From Unused Space to a Home Office Full of Smart Storage
The creative redesign of a dysfunctional entry area yields welcoming built-in nooks for books and a desk, plus an ingenious box-within-a-box powder room
Sometimes one little request leads to a major transformation. Married neuroscientists Vivek Unni and Tamily Weissman-Unni, owners of an 1870s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, started out with a new baby and a simple goal. "We needed a first-floor bathroom with a changing table," says Tamily. But they were also saddled with a dark front entry next to a front room that served as an ad hoc mudroom, and a "treacherous" narrow staircase.
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore's Soft Glow
The couple asked general contractor Charlie Allen and architect Margaret Booz to rethink the entire space. "The family's needs were greatest around their front door; the entry wasn't functional, and there weren't designated places to put things once they got inside," Booz says.
Shown: The front room served as a mudroom, and the adjacent entry, hall, and stairs were cramped.
The team widened the stairs and hall by borrowing space from the front room and added a window to bring in light. Then they turned the room into a stylish home office and library, with a half bath hidden behind two new walls. A closet corrals coats and strollers, cherry shelves build in function, and a warm shade of paint adds personality. Says Tamily, "When I peer in at night and see those shelves and the orange glow, it feels so cozy."
Shown: The new cherry built-ins, reclaimed-pine floorboards, and mahogany newel post complement the existing floor and salvaged banister. Warm-toned paint echoes and unites the cherry and mahogany millwork and pine floors.
The desk niche makes use of a corner with natural light, augmented by recessed ceiling fixtures. It's a perfect spot for homeowners Vivek and Tamily, both research scientists, to put in time on their shared computer.
Recessed lights: Lightolier
Open shelves and a freestanding desk with a file drawer help organize books and paperwork. Fold-back window shutters, pale flooring, and clear sight lines make the light-filled room feel larger.
Shown: The redo tweaked the layout, adding a half bath, plus hardworking built-ins that play off the period flooring and trim.
The entry was dark, the stairs were narrow, and the front room was a messy catchall.
Two walls moved and two new ones went up to enclose the bath. The now slightly reshaped front room is an office with a closet and built-ins.
1. Rebuilt the stairs and added a window to bring light into the entry area.
2. Moved the wall for easier circulation and opened up the dining room passageway. A closet for coats and gear went just inside the new home office.
3. Inserted a powder room off the hallway.
4. Lined the backs of the bath walls with cherry built-ins for a library look in the office.
5. Tucked a desk in the far corner, between two windows. More cherry built-ins line the remaining wall.