the mudroom where it actually belongs! 😉  Needless to say, we’re cleaning the garage this week!!

When we moved the office out, we thought we’d keep at least our little office nook (below) for “work-from-home days” which haven’t once yet happened.  (Scratch that…  I’m home sick today with the nasty bug that’s been going through our house so today is Day 1.)  We had the tiny room created to fit two 5′ wide workspaces (hidden to the right and left in the pic below) and to create a larger wall for more desk space and storage in the other room.

 

 

The little nook room is between our dining room and our family room.  The pocket door above leads to the dining room.  There is a set of double pocket doors on the other side (below; they’re opened in the pic) to the family room, which leads to the mudroom and the garage.

 

 

And now I’m letting you in to my circle of trust because this all isn’t pretty  (and never has been.)  Since we opened the studio and stopped working here, the two nooks have really just become massive junk drawers:

 

 

The printer stopped working at least a month ago and everything lands here.  So… we’ve decided to put it to use.  We’re bringing in a massive armoire to completely fill one side of the room with storage.  It will span the five feet from wall to wall and reach almost to the ceiling.  I can’t wait for it to get here!! (Thursday, supposedly.)  The printer (hopefully fixed!) will go on a shelf along with a mail station.  We’ll keep office supplies, art supplies and other household supplies that might normally fit into a pantry (don’t have one of those) like paper towels and a massive crock pot that we currently keep in the garage.  I’ll also bring in many of my vases and decorative accessories, also now in the garage.  wahooooo!!!!

Once we decided to go storage crazy on one side of the room, we thought about what to do on the other side.  Originally we thought we’d keep one desk area, but we almost always work from a sofa or the big work table in the family room so we realized we’d never actually sit in there and nixed that.  We’d love a little extra space in the kitchen/ dining storage department and it would be fun to expand our entertaining space and encourage guests to use the family room and  back of the house too, so we’ve decided to put a little bar in.  We’ll move our barware & out of the kitchen and dining room and into the nook, freeing up super-accessible space.  I’ll have room in the kitchen for more cookbooks and apothecary jars of food and in the dining room for extra serving ware.  (Really, right now, this just means more room to grow because we haven’t actually filled up all of our kitchen or dining room.)

I plan to have shelving for hanging & displaying barware and to keep drinks, mixers, snacks and entertaining staples  below.  We don’t have access to water there so it would need to be a dry bar but we could potentially fit a beverage cooler or mini freezer with bags of ice below the counter.  (Though our house isn’t very big and the kitchen and garage – which both have fridges & freezers aren’t very far.)  We might add an antiqued mirror behind the shelving because the room is so tiny.  We’re considering continuing a wood treatment we used in one of the other rooms into there too.

 

{horizontal planks of wood, image via here}

But the main question we’ve been pondering for the new bar area is whether or not we want a pair of barstools in there or not.  Or even just one.  Having seating completely changes how we’d use the space.  If there isn’t any seating, there can be more accessible – and deeper- storage below the counter.  If there’s seating, the stools will make the storage less accessible and we wouldn’t be able to fit as much storage because we’d need an overhang.  If we went with no overhang and lots of storage, we could potentially just have one small stool to the side. I’d like to bring in a piece of furniture vs. building something in (for flexibility) so if we did a cooler or fridge, we’d probably have to build in cabinetry.  I’m so over all of that right now too.

 

{image from cafe apostrophe }

I’m a sitter.  I feel like spaces really only get used for any amount of time when there’s seating in them so I like the idea of having at least a little seat.  But I’m also afraid we’ll put seats in- sacrificing the storage space- and then never use them.  I would go with a very small overhang though.

Do I think we’d ever hang out in there?  At first, I know we would.   But would we tire of it?  I imagine setting out cheeses and drinks in there and hanging with Dave, tasting yummies, while the kids are in the family room and run in and out.  That sounds fun.  Some of my favorite moments are when we’re trying new foods or drinks together, relaxing.  Or having parties and people chatting by the bar, wanting to linger there.  I’d like for it to be more than just a pass-through.  

 

{image of Classified Wine Bar in Hong Kong}

So lots to think about… does anyone have any tips from experience for me about the fridge/ stools/ etc?  My heart’s leaning towards the stools for now, but I could be swayed.  We’re going to bring some things in once the armoire gets moved in and see how it feels to sit in such a teensy space.  Thanks!!

Also, I’ll be doing a live chat this Thursday with the Washington Post to answer readers’ decorating questions so I’d love to hear from you!!  The link’s here: http://live.washingtonpost.com/home-front-0116.html