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Ask Maeve: My home office has taken over my bedroom

The following ‘Ask Maeve’ was featured as part of the Good Housekeeping Spring Cleaning Challenge. Hometalk bloggers from across the country used Maeve’s Method to tackle their most challenging trouble spots at home, with ‘before’ and ‘after’ results featured in this awesome 11 Unbelievable Spring Cleaning Transformations article.

Check out Emily’s amazing bedroom transformation below or on her blog, Bedroom revamp – creating an oasis. Emily, gorgeous makeover, well done!

UntitledOur home does not have a designated office. My master bedroom has become my office, craft supply room, where I create, take pictures, and blog. I am pretty sure my husband would like to claim a tiny corner in here somewhere too. Poor guy! It is such a mess and in need of organization. I do not want to overtake the room as my husband sleeps here too, making it feel like a craft room with a bed in it is not my goal. This is the last un-touched room in our home and in desperate need of style, decoration and function as a dual-space. I do not even know where to begin. Can you help? – Emily in Wisconsin

Hi Emily!

What an amazing bedroom. It’s full of light, and the high ceiling is great. I feel your dual-purpose room pain. But the good news is that you have plenty of space to keep your home office and blog headquarters going full speed. And still have the nurturing bedroom oasis that you and your husband crave. Here are five ideas you can implement that I think will put you right at home. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!


Emily's 'before' - a dark room with no unifying theme

Step 1. Create Zones

The first thing I do when I have a client with a busy dual-purpose room is to have them stand at the room entrance and imagine the room empty, as bare as the day you moved in. Before stepping in close your eyes and take a deep breath. Give yourself permission to visualize your ideal bedroom. Be honest with yourself. Do you see a bed, cozy chair, fireplace reading nook, and lovely art on the walls only? Or do you see a fast-paced blog-office with a killer craft table where you can leave projects out all day and multi-task. This is not a trick question! My guess is that you see both. If so, then it’s time to mentally divide one large room into two zones: a ‘bedroom zone’ and a ‘work space zone’.

With zones, items that live in the bedroom zone do not enter the work space zone, and vice versa. This is a mental shift, and it means you can no longer use your bed as a workspaceYou can ‘borrow’ space from either zone during the day, but embrace this as literal borrowed time – and don’t leave things lying about in another zone after hours.

Step 2: Evening Sanctuary

The next step is to put your office zone on ‘visual’ lockdown at night. This simplest way to do this is with a portable room divider or screen. Portable dividers are magical. They can live against walls during the day (expanded or folded up) then open at night to provide instant privacy. If the idea of not seeing your work zone at night when you crawl into bed is appealing then this is an inexpensive solution that will also add nicely to your decor.

Where to place the screen? Play around, move it here, move it there – then go with your gut. Remember, dividers are mobile, so you don’t have to place it in the same spot each time. Try a few spots until you and your husband find one or two locations that work best for you.

Emily's 'after' - bright, simplified and absolutely adorable!

Step 3: Gift Yourself a Work Table

Crafting is your passion, right? Then it’s time to honor it with a dedicated work table. I see you using chairs, the bed, and a tiny white table to do your work. But is this borrowed enough space? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to leave projects out at night, and not worry about them? Introduce a table into the room, and place it either in front of the fireplace, or adjacent to your desk. If you place it in front of the fireplace, you are going to want to lose some chairs. And if having access to open floor space is useful (photoshoots etc.) then consider introducing a folding craft table that can be tucked along the wall when not in use. 

If you use a screen, the screen will block your work table, so you can leave it as busy as you want. And while screens won’t block every inch of your work space, it’s more the suggestion. And anywhere you place it, it will hide a lot.

Step 4: Deep Six Some Chairs

I have to say, your bedroom feels chair heavy! Remove one or two from the room and free up valuable real estate. I notice you have a chair to the left of the bed as well. Unless you are deeply attached to this, replace it with a bedside table to help establish and honor your bedroom zone.

If you need a spot to drop a laptop or project in that corner during the day (because let’s face it, the bed is too appealing not to work on) replace the chair with a narrow table on the ‘window wall’ of that corner. Anchor the narrow table by placing a lamp on the right, so that side feels “bedroomy”. And leave the left side clear for placing down temporarily a laptop or project during the day.

More 'after' magic from Emily's dual-room makeover

Step 5: Put The Walls To Work

The wall between your bathroom and hallway door is underutilized. What I’d like to see is a shallow bookcase. Or better yet, a closed cabinet for craft supplies. A tall, slim piece of furniture here will anchor the space. It will also help draw the eye up to your peaked ceiling, making the room feel bigger. Here’s one from Target that could do the trick.

As for decor, I love the light color. One idea is to select two shades of a light accent color of your choice, then paint your bedroom wall one shade, and the office wall another. This will help to distinguish the zones. I can see from your blog you have amazing decor instincts, so I’m tossing the idea over to you. Perhaps it will spark inspiration – just trust your gut!

Once you stop thinking of this as one giant space where you’ve squeezed a craft room into your bedroom, but a proper bedroom with a distinct ‘work zone’ in the corner, possibilities will open up. You can then organize each zone independently, using matching decor to tie it together. You have amazing square footage in here so embrace the duality – it’s working in your favor!

Check out Emily’s amazing bedroom transformation on her blog, Bedroom revamp – creating an oasis

Emily, Our house now a home

Hi! Here as well as my blog Our house now a home is where I get to talk and share all things home! I share simple tutorials for DIY wall art, simple hacks for the home, organization, and crafts. I think everyone should have a home they love.

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Maeve Richmond is the founder and head coach of Maeve's Method, a home organization system based in New York City. She specializes in parents & kids, couples, small space solutions, space planning and decorative elements for the home. Contact her at [email protected] or @MaeveRichmond.

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