Like so many of us, blogger and mother of two Danae Freihoff found herself with a work-from-home partner during the pandemic. Her husband Sikmon’s job went remote in early 2020, when they thought his new WFH situation would be temporary.
“Now it’s turned into two years of working from home with no end in sight,” Danae says. “It became clear he needed a larger and more permanent space.” Danae saw potential in an underused space, creating a cloffice–a closet turned office–with a fresh coat of Grayish.
Before the renovation, the space wasn’t working for their family. “It was a really messy and unorganized closet,” she says. She made the most of the six-foot area by clearing it out and adding a wall-to-wall countertop. A non-hardwired overhead light helps the counter function as a desk.
Thinking of creating your own cloffice? Danae walks us through the challenges, opportunities and lessons learned from this space-saving project.
1. Set the tone with paint.
Although Danae had a vision, Sikmon didn’t immediately understand it. “It was pretty challenging to get my husband on board with my idea to build a desk inside the closet,” she says. To bridge the gap, she enlisted his ideas to create a space they could both be happy with. “Because he was going to be the primary user of the space, I wanted to take his taste into consideration. We chose a color he would enjoy looking at 40 hours a week.”
They wanted a blue-gray paint for the wall, but finding the exact tone proved a challenge. “I ordered several swatches of blue and gray in varying tones and we stuck them inside the closet for a few days to see how they looked throughout different times of day. Since the cloffice is somewhat enclosed, it was amazing to see how different the colors looked inside the little alcove versus outside on the surrounding walls,” she explains. In the end, they agreed on Grayish, a soft gray-green which lends a light and airy feel to the space. “The color allows him to be his most productive self,” Danae says.
2. Add character to your cloffice.
Rather than being influenced by the home’s architectural makeup, a late 1960s tract style, Danae was inspired more by the myriad ways she could add character to the minimal mid-century interior. This included adding wall and counter textures, like the vertical beadboard and marble desktop, that allowed for a more muted, organized space. Wicker baskets add interest and storage, while personal details–from framed photos to fresh flowers–warm up the workspace.
3. Practice makes perfect.
Danae’s DIY roots run deep, and she spent years watching her parents decorate and refinish furniture. Once she and her husband bought their own home, DIY projects became a family affair. “My dad would show up at our house every weekend with a pink box full of donuts, and he'd teach us what he knew. Together the three of us ripped out and replaced the tile, carpet, doors, and trim throughout,” she says.
Still, she wasn’t always this brave. The first big project they began in their home–chipping up old floor tiles to replace them with laminate–almost ended in tears. “I was ready to hire someone to do the rest but my Dad and husband talked me off the emotional rollercoaster, and we finished shortly thereafter,” she recalls. They continued the project on their own until it was finished. “We learned a lot and gained so much confidence in ourselves by doing that project. I'm still so proud that we laid those floors ourselves but I'd probably never willingly agree to do it again,” she laughs.
4. Think outside the box (or closet).
The cloffice isn’t the only space the family has transformed with their creativity. “We’ve turned a nook into a nursery and we utilize our garage as a playroom. Our home functions a lot better overall because we're utilizing spaces in ways that work best for our family and not necessarily as how they were intended to function,” she says.
Danae’s advice to other would-be DIY-ers is to think outside the box (or closet). “The biggest piece of advice I can give to others who are thinking of transforming an unexpected corner of their home is to not limit the potential of a space just because it's labeled as one thing,” she says. “A closet doesn't have to be just a closet. It can be whatever you need it to be.” For more inspiration, check out Danae’s other projects on her blog The Homebody House.