Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Building Around Awkward Spaces In a Room Makeover

Have you ever had the perfect plan for renovating a room when some ill-placed original detail threw a wrench in the works? That was the case with the den remodel in our 19th-century home in Northwest Connecticut. A cobbled-together plumbing enclosure was smack in the middle of where we wanted to put our old bookcase. Hiring a plumber to move the pipes didn't seem worth the hassle, so my wife and I decided to build a custom wall of shelves around the pipes.

We knew that we needed a place to put our computer, and we figured, since we were starting from scratch, we might as well include an integral desk in the plan. After determining a good height for the desk by sitting on a stool we already owned, we laid out a grid of bookshelves from floor to ceiling. I used a trick that I have seen in Shaker cabinetry where you gradually reduce the shelf heights as you go up, to give the illusion of a taller ceiling in the room and to give a harmonious feel to the overall design.

In the end, an assembly of simple plywood boxes, some classic-but-understated trim, and a fresh coat of paint turned this once-disjointed space into the most inviting room in our home.

Images: Rob Wotzak

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