Welcome to Amplified Apartments: Home Edition, a special edition of ForRent’s Amplified Apartments series, featuring amateur interior designers whose winning decor hacks will save you space whether you’re on the first or fifteenth floor.
Megan Duesterhaus is a special breed of blogger. As a wife of a Marine, Megan has seen the world alongside her husband and baby son. To put things into numerical perspective – she’s moved five times in eight years—seeing Japan, California, Virginia, and North Carolina, in the process. Thanks to her passion for interior design, each new home has undergone serious styling, no matter the rental limitations. Of course, every interior creation has been chronicled on her blog, titled naturally, The Homes I Have Made.
When the young parents’ current abode in Jacksonville, North Carolina called for an office and craft room, Megan bunkered down. Using the wisdom she had gained from every successful home revamp, she built out a 160 square foot room that melded office and craft space with color and appropriate décor. The walls were left untouched, but the furniture and accents were spared no splash of measured personality. In the end, the room left was tasteful, fun, and always practical.
Hear the thought process for the whimsical and charming space from the talented blogger herself, below.
If you could describe your design concept using 5 words what would they be?
Bright, clean, organized, simple, and functional.
Did you have to make any compromises when designing your space?
We are technically renters in this home, so the design of this room was limited to updates and changes we could undo when we leave. As a result, we couldn’t change the flooring, hang wall paper or light fixtures, or expand the one tiny and poorly placed window. We had to figure out how to maximize style and light, while keeping everything temporary.
What’s your thinking when designing a room with so many purposes? Did you consciously use color to unite every separate corner into one coherent space?
The key to me was to create zones. We have an office on one side of the room, complete with a desk, printer station, filing cabinets, and a dedicated bulletin board. The other side of the room is the craft station, which features a full wall of cabinets with a counter on top to maximize storage and usable work surfaces on a small footprint.
In the final corner, we have a closet and set of storage towers that work together to store a lot of our office and craft supplies. Colors and finishes are absolutely what bring these two sides of the room together; however, the office side has a little more sophistication while the craft side has a little more whimsy.
There is no shortage of patterns, textures and colors in the room—a pairing challenge for any designer, even a professional one. How do you keep them in harmony with one another?
This is still something I continuously work on until I get it right, which is rarely in the first try! I can put something together that should technically work perfectly, but if I keep staring and staring at it with a critical eye, I know something’s off.
My motto is, “Keep working it, until it’s right.” (Tweet This)
I’m never afraid to undo or redo something until it feels harmonious. In this room, I started off in a completely different direction—florals. When I found the blue and gold striped wrapping paper that I eventually used on the desk top, I was off and running in a new, more graphic, direction. From there, I tried to make sure all the patterns connected through size, shape, tone, or color, always remembering to vary the size and scale of the patterns.
Often storage solutions are less than aesthetically pleasing. Yours are quite the opposite – from the file cabinets to the mini glass bowls holding your glitter and tape. Were they bought in this form or did you tailor them to your taste?
Very rarely does something come home from the store and stay in its current, brand-new, or as-is state. I always have to do something to it to make it my own. Whether it’s a full on paint treatment or simple stick-on letters, I try to tailor each piece so that it looks as though it was always destined for the space. I also try to use attractive storage pieces, so I kill two birds with one stone, so to speak: storage and art in one item.
How do you pick a room’s decor? Do you decide on a concept and design around it? Or are you more of the collect pieces that speak to you and make them work together-type?
I am much more the latter. I always try to start with an inspiration board or a collection of fabrics and paint swatches, but I always get derailed by a new piece of art or a new fabric that I must incorporate. Gold was never part of the original plan for this room. But as I started seeing it pop up everywhere i.e., in stores, magazines, blogs, etc, this room turned out to be the perfect spot to give the trend a go. Although I would love to develop a plan and work strictly from it, I am learning that I am more of a “creative process” person, and my best ideas come when I make decisions in tandem, as the room is coming together, rather than all at once.
In a small space, how do you toe the line between clutter and decor?
Like I said before, I try to organize and store things in a manner that is primarily functional—functionality is always the primary goal—but one that is also aesthetically pleasing. I am adamant about having matching storage baskets or bins in a single room.
Want an easy win? Keep storage containers opaque. Hide the clutter. (Tweet This)
Open shelving is hard to keep clutter-free and can quickly turn from styled to messy, so I only use it for very specific things, in this room— fabric, ribbon and frames. Small items get put into drawers, containers or cabinets.
What are your go to stores for home furnishings and decor?
I like to shop at thrift stores, but in our local area, I don’t frequently find true goodies. Still, I love the thrill and do sometimes find some unique treasures. I find a lot of my newer décor items at Marshalls, Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot—most often in the clearance sections.
What’s your number one tip for solving the small space problem?
Start with function. Give some really, really good thought to how you want and need to use a space. Consider work zones and areas in every configuration possible to determine how best to use the space you have. Lay out your furniture in a way that maximizes the space, while keeping good flow and balance in mind.
There is no room in small spaces for furniture that won’t be used. After you have the room laid out, give it some time. See if it really works as well as you need it to and make adjustments as necessary. Once you have the function locked in, then you can start to work on the pretty elements to bring the whole room together in a cohesive and un-cluttered way.
See all the homes Megan Duesterhaus has made beautiful, on her blog, here.
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