Too Thrifty Chicks


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Thrifty Transformations: A Multi-purpose Space Makeover

At the Thrifty Palace there is only one place more popular than our kitchen and our couch — our basement. And until recently it was the place where we stored the little bit of junk we have, the place where we worked out and the place where Reese occasionally worked on her dissertation.

What warranted the need for a thrifty transformation? So glad you asked. As you know almost a month ago, I quit my job and decided to give the self-employed life a go. After about two weeks of working from the couch and most nights falling asleep on said couch, I realized I was spending too much freaking time on the couch! At my previous place of employment, I’d had a stand up desk that I utterly loved. In fact, my “office-thigh jiggle,” a condition that I believe office workers develop from sitting at their desks all day, was starting to dissipate because I spent the majority of my day standing up.

I had no plans to develop “couch-thigh jiggle” and wanted to recreate the magic of a stand up work space at home. I decided that the opposite corner of the basement would be as good a place as any to create my own home office, for little to no money. Real talk, stand up desks start at about $500 and can cost more than $1,000. As Sweet Brown said, “Ain’t nobody got time for all that!” Luckily, we had all of what we needed to make such a project possible.


All you need, really, is some cinder blocks and some left over scrap wood to create a flat surface. We already had a number of Sterilite modular drawers in the basement and I used them to provide further support to the blocks. I covered the scrap wood in leftover fabric. Put up a piece of cork liner, decorated with pictures, quotes and keepsakes and presto! I have an office space I love. The other perk is when I get bored, I can hula hoop or bellydance to pass the time and burn some calories as the majority of the space between my corner of the basement and Reese’s corner is still our personal fitness studio. Total cost: Zero dollars.

Reese had carved out a space for herself to work, but she hadn’t really done anything to make the space personal. I knew that she was going to be on assignment shooting engagement photos for friends and I got a wild hair to really jazz up her side of the room so that she might be inspired to go down there and work. I knew she was tired of her binders full of papers not having a dedicated home, and her small desk was losing valuable real estate to her printer.

20130716_163102Fortunately, we had an extra piece of wood that I knew could be used as a tabletop for her printer and other keepsakes such as framed photos. We had two smaller Sterilite modular drawers, but I didn’t think they would be sturdy enough for the printer. A box of books we are supposed to go through at some point provided the perfect amount of stability. I covered the wood in a leftover piece of fabric from Reese’s window seat project. I also repurposed the extra shutter that she had purchased for her headboard project as a space for her to stick notes and pin pictures.

We picked up some inexpensive metal clips and these cute little buckets  at Target for additional storage. All together this thrifty transformation cost about $10.


We plan to add more lighting because the basement is rather dark with just two bare bulbs and a lamp. We also plan to add a world map to chart our thrifty travels and to paint vibrant, inspiring quotes on these blank canvases that we call walls. I’d also like to put a cute rug down on my side and I suggested that we add some spray paint, which we have an abundance of, to Reese’s basic black desk.  All mostly inexpensive ways to make our basement a much more user friendly and inviting space. Transforming a space that has multiple uses can be a big, challenging project that is hard to visualize, but my best advice is to always keep in mind what the space will be used for and then decorate with what you’ve got on hand. Besides, if you hate it, you can always change it.

— R&R