On Christmas Eve 2008, I bought my first house, a mid century modern, three-story ranch. The main selling point for my three-bedroom, two-bath home built in 1955 was its basement bonus room, which would make the perfect design studio. I swore to myself and friends that, within a year, I was going to reinvent the dingy room as a bold and beautiful design studio. "I'll be writing your Christmas cards from its custom built-in workstation," I told them.
As a self-taught interior designer, television show producer, decorator and prop stylist, I'm passionate about 1960s design. This dream studio would need to house a plethora of important, work-related supplies including design and construction books, swatches, samples, sketches, floor plans, paint fan decks, pop art, architectural drawings, mood trays, test photos and, most importantly, my favorite vintage props.
I was determined to squeeze in a sleeping space for house-guests. The 11'10 x 12'4 basement was originally intended to be a fourth bedroom, plus the sofas in my living room get blasted with full sunlight at dawn, making for hostile guest accommodations. I'd have to kick my design skills into full gear to use a single space for both work and slumber.
The new area needed to function as an efficient workspace with the warm feeling of a living room. I opted for the workstation to be counter-height, and the meeting/lunch table to sit at table-height. Aesthetically, I pictured working and sleeping tied together with a mod vibe.
Choosing function and look was easy but deciding on a budget was harder. The biggest issue with the project was choosing where to splurge and where to save. Accustomed to spending other people's money to make their spaces spectacular, shelling out cash for my own home was uncharted territory. While some of my clients are comfortable spending $1,200 on a high-end, designer desk chair, I'm more of a $200-chair-kind-of-guy. And after an estimate for wall-to-wall white shag carpet came in at $1,800, it became evident I was a $600-flooring-kind-of-guy.
To get my unique floor without busting my budget, I installed 1x10 pine planks and with a carpenter friend painted a zigzag pattern on the wood with white and red-orange porch and deck paint. To get a weathered look we sanded down random areas before sealing the entire surface with a high-gloss floor sealant.
To make the task of figuring out how much to spend less daunting, I needed to identify the project's must-haves and assign them the biggest chunk of change. For me, the musts were unique floors, built-in cabinetry, an extra-wide desktop surface, open shelving, a custom sleeping space and a new ceiling. My budget for turning the dungeon-like bonus room into a bright, modern workspace was $6,000. Even if we did the project in phases, I was determined to stay either on or under budget.
Designer Brian Patrick Flynn adds mid-century modern flair to his dull, cramped bonus room to create an exciting new space.