My ‘Monica’s Closet’ – My Junk Room Turned Studio

Hands up if you have a junk room in your house. Or a junk cupboard? Come on – at least a junk drawer?

If you have none of these, and your entire house is as organised as Martha Stewart’s pantry, I envy you. But if you have that messy part of your house that has been messy for… well, for as long as you can remember, you’ll be able to relate to this post.

When we moved into The Crap Shack more than three years ago, Mr Nerd and I each took one of the two tiny spare bedrooms to use for our individual crap and doing our individual things. Mr Nerd used his room for storing boring things like Star Wars videos (yes. VHS) and computer parts and so. many. cords.

This post was originally published on my original blog format here on December 18, 2013 (gosh that seems like yesterday and forever ago all at once!) Since then, my studio has now been turned into Miss Nerd’s nursery! You can see that room makeover here. 

Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

I intended to use my room as a craft room. A little studio, a designated place to do all the messy things I normally hog the floor and table in the dining room for. Like crafting and gift wrapping and framing pictures and painting furniture.

But the little studio or craft room just never really happened. In fact, it became alarmingly messy. I may have our DVDs and spices organised alphabetically and my clothes organised by colour. (At one of our house parties, I once walked into a group of girls in the kitchen, crying with laughter as they opened and closed my cupboards and pantry to openly mock each of my painstakingly hand-labelled shelves and containers. The same group of girls gave me a label maker for my last birthday. Winning).

Anyway, despite my anal traits, this ‘craft room’ was my weakness; my Monica’s closet. In the spirit of full and embarassing disclosure, for more than three years, my room has pretty much always looked like this…

BEFORE: The junk room’s level of messy would change, from very messy to super messy. Here it is at ‘quite messy’.

Yep, a true junk room. Every time I needed a temporary spot to stash renovating tools, or just wanted to dump something quickly, like when visitors came over and our kitchen and dining were filled with crap, things got shoved into the ‘craft room’ and the door hastily closed. The room is small and soon it was almost impossible to even move about in there.

I made half-hearted attempts to organise it and turn it into a craft space. I bought a couple of IKEA desks. I rearranged things. I begged Mr Nerd to put up a shelf. But it just never really all came together. It was never a room I wanted to spend time in. Plus I felt guilty at the idea of putting money into buying things to decorate and organise that room when there were so many other things around the house and garden that were more pressing. So it never really got done.

Eventually I asked our interior designer friend Nelly Reffet of Twinkle and Whistle for her opinion and she came up with some awesome ideas for furniture and decor.

Let’s call the look ‘girly industrial’ – nice worn textures and pretty girly colours. I loved the idea. But then Mr Nerd and I started renovating the second bathroom and realised it was going to take a lot more money than we had been planning. Suddenly doing the craft room got pushed down to the bottom of the list.

Even though Nelly had created a moodboard using inexpensive furniture and accessories, I knew it would probably still be a while before we could afford to do it with a bathroom to do (and the laundry). Nelly understood. Then I whinged to her that the lack of storage in the room was bugging me like crazy. She suggested we move my IKEA Expedit from my home office into the craft room in the meantime.

That gave me an idea – why didn’t I just redecorate the whole room ‘for now’ – but using mostly things we already had, until I could afford to buy pieces to redo the room fully? So I did.

And because I owned almost everything already, it cost next to nothing, using things I’d thrifted from the markets, Gumtree, and the side of my road (I am always dragging home things from the side of the road).

And now I have a little craft room for Christmas! Here’s what it looks like now after more than a weekend of work.


CLOCK: When friends gave us a gorgeous new Corner Store clock for our wedding, I moved the old one we had in the kitchen into the craft room. On the pinboard is the picture I painted for our wedding invitation.


WINDOWSILL: The old Ceylon tea box was from the lady who sold me the vintage tea chest and the giant succulent bought from The Secret Garden in South Perth after a coffee date with a couple of girlfriends. The little bowl was from Urban Depot in Leederville (I love this shop) and you can also get them at Bed Bath N Table. Nelly suggested using a light, see-through white curtain on the window hung as high as possible in pure cotton, linen or even muslin to soften up the room. It is amazing how much changing the window treatment changed the room. (I probably should have ironed the curtains beforehand, oops). All ‘after’ photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.


So long, cardboard toilet rolls I was once hoarding to turn into Christmas bonbons. I seriously turfed some stuff and donated it to Good Sammy’s (not the toilet rolls).

If you take my love of hoarding things for Pinterest-projects-I-will-never-make out of the equation, I actually think I am pretty good at decluttering. But I CANNOT part from my favourite kids’ books (you can see some of them on that shelf in the before photos). I have whittled them down but I still have books I will not part from… Trixie Belden, Collette Murphy and her family, Paul Jennings, Meg Cabot, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Emily Rodda… oh I am keeping them. My Babysitters Club tomes for one… I am fully foisting them and their 80s-parrot-earring-coolness onto my own daughter one day.

