BTR: A Growing Family in Cole Valley (Part 1)

At last - we have another Behind the Redesign (BTR) to share with you!  

(Full disclosure into the BTR process: we love our work and we love sharing it with others.  But sometimes we love our work so much that we get caught up in the moment and forget to properly capture before and/or after photos.  So while we work with clients weekly, we do not write BTRs for every session.  Ok there, I said it.  Phew.  Now with that off my chest, let's dive in!) 

This BTR shares the story of an adorable young family we'll refer to as A & R.  We just can't get enough of A&R.  They have been adamant fans of the New Minimalism philosophy since the very beginning and we were so happy to have an opportunity to work with them.  

 A & R were due to have their second child in June however the third bedroom in their impeccable Craftsman home was dedicated as a home office.  We were approached for a specific job:  turn the home office into a nursery.  This meant we were tasked with moving a condensed version of the home office down to the garage, which meant....decluttering the garage!  I know, scary.  But with a little preparation, and the right mindset, a large project like this is definitely attainable.  

We broke the project into two day-long sessions: 

  • Day 1 declutter the garage to make space in the small basement room for the office; 
  • Day 2 address the contents of the home office, which we will detail in the next BTR.
TIP:  To prepare for a BIG decluttering session, research your local donation center options.  After viewing photos of the garage we knew that we needed a large capacity truck to haul away donations, so we scheduled a FREE pick-up with the Salvation Army.  They arrived on the afternoon of our session and hauled away all our donations.  What would have taken 5 trips to the donation center with the New Minimalism mobile was done in a few minutes by the gracious employees at Salvation Army.

During our session we learned that the garage had several functions:  laundry room, kitchen pantry, tool shed, family memento storage, and now home office.  In order to optimize all of these functions, we had to remove the unnecessary and rarely used items.

   Above is a view of the laundry and pantry corner of the garage.  Before (left) you can see that without a strategy, items became haphazardly mixed together, making it hard to keep track of inventory.  We separated the food and laundry zones by moving all laundry and cleaning supplies to the right side, near the laundry machines.  We kept pantry items on the shelving and designated the "wine cellar" in the back corner.

Yes, above is a before and after shot of the same wall!   As you can tell, with the baby due date looming, A&R were fully focused and extra motivated.  With Cary and I guiding the process, we were able to distill a mountain of family mementos (see cardboard boxes in Before photo) into small, manageable projects (see stacked plastic bins in After photo).  We repurposed the metal drawers to create a workbench for a "tool shed" corner.  

Here is a view of the small room that was to become the office (left).  Most of the items here were donated, with the exception of the baby stroller, which found a new home in another part of the garage.  The after photo (right) is after Day 2, when we brought down the home office equipment.  By hanging decorations, adding a clock and including a bright task lamp we created a rather cozy space.  Add an outdoor rug to further soften things up and A&R will actually look forward to doing their paperwork!

Here, another view of the office room from the second door leading into the small space.  The photo on the left was at the end of Day 1.  And the photo on the right is the finished product, after Day 2.  We distilled the office equipment to just the essentials and archived necessary paperwork into a filing cabinet.

Tip:  paperwork can be a session in itself.  If you are tackling a large room, don't get caught up in paper work, as this can be dense and discouraging.  First, tackle everything in the room that is non-paperwork.  Give paperwork decluttering it's own day, preferably with a paper shredder on-hand.  If you don't have a shredder, borrow one from your neighbor!  Sharing is caring.

Here is a view of the back of the garage after Day 1.  What was before mountains of mementos mixed with household tools is now a calm and collected space that A&R can access and use.

Stay tuned for the next BTR: A Growing Family in Cole Valley (Day 2), where you will see the finished nursery after A&R decluttered and decorated then using New Minimalism principles.