Originally appeared in Northern Virginia magazine
Creative, personal niches are breathing new life into areas that were once considered dead spaces. Cleverly carved into otherwise useless corners, closets or counters, niches in today’s homes can be playful yet purposeful, often existing at the intersection of fashion and function. While these pocket-size spaces may be small on square footage, they are big with design personality. Where a kitchen was once just a kitchen, part of it now operates as a mini office area: A laptop sits on the granite island poised for paying bills, checking e-mail or consulting a recipe. A family’s grocery list is no longer stuck by a magnet on the refrigerator; it now exists on a framed swatch of blackboard paint, pastel chalk swipes denoting “milk, eggs, dog food.” In a small nursery, the closet might one day be used for the child’s clothes, but for now, with the doors removed, the space is perfect for the baby’s changing table. A quilted window seat or a comfy chaise makes for a peaceful reading nook. An entryway wall provides a blank canvas for artfully arranged family photographs or kids’ drawings in a gallery format—creating an inviting, yet instant conversation starter as guests arrive and shrug off their coats. A butler’s pantry might find new life as a convenient laundry room—where folding clothes feels less like a chore and more like you’re still part of the home’s nucleus. Mudrooms or foyers outfitted with benches serve as a comfortable spot to remove shoes and coats; a well-appointed chest of drawers or a simple shelf maximizes the space, constructing a center of coming and going with a real purpose, not just a dumping ground. This is the prime spot where you drop your keys on the shelf and check yourself in the mirror, says Kathy Alexander, a McLean-based interior designer.