Anyway I knew the shelf was not the best spot for my books, because with the shelf being set so high it visually brought the ceiling down. So my kids books got put into the nice empty cupboard under the TV, which Mr Nerd had ample time to use for his man stuff but he didn’t, so now it belongs to me and Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey…

TARJAY: When I talked about how great Target had gotten lately, a blog reader informed me it was not Target but Tarjay. Very fitting – how cool is this Tarjay carrier? I bought it meaning to use it for kindle for our fireplace then realised it really went with the industrial look Nelly suggested for the craft room. The old basket one beneath I found on the side of the road and now store all my gift wrapping ribbons in it. All photos Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography (aren’t they gorgeous?! Thank you Heather!)

HAND STITCHED: I’ve always loved the English cottage tradition of hanging hearts in the home. My mum handmade me the one hanging on the doorknob. Photos Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

PRE-LOVED: The little wooden bookcase I got from a market for $20 once and originally had it in our corridor. The basket with the cute handles I got from a secondhand market for $3 and the little planter and the little mint green vase on the bookcase were… you got it, from a market! Mr Nerd also replaced the lurvely 70s doorknob with a new one from Bunnings.

WASHI ME DO THIS: Yes, I washi-taped my light switch plate. Because why not? I think it makes it look like something boring look like a miniature artwork on the wall. Mr Nerd looked at me like I was crazy. Next time he goes to the pub I think I will washi tape the one in his room in manly man washi tape. Photos Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.


Nelly recommended painting the walls in Dulux Vivid White – their base white. “Paint the walls a pure white – it’s a blank canvas, it will maximise the natural light,” she said. “It will make the room feels brighter and airier and work with any other colour you may want to incorporate later on.”

Lucky Mr Nerd was out of the house when I did this, because he would have freaked if he saw me painting a white room white. And, I have to admit, at first I felt like it was a massive time-waster.

But – oh my goodness, it made SUCH a big difference! It is funny how going from the slightly dirty-looking cream-white the room was before to a pure white made such a huge difference. The whole room feels fresh, the creamy white, while the paint was in good condition, made it feel dated. I now want to paint our kitchen and dining in Dulux Vivid White too.

SECONDHAND LOVE: If you know me you know I love secondhand markets, op shops and verge picking! The old sugar tin on the floor I got from a lovely lady at a market for $3 and figured I could use it as a wastepaper bin. Hot damn, I was correct. Photos Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

FINALLY ORGANISED: The IKEA Expedit bookcase I had in my home office. All my boxes and cane baskets were from markets or from TYPO. The silver box from India was a gift from a friend. For the craft room’s original ‘industrial-look’ mood board, Nelly had suggested rattan baskets and painted wooden crates for the shelves to hide craft knickknacks and unsightly things. “I would go for pastel colours for painting those crates: light pink, super light duck egg blue etc,” she advised. “Again the idea is to soften up and feminise the room a little.” Our cookbooks are in the craft room for now until I get a shelf built in the kitchen (it is a room “for now”!) I will eventually do a little hack on the wooden IKEA boxes.


While this seems like it would be a very straightforward easy room makeover, it didn’t exactly go to plan.

I decided to give the room an inexpensive girly touch. I had some leftover paint from another project and thought why not use it? So I painted the cupboard doors a deep pink one Sunday afternoon while Mr Nerd was having a nap.

But you know when you start doing something and you know it is not going to look good and you blunder on anyway, hoping that somehow it will miraculously right itself and look amazing? And then it still looks crap? Yep, the pink cupboard doors looked baaaad. I got to halfway and then realised I needed a second opinion.

When Mr Nerd woke up from his nap (ok I woke him up) I told him I painted the cupboard in my room pink. He squinted at me, looked pained and smushed his face into the pillow again. “But I don’t know if it looks good,” I admitted. “Can you pleaaase come look. PLeeeease. ”

He grumpily got up, winced at the robe and confirmed my fear. I would have to repaint. “That’s not pink,” he said grumpily. “It’s like gross old lady in the 1970s nursing home mauve.”
“Well, aren’t we Mr Descriptive after our little nana nap,” I sneered. “It’s not THAT bad.” I wasn’t really offended, just cross that I had to repaint it. And he was right. It was that bad.

To his credit though, Mr Nerd has a very good eye for colour and he even offered to be a good husband and go to Bunnings for me to get fresh paint. He even chose the new pink colour – Dulux Tea Party in half-strength, and I loved it. You got to love a beer-loving scaffolder who can choose just the most perfect shade of dainty pink.

