Classic Details Help Maximize Limited Space

A bedroom with walk-in closet in a home in Minnetonka, Minn., needed to make the conversion from child's space to work space.

July 31, 2003


The center table is, arguably, the room's most impressive illusion. It has a machine screw with a stud mount on the maple side of the table that serves as a place to hang pictures when the desk is up. The mount is unscrewed and replaced by the table leg when the desk is to be used, and the mount is simply put into the wall so the picture can be rehung. For the center table to work, it was imperative that all counters were the same height. Eric Hanson relied on AutoCAD to help achieve this, given that almost everything was built off site because of the room's second-floor location and small size and the need to work around existing structures such as windows and the fireplace.

A bedroom with walk-in closet in a home in Minnetonka, Minn., needed to make the conversion from child's space to work space. However, given the room's 13x12-foot dimensions, it would take creativity to allow the small space to serve as the "deep concentration" center the family wanted, a place to both work and play board games.

To accommodate all of the homeowners' books and periodicals and to conceal work surfaces when they were not in use, Eric Hanson, AIA, with Streeter Associates in Wayzata, Minn., used many classic, early-1900s details. Reminiscent of a Murphy bed on a Pullman car or folding desktops of old post office workstations, these touches allow storage and recreation without eating up space. A recessed leaf in the center of the main work area is lifted up and dropped into storage, allowing a 5x3-foot table to be folded down from the wall. Bookcases on either side of this desk also have 3x3-foot drop-leaf work areas that can be folded down as needed, giving the homeowner the option of up to three simultaneous work or game spaces, or any combination of the three as needed.

Style comes from using a combination of cherry and maple wood, with the walls clad in plain sliced maple while all countertops and details are quartersawn cherry. When the table and workstations are in use, they feature cherry tops, but when they are folded and stowed, the face is maple.

The 5x9-foot walk-in closet was turned into a "secret map room" for the clients' extensive map collection. Bookcases leading to the map room sit on a piano hinge; a button inside one bookcase releases the connection, so the bookcases can be split and pushed apart for entry into the map room. The office also features a display area for a vintage shortwave radio, with lift-up storage (similar to that found in major book retailers) for periodicals - the face sits on a 10-degree slope and has a ledge to display current issues, and the sill can be raised and pushed back to store previous issues behind the fascia.


This hidden room houses the homeowners' map collection. The bookcases sit on a piano hinge with a button inside one of the bookcases to split them apart.

To help tie in cabinetry details, a mantel was added to an existing masonry fireplace, which also was re-skinned with slate tiles. Low-voltage recessed lights give the room a minimalist, contemporary feel, and provisions for the existing hot-water baseboard heat are addressed with vented toe kicks.

The project received an honorable mention in the interiors category of the 2003 Remodeler of Merit Awards, given by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities. Hanson credits the two-month project's success to an early inventory of the size and number of the clients' books and periodicals, which allowed Streeter to accommodate these items while providing storage space for new items.

"When you have a smaller space, you have to make every inch count," Hanson says. "We used a lot of classic detailing from the past, when people had more time to dedicate to details. In the end, spending time and money on design helps facilitate things and makes everyone's job easier. The client who recognizes this doesn't try to shortcut or belittle that process."

Cabinets: Bratten Woodworking. Lighting: Juno. Flooring: Schaffer.

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