Episode Three –The Multi-Purpose Room
As I sit at my desk this morning in my favorite cat pajamas sipping steamy cappuccino, the sound of fog horns and a nearby owl softly fills my ears. The smallest room in our funky 70s apartment looks out on an ugly duckling building through one window, but the tiny space where I write redeems itself with a view of the San Francisco Bay through its sliding glass doors.
When we moved in, I quickly hid the unsightly apartment building and parking lot next door behind a cheerful orange linen window shade. Now we spend hours in this room surrounded by light and beauty – reading the paper, doing crossword puzzles, eating, hosting Zoom meetings, writing blogs, discussing our remodel and working on projects while Toby snoozes in the sun.
Transforming a Small Space
When possible, I like appointing small spaces with fewer but larger pieces of furniture such as this oversized French armoire. While seemingly counterintuitive, the substantial piece makes the room feel grander, and installing window treatments as high as you can visually, elevates a low ceiling.
A corner of the compact room creates a vignette to hang favorite paintings by stacking squares and rectangles in layers on the wall. Arranging artwork in this way guides the eye upward, creating a feeling of spaciousness.
Across from the paintings, we filled a niche with more revered objects – cherished books, an old painted cabinet from New Mexico, a treasured piece of folk art, an antique mirror, a special cross and a Russian icon. I think of this tiny but beloved collection in the corner as an altar.
Our Lady of the Harvest was purchased from a noted wood carver at the Santa Fe Spanish market in 2012. Beside the sculpture, a Mexican cross is adorned with hundreds of milagros, meaning miracles in Spanish. The tiny amulets are used as offerings in Latin America, Spain and other parts of Europe. An antique Russian icon is painted on a piece of wood and partially covered with hand-tooled and engraved burnished silverplate.
The wide opening that connects this diminutive room to the living room makes the small space feel larger and more accommodating.
The chamber easily adapts as a dining room when needed for the two of us to share a meal, snack or cocktail.
My office consists of an uplift desk, my computer, a favorite wicker chair, an ever-blooming orchid from a friend, my Book of Symbols, a vintage chest of drawers and a spacious antique armoire for storing files and office supplies. I savor a few favorite paintings on the wall in front of me, and a spectacular view day and night beside me.
A traditional lamp base with a contemporary shade lights the other altar in the room. An altar need not be religious, but should include items that are meaningful in some way. It can be a collection of gifts, objects from your travels, or memorabilia that evokes a person or time that was special in your life.
Standing at the corner of the deck outside my office, I look north to one of my favorite views of the Tiburon Peninsula with historic St. Hilary’s Church. The hills are green now from the winter rains, which we hope will continue through spring. I cross my fingers and say a prayer there will be no destructive wildfires this year to scar our lush and beautiful state.
Thanks for checking out Episode Three of The Apartment. Our multi-purpose room was a challenging one to capture due to its many different aspects – several mini artwork displays, two altars, a workstation, various storage units, an entrance to the deck, a table that serves multiple purposes, and a soft carpet for napping in the sun.
I hope your home contains a light and beauty filled room that connects to the outdoors and accommodates your daily needs, whims and interactions, and holds some of the treasured articles that reflect your life.
Happy Spring! When your weather clears, go for a stroll outdoors with your doggie and walk in wonder and awe in the astounding beauty of nature’s springtime artistry and grace. You will be well rewarded.
For the love of multi-purpose rooms,