January 2011: Space that works…for two

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 When Gillian and Will Grimm set out to buy a house last spring, they didn’t have to look far: The one they wanted was across the street. 

A simple Cape Cod with white siding and blue shutters, the North Downtown house wasn’t much to write home about, but the couple saw its hidden potential. In just a year and a half, they’ve gutted the kitchen—a modern renovation that earned them a mention on the much-heralded interiors blog, design*sponge—and spruced up their kids’ room, upstairs bathroom and office. Currently, they’re in the middle of renovating the mudroom. 

“We definitely did an overhaul. We’re still overhauling,” Gillian says. “I don’t think [the previous owners] would recognize it.”

Soon after moving in, Gillian and Will, a freelance writer and architect, respectively, decided to work from home full-time. Gillian says just $50 went into renovating their shared office, a back bedroom they painted with a cast-off gray and filled with finds from The Habitat Store. Nothing in the room is too precious; they wanted a space that could work for a creative family of four.

“We needed a space that was dual-purpose,” she says. “It works for us and we have fun with it.”—Caite White

“We have been carrying that [drafting table] around —that and one of the beds for my kids, which was mine as a kid—since before we were married. And every time we move, which we’ve moved a lot, Will wants to get rid of the bed and I want to get rid of the desk….This is the first house that both of them we’ve used and loved.

“I just wanted kind of a feminine and masculine space—just a really different look so you could walk in and instantly know, that’s Will’s side, that’s Gillian’s side. 

“For the most part, my space is much neater. He’s kind of the paper, mouse, big computer and I’m all, I don’t like a mouse, I don’t need a separate keyboard. I want a few pretty things and no wires and he likes to spread out.

“When we first moved into the house, we gave [the kids] the choice of each having a room or having one bedroom and a playroom and they chose to share the room….Part of that switch was that we really kind of streamlined the toy storage, built built-ins. We just finished turning the closet into the playhouse, which [our daughter] loves.

“Where the rest of the house often has toys and markers and kids—and this room does too—there’s just something calming about [the office]. It’s nice to be able to shut the door when I need to and write, or sew or knit or whatever it is that I’m working on that day.

“There’s something about the cold weather that we all four spend a lot of time in here….And it’s really nice to have that time. Especially when the kids are little and they don’t hate us, as teenagers are wont to do. It’s more important to do that now than to have high-flying jobs.”

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