He’s a magic man. Brian Patrick Flynn transforms a dreary little extra room into a delightful space away from the madding crowd. Using design tricks and plays on proportion, Brian’s spatially challenged bonus room becomes a lodge-inspired retreat for reading, resting and relaxing.
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In the Academy Award-nominated film The Sixth Sense, a little boy has the ability to see dead people walking among the living. This otherworldly gift is quite similar to the visions designers and decorators have upon entering awful spaces. They know that what may appear dated, dingy and macabre now could actually have the potential to be bright, airy and Elle Decor-worthy later. There is no better example of this than the writer’s den in my own North Georgia mountain house.
During my first look at the property with a realtor, I glanced at the silly, Silence of the Lambs-esque room and thought to myself, “Why the hell is that tiny window blocking the amazing view of the mountains?” And “Why does this palette-limiting yellow pine wall exist at all?” And “Is that Tyrannosaurus-sized bed swallowing the entire world?” Determined to transform the minuscule spot into a fully functional writer’s den-slash-sleepover space, I employed properly proportioned furniture and countless multipurpose tricks to establish a spot for reading, writing and resting.
The 8-foot-by-9-foot bonus room of this cabin was previously dark, dingy, and unwelcoming. To unleash its hidden potential, we painted the room an earthy shade of green, opened up to the view using a pair of French doors, and furnished it with space-saving, properly proportioned, multipurpose pieces.
Pretty much unrecognizable in its present state, my writer’s den is now warm, cozy and completely fit for its surroundings. One of the major issues with the room before its redesign was the use of an oversize, footboard-inclusive bed frame featuring a queen mattress. Now, a full-size platform bed by Skyline frees up valuable floor space, and the clever use of a pharmacy-style floor lamp sneaks much-needed light into a corner too cramped to handle a true nightstand.
With all this square footage freed up, there’s also now plenty of clearance to accommodate opening and closing closet doors. Inside the closet, shoe boxes from Vision keep loafers dust-free, while Honey-Can-Do wooden hangers ensure that shirts, jackets and pants keep their structural integrity. The brass nailhead detail of the headboard breaks up the otherwise heavy colors of the room’s mountain-inspired palette, and the use of cowboy hats gives the room an artistic touch.
Two effective design tricks for making small spaces appear larger are painting the walls and the ceiling the same color and introducing mirrors to reflect light. Here, in addition to replacing a small window with a pair of French doors to open up the view, I added a super-tall, textured Uttermost mirror, virtually doubling the vista while helping to lighten the dark undertones of the pea green walls. A black shag area rug balances the color palette, while a satin brass chandelier sheds light on the scheme.
For proper layering, I created a bedscape with different shades of earthy greens, dark sheets, and a neutral plaid throw blanket. Then I introduced more storage on the right side of the bed by placing a trunk side table featuring a faux crocodile shade.
When small, secondary bedroom spaces feature full-fledged closets, it’s not necessary to have dressers. Instead, I usually use a desk, which can provide a place to read, write and check email while providing another surface for task lighting – as well as concealed storage in the form of drawers. In keeping with the golden metallics of the space, I chose a table lamp in a brushed brass finish. And lastly, to keep the room neat and tidy, a teepee-shaped coat rack ensures that winter clothes are neatly organized and within arm’s reach. Now, excuse me as I go write something in my new writer’s den, even if it’s only a Facebook status update about putting off my next writing project while I enjoy the view.
-Brian Patrick Flynn, HGTV.com producer/designer
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