October 2, 2022

My favorite room: Office turned craft room.

Created by: Cathy Swope, Minneapolis.

The back story: Swope and her husband downsized from a three-story to a one-story home with 1,000 square feet less space because they wanted one-level living. While they were happy that they could remain in their beloved Longfellow neighborhood in south Minneapolis, Cathy missed one feature that her previous home had: a craft room.

Now that she’s retired, Swope recently turned a basement bedroom/office into a full-time craft room.

“It’s a bedroom, so there are egress windows,” she said. “The windows face south and east so [the room] gets a lot of sunlight.”

How it was created: Swope turned the closet into an area for crafts storage, swapping bifold doors for curtains to easily access shelves filled with fabric.

She stripped the wallpaper and ripped out the carpet, then had someone install new flooring, not only for function, but for aesthetics. “It’s a composite tile. The look is in keeping with the era of the [1962] house, which is what we were looking for,” she said.

More is more: In the 1990s, Swope, her family and friends would go to garage and estate sales almost every weekend with a Hudson Map book in tow. They were also avid crossworders. So for the car ride, they would do crossword puzzles and bring along a dictionary, thesaurus and the New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary.

When furnishing and decorating her new craft room, Swope used mostly sentimental items from that era. As for the fate of the map books and crossword reference books? They are now used as the “wallpaper” in the craft room.

“I had no use for them, but could not bear to just toss them out,” she said. “Most of the decor — from lamps to pictures to furniture — is from our years of thrifting. Everything in the room has a sweet memory, and I continue to add to it because after all, more is more.”

Total cost: Less than $650, with the vinyl composite tile flooring ($250) and its installation (under $300) being the biggest expenses.

“I had pretty much everything that’s hanging on the walls. [Most of the furniture] and the vintage lamps I already had,” she said. “I bought a $100 cubicle — that was the only other purchase for the room.”

The new favorite room: Swope, who spent more than 40 years in sales before she retired, loved the business of selling. And she loves vintage. Here, she gets to combine those two loves.

She uses the space to sew and restore vintage clothes as well as create new clothing from vintage patterns that she then sells.

“This was a way for me to continue to [sell things] in a different way,” she said. “I love sewing. I’ve sewed since I was 14 years old. It’s my favorite room because I get to do my favorite thing in there.”

My Favorite Room is an occasional series showcasing improved home spaces, as submitted by readers. A favorite room doesn’t have to be a showcase of fine design — it can be fun, whimsical or downright quirky. If you have a favorite room, send a snapshot or two, along with a brief description of what makes your room special, to [email protected] We’ll showcase favorite rooms in Sunday Homes sections.