Flashy Multipurpose Workstation

A theater designer turns his guest bedroom closet into a showy multipurpose workspace.

From the sloppy, mustard-colored paint job on its walls, doors and trim to its wasted space and inefficient reach-in closet, Hollis Smith's guest bedroom was in need of a major makeover.

In its previous state, the small reach-in closet was overflowing with sports coats, travel gear and books. The cherished objects he wanted to display were shoved into boxes on the floor.

To make the back of the closet workstation recede, the homeowner installed black wallpaper with a graphic, lacquered pattern. "The black wallpaper really turned the back of the closet into a focal point," Smith says. "My favorite thing about it is how the lacquered surface reflects the light. It's very theatrical. Like me."

Shelves built from 4x8 sheets of medium density fiberboard (MDF) and strips of 1x2 MDF trim house Smith's collection of pop culture memorabilia, including a Bionic Woman lunchbox and Six Million Dollar Man coffee mug. Smith had a carpenter friend build and install them in a few hours. "They're super sturdy and can be used for just about anything," Smith says.

Doubling the amount of hanging space was one of Smith's primary objectives when transforming the closet. Hanging two chrome rods on each side of the central workstation provided ample room for his business wardrobe, as well as space for overnight guests to hang their own clothes. "I wear a ton of purple, gray and black. The combination of the black wallpaper with the chrome rods, white wooden hangers, and my purple and gray wardrobe pieces looks like an art-directed scene from a stage play or movie," Smith says.

To keep items for overnight guests such as bath towels, extra sheets and throw blankets contained and within arm's reach, Smith stores them inside woven carry-all bins, which tuck right under the lower hanging rods on each side of the closet, "This also makes laundry super easy. Once my guests leave, I just toss everything in the bins and carry them down to my laundry room."

To put the outside wall of the newly expanded closet workstation to good use, Smith had hooks meant for bath towels installed below salvaged letters from a demolished local diner to hang up his everyday items. "An old Huddle House was demolished not too far from where I live," Smith says. "Sitting next to its dumpster were remnants from its old storefront sign, which, coincidentally, included the initials of my full name: Hollis Eugene Smith."

Custom draperies hung outside the closet workstation add a sense of privacy for Smith or guests who need to stay focused on their work. The heavy lining of the draperies also helps muffle noise from other areas of the house.

What was previously a corner packed with four feet of wasted space and an inefficient reach-in closet is now a fully functional closet workstation complete with ample hanging space for business attire, a desktop area fit for a laptop or desktop computer, chunky modern shelves for display and open storage, floor space for luggage and custom draperies to add privacy and help muffle outside sounds. The new color scheme of plum, black, gray and white starts on the ceiling, then carries its way down the walls and into the closet.

When work time is over, Hollis and his guests can keep all business matters completely out of view by drawing the draperies closed.

Before making over a corner of his guest room, Hollis Smith was storing his work wardrobe and his treasured pop culture memorabilia in a small, reach-in closet with only three feet of usable storage space. Just outside the closet was three feet of wasted space.