Garage Nook Turned Office

January 15, 2008

Back in September, we moved my office out of the basement. We converted a small windowed section at the back of our garage into the new office. And I mean small — about 7 feet by 10 feet. I’ve been meaning to post photos of the makeover for months, and today’s the day!

The little space is actually a small alcove. We created a 4th wall with floor to ceiling curtains, 4 panels total. There is no door. To enter the space, you pull aside a curtain. The garage isn’t heated, but with the 4th-wall-curtain and a little space heater it stays toasty on all but the coldest days.

The ribbon section came about mostly out of convenience — I’m constantly reaching for a piece of ribbon. To tie up the girls hair, or to embellish a little gift. And I hate throwing away pretty remnants. So I pinned them directly to the wall. Plus I needed a bit of color there.

The Matisse print I’ve had since college. One of my very favorites. My friend (and fabulous illustrator) Apryl Stott had it framed for a wedding gift. I love finding a space for it in our home whenever we move.

The floor is unfinished cement. We painted it with our leftover wallpaint, then defined the floor space and warmed it up a bit with garage-appropriate-tiles from Flor in charcoal grey.

The artwork is an original painting by a Guatemalan artist named Justicia — my in-laws picked it up on one of their many world travels.

This is a collection of stripped tins I put together ages ago with inspiration from a Martha article. Mine are full of rubberbands and stamps and business cards and all sorts of office-y things. They have been with me in every iteration of my office (home or otherwise) since 1999.

The lamp is metal and it’s my current crush. The proportions are perfect. The best thing Ikea produced this year. In black, red or white.


The desk is tall — bar height. Actually a little taller because it’s meant to be used while standing. It’s an old library table from my alma mater. I picked it up at one of the University’s surplus sales. The little compartments are for stacks of index cards — you know, to write down the dewey decimal number when you’re searching for a book — remember card catalogs? Obsolete now as a library table, but still gorgeous, and very heavy. I love this piece.

The barstool is vintage leather and it’s so charming, even if absolutely disintegrating. (I realize I should really find a pretty and comfortable work stool with a back.) I have two of the stools and on the best days, Ben sits next to me with his laptop and we work side-by-side — with makeout sessions when we need a break.

The little shelf boxes are liquor shipping crates. In the lower one, I added a piece of fabric covered homasote, and now it’s a bulletin board as well as a shelf. The higher one was too high to function as a bulletin board — so it’s just a shelf. Making and installing these was a super easy, satisfying project. And they’re shallow — perfect for knick knacks. Plus the shelves don’t hang out too far over the desk, so I don’t knock into them with my head when I’m busy exacto-knifing.

The “before” space was super rough. Weird 2x4s lined about a wall and a half. The other walls were unfinished, untaped sheetrock. Because this is a rental, we have to be judicious about how much energy and resources we put into the space, so instead of taping and finishing the walls, we just primed and painted everything so it provided a clean, fresh backdrop. We used a grey/blue shade from Sherwin Williams called something-I-can’t-remember — but I’ll look it up.

What do you think? I know it’s kind of hokey — a roughly finished garage space — but I LOVE having a space of my own. No matter how small.

You can see lots more photos (before and after) here.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bubbles January 16, 2008 at 12:50 am

I absolutely love how you made such great use of such a small space!! I wish I had that ability!! It looks great!


2 Paige January 16, 2008 at 1:11 am

I think it is fabulous. I love the ribbons. I save all my remnants too and find special places for them around the house.

My current “office” is a coat closet, not much but it is my own space.


3 Heather January 16, 2008 at 1:49 am

Not at all hokey – I think it is delightful. The ribbons are such a nice and handy touch.


4 Jen I January 16, 2008 at 3:12 am

Ok, seriously – do you and Ben still have make-out sessions?? You totally rock. I’ve often wondered how that could occupy so much of my time before marriage only to become such a forgotten art… (Oh, and the space is awesome, that was just my favorite part!)


5 sweetbeans January 16, 2008 at 7:25 am

What great ideas! I love those tins.


6 Denise January 16, 2008 at 7:34 am

So you. I love it! How cleverly you used every bit of space.


7 R-Eight January 16, 2008 at 8:32 am

What a lovely space. Man! I wish my mind worked like yours.


8 Laura B. January 16, 2008 at 8:46 am

Love it!


9 LobotoME January 16, 2008 at 9:29 am

It looks great! :)


10 Super Zoe January 16, 2008 at 9:43 am

How fabulous! It looks great – the ribbons are my favorite part!


11 Amy Turn Sharp January 16, 2008 at 9:45 am

A room of ones own is so important!