I planned the renovation so that I would finish it one weekend, and the next Monday morning, my talented photographer friend Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography would come over and shoot some nice professional photos of my nicely finished room (and some of the rest of our house and of me) for the blog. And then we’d all enjoy a home cooked lunch I’d make and some freshly baked banana bread and she’d take some photos of me dressed all nice, sitting at the desk in my shiny new craft room, doing crafty things, with pretty hair and a smug expression.

Well it didn’t quite happen like that.

WALL SHELF: The wall shelf, desk and lamp were items I bought ages ago from IKEA. The cane chair I got from a secondhand market for $10 and I have contemplated spray painting it, but I also like it how it is. The ikat cushion I got from Society6. These guys have some very cool (and affordable!) bits and pieces for the home. Photos Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

TOOLS: The pencil holder I got in Florence, home to some of the most beautiful paper products I have ever seen (stationery lovers, you would go insane in this city!) Next to it are my House Nerd wax seals. The clear glass jar that looks like a scrumpled plastic bag was from a market.

Somehow it was late Sunday night and I was still painting the room. When Heather arrived on Monday morning, the entire house looked like a bomb hit it. The craft room was still unfinished, despite the fact that I had even roped in my mum and my sister to come over early that Monday morning (lucky family!) to help me finishing painting the walls and the doors. There was newspaper on the floor because I was still half-way through painting the cupboard because the dark old lady mauve paint kept showing through the light pink paint, making the cupboard doors look patchy (“You should have primed it,” Mr Nerd said helpfully after the fact) Ugh!

There were paint splatters on the floor because Nala had gotten some on her paws, the new doorknobs weren’t on yet, there was crap everywhere and when Heather arrived I’d just jumped out of the shower and my hair wasn’t done. Mr Nerd hadn’t yet returned with the new doorknobs – he had kindly offered to do a Bunnings run for me. When he got home I found out that some guy had actually driven into the back of his trailer on the drive! Eeek. When Heather arrived, I was still frantically painting and feeling very happy we never got onto House Rules if this was the kind of stress reality show renovators were put under.

Immersed in the chaos of the Crap Shack for the first time, Heather could have easily been taken aback. But she took it all in her stride and said not to stress about it. Instead she snapped some pictures of me frantically finishing off the last few details and made me feel much happier about being so disorganised. “It’s part of the story,” she laughed and she was right.


When you renovate, not everything always goes to plan. And this is what I AM often like when I’m renovating – in shorts and a T-shirt and a ponytail, with paint on myself (often in my hair), hurried, frenetic, snapping at long-suffering Mr Nerd and at Nala for deciding to fall asleep in a doorway so I trip over her while I am carrying a box of crap. If I were an animal I would be a cross little snapper turtle. Anyway – it all turned out okay – so thank you so much Heather for your lovely photos and for weathering our DIY storm.

ABOVE: Here you can see the creepy old lady mauve paint still peeking through… honestly it was SO annoying! Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

MARKET NABS: I got the white vase and the seafoam green vase as well as the little terracotta bowl and the succulent from a rotary market. And we changed out the ugly 70s doorknobs! Photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.

OOPS: So Heather the photographer was over and we still hadn’t put the new doorknobs on… oops.

VINTAGE TEA CHEST: A couple of months ago I bought the vintage tea chest after seeing it in a Gumtree ad. The previous owner was a lovely lady who lived a few suburbs away in this gorgeous little cottage. We started chatting and she asked me, “Are you Maya from House Nerd?” Oh my god! I sort of felt famous. Happy moment! All after photos by Heather Robbins of Red Images Fine Photography.




Now I have a craft room, the first thing I made in it was for my mum; a broomstick for her snowman lamp. See my mum collects snowmen and has a veritable army that she pulls out for Christmas every year… with some choice specimens that are lucky enough to grace the house all year-round. And one of these lucky snowmen is her snowman lamp.


Mum had been asking me for months if I would make her a broomstick for her snowman lamp (picture above, bottom right) and she had even presented me with a little red box of carefully collected twigs and some hot glue gun sticks to use (even though I don’t have a glue gun).

I was a bad daughter and kept putting the making of the broomstick off (sorry Mum) but now it is now finally done. Because sometimes when your mum asks you to make her snowman a broomstick, you just have to make her a snowman broomstick, don’t you?

Now I will just have to try not to fill my room with my junk again! But it should be easier this time, cos Mr Nerd still has HIS junk room…

Have you turned a junk room into a usable space? Do you even have a junk room or cupboard in your house? Was it as bad as mine? Please say yes. Maya x


Author: Maya Anderson

When Maya Anderson was thinking of a name for her homes and design blog, nothing seemed more fitting than House Nerd. Obsessed with everything to do with houses, renovating and interior design, Maya is a features journalist by training with a background in print and a focus on homes and real estate. She has been renovating her 1970s house since forever, loves dogs and can eat her body weight in dumplings.

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