12 Jessica January 16, 2008 at 10:20 am

I’d like to see/hear/know more about the strip of pictures on the wall behind the red lamp. That red lamp is fab too.


13 free life insurance quotes March 7, 2014 at 7:06 am

Hey, good to find someone who agrees with me. GMTA.


14 Dana January 16, 2008 at 10:46 am

This idea of my wn “space” has been on my mind a lot lately… WE are in a rental too and althought thr garage is not an option for me, you have seriously inspired me to re-evaluate the nooks and closets!

Beautiful signature space (I adore old library furniture)


15 Amanda Conley January 16, 2008 at 10:49 am

Gorgeous! I love the row of pics in the empty paneling spot behind the lamp, and concrete floors are awesome! You’re like the decorating version of MacGyver! Man, I used to love that show…


16 Julie January 16, 2008 at 11:07 am

A space of your own is always the best. I think it’s awesome.


17 Naomi January 16, 2008 at 11:25 am

Really very lovely. How do you pare down the junk?!


18 ashlynn January 16, 2008 at 11:49 am

love it – good job. how did you hang the ribbon? i need to copy that – mine is stuffed in jars.


19 rebecca January 16, 2008 at 11:57 am

I’ve seen it in person– it’s even more amazing than the photos– although the photos are indeed amazing.


20 MileHighMommy January 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

A 7×10 space is nothing to scoff at…most cubicles are smaller – and definitely NOT as beautiful and inspiring! Make-out sessions, huh? That totally put a smile on my face…I think my hubby and I will have to re-visit those too! Ah, the good ol’ days!


21 Sarah January 16, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Your library desk is fabulous. A keeper for sure!


22 Miriam January 16, 2008 at 1:40 pm

I’m totally stealing the fabric-covered homasote idea. I’ve got some of those crates hanging around, but one with the ability to serve double duty? Very tidy.

My favorite thing about this is the combination of antique-ey and mod. That always gets me.

It’s nice you have windows nearby, too.


23 Design Mom January 16, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Thanks everyone. I’m glad you like it. A pleasant place to work makes posting pretty things on DM all the easier.

jen i — yes, we still make-out. Ben is a really good kisser :)

jessica — the strip of pictures behind the lamp is a series of vintage photos of Rainier Nat’l Park. They came in a little souvenir packet for tourists and belonged to my Great Aunt (Mom, was it great, great Aunt?) Mary Chambers. I grew up near National Parks and I love have a glimpse of them nearby.

naomi — the junk (mostly paperwork) still accumulates. But I try to keep it at bay by using the file drawer under the desk. I keep books and specialty papers and all sort of stuff in the locker.

ashlynn — I pinned the ribbons directly into the wall with straight pins. The wall is roughly finished and not worth protecting. And the pins only leave the tiniest holes.


24 Andrea January 16, 2008 at 1:57 pm

I want that desk!!
Your space is so creative….even more so because you made do with what you had. I love it!! I’m inspired!!


25 sarah starr January 16, 2008 at 2:00 pm

How wonderful! Thanks for sharing.


26 kristi lou January 16, 2008 at 2:07 pm

i adore the way you made something out of nothing! it feels so good!


27 Rocks In My Dryer January 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm

That looks absolutely perfect. You have such a knack for…well, for everything! How ever do you do it?


28 Shauna January 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Lovely space! You used every inch so well!!


29 To Think is to Create January 16, 2008 at 7:21 pm

Oh I’m mad about that lamp…and Ikea? Who knew!

Great job on the space.


30 Mom in Mendon January 17, 2008 at 12:38 am

The photos came in a little souvenir envelope of pictures from 1920-30′s. Your great-great grandmother’s–Mary Chambers.


31 Amy January 17, 2008 at 12:13 pm

I love the space you have created. I am getting a lot of inspiration from your home and how you have defined your space. I have big hopes for creating a more functional office and craft space in our house. It will require a lot of work, but I am hoping we will be able to accomplish it!!


32 Leslie January 17, 2008 at 7:59 pm

i love the black and white photos all in line in that space on the wall. :)

it looks great. i can’t wait to have my own space like that!


33 Chloe January 18, 2008 at 11:17 am

Hey, nothing hokey about it – it’s a fabulous space and you made it out of essentially nothing! Great pops of color, everything has a function.

PLUS, it’s YOUR own space – I love it!


34 Kurt January 20, 2008 at 8:34 am

Not Snakes on a Plane, but Crates on a Wall. I like it. And snaps you to for the makeout sessions!


35 Anonymous January 20, 2008 at 2:14 pm

I don’t think 7′ by 10′ is small.


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